I have received a couple of e-mails lately regarding the upcoming CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) annual Chili Cook-off that takes place on the first weekend of November in Terlingua, Texas... which as you may know is an annual pilgrimage for me.
The main question I am asked is what "virgins" to the event should not forget to bring with them.
That is a little difficult to answer because I am one of a dying breed...I am a tent camper. As a matter of fact up until last cook-off that my friends from Houston joined me after a ten years absence...the only tent camper in my group.
Tent camping requires a person bring a lot more items than those in RV's and campers. Since all the questions were from readers with RV's ...I will address that group in this post.
First and foremost you are headed to the desert, so bring LOTS of water with you. If you can freeze milk jugs, water and soda bottles these can serve as ice to keep your beer and food cold and once they thaw out...can be used to brush your teeth, wash your hair, rinse off some clothes or to just drink them.
I would advise you to bring as much beer, wine and spirits as you think you might need and then multiply it by two or three. You are going to meet a lot of people and have many guests stopping by afterwards. This is a festive place and you will find yourself consuming more than you would back in the default world. Beer and ice in Terlingua are not cheap and last year due to the unusual high temperatures...they ran out of ice early Saturday morning as well as in Lajitas and Study Butte. I do not know about you, but I personally like my beer to be COLD.
You might consider bringing one or several bottles of Tequila or your liquor of choice whether you drink or not. People gather around campfires at night and pass a bottle around as they tell stories and shoot the bull until the wee hours.
People are very generous and will invite you to breakfast, lunch and dinner...it might be nice to reciprocate. However, if you are a virgin don't worry about it as most old timers will bend over backwards to make sure your first experience is memorable.
This is the desert and in late October and early November it may be 100 degrees in the day but at night the temperatures drop sharply. You might want to bring some firewood, blankets, warm clothing and a heavy jacket.
This is a BIG place and if you want to explore it...bring your four wheel vehicles, dirt bikes, mules, jeeps or tricked out trucks. Don't forget to stop by my camp and take me for a ride :D
What is that you are saying...you do not know where my camp is at? I am in the old spectator area along the ravine. Look for my Kodiak Canvas tent or ask for Belinda from Houston...yes, I know I now live in Del Rio but I am known as Belinda from Houston, ok?
I usually arrive a week before the event but even at this early date people tend to party at night...it would not hurt to buy some ear plugs to drown out the sounds. If you do not like to be kept up to the wee hours of the morning...perhaps this is not the event for you. If you prefer a more quiet setting, may I suggest the other cook-off...known as the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cook-off located behind the store. This is known the other 51 weeks out of the year as BJ's RV Park.
Bring some gallon milk jugs, preferably full, but if not empty ones...so the people that would rather drive home with empty fresh water tanks can donate their liquid gold to the locals. They converge early Sunday morning to scavenge the area but many do not bring containers to bottle up this precious liquid so they can take it home.
I would also suggest you bring a wide brim hat, lots of sun block lotion, an extra camera as well as batteries, flashlights, sunglasses, binoculars, beads (for the ladies and men that flash you), fly swatters, wasp spray, extra pair of shoes, hiking boots, additional chairs (for company) and a shade structure. Will post more tips on future blogs.
This link will also answer a lot of questions you might have http://www.krazyflats.com/ however, they are not good about updating information until two months before the event.
I have made a new post with tips for tent campers http://terlinguadreams.blogspot.com/2013/10/casi-chili-cook-off-questions-part-2.html
Good night. May you have Terlingua Dreams.