Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barbecue Master Road Trips to Missouri to Meet the Winter Grillers at Roaring River Resort

Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Misouri

Last week I went up to Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Missouri. The owners, Lon and Syndi, had invited the Winter Grillers up for a first annual gathering of the grillers – or the chance to meet our imaginary grilling buddies. We joked about that, because we’ve all been friends but online for several years.

Winter Grillin was a group at a web site, but the group branched off to a private space on Facebook Winter Grillin a while back for more features and options. I’m part of the early and tight group and was likely one of the first to sign up in 2009. One of the members left a message on my blog saying I might enjoy the space, and I sure have.

Winter Grillin does involve a lot of talk about grilling and barbecue, but we also grew to know each other on a personal level. The group was “there” when my son rescued a fellow teen from drowning, and I didn’t know if either boy made it out of the river for 20 minutes. They’ve seen my boys get Eagle Scout and graduate high school and now the oldest one graduating from college (and along on this journey to Missouri). I won’t share everyone else’s business, but we’ve all been there for the good and bad times for years now.

Syndi and Lon - Couldn't Ask for Nicer People

Lon has always been like the heartbeat of the group, coming up with fun ideas that helped us all bond. He set up a mailing trade off, and we mailed his pet penguin, Burr, around from member to member and included barbecue gifts and other fun things to the next person along the mailing trip.

Lon and Syndi came up for the idea to have a meet up, and they offered space to everyone at Roaring River Resort. That’s a long way from here, but I was determined to put that on my calendar. I first planned to fly, but my older son said he could drive out with me, so we decided to make it a road trip.

Took the Scenic Route - Glad We Gassed Up on the Highway
Goole maps sent us by the scenic route. I think we went five hours without seeing a motel . . . when we were looking for one (Well . . . we did see one with three police cars - which did not look safe at all). The map route also indicated 14 hours, and it was more like 17 or 18, so I think Google does not factor in bathroom, gas, and food breaks.

That’s okay though, because I got to spend a lot of time with my son who will likely move off to work and have a family, and a mother/son trip would not be likely to happen again anytime soon.

Barbecue Master and Son Road Trip - What Fun
We arrived at Roaring River Resort which reminded me of earlier days. The feel is small town friendly and retro in a good way. After chain motels where we were just a room key number, it was delightful to arrive at a place that felt like visiting relatives (the ones we like). Everything was super clean, and Lon and Syndi treated everyone like family rather than just faceless drones.

My son and I had a kitchenette room, so we could prep for grilling. They have standard rooms, the kitchenette rooms, cabins, and RV spaces. The prices are very reasonable. I had to look those up, but we sure paid more for generic motel rooms with basically just beds.

My Winter Grillin' Buddies - Even Better In Real Life Than Online

I didn’t know what it would be like meeting my Winter Grillin’ friends in person, but it was even better than I could have hoped for. They were like their personalities online – but even bigger, bolder, and warmer.

Grilled Trout - Cassville, Missouri

Lon, Syndi, Greg, and Debbie (Greg and Debbie live closer) rocked the grills the first night with fresh trout. This was after Lon had us put together grills in a speed contest. My son got stuck in last place, because I just had to take photos and was not much help. I don’t think he wants me for a partner if he goes again (-:

Raul Can Rock the Grill and the Music

After we ate, Raul entertained us. He’d brought his guitar. We all knew he played with Soul Driver, but we didn’t know how good he was in person. Very impressive. There’s nothing like live music after a great grilled meal.

The next day, Lon and Syndi took us all out on the pontoon boat. That was a blast, and I must say that the Ozarks are absolutely beautiful. Syndi taught me the dock trick (which I won’t explain). And, they showed us this great spot where you could climb up the cliff with a rope and jump in the lake.

Really Now. It Did Not Look This High From Down Below.

I thought cliff diving would be grand fun, so even though I’d not thought to wear my swimming suit, I jumped in, scaled the cliff by rope, and then chickened out when I saw how far it was to the water (looked like a mile from up high). Greg was glad I did not jump, so he made sure I got down the rope without killing myself.

Caleb Takes the Plunge Off the Cliff in the Ozark Mountains
My son, of course, did jump from the cliff. Ah. To be young.

Greg and Marv Getting the Smoked Ribs Ready to Hit the Plates
We had a rib off after the boat ride. Marv does competition barbecue, so he headed that up in Lon’s really cool pig shaped smoker. We had several rubs and some sauce on the ribs. I did my Dizzy Pig rub with Nephew’s Cherry Potle sauce.

Oh Yes - Chrystal Nailed Her Tri Tip
Chrystal grilled up a tri tip while the ribs were smoking. I’d never had that before, and I was hooked from the first bite. That was too tender and juicy to even describe. I also loved her Mom’s cowboy beans which was a recipe handed down in the family. Those were some fabulous beans. She emailed the recipe afterwards (thanks).

Chrystal's Mom's Cowboy Beans - Family Recipe
I took on appetizers, because I’m known for home grilling and easy recipes that taste great but don’t take a lot of time and work. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sausages in the wok and cheese grilled on the grates on my PK grill which I hauled from North Carolina. There were no leftovers, and Syndi hit the grilled cheese after I left, so I think that was a hit. I think she will need her very own grill now.

We all traded our barbecue secrets and carried in grilling gifts to share around. We ended up overloading Raul’s suitcase, since he flew in. I’m glad I drove even if it was a long haul, but I had to repack twice, since a pick up truck won’t hold as much as I thought.

Winter Grillin' Crew at Roaring River Resort in Missouri
That was my wild, wonderful summer adventure – a trip to Roaring River Resort to hang out with my online grilling and barbecue buddies. I was excited about going, and it turned out to be even more fun than I had even hoped. The Winter Grillers are the best  . . . online and in person.

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