This year the Sugarbush campground was full of Kansans, including my biker neighbors Hammer and Fauna, and from across the creek Rick the BBQ expert. Hammer was pulling a small trailor on his Harley that I must admit got more attention than the old Teardrop. Rick had a big rig that was designed to haul toys in the back - in his case a couple of 4-wheelers. Once these were taken out, an air mattress was put in and the compartment was a bedroom for his two girls.
I met the two girls first. They were playin around the creek's big hole and I said how's the water? They said cold. I said cold?? I thought you country farm girls from Kansas were 'posed to be tough. Just jump right in! They looked at me in disbelief, so I turned back to whatever I was doing. Then I hear splash! Both are in the water and soon covered in mud. It got real serious when one of them said "not in the face, not in the face" and the other was making mud balls and baking them in the sun to ripen...
It was the first time I can remember hanging out with people from Kansas, but I hafta say they were some generous and kind folks. The first night, Rick made a trip over from the cabin down the road (in the family for generations) to bring over some 10-12 pounds of beef brisket he'd been smokin all day. Rick owns a BBQ place in Elkhart, KS. So, I get back from town and Hammer and Fauna are like don't cook dinner Mike, we've got you covered - check out what Rick brought us. Well, I don't have to tell you that after being in the Flat Tops for two weeks, this news was heaven sent. So, we pigged and drank beer. Half way through the meal, it dawns on me that Rick didn't provide any BBQ sauce, and I mentioned this. Well, Fauna, never one to hold back a thought, says you ungrateful so-n-so - here the guy brings you all this great smoked brisket and you are complaining about no BBQ sauce! After she calmed down, I explained that most guys I know that are proud of their BBQ (especially those who own their own restaurant) are *very* proud of their sauce and I just thought it was interesting that Rick did not bring any over with the beef. Fauna and Hammer were both of the opinion I should just let this oversight slide in view of his generousity. The next day, I was over bs'ing with Rick and getting the tour of his rig and of course thanked him profously for the brisket. Then I said, hey, Rick, not to look a gift horse in mouth, but I was surprised you didn't bring any of your BBQ sauce over with the beef - aren't you proud of your sauce? Well, he got this very concerned look on his face and said, you know, I forgot! I've got some over at the cabin and I'll bring some over later. Well, later on he comes over with a BBQ pork sandwich (with bacon) and says Mike, this has my sauce on it - what do you think? Well, it was delicious and I said it was some of the best BBQ sauce I'd ever had. Now, this was different. Do you have a secret? Without hesitating (unusual for cooks...) he says, yup, wasabi! I said wasabi, in BBQ sauce? Well, turns out his wife was enamered with a ranch dressing they tried at TGI Fridays that had wasabi. They talked the owner into selling them a 10lb tub which they were sure would go bad before they could finish it. Not to be - they loved it and put it on everything - carrots, celery, sandwiches, etc. etc. During one of these ranch/wasabi lovefest, Rick's wife said hey, why not in your BBQ sauce? Rick says his diner's success is solely due to his wife's tinkering with the menu, so when she suggested this addition to his BBQ sauce, he jumped on it and the rest is history. If you are thinking this is all bullshit, just visit Rick-n-Roll BBQ in Elkhart, KS (Hwy 56 East) or visit http://ricknroll.net/ (under construction).
Then Rick says, so, you like wasabi huh? Be-right-back and he bounds into the inner sanctum of his trailer to return with a can of, can you believe it, Blue Diamond Almonds - BOLD with Wasabi and Soy Sauce! Ohhh man, are these almonds good! Try them out - you can pick em up at Wal Mart and there is no way you won't finish the can as long as yer beer holds out.
Rick's son Ricky is a born businessman. Came right by to look over the Teardrop, asked me if I go through Kansas on the way to Tennessee and I said why sure. Hands me his Dad's business card and says this is the best BBQ you've ever had (this was before we feasted on it) and tells me just how to get there from the main road. Later, I found out that Hammer got a stack of business cards from Ricky, and I told him I guess I didn't rate - I only got one. Hammer said no, the kid realized we live in Kansas and you are in Tennessee. Good point!
The morning after the BBQ feast, I wake up and hear my neighbors cookin up breakfast so I start my morning coffee routine when Fauna says, Mike - don't be making any breakfast - we've made too much omelet. I said no, no, I really do have food - you guys from Kansas don't have to feed me for every meal. She said nonsense, we didn't make it FOR you...we just made too much - so come over and get you some or we'll just have to throw it out. So, I wandered over with my coffee and here was an omelet of all omelets - hash browns, onions, peppers, pork, chicken, eggs and cheese. Zow-eee was it tasty! Best omelet I ever had (no lie). What a way to start the day and how they hauled all those tasty vittles along with that camper on a Harley I will never know. Anyhow, Hammer and Fauna were great. Tom (the campground host and owner, great guy) was giving the girls hell for playing in the creek and Fauna looked him straight in the eye and said "you're a crusty old bastard aren't ya?" Well, I just about busted a gut and fell in the friggin creek. Hammer was telling of coyote huntin stories where they go out in the winter to the prarie - no trees for miles, just small elevation changes. He and his buddy sit back-to-back as you never know which direction the coyotes will come from and sometimes they'll be 20 or 30 of em coming at you with their tongues hangin out. So, they position themselves and their rifles and start making rabbit calls and whatknot. Now, he says you can't move an eyelash when they start comin or they will break off and leave. So, you just have to be still while they come from all directions straight toward you (thinking you're a meal..). Then you blast them. White snow turns fast and it's blood on the highway. Hammer wears an UnderArmour shirt that looks like his arms are tatoo'd in camo. I thought so, and so did one other guy. I think Hammer delights in rolling up the sleeve after questioned about it. He also told a story about taking his grandmother to the doctor's office in Colorado Springs one day. He was helping her out of the car when a couple in a Mercedes dropped their jaw thinking his old grandmother was being rolled by a biker. He told his grandmother what was happening, and of course she played it up bigtime and pretended to fight back. Of course the young couple in the Mercedes sped away fast and Hammer and his grandma had a good laugh over it.
Anyhow, lots of fun with the folks from Kansas this year.
Another guy from Kansas, I forget his name, nice as could be. He was notable for his refusal to call the Arkansas River by anything other than the "R-Kansas" River. Cracked me up.
As usual, I never even thought about taking pictures til everyone was packin up to leave on July 5th. But I did get a few shots and they're shared here.
As far as all the trailor competition goes - despite all the nice units at Sugarbush this year, I'll stick with my old Teardrop. Even all covered in Flat Top's mud it's still perfect for the Fitzman. The fender shown had even been cleaned off by a couple whizzes, so imagine what the one on the opposite side looked like ;)