While having lunch in the park one day, a pickup truck pulled up. Two men jumped out and unloaded a backyard, propane barbecue. They rolled it over to a table, then rolled it across the park to another. They cooked food for a family on it and lay on the grass to nap away their full stomachs.
I turned to look at the permanently installed charcoal barbecue next to our table. I glanced at the ones next to the other tables in the park and I wondered. I turned to my companions, and mentioned the trouble the group across the way went to in order to barbecue in the park. "But nobody uses those gross barbecues," they responded.
I considered that for awhile. The barbecue by our table was full of ash and litter. The grill was caked with remnants of meat, grilled long ago. Then I thought of other parks I’ve been to. Some of those barbecues had never been used. I wondered why. What is wrong with using a public facility?
The barbecue unloaded by my neighbors across the way was old. The grill was caked with remnants of meat grilled long ago, just like the one by my table. Hmmmm, I thought. The only difference between the propane grill they brought from home and the one by my table, was fuel type. So I’d like to point out the campground barbecue appliances and tell you how to use them.
First, clean out the old ashes and litter. A fireplace shovel works divinely, but a regular shovel works well too. Campground hosts and park rangers clean these out frequently, however, so you’ll probably have a clean space to pile your charcoal anyway.
Next, start the fire. Put a pile of charcoal in the pan, squirt some lighter fluid on, and light the fire. When the coals start turning gray, it’s ready to grill. Spread the coals out in the pan for even cooking.
While the fire gets going, use a wire brush and clean off some the carbon deposits from the grill. (This is easier the hotter the grill gets). It really isn’t necessary to clean it, because heat takes care of any germs that may be on the grill, but if it makes you feel better, go for it.
The next step is simple. Start grilling. You will enjoy the taste of the charcoal in the meat instead of the taste of propane.
Now let me talk about other solutions. I have a tabletop barbecue that uses disposable propane bottles. It’s relatively cheap and goes on sale frequently. I tuck it in with the other camping stuff before I go, but the best solution I have found is the grill box that fits on top of a Campchef stove. As a camp cook, I’m going to be taking my stove anyway, so why bother with another grill.
When you buy that perfect backyard barbecue, and give it a prominent place in your backyard, you don’t want to haul it all over the place. There are other solutions, but don’t be afraid of the campground grills, they work fine. In fact, once you use one, you might go home and build one in your backyard.
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