I had a good year, Chili year that is but now it's over. I took a year off of everything and did nothing but chili cook, at least it seems like it.
The first week of November I spent my one week of vacation in the Terlingua desert, in a tent and even though some would say we don't "real" camp and what we do is Glamping, it was still hard living for 10 days. Hats off to the folks that live down there full time.
Even though we were at the World Championship Chili Cook Off I still tried to make it a vacation by
checking some items off the old bucket list.
We pulled the Ranger down just to do some 4-wheeling and go places not many folks have ever seen. We spent a day cutting our own trail about six miles back to nowhere and the sights were breathtaking. We stopped and had a packed lunch on top of a small bluff overlooking the desert valley. Talk about isolation, where we went man has only seen from the air.
It's hard to think there is so much beauty in such a dry and desolate place.
We spent a day doing something I have really been wanted to do, Zip Line. I have always been too heavy and over the weight limits, but after loosing seventy pounds, it was time.
It was hard to let go of the money just to ride some cables across the desert floor but in the end it was worth it. The longest was 2000 feet and over 350 feet off the ground and I did it backwards.
If you ever find yourself in the small quiet town of Lajitas, stop by and give your trip a memory you will never forget. The guides were friendly, professional and made me feel safe and I'm even scared of heights so if I can do it anybody can.
The Day OF The Dead was a different thing all into its self. I have never seen anything like it and really didn't understand it, but it was something to see.
The ghost town of Terlingua puts on a celebration for the dead every November 2nd. Everyone who has family in the 111 year old graveyard dresses up to remember, honor and have supper with their departed loved ones. They spend the evening decorating their graves and telling stories about the ones who are buried there. At this time, the families bring their children to the graves and introduces them to the past family members.
Nightfall brings a huge bonfire, music, more food and dance. Each gravy gets a candle in remembrance and when they are all burning, the old graveyard has a haunting glow that will make you feel like the spirits are really there with you.
Like I said, it was something to see and experience, but it's not my culture.
Each person in our camp was assigned meals. Of course I did mine the only way I knew how, Dutch Oven Cooking. My dad made this tripod before we left and I put it to good use for one Supper and two Breakfasts.
We had Pulled Pork Tacos with Spanish Rice and Re-fried Beans for our supper and a Dutch Oven Burrito Breakfast one morning and Cinnamon Rolls the next.
I gained seven pounds just by eating all the good food everyone made in camp. Each morning and night was filled with food, food and even more food. If you went hungry it was your fault.
The weather was hot during the day and cold at night except for the one day we had to cook. The Saturday's strong winds and low 50's made it a hard day to cook the championship chili.
300 cooks from across the world got busy cooking their famous chili recipe, but only one would take home the prize.
And it was not me or Candy. The guy who won it is from a little town called Point Texas.
I also cooked Wings on Friday but did not do any good there either.
I guess I'm getting "high kept" or something. On our way back Sunday I stopped off at a hotel to have a real shower and shave, change into something without dust on it and eat something not off of a paper plate. Oh, and did I mention I made sure the hotel had a hot tub. We utilized every amenity that place had to offer. I felt like a cave man or something.
This year I do not plan to cook chili as much. Candy still is and plans to go back to Terlingua next year, but I think I am about done with it. It has turned into more of a job than a hobby. Cooking over 50 times a year does that to you I guess. I need to spend this year finishing the house, doing a little hunting, spend my free time fishing and doing the things I really want to do or should I say, get back to doing the things I really enjoy.
I will always be a member of CASI because I believe in what they do for the hundreds of charities across the world and I will always cook a few times a year to support them, but I feel the 50+ times a year is over for me.
I have met my goals in the Chili World by Winning some cookoffs and walking across the main stage at the World Championship. I am honored every time I sit in my Red Chair that only a few people have won.
The folks I have met and the life long friendships/brotherhoods I have developed are priceless. I am so blessed to have spent so much time with some of these people and created so many memories with them. To those folks, hats off, much respect and I will see you on the chili trail, but not as much.
So here's the deal.........
I started work back on the tiny house this week and I have more to share with you. I am back now and focused so stay around a little longer to see what I have in store.