Terlingua Dreams

Terlingua Dreams
2019 CASI Chili Cook-off - Terlingua, Texas

Friday, November 8, 2019

It was a smaller crowd this year - Updated

This was a rather different Chili Cook-off in more ways than one.  It took me a long time to get my camping gear together, I had to pack and re-pack my car to make everything fit and had to delay my trip due to inclement weather. My friends who were coming from Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth area ended beating me there.

Back of passenger side

Back of driver's side


Passengers side

I removed the headrest so I could fit even more stuff
in the back seat.

There were several people that got there way before normal. One of my Terlingua acquaintances arrived FIVE WEEKS beforehand. Others had been there anywhere from two to three weeks just to make sure no one beat them to their preferred camping spot.

With that said there was a lower attendance this year. Lots of good camping spots to be had including mine which I figured I had no chance of finding vacant. Below is the picture of MY prime piece of real estate. It was taken on my last day there. I had just packed up and most people had already gone home though a few diehards still remained.

On my first trip there (I made two) I got a late start that afternoon so I had to skip my dinner in Alpine and press on since I have poor night vision and the deer and burros can make their presence known at any time.  From Del Rio to Alpine it is 204 miles.  From Alpine to Study Butte 80 and then 11 miles to CASI for a total of 295 miles.

As I have mentioned before, I missed the last two cook-off's and while I have been told about the population explosion, I was very surprised to see so many little sheds, trailers, houses, and motels that now dot the landscape.  Sorry that I was not able to stop and take a picture.

There are two annual cook-off's, I attend the larger one. When I passed by the other one they seemed to have more people than they usually do...are they also coming earlier to reserve their spots?

The Sheriff's department set up shop but did not come until Wednesday when the Cook-off officially starts.

The bar was open for business early on...

I arrived too late the first night to set up my tent and even though I was offered a bunk in my best friend's RV...I decided to pass as I knew I would wake up early and wanted to set up my camp before it got hot.

While I did not stop to eat in Alpine my friends made up for it with large breaded shrimp and fries. That first night we partied until 3:08 a.m.  It had been a long time since I have done that!


  1. Glad you had the chance to meet up with your friends again this year.
    Like yourself we no longer do the late hours.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. I was very happy to meet up with my friends once more. Terlingua is the only place I get to see them so if I have to "sacrifice myself" and party to the wee hours I gladly do it...joking...I do it "willingly" :D

      Unfortunately, due to my insomnia, I stay up very late at night but not partying at home.

  2. It's interesting that you say the other cook-off seemed a little bigger this year & the CASI championship seemed slightly smaller. For serious Texas music aficionados, the other cookoff (the Tolbert/Fowler) is considered a more prestigious event, I'd say, and I see that Gary P. Nunn, Dale Watson & Thomas Michael Riley headed the bill this year.

    So I wonder if Gary P. Nunn's announcement he'd retire this year made everybody realize it would be the last time he'd play there so they better make it down? And Dale Watson probably has a big following too.(Not only is he well-known for his music, he's the reputed mastermind behind the time-honored Austin tradition of Chicken S#!t Bingo. https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2016-03-11/playback-chicken-shit-bingo-splits/ )

    Glad to see you got to go this year & hang out with your besties again (finally!) & that everybody got home safe & sound!

    1. Hi Leilani! I agree, the past couple of years the music groups playing at the Chili Cook-off behind the store has been much better than the ones at CASI.

      I had no idea that Gary P. Nunn was retiring or that Dale Watson and Thomas Michael Riley were going to be headlining this year. I did hear someone telling the guys that they were heading to the other cook-off for the evening but did not know who was playing. We rarely leave the ranch after Wednesday particularly at night...too much heat.

      Even though that was odd as well usually DPS swarms the area and this time I did not see a single squad car and I made two trips this year (more on that later).

      Thanks for that link about CSB...it was hilarious...I had never heard of that!

      I almost did not make it home had a similar incident as I did a couple of years ago on the way to Uvalde when I had an eighteen-wheeler on my rear end and a deer that popped up and did not move until the last second...except this time with some sort of a dead animal that was either a large bobcat or something similar.

      I was driving between Alpine and Marathon on a Monday when there is little traffic and you can go for long stretches without seeing a car. Just my luck when I saw it I was going 70 mph (speed limit is 75) I had a little car on my tail and a car coming in the opposite lane. I knew if I veered I could flip and so could the little car behind me who also had a low clearance.

      Had no choice but to veer and I clipped the legs of whatever it was. That little car slowed down significantly after that and so did I.

  3. Sounds like it was not overly crowded this year and that you had a good time. I hope the weather was in your favor?
    So nice to catch up with old friends and to make new ones, as well. It had to feel good to have a break from your routine, but I am sorry to hear of the aches and pains.
    I am one of the few people in Montana who hasn't hit a deer or moose or bear on the highway. I try to never drive at dusk or at night. Like you, I am increasingly night blind. It really affects my depth perception.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your adventure.

    1. Hi Penelope, not overly crowded but different people had different takes on the reason for this. The first thing everyone noticed was that the cooks-area was practically empty. We used to referrer to them as "The Country Club" crowd.

      I do not know how accurate the figures this guy gave us are he said in the past two years over two hundred cooks have passed away and there were few if any to replace them. Entering chili cook-offs takes a lot of time and money and you have to travel to different events so most of the cooks were retired and elderly.

      Others cited the recent Oct 2019 storms and tornadoes in Texas much like when Harvey happened two years ago my friends said it was just as dead if not more so.

      Today Leilani cited the more popular musical line-up at "The Original Cook-off" which I had no idea about. The older couple that knew everything is no longer with us so I guess we will never know for sure.

      My aches and pains are letting me know that I am getting too old for this.

  4. So happy you had a good time. You sure have a lot of camping gear stuffed in the car. You must be a really good packer.

    1. I had a great time JO, it was wonderful seeing my best friend again as well as all my other buds.

      I was once a good packer but this year I did a terrible job. It got to the point that I just wanted to leave so I started throwing my clothes and shoes into the back seat and stuffing other items in cubby holes in the trunk.

  5. So happy you had a good time and am sorry I didn't get to see you. My new car is smaller than yours so not sure If I will ever head back for the cook-off but may make a 2 day trip and get a room.

    1. I was hoping to see you as well Frann. Even if your car is small you could take a tent.

      I would love to stay in those new casitas they rent out...is it called New Terlingua? Checked the prices out but they were unfortunately out of my budget.


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