But still it grilled on. It worked pretty well, with a minimum of hot spots.
When I hauled the grill out of storage this spring, I discovered that virtually all of its lava rocks had turned to powder over the winter and collected in a pile on the bottom shelf. What had not collected there had settled on the gas jets, blocking all but 3-4 of the holes. Now we not only had hot spots, but we had little but hot spots. The time had come to put the grill out to pasture and replace it with a newer model. We shopped around at the usual assortment of big box stores, but none of the grills there impressed me. The nicer ones lacked features that most of the literature had told me was required, and the cheaper ones were flimsy. Finally, when we were checking out the Home Expressions Show at the end of March, one of the vendors there sold me on the merits of one of their grills.
It was a little more than I had been planning to spend, but after we discussed it later we decided that this one would probably last a good fifteen years if we bought it, so we went back to the vendor on our way out and found that the salesman had mysteriously disappeared. One might think that we would take that as a sign. We left the show grill-less.
Fast forward to a week ago last Saturday. I had done a bit more research on grills, and decided that the place with the best selection of good grills was the same vendor that we had seen at the show, so we drove up to their main store over in the west end of town. Initially we drove out there to look at the grill we had seen at the show, but we ended up buying the one that they'd had opposite a the show because it was on sale. We ordered the grill and a cover for it, and then when we made noises about taking it with us when we left the salesman said, "Oh, our warehouse isn't open today, so you will have to come by sometime during the week before 4:30." atara and I discussed it some more, and decided to have them assemble and deliver it instead. The last thing the salesman told us before we left was, "They will call you to set up a delivery date, but you should have it before the end of the week."
On Friday I called them and said, "Yo, where's my grill?"
Call 1: The receptionist blind-transferred me to somebody's voice mail.
Call 2: I called the warehouse directly this time, and got hold of somebody who was very polite and helpful. He took down all of my particulars and promised that he would get the information to the guy who handled shipping and they would contact me back.
Call 3: I called again on Tuesday the following week and got another helpful guy in the warehouse who actually took the phone over to the right guy this time. He told me that the grill had been sitting there since the previous week, assembled and ready to go. When I asked him when we might expect to see it, he said, "Well, it's usually up to the salesman to arrange delivery." I told him that I would call the salesman if that's what was required, but he said, "No, that's OK, we can set it up for you. I'll talk to the delivery guys and find out when they'll be in your area next then call you back to set up the time either later today, or tomorrow morning."
Call 4: On Thursday I had heard nothing back from them, so I called the office again (but I had learned how their business was set up, and called the preferred number this time -- apparently they are two business units operating under the same name, and I had called the wrong business unit the first time. The guy in the warehouse had lectured me about that on my third call.) I got hold of the salesman who had sold us the grill, and he seemed nonplussed to hear from me, until he found out that we had not got our grill yet, and that the warehouse was not returning my calls. He said to let him take care of it.
About an hour later the warehouse called and asked if it was OK for them to deliver it between 1 and 3 that same day. At 2:55 we had one of these behind our house:
I was pleased until I discovered that they had not shipped the cover with it. We had ordered a cover. The driver was mortified when he discovered that they had not included the cover, and he apologized personally saying, "It's my fault for not checking the order more thoroughly against the invoice." He swung by on his way home from work to deliver the cover. Of all the people we'd dealt with in that company, the driver and his helper were easily the most professional.
When we were tossing around our criteria for grills, we both acknowledged that charcoal grilling gives the best flavour. We both also agreed that charcoal grilling is the least convenient, with the longest ramp up time. In the end we settled on one of the newer model IR grills, where you don't even have an open flame. It uses about 30% less gas than a traditional grill, and did a great job on the hamburgers. As soon as I post this I am heading outside with some marinaded chicken breasts for fajitas. I espect it will do well with those too.