As loyal followers of this blog realize by now, I am a snob regarding many things, like Butter vs Margarine or Mayo vs Miracle Whip. As passionately as I feel about these subjects, I think I am most piqued by the sheer forehead-slapping stupidity and inefficiency of the ubiquitous municipal picnic-area ‘bbq grill’. I will try to be fair in my representation and logical in my complaints, but man, I really really hate those things.
In the interest of fairness (See, I told you I’d try), they are free* and they are not installed or maintained by me**. But, I assure you, other than these minor pros, these horrible trolls are nothing but cons, literally and figuratively.
* In a paid-for-by-my-taxes sort of way.
** Except for when I have to pick them up and re-seat them in their hole, balance rocks around the main support pole to keep them mostly upright, and scrub them with a wire brush and formic acid prior to use.
Notice the small grilling area – no opportunity for multiple heat-zones here. Notice the anti-theft integrated multi-level grill surface that makes it nearly impossible to load charcoal, especially if it’s already lit. Notice the really short support pole, meaning that the installer must choose between a secure grill at ankle level and a tipsy grill at normal height. Notice the total lack of any sort of lid, so that even the slightest breeze will blow all the heat directly away from your food. Who doesn’t love grilling a hot dog for 40 minutes only to give up and eat it cold?
And as if the grills themselves weren’t bad enough, ugh, location, location, location. Sure, sometimes you get a decent picnic-area layout: close parking, handy shade, convenient trash bin. A grill capable of heating more than a single can of pork-and-beans per 14# of briquettes PER HOUR would be icing on the cake. Oh wait, no, that grill’s supposed to be the cake.
But all too often the picnic areas available look like they were laid out by giant aliens who’d never actually gone on anything even remotely like a picnic. They often include steep hills between your car and the table, a missing trash can, a total absence of shade, and a grill so far away that it may-or-may-not be related to your table. I have found, through numerous picnicking adventures, that this hill usually puts the table downhill, meaning you get to wrestle all your heavy ice chests down a perilous, ankle-twisting footpath made by deer, and then have the joy of hauling all your garbage uphill at the end of a long, hot, shadeless day (thanks, lack of trees). You may stub your toes 8-18 times on the cement pad and eye-hook clearly designed to hold a trash can that is no longer there. You might even get to stare longingly at the faucet/fountain of non-potable water, when you’re not fighting a swarm of hornets like a spastic knight fighting an invisible dragon, all for the privilege of tending to your still-frozen weenies.
Now, you might be sitting there, convinced that I’m just one of ‘those people’ who hates the outdoors, or had a traumatic picnic encounter as a child, or some other such nonsense. Nothing could be further from the truth; I love picnicking and camping. Fat Hubby’s second-best Valentine’s Day gift (narrowly beat by “OK, you can tell everyone about the baby”) has been a whole new set of picnic/camping gear that all fits neatly into an easy-to-store TuffBox on wheels. One of the best things about picnicking/camping is that there isn’t much for us to do except read books, nap, and cook over an open flame. It’s quiet and pretty and real, and I love it.
I do, however, absolutely despise inefficiency. In the grand scheme of things, I’m really not asking for a whole lot. I’d like a reasonably comfortable layout and a grill that actually, you know, cooks stuff. Such a grill doesn’t have to be any more expensive than the crap they’re putting out currently. Wouldn’t increased traffic to your $12/day picnic area more than make up for it?