I just finished a trip that took me through 20 US states, lasted for 21 days and covered just under 6000 miles. I'm hoping to share my experiences, but I expect that it will take me a few days to find the time to write it out and post some pictures. Please bear with me.
Exactly 22 days ago I found myself with with my annual case of cabin fever. There's a period of time wedged between the end of my busy season at work and the arrival of Canadian Spring where I'm more or less a hostage to the elements. It's too warm outside to provide the freezing required to move the machinery that supports my industry, yet too cold to be able to keep myself busy around the yard at home.
I typically spend this month or so every year sitting at home and Googling warm vacations or planning how I intend to spend my summer months. It's a bit of a transition, more so this year because it came on the tail end of 9 months of working on a project with maybe 7 days off, total.
Anyhow, my wife apparently recognized my restlessness and told me that I ought to make a trip down South which I'd been batting around for the last few years. My plan was to just get in my truck and drive to the Southern US. I didn't want to fly anywhere because I wanted to be fully immersed in the different cultures, and I wanted to have absolute freedom to decide when and where I traveled. The idea was to be similar to a Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives whereby I would get to experience an entire spectrum of US food, and the culture surrounding it. I quit drinking 12 years ago so I no longer have the luxury of using the culture of alcohol as an ice breaker in discovering the "vibe" of a community. I think I was as interested in Southern culture as I was in Southern food. I was curious as to the similarities and/or differences not only between my country and yours, but also between different regions of the US.
Having began my own BBQ learning curve just last year with purchase of my BGE, I decided to use the trip as an opportunity to visit and taste different BBQ joints along the way. Having also done some research previously as to having a table for my BGE built, I contacted Tim Spake at Castle Stove in Quincy Illinois and we went over and finalized an order for one of his stainless steel BGE tables. I also happened to let Tim know about my plans to drive through the US tasting BBQ. He was generous enough to take the time to draw me up a map with some of his favorite joints along my route. This proved to be incredibly helpful in deciding where to stop along the way.
It was with the knowledge that at some point I would be in Quincy Illinois to pick up a smoker table, and absolutely no idea where I would end up in the meantime, that I got in my truck and drove away from my home with not much more than the hope of escaping the snow and eating some good BBQ.