Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Q-Tour, Part I

Growing up in North Carolina, I have had the good fortune of eating some of the best barbecue in these here parts.

I'll start by telling you that I am pretty biased. The best barbecue in the world comes from a place called Stamey's in Greensboro, NC. 

This is the barbecue I grew up with. I can remember one summer I spent with my grandparents. My grandfather would take me to Stamey's almost daily. We'd either get our barbecue to go or we'd just belly up to the counter and eat it right there. It was the best. And still is.

I know, them's fight'n words. But, before you get all bent out of shape, I also believe in having an open mind. 

For me, barbecue isn't all about taste. It's also about the memories and I'll never forget those days with my grandfather.

Now, back to being open-minded.

I have had the good fortune to travel a little in the great state of North Carolina here of late. And some of those travels have taken me down barbecue road a little ways. This is a road I love to travel and hope it has no end.

About a month ago, I was in Roanoke Rapids working on a magazine for Journal Communications called Images of the Roanoke Valley.

The story took my on a miniature barbecue tour of the area. I got to visit Ralph's Barbecue in Weldon, NC, Lynch's Barbecue and Grill in Hollister, NC, and Whitaker's Barbecue in Scotland Neck, NC.

But my most interesting barbecue trip thus far was a few months ago when I had the good fortune of spending some time in Kinston, NC, home of King's barbecue. (This is one of those times when being open-minded is key.) King's is home of the "Pig in a Pup." It's barbecue served inside an enormous hushpuppy, the size of a small hoagie roll.

This is by far the most peculiar barbecue creation I have come across to date. And, to be honest, it's not half bad.

As I crisscross the state over the next few months, I plan on getting my fill of barbecue. But, no matter whose barbecue it is, it will always remind me of the times spent with my grandfather on a stool at Stamey's.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Before World War II, the area northeast of Denver, CO, was predominantly farmland. In 1942 the US Army bought 30 square miles of land and established a chemical weapons facility known as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

After the war, the Army leased the land to private companies to produce commercial pesticides until the early parts of the Cold War. At that point the arsenal was resurrected to once again create chemical weapons.

It wasn't until the mid 1980's when a study into the pollution and soil contamination at the site led to the discovery of wintering bald eagles. This discovery helped transform the Rocky Mountain Arsenal into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

Today, portions of the refuge are open to the public as the cleanup continues. Visitors can hike on miles trails, fish in several lakes and view the many species of wildlife, such as deer, coyotes and the newest addition, buffalo, that call the refuge home.