“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey”
– Babs Hoffman
My journey across America … I start my trip from Seattle to DC tomorrow. I’ll be heading down the coastal states and then across the lower half of the country, mostly on interstate 10, straight through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and the rest of the southern states. Then I’ll swing up through the eastern parts of the Carolinas, Kentucky, and then West Virginia to DC. No, I am not running for president or participating in a political campaign or, for those of you who remember, following the Grateful Dead.
I am starting on one of my cross-country BBQ drives. Back in the late 90s, I needed a break from work and thought … road trip! I love driving, I love BBQ, and I love hearing people’s stories. I’ve never met a Pit Master or an owner of a BBQ restaurant who didn’t have a story to tell. Since then I’ve traveled every road across America from east to west, and many of the north to south interstates as well. I think America is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and driving is one of the best ways to experience it, thank you, Dwight Eisenhower, for building the National Interstate System.
Back in the day smartphones weren’t available, so I would find BBQ joints by asking local policemen or talking to people at truck stops. It’s a little easier today but still, the best places are hidden gems or up and coming restaurants that haven’t reached national acclaim. I’ve been to just about every famous BBQ restaurant you can name and yes, I have opinions on all of them. BBQ has become much more popular in the last 10 years which has only made these adventures more fun.
I’ll answer a few common questions in advance … My favorite BBQ spot is Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas and my favorite rib joint is Pappy’s in St. Louis, Missouri. My least favorite type of BBQ is the Eastern Texas Louisiana style, it tastes like candied meat. I’ve only had one true speeding ticket, but I’ve been pulled over more than a half dozen times for random “traffic infractions” otherwise known as, “I see a guy driving by himself in a car and he might be running drugs, let’s find out.” I get the combo platter and the sides just as often as the BBQ. I’ve driven cross country in as few as three days, and in as long as a couple of weeks. I try to make two stops per day, yes that’s a lot of BBQ but I’m tasting more than I’m eating. My record is six BBQ joints in one day – that wasn’t a great idea.
I enjoy getting out of my bubble and meeting new people. As I said, everyone has a story to tell. The difference in life is the books you’ve read and the people you’ve met, and hopefully, I’ll meet some interesting people. Sometimes I get lonely and after a few days of driving, I find myself hungrier for a spirited discussion than for BBQ. I swap recipes and techniques when I can but that is easier said than done, Pit Masters are notoriously secretive. Nonetheless, I am super excited about this trip and I’m looking forward to another adventure.
One thing I am adding to my trip this year is Tiki Bars. I love rum and the Tiki culture, so if you have any recommendations for either BBQ joints or Tiki Bars, please send them to me.
This year I’ll be posting my pictures and thoughts about my trip on Instagram and Twitter. My account handle is @wonderingbuddha please follow me and forward my username to those you think might be interested.
Let’s go be great!