I’m no competitive eater – just a regular guy, with a serious appetite – Adam Richman (Man vs Food)
It has been another huge day. Actually, that is really what Contiki is. Early mornings, late nights with so much awesome in between. We stared our morning bright and early with a 4:30AM wake up. Hated our lives at this moment. Then we realised that we were on the holiday of a lifetime so it got good pretty quickly. The reason that we woke up so early is that we had a hot air balloon sunrise flight over Albuquerque.
The van picked us up from the hotel and we drove about 15 minutes out to a field where the guide began to inflate the balloons.
They were massive. About 10 people can fit into the wicker basket. Soon enough we were in the basket and taking off. This was a really cool feeling, when the balloon was flying low it was absolute bliss. However, when it was up real high (we got to about 1700ft) it was pretty scary. You begin thinking that literally all that is between you and falling to death is about an inch of woven straw. The views were spectacular as was the sunrise.
We ended up floating around in the sky for about an hour before attempting to land. We aimed to land in this field behind a church, which old mate completely overshot. We ended up crash landing on a golf course. The landing was great. As balloons have no shock absorption you have to brace for a solid landing which we did and our basket tipped over and we had to lay there in a tipped over basket for about 5 mins. It was pretty hilarious then we got out onto the fairway and people were cracking golf balls up the course!
When we got back to the hotel we had a champagne toast plus a little poem which is customary following a balloon flight. This was a really nice experience and one of those things that you have to do at least once in your life.
Soon after we were on the road again leaving Albuquerque for Amarillo, Texas. Ronnie was to be doing a big eating challenge tonight so he was only eating very light, small meals. The drive was about 5 hours and we had a stop that had fuckin Popeyes chicken! Something Ronnie have wanted to try for a very long time! He couldn’t try it due to his light eating. This made him sad. He hopes to come to another Popeyes.
We stopped for Lunch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This town was so cool! It is where George R.R. Martin lives. All of the house are built it using Spanish architecture. We walked around and had a look and then we grabbed a tamale and some fajitas from a food cart that our tour manager recommended. They were absolutely delicious. $5 for a full fajita and it was just so delicious. After exploring Santa Fe, we were back on the road until we arrive into our 6th state in USA – Texas. The town we were staying at is at the top of the state. It’s called Amarillo.
We pulled up at the hotel at Amarillo which is was old-timey and country and western themed. The pool was in the shape of the state of Texas and it had a horse hotel where people could tie up their horses. It was pretty cool.
It was directly across the parking lot from The Big Texan Steak Ranch which is a massive restaurant and bar and would be our venue for the night.
We got ready and rolled into the restaurant. They had a hundreds of tables and one table that was above all other on a stage. This table was for Ronnie and two of my Contiki Familia, Breno and Danielle. As we got up there they put the challenge in front of us. It was a bread roll, a large baked potato, a garden salad, 3 crumbed prawns and the granddaddy of all steaks which was a 2.3kg sirloin steak that was about as big as my head. It was enormous. Ronnie stated that his heart sank in this moment. He had talked this up for months and then when it was presented in front of him, he was intimidated, he had already lost the battle.
The announcer told everyone what was happening, there was a huge cheer and we kicked it off. Ronnie stated that his first bite was incredibly dry. He was chewing for ages, he thought he was going to throw up – this was already not looking good. He powered through it with a sip of water and soldiered on. He got into a rhythm, he was smashing steak at an unbelievable rate. He thought at this moment that there may be a chance that I could do this, this thought was short lived.
He got about halfway through the steak and he hit that wall. It was a mighty wall indeed. This wall rivalled the one in at the Night’s Watch. Every bite from then on was agony. He thinks the main contributing factor at this point was that by now he was absolutely hating the taste of steak. He was gagging on every bit of juice. He was trying everything he could to get it down, adding sauces, chasing it with drinks, mixing with salad but nothing was working.
At this point, he knew he was done with steak. Ronnie looked at at Breno, he hadn’t touched the sides but was well ahead on the steak, he had resorted to picking it up with his hands and biting chunks. Danielle had cut her steak up into pieces but all three of us were visibly struggling. We made eye contact and all three of us silently acknowledged that we were fucked. Ronnie didn’t want to look completely shit so I forced myself to get through all of the sides, which he did. There was a loud cheer during the last minute and Ronnie almost puked a few times, but it was over, we were defeated.
The Contiki family said they were proud and it was a good effort. We were awarded with a T shirt and a souvenir cup shaped like a boot for our effort. Usually we would have to pay $72 for failing the challenge, however, the Contiki family all chipped in $5 and paid for all three of our meals. Lovely people.
Braden gave us a free beer voucher which I used but couldn’t get something as heavy as beer down. All three of us went into the bathroom for a tactical vomit so we could continue the night and enjoy it. Aimee and I got a margarita which was delicious and hung out in the beer garden which was an absolute quality area.
I even got the energy and was feeling well enough to join in on the line dancing. I was pretty terrible but it was good fun! Amarillo did not disappoint. We got home at about 11PM and did a bit of laundry and hit the hay.
Tomorrow we are driving to Fort Worth, Texas.
Ronnie & Aimee.