MuleCam, Pork and a DVD signing – Oriental, NC

This week I’m visiting Oriental, NC ,where I began my circumnavigation aboard Sea Bird – and my mule trip across America.

Coast-to-coast mule trip departure – Oriental, NC, March 2004, Melinda Penkava photo

But no, this time I’m not here to go sailing, muleing or dragon hunting.

Nope, this time I’m here to attend Tennessee Ronnie’s annual block party barbecue.

I caught up with Ronnie this morning as he was inspecting the grill on his pig cooker.

Ronnie checking for burned-on grease

He quickly got me up to speed on preparations.

“You gotta start with a clean grill.” he said as he ran a finger across the grill bars. “That’s real important. I learned that at a place called Chuck’s Smokehouse where I worked in high school. Once a week, we cooked a hundred shoulders. But Chuck was real particular about cleaning the grill every time before we used it. He’d say “You don’t want to taste every pig you cooked before the one you’re about to eat, do you?”“.

As always, he’s going to cook up a few chickens because, as Ronnie notes, “Not everyone’s a pork eater.”

As with all his past cookouts, there’s no charge to eat. Maybe that’s why up to 300 people have descended on his cooking in the past. The catch? Just remember to be neighorly and bring a side dish.

Town dogs Ceilidh (pronounced “Kaylee”) and Jack waiting for a waft of barbecue

You’re all invited to come on down. For those of you with a dead-ringer-beats-em-everytime corn bread recipe – cook up a pan and enter it in Ronnie’s corn bread contest. Three judges will sample the premliminary rounds and Ronnie will pick the winner who will be crowned the 2006 Corn Bread Idol. Tips for winning? “Impress me. Be creative.” Ronnie counsels – then adds – “I’m open to bribes, too.”

It got me to thinking. Not everyone can come to Oriental and spend a day watching Ronnie cook. Why not rig it up so anyone out there could just drop in from time to time for a look. Why not – broadcast the event on the MuleCam!

So yes, all day Friday and Saturday, you can drop by the MuleCam to see how Ronnie’s doing.

Ronnie tweaking the MuleCam housing

On Saturday, May 27, from noon to 4 pm, I’ll be down at the Bean coffee shop signing copies of my “65 Days Alone at Sea” DVD. If you can’t be there, you can still drop by the MuleCam. Chances are by the time Ronnie pulls that pig out of his cooker, you’ll be in your car headed Oriental-way.

Remember, dinner starts at 5:30 pm and the Corn Bread Idol get to be first in line.


For more on Oriental, visit



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