Day1: Austin to San Antonio via Taylor, Lockhart, and Luling
Because of the complex nature of this trip, we invited some friends along to help out--we'd have custody not only of the Ram SRT-10, but a Viper SRT-10 as well, and with two vehicles, we'd need three drivers. Taking the time to help were local automotive author and editor Steve Statham, and Matt Malone, part of the marketing group at Boston Acoustics.

While we could've saved time driving to Taylor, northeast of Austin, Steve suggested we visit Elgin for a quick sausage snack at Southside Market. Steve, who also judges BBQ contests in his spare time, told me Southside Market was acclaimed throughout Texas as having some of the very best hot links. He was right.

We then drove north to Louie Mueller's in Taylor. We've heard that unless the interior walls of a BBQ joint are stained with smoky patina, chances are it's just not the real thing. When we stepped inside, we knew right away Louie Mueller's is the real deal. The aroma of smoked beef, pork, and chicken will permeate your clothing, and remain there hours after your departure.

Steve told us to concentrate on the beef brisket, which was uniformly excellent and would serve as a benchmark against which later brisket would be measured. The cole slaw, a traditional side dish in this arena, was also top drawer--very sweet, not sour.