Protective covers are coming off in anticipation of the warm weather. Here in Northern California we had a taste of the summer to come already, temperatures hovering in the low nineties most of last week. The first cover we took off was the grill. It has only seen one season with us, not really a whole summer at that. Preparing the meat and excited to cook el fresco for the first time this year I carried the plate out to my other half. He is the designated griller at our house. Since I nearly burned down my old neighborhood in the 80’s by using an entire bag of charcoal in my Weber, I’ve left this type of cooking to more capable hands.
Pulling the igniter nothing happened but a click. Sigh. Another appliance bites the dust. Off to the store for a new battery, as Rick was sure this was the problem, once installed we were still left with only the click and no delicious barbecued steak. Dispatched to find the paper work I was excited to note the warranty was still in place. Last July we paid $80 to have it delivered and placed in the appropriate spot. Being up in the mountains as we are often sources for things we want are at a minimum a half an hour away, the case for the store where we purchased the grill. Calling the number on the invoice, I related my problem to the manager of the garden department. Sympathetic she suggested I bring the grill back to the store and they’d be happy to either repair or replace it. This is good, yes, but not quite perfect. As I said we’re in the mountains. We have an SUV and a small sedan. There are two of us here, neither of us getting any younger.
A dilemma at best, we thought of renting a truck. By the time we paid for the truck to go both ways, gas, and two men to load the barbecue on the truck, this seemed like less of a viable solution. Hmmmm. Finally we drove down to the store and spoke to them in person. After some deliberation they decided to send someone up to look at the grill, an excellent idea. That was Wednesday and we haven’t heard from them yet. We remain grilless as of this writing. I will call them again today, but expect my ribs will be under the broiler by 5:00.
With the onset of summer boat covers will be coming off as well. At times I miss our boat. Not enough to buy a new one, however. It’s kind of like when the kids move out. You miss them terribly, but don’t want any new ones to move in. Boats are a responsibility, and can be a costly particularly with the price of gas these days. Like any vehicle, they require maintenance and upkeep to keep them going.
The last boat I owned coincided with owning our restaurant. You can’t do both. Trust me on this. Owning a restaurant sucks every last hour out of you, and by the end of the day the idea of going down to the boat, gassing it up, cleaning the decks, and packing a lunch seemed about as inviting as hopping in a tank of sharks at Sea World.
When we did find a free day it was glorious to skim across the lake in the warm sun. I would pack us something delicious for lunch, and when we found a secluded cove we’d drop anchor and float for an hour or two. There is something so refreshing about dropping into a cool lake when your skin is fiery from a hot day. You almost sizzle as you sink below the surface.
Inner tubes and rafts kept below deck allowed us to float along with only an occasional fish nipping at the air bubbles on our legs providing an occasional interruption. Gentle rocking almost lulling you to sleep, it was easy to pass an afternoon in the blink of an eye before turning the boat towards the marina.
I’ve owned two boats, and spent many days on the boats of friends over the years. Engaged back in the late 70’s, my fiance at the time bought a brand new boat. It was a Cobalt, the Cadillac of ski boats and a real beauty. A trip was planned for an upcoming three days weekend to launch it for the first time. Our destination was Cottonwood Cove, a gorgeous stretch of the Colorado River known for it’s pristine waters and popular for boat camping. Besides ourselves, my two children, 8 and 9, there was to be one other boat, two jet skis, and two additional couples, one having a daughter close to the same age as my children.
Driving across the desert the heat lay heavy on the land long after the sun had set. We drove caravan style only stopping to gas up and grab a light dinner, spending the first night in the bed of the truck before launching the boats.
The marina at Cottonwood Cove was nearly full when we arrived. Getting an early start in the morning to ensure a camp site, we settled on a spot about five miles from the marina and pitched our tents.
The weather was funny that weekend, hot with a bit of a wind. The usually glassy waters were choppy making skiing more difficult. On Sunday we woke to winds pushing at the canvas and our belongings tossed all around the sand. It was not a day for sun bathing or skiing, so with dark clouds moving in we made the decision to pack up and cut our trip short.
The first boat headed in towing the jet skis. On board were my son, one other couple, and the other little girl. In my fiance’s boat we were carrying my daughter, myself, and the remaining couple. Packing in a hurry, we didn’t pack well. Life jackets were stored beneath the hull. This was to be a stupid mistake, I never made again.
Alone on the choppy water we made our way slowly towards the marina. Waves broke over the hull splashing against the windshield. It felt more like the ocean than the river. Afterwards we were told the winds reached nearly 80 MPH. At some point the engine swamped and we stopped. Not creating any forward movement, we quickly began to fill with water. I grabbed a white towel and balancing on the hull of the boat began to wave it in the air. I can remember hearing my daughter screaming, “Mommy” into the wind.
As if an answer to a prayer a tri hull boat appeared in the distance. I wasn’t sure if they saw me, but shortly it began apparent if they had. As they pulled up to us the back of the boat was fully submerged and the couple in the back in the water. Standing on the hull of the boat I was able to hand off my daughter before being thrown into the churning water. Going under several times I caught a vision of my fiance hanging onto the bow of the boat as I surfaced and went back down. Amazingly they were able to lift us all into their boat, and shivering we watched as the new boat sank below the surface never to be seen again. Before long the sheriff arrived and with nothing but the clothes we had on, we were escorted back to the marina. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
This gave me a healthy respect for boating and how quickly conditions can shift. I still love it though, and would go out today if asked.
I’d never tried a tropical crunch before. This was very nice and refreshing.
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed
3 bananas, sliced
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
3 Tbsp. toasted flaked coconut
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cut cold butter, cubed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes watching closely until golden brown. Stir frequently. Set aside.
Mix together pineapple, bananas, and mandarin oranges. Mix flour and brown sugar and sprinkle over fruit. Mix to coat well. Pour into greased 11 x 7″ pan coated with cooking spray.
In small mixing bowl mix together flour, oats, coconut, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cut in butter until crumbly. Spread over fruit.
Bake 30-35 mins. until bubbly and golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.