Life is busy. Between work, family and a decent social life, there’s hardly any time for rest and relaxation. This goes doubly so for Americans.
We work relatively longer hours than the rest of the developed world. and are reluctant to use our vacation days. Which may not be to your benefit considering that the more vacation time you take, the more your productivity at work increases. But, what to do when you don’t always want to splurge on a trip? May I suggest a staycation in a town not too far from you. We do live in Texas after all—a humongous state waiting to be explored! And I did my exploring recently in a 2018 Colorado ZR71 that—full disclosure—Chevrolet sent me to test out.
So, I set off on a 300+ mile road trip. Me, the Chevy and the promise of BBQ.
The First 146 Miles: Gator Pit
I took the long road from Austin to Houston, from hill country to bakery heaven at Hruska’s to Gator Pit. If you’re interested in BBQ, from casual grilling to intense competitions, then you’re gonna want to hear about Gator Pit. This old-school business deals with custom pits. There’s not a BBQ pit they can’t make for the right price. There’s no mass production, no cutting corners, as they painstakingly work to not only make a pit, but a piece of art.
You don’t have to get a top-of-the-line pit either. You can order from their many options. Personally, I’m thinking of gifting the Party Gator model. (You’re welcome, Dad.) If you want a pit from them, just make sure to give yourself some time to order – like a year. That’s right, this business is so popular that there’s a waiting list a year long. But, it’s worth it. They’re one of the highest rated BBQ pit manufacturers in the world.
And Back Again: Lockhart
After Gator Pit, we made our way from Houston to Lockhart. The town of Lockhart is a small and bustling town, known all around the state as the “Barbecue Capital of Texas”. Here, you’ll find mainstays like Kreuz Market , Black’s Barbecue and Smitty’s Market. I’ve never been a huge BBQ girl—despite being a Texan (I’m the strange brand of southern who doesn’t like large quantities of meat), but I was willing to step out of my comfort zone for these businesses.
There was a delightful surprise waiting amongst the summer heat in Lockhart—Brisket University. It’s where beginners become BBQ-pros. Or, at least learn how not to overcook the meat.
Our pitmaster of the day was a jolly man who genuinely loved the craft of cooking an amazing slab of beef, along with pork and chicken. I’m a terrible cook and even I was able to learn something from the straight-to-the-point directions from our chef and the informational video and educational materials. Brisket University offers classes every week in Houston, Austin and Lockhart. Definitely a great gift for yourself or any aspiring pitmasters you love.
The Main Event: Chevrolet Colorado ZR71
I’m not great with cars. I got 1 out of 99 in the automobile section on a test in high school and I failed my driving test three times. So, needless to say, my vehicle knowledge is lacking. That being said, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR71 isn’t here to be analyzed, it’s here to be driven. And drive it I did.
It has the power that’s a trademark of the Chevrolet brand, evident in its ability to carry up to 1,574 pounds of payload and tow up to 7,700 pounds. But, it also appeals to the less under-the-hood inclined of us with modern features like:
- MyLink infotainment system with a 7” touchscreen
- Rear-view camera
- Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- 6-speaker audio system
The specific model I tried out, the Z71, was oriented towards off-roading. It’s features included an off-road suspension setup, an automatic locking rear differential, a transfer case shield for four-wheel-drive models, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, an EZ Lift & Lower tailgate, hill descent control, a power-adjustable front passenger’s seat, heated front seats and remote start. Cool tip for the non gearheads: It tells you if you’ve left something in the back seat!
Cover photo: Past meets present: the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR71 at the historic Smitty’s Market, built in 1948 and a staple in Lockhart, BBQ Capital of Texas.
Leeza is a UX writer, which is just a fancy way of saying she makes complicated stuff easy to read. She does this for sites like 16Personalities, Apartment Therapy and, of course, Texas Lifestyle Magazine. That’s not giving you a lot of detail, is it? Don’t worry, you can read more here.