Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"The Trailer"

Last year, we purchased a Ford Explorer with the goal of being able to tow a trailer to BBQ competitions. Once we had the SUV, we began the process of trying to figure out what to drag along behind us. Our Explorer is only rated to tow 7,100 pounds, so we were limited as to what we could pull.

The first thing we considered was a pop up camper.

You may have seen these, they unfold to provide a little sitting area, and the sides pop out into beds. After looking at a few of these, we decided this was not the way to go. Number one, very little storage area, also no shower, which is something Sheila has lamented not having at other events. So that was out.

Next, we considered a cargo, or utility trailer.

This is something we considered because it would not cost a lot of money, and would allow us to keep all of our cookers and eqipment in the same place, and easily load and unload when we go to events. We decided not to go this route, because it really didn't provide much more than cargo hauling. It would not deal with the fact that I was tired of paying for hotel rooms so we could at least shower and feel somewhat human during competitions.

When I started this process, I knew very little about RV's, camping or trailers. I had no idea that there were som many different types of RV's, Class A, B, C, fifth wheel, pop up, travel trailer, etc. Then I discovered the toy hauler.

A toy hauler is a trailer that combines the comforts of an RV with the ability to bring gear. While these are usually used for quads, go carts, motorcycles, etc, I said "why not use it for our cookers and other competition equipment?" It was then that I decided to start looking at toy haulers as a realistic option for us.

That raised a whole new group of questions, espeically which one to buy? How much to spend?

I started by looking on Ebay. For those of you who are not familiar, Ebay is a great place to shop for things, especially big ticket items. Unlike RV dealer web sites, they post tons of pictures, so you can really learn about different products. I don't think I would ever make such a major purchase on Ebay, but it is great for research. It was there that I found a toy hauler called the Coachmen Blast 150 MPH.

This one jumped out at me for several reasons. One, it is only 15 feet, 19 feet including the hitch. So this will fit in any normal 20 foot by 20 foot competition site, leaving room for our cookers and a pop up tent. Also, it has a shower and marine toilet. In addition, not only does it feature heat, air conditioning and a small kitchen with a large fridge, it has two couches that fold into beds, and an electric track queen bed that comes down from the ceiling.

I decided that this would be the perfect unit for us. It's a utility trailer, but also has the comforts of home. It removes the weather as a factor in competitions. It brings functionality and comfort at the same time, and is affordable enough that it doesn't break our bank. We will no longer have to get hotel rooms at competitions. Sold.
Click HERE to see one on Ebay with a lot more pictures and info.

We should be picking it up next week, in plenty of time for our next competition, which is the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest June 22nd through the 24th. This has me so excited to get back out there. June 22nd can't get here soon enough!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Getting Ready For The Season

Sorry I have been MIA for a while. Been taking a little break from writing and getting recharged for the season.

We are really excited to get the year started. We had originally planned to start our official Q season in Rhode Island on May 19th and 20th. However, that event was postponed or cancelled, so that one is out. We had hoped to do Lime Rock, but have decided that it is not the right event for us this year. I hope it goes well for the sake of those competing there.

So, our first event will be the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest on June 22nd and 23rd. We won grand champions there in our second ever event, so that eventually led to the decision to go back this year. That's even with a BBQ event being held in East Hartford the same weekend. East Hartford is only a half-hour from our house, too, which made the decision even more difficult. But New Hampshire won out. I'm sure there will be a full slate of teams, and my buddy Mike Boisvert from Lakeside Smokers will be there, too.

After New Hampshire, we are returning to Lake Placid June 29th through July 1st for the I Love BBQ Festival. For those who have never been to Lake Placid, it is really a magical place. It's a neat little town, Mirror Lake is stunning, and the people are great.

If anyone wants to write a blueprint on how to run a cooker friendly event, they should come to Lake Placid. Low entry fees. Large prizes. Great location. Free ice. Free breakfast. Organizers who go way beyond the call to make sure the teams have everything they need. I cannot recommend this event enough.

A sign that this event is turning into something special: CancerSucksChicago, the team that won the 2006 Jack Daniel's World Invitational BBQ, is driving half way across the country to cook at Lake Placid.

Funny story from last year; I was sleeping under our EZ-Up tent on an air mattress when I heard "oohhh an air mattress!" and before I knew it, an attractive young, and clearly drunk girl who was riding in the rodeo taking place nearby had jumped into the airbed with me. Was interesting to say the least.

After Lake Placid, I will likely cook a BBQ Brethren event July 21st and 22nd. Then, it's our main event of the season, the Harpoon New England Championships in Windsor, Vermont. I'll talk more about Harpoon as it gets closer, but this is the event we have wanted to get into for the last two years, and we're in.

Now that our season is starting to get going, I'll be posting a lot more. Check back once in a while! And don't forget to visit our team web site www.qhavenbbq.com for pictures and other team stuff.