St. Patricks Day Rocket Fuel Party

If you can remember the St. Patricks day Rocket Fuel Party then you weren’t there.  That is a bit of an exaggeration but there were a couple of people who should have had a notice put round their necks.  “FUELING COMPLETE.  NO SMOKING.”  They were obviously tourists.

WOW.  That was Terlingua in full force.  The party was a fundraiser for the Volunteer Fire and EMS.  When all of the commitments are in we expect to squeak just over $5,000.00.  We have already handed over $4,800.00 to Greg Hennington, our fire chief.  I think the community should be proud of that achievement and I mean the winter Texans as well.  Thank you all.

This was the first chance we have had to cook on the new barbeque pit so we were a little nervous.  Would everything work OK and would the BBQ be top quality?

The first problem was that the pile of “Oak” turned out to be anything but.  We weren’t  going to cook with mystery wood.  The panic was on.  No suitable wood and only one day to go.  By a strange twist of fate I had just met Don Baucham of the Rustic Iron BBQ  Don stepped in and donated some wood to the cause.  He delivered it and stacked it and it was Oak and Mesquite and I was smiling again.  Thanks Don.  It is just possible that Don will be setting up a BBQ trailer somewhere in Terlingua/Study Butte.  That will be great.  This is Texas and we are supposed to have barbeque joints.  Until La Kiva opens the closest one is “Come and Get It “in Fort Davis.  “Friday and Saturday, 5:00 p.m. ’til it’s gone
Sunday, 11:00 a.m. until we run out” so hurry up and join us Don.

Wood problem solved, we prepped the meat and did a test firing of the BBQ.  It worked and the dampers all worked properly.  Smoke came out of the HUGE smokestack, it filled the main chamber and the monster rotisserie rack went round just the way it was supposed to.  Smiles all round.  We set the temperature and watched the needle creep ever closer to the set temperature and when it reached it all sorts of servos kicked in and flaps closed over air vents and the temperature stopped dead on the correct temperature.  We watched it for a while and it stayed rock solid where it was supposed to so we went home.

At ten o’clock Elton and I headed for passing wind.  Elton loaded the BBQ while I loaded the firebox.  Two slightly smug individuals added the last touches and prepared to leave.  Elton called “I am setting it going.” and then there was a flash and a bang and everything stopped.  Elton looked devastated.  I think he had visions of us staying up all night feeding the fire with one stick at a time and trying to control the temperature while robbed of our automation and with no backup manual control.  Ouch.  What Elton didn’t know was that I am not only an engineer that does abstruse calculations while someone else executes my designs.  I can actually fix stuff.  I headed back to La Kiva and grabbed my tool kit.  Within half an hour I had the front off the machine and the problem fixed.  It took me a little while to track down the breaker which had blown when we had our problem but once I had done that we were golden.  We hung around until it reached temperature and then we stayed on until it had gone through a couple of cycles of temperature adjustment just to make absolutely sure it was working and we went home to bed.

Next morning we headed for passing wind to find the smoker had maintained the temperature within two degrees of where we had set it the night before.  It smelled great.  We wrapped the briskets and turned the temperature down to the holding temperature.  While Elton prepped the beans and baked potatoes I got the fire going in the small smoker so that we could do baked potatoes and authentic Ranch style beans.  To make a long story short the potatoes came out with just enough perfume from the smoke to make them interesting, the brisket was great and the beans were the best I have ever had.

The party got started when the Doodlin Hoggwallops tuned up.  The weather was a little spotty but it didn’t stop anything.  The Hoggwallops played through a rain shower and got a cheer for that.  The music was good the food was good and the company was fantastic.

Do I look Cool
Gonna Try Begging For Brisket Without The Shades
The Pit Of Despair (Princess Bride) AKA The POD
Some of the Hotties
This image inserted by hackers
The Jacket Potato Cooker
The Doodlin Hoggwallops on the Pirate Ship
Elton The La Kiva Executive Chef
Pablo Menudo Strumming on the Focastle
Honest honey. I don’t know how that got in there but you must admit they are pretty impressive.

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Big Progress

It has been a long time since I posted an update.  I was bored of saying that we were about to put the roof on and then it didn’t happen.  The electricity is being installed and then it didn’t happen.  We are laying concrete floors and then it didn’t happen so I decided to break the pattern.  Just as I was about to post I had to take a trip to Salt Lake City (that caused me to delay by another week) to collect the new barbecue pit and then snowmageddon ensued and it looked like we would be trapped in Salt lake City until they dug us out around June.

Near Shiprock
A Monadnock Near Shiprock, New Mexico

As I have some slight skill at looking at weather reports I looked at the forecast and at the radar and then at the IR satellite and it appeared to me that there was a sliver of countryside stretching from SLC to Las Vegas that was snow free and would remain that way long enough for us to beat a hasty retreat.  We left Salt Lake City in heavy fog with it alternately snowing and raining, blowing a gale and the temperature plummeting.  By detouring to Las Vegas we got home just half a day later than we had planned, in good weather all the way and with a smile on our faces, whereas we would have been delayed for days and would certainly not have been smiling if we had tried to retrace our steps.

The new barbecue pit is huge and will be perfect.  It is wood fired with no gas or electric assist.  It is built like a tank and has a reputation for being the absolutely best commercial barbeque pit of all time.  The fire pit is outside the kitchen while the food is inside, which keeps the logs and ash where they belong and the food is in an environment that the health inspector will approve of.  It can cook 1,000 pound of brisket at one time or it can cook a totally ridiculous number of chickens or ribs.

A J&R 700 Oyler Barbeque Pit. The trailer will be repurposed after the pit is installed.


Here is a quick status report of the rebuilding effort:

Electricity.  Installed and working and the old power lines have been removed.  The electricians have provided a temporary supply to my two RV’s and to the crew working on La Kiva and they have made a good start on installing things like the emergency generator automatic start, the supply changeover box and the breaker boxes .

Water.  I now have city water to my RV and also to La Kiva.  YeeHaw.  I no longer have to haul water.  That is huge.


The big trench is finally closed and I now have a way of getting a well drillers rig close enough for them to pull the pump from the long defunct water well and get that refurbished.  A well to water the vegetation!  We may once more see grapes growing at La Kiva and cotton woods in the parking lot.

Many of the viga’s are now in place and are being cemented into the structure.  They smell divine and look pretty substantial.


Work is well advanced in getting the foundations and plumbing for the rest rooms built.  The forms for the concrete rest room pad, the dry storage room and the Oyler smoker are nearing completion and with luck we will get them poured next week.

We have acquired a new chef.  His name is Elton Foster and he is working with us designing a new menu for La Kiva.  We are keeping much of what was in the original menu but there are some expansions that we feel sure will be welcome.  We have a lot of work ahead testing out every dish on the new menu and making sure we have a reliable source of supply for the ingredients.

This coming week should see us doing the last pour of concrete, putting up a few more vigas and starting putting the roof on.  Exciting times.  Oh yes.  How could I forget?  We will be doing our first test cook on the new barbecue pit towards the end of the week.  Now that will be fun.  Stay well and stay happy.