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FACT: Learning from friends, family and at competitions is the best way to improve cooking skills    
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Savoring the Sights & Sounds in DC

June 24, 2008
What an event... that's about all I can say! The Washington DC BBQ Battle was quite a change from the other events that we have participated in. Pennsylvania Avenue - yup, the Pennsylvania Avenue that the White House and Capitol building are on - was blocked from 14th street to 9th street.

Our spot was right off of 11th street right next to the Chinet (one of our KCBS partners) location and across from the kiddie inflatables and rides. Right across the way was the Safeway sampling tent which was like a block long. The whole weekend reminded us of a ride at Silver Dollar City with people lined up forever to get free samples!

The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was in the middle of the street and they even made me sing the jingle to get my "weenie" whistle. We saw our friends from Gold Peak Iced Tea who were across from us in St Louis. They were on 12th street right up from one of the music stages... I will take kids over LOUD music any day.

The crowds were huge! We had so many people for samples that we went through twice as many supplies in this two-day event than we did in Tryon (NC) or Nashville (TN). We were told to load into the event at 10pm and we would be escorted to our spot. Looking at the DC map, it appeared to be a straight shot from the hotel. Of course it could not be that easy. I think I hit "alternative route" on the GPS like a dozen times trying to get it to "see" the same way that I saw on paper and I finally gave up. Got there right at 10 and you would think that traffic would be at a minimum... Nope, just another hope dashed. I sat in the intersection until the nice DCPD officer made me move. We finally made it in and I was fearless with "inches" to spare between semi trucks and made it to our spot. We made it out around 1am when electricity got hooked up.

Did I mention our hotel? I will admit our coming from small towns in Kansas has led Chris and I on a sheltered life, but oh my goodness... The hotel had bulletproof glass - coming from banking, I would guess bullet "resistant" - and a security guard. We did venture out three blocks to the Metro and rode it into DC and had a wonderful time seeing the sights. WOW - if you ever get the chance to sight-see the area, please take advantage of it but wear comfortable shoes. I got three blisters by hoofing it from the Smithsonian to the Capital to the Washington Monument to the WWII Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and back to the Metro station. The next day we got out early to get a Capitol Tour and took the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery. I think the things that touched us the most was the beauty of the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial.

Personally, my heart was especially heavy when we visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to see all of the names of the young people who gave their lives for our country. My best friend Clark is a Vietnam Veteran and I am sure that I have not told him enough how thankful that I am for his service to our country but I truly am.

Visiting Arlington National Cemetery was sobering to see all the white headstones as far as the eye could see in the beautiful hills. Our son Micheal is in South Carolina at Basic Training for serving in the National Guard and we hope to never have to be one of the thirty or so daily funerals that are held.

Back to BBQ, though. The event had both a KCBS competition and a Memphis in May competition. Both smoke meat but the Memphis event is pork only while KCBS is pork, chicken and beef. There are other differences but I won't give my personal opinion here... The event was scheduled to end at 7:30 on Sunday and the rain started just before 8 pm which was perfect timing to shoo the public out so we could move the truck in to pull out. We followed the Johnsonville "world's largest grill" out of the event as the work crews were tearing down all the tents. Everything was supposed to be back to normal by 11pm and I am sure that it was. We were in Frederick, Maryland, already by then and got in two loads of laundry. Chris keeps trying to get me to wear the nice KCBS aprons... I just think she needs to add more bleach to the whites.  Those white KCBS shirts just seem to attract the dirt, grease, grime, bbq sauce, Italian ice drippings, etc. You get the idea. 

Milwaukee is the next stop and we plan to stop in to see my father and step-mother on the way. I would appreciate you keeping her in your thoughts and prayers. She has been diagnosed with lung cancer and they are still working with the doctors on a course of care.

We'll fill you in on our travels as they come along. If you see us on the road, make sure to honk and say "HI"!

Mike & Chris

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