BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 18: Saturday 16th May 2015 (Memphis TN)

After more than a few beers with Sam last night in memory of B.B.King, and after only a few hours sleep, it was certainly a struggle waking up this morning!

 

On Thursday I busted my finger whilst throwing a football. Last night our resident ‘Doctor’ and I both decided that the swollen and deformed tip of my finger should be cut off! It sounded good at the time when I was drunk on Apple Pie Moonshine, but it was throbbing like the Duracell Bunny this morning! 
   

  

 

Today is sadly the final day of Memphis in May. It is when judging takes place for all of the three pork categories, the Kingsford Tour of Champions and the overall Grand Champion will be announced for 2015.

  
Today is a bittersweet day. It is a day that promises to be full of excitement and anticipation in regards to how well your team places, yet sadness due to it being the last day of being together with your BBQ family for another year!

We called up Chris, and as we had some time, we stopped to take some pics on the way in!

   
  

   
Yesterday we had planned to eat at Gus’s Fried Chicken, however the line outside was way too long!

   
     Today we tried again and despite the line being longer, we were able to get served quite quickly! The secret was to order from the take out menu at the counter, rather than wait for a table inside!

   

   

 

You can’t beat the Fried Green Tomatoes!

We sat down for a fantastic lunch at our favourite gate high above the park, contemplating on what lay ahead for the team!

  

When we arrived, the booth was being set up for tasting and judging of the ribs by three different judges.

  
Basically, the upstairs was closed off and the bottom part of the booth is divided in two. The back half is used to prepare the ribs for tasting. 

     
Today is the day when all of Shane and the teams hard work is put into the hands of two judging methods.

 

The first is the blind box tasting, a team of six judges taste your ribs without knowing who they belong to!

The boxes are taken to the judges by ‘runners’, whose job it is to ensure that the box makes it to the judges not only intact, but more importantly in time! If the box is delivered too early or too late, then the entry is disqualified!

  
The front part of the downstairs section, was emptied and turned into a presentation area. The smoker was cleaned up, and a rack of ribs were placed on a splendid display inside.

  
The bar was converted into a private tasting table, complete with bar stool and condiments. The whole team took up residence outside on the banks of the Mississippi River, and we nervously waited for the first of three judges to taste the ribs!

   
  

It was important to ensure that those outside remained quiet during the visits. It was quite a tense time, as along with trying to listen and predict the judging, you didn’t want to be a distraction!

 

As each of the three judges arrived, they were met by Neil. He introduced himself and gave a brief description of Too Sauced to Pork and the teams history.

   
 

He would then hand over to Eric, who explained the cooker and method used to cook the ribs.

   
 

The final stage of the judging process was handled by Shane and John. They explained how the ribs were sourced and cooking method used.

   
 

During the last judging, I was honoured to have been mentioned as it was explained to the judge about how TSTP is made up of ‘team’ members from all around the world!

With judging over, Neil provided feedback on the judges, and there was nothing to do but wait!

   
 

The best thing about judging being complete, was that we got to taste the leftover ribs not required if we made it into the top three!

     
   

For Neil and the senior members of the team, waiting to hear back if we had made it into the top three, was a very anxious wait!

   
   

For the rest of the team, it was a quick chance to soak up more of the Memphis in May atmosphere! It was also a chance to say farewell to friends from other teams.

   
    

  

Sam was very pleased to find someone with a watch like his!

 

The rain arrived and put a dampener on things. After saying farewell to Carey and John from Peg Leg Porkers, and Ken, Don and Chris from Big Bob Gibson, it was time to head back to the booth.

   

The news wasn’t good, we didn’t make it in the top three!

 

Despite the bad news and the persistent rain, we still had hope that the team would place in the top ten. The rain kept up for the rest of the afternoon, and all we could do was wait in the booth until judging!

   
  

  

My BBQ ‘family’!

The rain stopped just before judging, and we all posed for a Too Sauced to Pork team photo! It was great to march up to the main stage as a team, despite the bad weather our spirits were high!
   
     

Being the last day, it was a good opportunity for teams to use up the remaking alcohol, our team included!

   
     

The team had finished 6th in ribs last year, and there was hope that we could equal that result, or do even better this year.

   
      

Sadly Too Sauced to Pork didn’t get a top ten place for ribs this year. Our only two trophies for MIM 2015, would be for the Boss Hog run and Poultry. Like last year, we came second in the Kingsford Tour of Champions! 

Another great effort by the team!

Despite not placing, the celebration of another Memphis in May continued on until the announcement of the Grand Champion!

   
             

I was pleased to see my friends from Big Bob Gibson Barbecue take out winner of the shoulder this year!

    

Well done Ken!

   The brother and sister team of Brad and Brooke from The Shed BBQ are good friends of TSTP. It was great to see them take out first place in Whole Hog. A very popular winner!

   

  

     

With two teams who were friends of TSTP up on stage, it was quite exciting waiting to see who would be crowned Grand Champion 2015! Last year, Big Bob Gibson took it out!

   
  

The Shed was named as Grand Champion 2015, and ‘everyone’ was jumping for joy!

 

Sadly it was time to head back home after another fantastic Memphis in May!

   

Memphis in Mud!

  

See ya next year!

We stopped back at the booth, had a few more drinks and said goodbye to everyone.  

  

 

   One of the Jims from Memphis BBQ Supply had promised me some of his branded rubs. He called by our booth and delivered some fantastic Greasy Creek Spices for me to try. I’m looking forward to trying them when I get home!

As the sun finally set over the mighty Mississippi, I was feeling pretty happy!

Paul gave us a lift home in his JEEP, and Sam and I sat down to a feed of leftover BBQ, and a few more beers! 

As we sat eating and drinking, I couldn’t help smiling and reflecting on what had been another magical Memphis in May.

  
It was soon time to hit the sack, as tomorrow will be a big day.

 The plan is to drive from Memphis TN to Atlanta GA via Tupelo MS, the birthplace of Elvis Presley! 

  

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BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 17: Friday 15th May 2015 (Memphis TN)

Today is moving day at Memphis in May, the first official judging day!


The jovial atmosphere from yesterday is replaced with an apprehensive feeling of the unknown! All your hard work and practice is going to be judged and once turned in, will be out of your control!

  
The weather up until today has been fantastic! Typically it threatened to rain as we left Pattys, and despite last year being quite cold, today was shorts wearing day!

We arrived at the booth to find that the upstairs dining section was being set up for a VIP lunch for Cattlemans and French’s officials! Neil was looking as cool as ice, despite his house burning down only a few weeks prior, and the added stress of the competition!

  

While upstairs was being set up, downstairs was a busy hive of activity, getting ready for today’s judging.

  

 The VIP lunch went really well and the boys worked their magic. Both groups left happy.

  
  

 What really looked good, was the Aussie flag flying proudly next to the American flags at the biggest pork only BBQ event in the world! As it it fluttered in the swift breeze, it was truly a patriotic moment as I sat with my ‘family’ high above the banks of the mighty Mississippi River! 

  

With the VIP lunch complete, it was time to relax and enjoy the highlight of the day, the Crawfish Broil!

  

Just like last year it was a magic event, and I enjoyed sharing it with Sam and Rhi! It was even more enjoyable when Tryus from Huntsville dropped by with his mate! The mushrooms were the best part!

  

With a full belly, it was time to walk off lunch. Last year I had seen guys hitting golf balls into the Mississippi River, and after approaching one of the teams, I was able to add this to my bucket list!

  

Those of you who know me will understand when I say that I eventually hit a ball well enough to actually make it into the river!

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the park soaking up the atmosphere with Sam and Rhi.

  

Big Daddy and the teens!

During our walk around, I noticed a team that was using a Backwoods Smoker. I had earlier made contact with Mike from Backwoods Smokers regarding the different models available and how we can ship them to Australia. We had agreed to meet up at MIM, so I went over to the team.

  
The team was FireMan John’s BBQ from Madison MS. Johnny was a certified Backwoods dealer, and I had a great chat regarding the different models. The several swigs of the Fireball Whisky made the conversation all the better!

Just around the corner from Johnnys was an Aussie, Dave from Memphis BBQ Pit in Penrith NSW. It was great chatting to him about the BBQ scene back home, and how he has big plans for the future! He cooked Kangaroo for his exotic dish and was also competing in the whole hog category.

What I love about the BBQ brotherhood is that almost everyone knows everyone! Whilst talking to Dave, he mentioned that he was just talking to Malcom Reed, from Killer Hogs BBQ!


I have been subscribing for some time, to a BBQ newsletter that Malcom publishes with great tips on how to cook BBQ. Needless to say I had to meet him!


The best thing, other than meeting Malcom, was that Mike from Backwoods Smokers was in his booth! I had finally caught up with him, and got to have a lengthy discussion on how to get his smokers to Australia!


Pretty soon the sun began to set and it was soon time for the results to be announced. As we headed towards the stage area, my day got even better!

 I couldn’t believe my luck, when I saw the most winningest man in competition BBQ Myron Mixon, out in the ‘open’ ahead of me!
He was very obliging and was happy to take a photo with me, why wouldn’t he be!

The stage area was filling fast, and we finally found the Too Sauced to Pork team.

  

This time last year we did well, winning first place in Vinegar sauce. There was a feeling of nervous expectation and excitement. Perhaps this year the results would be higher, or not! The hunger to get back onto the stage was a driving force!

Two good blokes, Dave and Frank!

  

This little piggy!

And this little piggy…!

We are all happy little piggies!


 A storm was fast approaching, and the announcements for the placings were rushed.The anticipation was building, and everyone was on edge listening out for our name to be called!

  

Big Mo Casen, keeping an eye on things!

 All of the categories were announced except chicken! As our team hadn’t been mentioned so far, the hope of getting back on the big stage was fast fading, just like the fine weather!


The euphoria I experienced last year on the stage appeared to be slipping away. As 5th, 4th, and 3rd place chicken were announced there still no mention of our team. The hope of making it up on stage two years in a row were not looking good today!

‘Aussie luck’


As I was praying for a bit of Aussie ‘luck’.., BOOM, “second placed chicken, Too Sauced to Pork”!

 

Well done to Adam and Patricia!

 

 The feeling you get when you hear your team called is hard to describe! This may well be our one and only chance to get up in front of hundreds of our BBQ brothers, there was no way we would miss that opportunity!

   
  

This is what it’s all about!

Due to the fast approaching storm, we didn’t get much time up on stage. Just enough to soak in the atmosphere and join in the celebrations for 2nd place chicken!

   

Look at me, look at me!

  

Another MIM selfie on stage!

  

  

  

They say that ‘winners are grinners’, and tonight we left the the Memphis in May stage with smiles that the Cheshire Cat would be proud of!

   

We also found out that our friend Mitch from Meat Mitch won first place Beef! We stopped by to congratulate them.

    As we walked back to our booth, I was really excited to have shared the glory once again with my Too Sauced to Pork family. It was even more exciting to have shared the experience with Sam and Rhiannah, both at their first MIM! The booze and music was freely flowing and we partied until close!

 As we made our way into Beale Street, we were saddened to find out that B.B.King had passed away! All of Memphis seemed to be there, and as a result all of the taxi drivers seemed to want to charge us an airfare just to get back to Patty’s house!

 

We were lucky to find Chris, a cabbie who lived close to Patty and we grabbed his card to use him again!

   

Tomorrow is the final day of MIM, and the hope is that we go one better than last year! This year has been just as good as last year, and to get higher than 6th place ribs, would just top it of!  

We sat down and had a beer in honour of B.B.King. Tomorrow the plan is to try some Gus’s Fried Chicken before enjoying the last day of MIM!

    

BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 15: Wednesday 13th May 2015 (Memphis TN)

Today I woke up a little sore, but relieved that I had completed the painting! After dedicating two full days to the painting job, the plan today is to spend time buying BBQ supplies, and a other suitcase to carry them back home!

  
I have been following Memphis Barbecue Supply on Facebook for some time now, and I was excited to finally visit them!

   
  As I walked through the door, I was bombarded with a BBQ sensory overload! I was greeted warmly by Priscilla and Mike, and they allowed me to walk around and browse!

  
   
  

One day we will pay this price for quality!

“I spent more than I should have”, said no BBQ enthusiast ‘ever’, but I actually did! It was worth it however, as it’s hard to get some items in the stash that I bought back home!

   
 

I had a great time at Memphis Barbecue Supply, and after buying just about half the store, it was time to buy another suitcase to fit it all in! I headed off to the local Wal Mart and purchased a suitcase, some more clothes, and two boxes of cheap golf balls!

 

What a great clothing brand!

  

  

  

Earlier in the morning I had heard from Sam and Rhiannah, my ‘family’ traveling from Australia. They had made it into Los Angeles and on to Atlanta. They we’re waiting to see if they could get standby for the flight from Atlanta to Memphis.

  
With my shopping completed, I decided to head back to Pattys to connect to wifi to see if they left a a message. As I hadn’t eaten yet, I called into Central BBQ on Summer Avenue just up the road, for take out.

   
 

I ate at Central BBQ last year, and I was looking forward to eating there again.

   
 

I ordered their famous pulled pork nachos, with a hot link sausage. I wasn’t disappointed, and I can see why they are world famous!

  
The nachos tasted fantastic, with just the right mix of pork, sauce and the gooey cheeses on fantastic corn chips!

  
The hot link also tasted fantastic and I wish I had ordered more! It had a great smoky flavour and a great bite!

  
Tonight is family night at Memphis in May. The park is not open to the public, and it is a great time to catch up with old friends with a great family atmosphere! Sadly Sam and Rhi didn’t make the flight to Memphis in time, so I went alone.

   
   

It was good to finally be back ‘home’ amongst my BBQ brothers. The booth looked fantastic, and the guys had spent a bit more for a two story booth, WOW!

   

It was fantastic to catch up with old friends, and we had a great meal on the deck!

   

After dinner, I had a great chance to walk around and catch up with the other teams.

   

The man himself, Chris Lilly!

    

Johnny Trigg!

Earlier in the evening Brett Miller, my long lost brother, competed in the inaugural Big Hog Run! He will know tomorrow if he was the winner!   

  Being the athlete he is, he went straight back into training for next year!

  I spent the rest of the evening enjoying being back amongst the whole MIM atmosphere and received the best call ever. Sam and Rhiannah had made the last flight out of Atlanta to Memphis, and we’re on their way to Pattys!
 

Beershot battleship, oh yeah!

  

Every man and his dog were here this year!

      

The Boofhead Smokers from Chicago were flying the Aussie flag!

It was getting close to the park closing time, so I decided to head home and catch up with Sam and Rhi. I’m looking forward to introducing them to my BBQ family tomorrow!

   

  

  

Someone wasn’t all that happy about MIM!

  I arrived home just as Sam and Rhi arrived, and we sat down to a coffee! It was a good end to the day.
 

Yay!

 
Tomorrow is the first official day of the Memphis in May competition. The plan is to visit the Bass Pro shop at the pyramid, before heading in.

  

BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 14: Tuesday 12th May 2015 (Memphis TN)

 The plan today was plain and simple, finish painting Patty’s hallway!

   
 

I had marked up most of the hallway yesterday, and only needed to finish with a roller today! I woke up at 1000, and worked all day with only a coffee break here or there!

   


   

The two gallons of paint had just run out as the last roller went on! Feeling tired, sore and hungry, I cleaned up and joined Patty on the porch for dinner.

  
Patty had made a fantastic soup for dinner, which I enjoyed two bowls of along with several beers!

The day was over, and sadly I had done nothing else all day but paint!

I was asked by someone here about the best way to experience BBQ at Memphis in May, and I remember an article I had written for someone, that was never published!

As I had nothing to write about today, I thought I would publish most of that article as a guide!

    
The MIM BBQ Competition

For the whole month of May, the mile long Tom Lee Park in Memphis Tennessee, along the banks of the Mississippi River is transformed into the the party centre of the world. 
For most of the month it holds various music festivals, however from the 15th to the 17th of May this year it become the BBQ centre of the universe!
The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, is the largest Pork only cooking competition in the world. You will find around 250 teams competing for bragging rights and trophies in categories such as Shoulder, Whole Hog and Ribs. The title of Grand Champion is a much coveted honour, and it is also compulsory to display all of your BBQ achievements for all to see! 

  
For many of the teams it is a celebration of the previous years hard work and a chance to catch up on old friends. For a first timer, you would be mistaken in thinking that those inside the booths are secluded and a little stuck up! Far from it, in fact if you are lucky enough to break down the barriers, you will find yourself being part of the action, looking out from the inside.

  
How do I get to eat the BBQ ?

If you picture a little boy in a candy shop and not being allowed to have a lolly, thats what MIM is a little like. 

  
Because the MIM is a competition, local health regulations prohibit teams from serving BBQ to the general public! There are 250 booths cooking great food having a great time, this is the only way you can get to eat the tastiest BBQ on the planet. Because of this you will also find most people will do “whatever”it takes to be part of the action!

The only way you can officially get to taste barbecue is from the vendors that are able to sell to the public. Not all is lost however, I found there are several options to allow you to be closer to the action.

Other than trying to use charm to gain entry to a booth, you could consider purchasing Memphis in May (MIM) VIP tickets, become a judge in the Peoples choice tent,or, join a world championship BBQ team! I chose the latter.

MIM VIP tickets

  

 For around $475 you can purchase VIP tickets to the event, which entitle you to the following benefits.

* Admission into all three days of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest with come-and-go privileges

* Invitation to up to 6 championship teams to enjoy competitive grilling tips and sample great championship barbecue with a complimentary goodies bag

  Enjoy cool beverages and hot tips on judging great barbecue from a Memphis in May certified judge. Light snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine in a private area for V.I.Pit Pass holders.

The price is considerably dearer than the cost of the daily general admission ($8), but with all the inclusions and access to the teams, would be a good option for the first timer.

Kingsford Tour of Champions

   

 

The Kingsford Tour of Champions allows members of the general public to purchase tickets and taste and judge entries from teams competing in the shoulder category.

It is held on the Thursday and Friday of the competition, and you travel around to the booths of the teams competing and receive a small sample of bbq to taste. The host will provide information on how it was cooked and you may pick up some good tips!

Some of the teams competing may invite you back to their booth after the tasting, play your cards right and they may allow you to stay in their booth!

Being a member of a Championship BBQ Team (Too Sauced To Pork)

  
The best way to experience MIM is to be in a team competing. Unless you know someone or get to be invited into a booth, chances are this will not happen

During my planning for the trip, I noticed a team competing in the MIM offering a limited number of places to anyone from anywhere, interested in being part of a championship team competing in the event. That team was Too Sauced to Pork.

  
The team is based in Memphis TN and Buffalo NY, and believe that everyone should have a chance to compete and enjoy the delights of MIM. There are 20 spots available each year with different prices for varying levels of involvement.The cost was much cheaper than the VIP ticket and also included entry to the event, unlimited food and drink. The thing that sold it for me was the Wednesday night ‘family’ night, not available to the general public, along with the number of other teams that TSTP knew and introduced me to.
I was accepted as a BBQ brother by the team from the start, and had a blast. Their motto is that everyone is part of the team, no matter how much or how little you do, thats up to you.

The team had their best results at MIM, finishing first in Vinegar based sauce, and 6th in Ribs!

   
    The highlight for me was standing next to them on stage, looking back at all the envious faces in the crowd. I cant wait to go back next year!

   
   You can read my blog My BBQ Adventure at: dadda66.wordpress.com for more information, but you know what they say “What happens at MIM, stays at MIM”!

BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 13: Monday 11th May 2015 (Memphis TN)

The plan today and tomorrow is to focus on getting the hallway painted at Patty’s house! Patty has allowed me to stay for free, in return for painting the hallway.

   

   

Before I started, Patty had made her famous cornbread for breakfast. It was a fantastic way to start the day, and after breakfast we headed off to the local hardware store for supplies.

   

Cornbread with butter molasses and sausage gravy!

   
At the entrance, my eye was caught by a large number of smokers out front. Like a kid in a candy shop, I raced over to have a look.   

   

Sadly none of the would fit in my suitcase, so I moved on! The saddest thing was that the price I payed for a poor quality smoker in Australia, was the same that these better quality ones were being sold for!

  
I did find one that I could carry back on the plane with me, much cheaper than buying back home!

 
With the supplies bought we headed home. On the way Patty had to stop off at a bank to deposit a check.

   

The check was deposited (placed) into a tube, without getting out of the car!

  

There was even time to check emails while waiting for the check to be processed!


The teller came up on the monitor, advising that the check had been processed.  

 

With the transaction completed, a receipt was then sent back in the tube! Banking without entering a bank, who would have thought!

  
 

The supplies and paint were unloaded, and the work began! I masked up critical areas and began cleaning the surfaces to be painted. I stopped for a bowl of ‘taco’ soup for lunch with Patty on the porch, which was quite tasty!

  
The local Memphis Grizzlies had made it into the NBA playoffs. Tonight was game 4 of 7, and it was being played at Fed Ex stadium. As there were some tickets left I decided to go! I paid for the e-ticket online, and just had to print them.

  

The problem was that Patty’s printer wasn’t able to connect to her laptop, and the tickets needed to be printed out for entry!

  
The problem was solved when the cab driver dropped me off at a Fed Ex printing store! My ticket was printed out, costing only 14 cents!

   
   

There was an air of excitement in Beale street, as the Grizzlies had just won the previous home game! I joined the long lines at the security checkpoint, before taking the long stairway to the ‘nose bleed’ section! 

   

  
For my first NBA game, I was quite impressed. I bought myself a hamburger, pretzel and beer, and headed to what I thought was my seat!

  
As I sat back and relaxed, I noticed that someone was sitting in what appeared to be ‘my’ seat! He explained that the seat I was sitting in actually belonged to his friend, who was arriving soon!

He never showed up and it wasn’t until the end of the game, that I realised that I was in block 230, not 231! Oops!

 
I returned home quite happy with the day, although sadly the Grizzlies lost!

 I must admit that I haven’t brought much good luck to the team’s that I have watched during this trip! As I jumped into bed, I continued the argument with the cat on what side of the bed she wanted!

Tomorrow the plan is to continue with the painting, with the hope that it will be all done.

  

BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 12: Sunday 10th May 2015 (Tunica MS to Memphis TN)

I had a great nights sleep last night, and actually woke up quite late. It was wonderful sleeping in a hotel that didn’t have smoke wafting through the door, or smell of pets!

 

The plan today is to drive to Memphis TN, just across the border. Before that I want to visit a casino, hopefully to win enough money to pay for this trip!

  
 Tunica MS is home to several casinos and also has links to Blues music. I checked out of the Days Inn, and headed towards the strip.
   

I would have loved to see Dwight Yoakam!

  

I knew that I would have no luck, when the dollar bill that I fed into a poker machine got stuck inside! I called the attendant and he gave me the evil eye as he took out the crumpled note!

I spent an hour at the not so lucky Horseshoe casino, trying to find a ‘lucky’ spot to put down my $10!

   

I decided to cash it in for two $5 chips and play roulette. The first chip went on black, loss. The second went on red, loss! Stupid game anyhow!

Ten dollars lighter, I headed for Memphis. My accommodation there was back at Pattys house, the Airbnb Farmhouse that I stayed at last year.

  
As it was Mothers Day, I bought some flowers for Patty and arrived just before 1300.

   
 

The Farmhouse is a great property, and if you are ever looking for somewhere to stay in Memphis, I would highly recommend it.

I suggested to Patty that I take her out for a Mothers Day lunch and she drove me to Huey’s Burgers, a favourite restaurant at mid town.

   
 

I ordered the World Famous Huey Burger, and Patty ordered the same as well a side of onion straws.

   
 

The burger was quite tasty, a decent size, and they can actually cook the beef patty to your liking!

   
 

The highlight of the lunch were the onion straws! Thinly cut onion rings, floured and then deep fried! They had an intense onion flavour and being so thin, almost melted in your mouth!

   
 There is a tradition at Huey’s where you can use your drinking straw to blow the toothpick that held you burger together into the ceiling! What a great idea!

   

That orange one is mine!

After a great lunch we headed back to Pattys, and relaxed on the porch for the rest of the afternoon.
   
 

Patty has agreed to allow me to stay as a guest in return for painting her hallway. We both agreed to start work tomorrow morning, and settled in for a few drinks. Patty made a light supper and it was good to finally be in Memphis!

  
The plan tomorrow is to start painting the hallway, a job that I have allowed two days for!

  

BBQ Adventure (2.0) Day 11: Saturday 9th May 2015 (Jackson MS to Tunica MS)

Today couldn’t come quick enough! After a sleepless night in what I would describe as the worst hotel I’ve stayed in, it was time to finally head towards Memphis! 

Today the plan is to drive from Jackson MS to Tunica MS, stopping at a Civil War memorial, BBQ places, and a blues bar!

  
Last year I visited Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina. It turns out that this fort was the location of the first shot fired in the American civil war.

  
In the continuance of my interest in the American civil war, I decided to visit Vicksburg MS. 

Vicksburg was the location of one of the major Union Army battles, and ended up being the turning point of the war. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg was a strategic location for both armies. 

  
The Confederate army had control of the valuable Mississippi River, the supply line of the South. The Union army sent a large force to take Vicksburg, take control of the river and divide the Confederate army!

  
The Vicksburg National Military Park is located on the outskirts of Vicksburg and is made up of the actual  trench locations of both Armies.

   
   
As I drove along the 16 mile self guided tour, I was overwhelmed by the size of the battlefield! There are memorials to each state that fought for each side along the way.

   
  

       

It was hard to believe that thousands of rounds of cannon, musket and explosions filled the air in this place. Today the battlefield has tranquil forests and people use it as a walking track!

   
     

The Confederate army lines were highlighted with red markers. Being a Confederate city, they basically held the high ground and were heavily fortified and dug in!

   
  

 

The Union army lines were highlighted with blue markers. The Union force was much larger, had more firepower, and surrounded the Confederate trenches.

   
  

The one thing that stood out during the tour, was just how close the trenches were at certain spots!

 

Basically despite having the high ground, the Confederate forces were isolated and outnumbered. The Union army under Ulysses Grant tried on several occasions to defeat the Confederate army, to no avail.

   

 After 47 days of heavy fighting, limited rations and with no sign of reinforcements, the Confederate army surrendered. The Union army took control of the vital Mississippi River, and the Confederate forces were defeated and the southern states were divided.

   
  

Although the civil war was not part of my history, you still gained an understanding of why it holds reverence to Americans today, with the loss of so many men.

   
 

I had only planned to spend two hours in Vicksburg, and ended up staying three! I set the GPS for Yazoo City, the home of Ubon’s BBQ.

Up until now, including last year, I have managed to never run out of fuel. There is a gas station positioned all along the interstate and even on some of the highways!

  
My fuel gauge said that I had 24 miles until I ran out, and the GPS said 47 miles until Yazoo City! I figured that there would definitely be a gas station before I ran out.

There was, but I had just passed it! 

I proceeded along a road that showed no signs of ever hearing of a gas station, let alone having one! I got to the point of no return, and despite all signs saying that I should turn around, I continued! The gauge started getting into single figures, and at 5 miles I turned the air conditioner off, which gave me 4 more valuable miles!

I’m not overly religious, but it’s funny how when things aren’t working out, you ask Jesus for help! Now you may not believe in him, but just as all seemed lost and the gauge hit ZERO, a farmhouse appeared out of nowhere on the isolated highway!

I pulled in and the owner Bill Harris, from Harris Farms gave me a gallon! When I asked him how much he wanted, he just replied” tell them a Mississippi boy helped you out”! What a top bloke, thank you Jesus!

Ubon’s BBQ

  
I made it to Yazoo City thanks to Bill, and pulled into Ubon’s BBQ

 

Lucky with the parking!

 
  Ubon’s is family owned, and upon entering you could tell that the father and daughter combination of Garry and Leslie Roark worked well! They were not in the restaurant, as they were in Memphis getting ready for Memphis in May!
   
 

It was late in the afternoon and as I wasn’t hungry, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with beans and coleslaw.

 

The sandwich was filled with both dark and white meat and tasted nice just as it was. I decided to add some of the famous Ubon’s sauce, and wow!

 

  
  The sides were both nice, and the sweetness of the beans was off set by the freshness of the coleslaw!

 

The beans had beef mixed in with them.

  
   After the meal I got to write my name on the wall, and thanked both Miss Mini and Miss Deborah (Tete)!

   
     

Abe’s Bar-B-Q

  
After a great meal, I headed to the nearest gas station and filled up! 

My next stop was Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale MS, about a two hour drive.

  
I had planned to visit Abe’s BBQ last year, but the weather put an end to that! I was keen to visit this time and I arrived fairly late in the afternoon, tired and not all that hungry.

  I felt like something lighter than BBQ (sinner I know!), so I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich! It was actually very tasty!
   
  

 

As I left Abe’s I regretted not leaving Vicksburg earlier. I would have liked the time to have eaten BBQ here!

   
   As the sun was setting on the crossroads, I still had one more place to visit in Clarksdale, before driving to Tunica.

  

   The Ground Zero Blues Club is partly owned by Morgan Freeman, and has a reputation for  great food and live music.

   
   

Upon entering  I was impressed by the atmosphere, and ordered a beer at the bar. A welcoming drop!

   
     

The beer tasted very nice, and I could have stayed here all night! Sadly I still had another hours drive, and had to leave the live music! Next stop Tunica MS.

  
   
   

The day was turning into night as I finally made it to my accommodation!

   
  

   

It was very pleasing to arrive at a hotel that was neat and tidy with friendly staff!

The plan tomorrow is to wake up late, head out to a casino, and then head to Memphis TN.