Monday, September 23, 2013

Cruising Scouts - Acquire Propane Merit Badge

Today, I think I am going to think of this year's adventure like a Scouting adventure. I have to earn my stripes, my merit badges. Just like when I was a Brownie way back when. Then, once we are back and I am all "boat schooled and s--t", I can hang out at the yacht club and be "one of them", the Eagle Cruiser. The Real Thing. Ta Da! Little Ole Me! Today's Mission was to get Propane for the stove. We weren't out of propane. But we could be. One day. Soon. Maybe. We were running on another tank but Marcus said that if we run out then we'd have no way to cook. And he also said that getting propane is not something easy like getting fuel at the fuel docks. And I am thinking we are in a massive municipal marina with several hundred boats, many of them fishing boats, who all must use propane. How hard can it be? Apparently, it is not easy. Propane vendors are not located "close" to marinas. Not in Seattle, either! I could see that I was going to have to sweat a bit to earn THIS badge. Yesterday, while coming back from a trip to the grocery store (I must have earned THAT badge then too. YIKES! Is here extra credit for doing all this with a toddler in tow?), I started "hunting" for a gas station that had a sign saying it sold Propane. Very close to the marina, near the Hispanic grocery store, I saw a Chevron that had tanks. I have never been the one to fill them so I had no idea that there are different tanks, sizes, etc. And that "swapping" filled tanks is something you do for your barbeque grill, not for your boat. Who knew? I dragged Max and Samey up to the Chevron only to be told that they can't FILL tanks there. Only exchange tanks for same size tanks. Our is much smaller. BUT Apu was kind enough to mention curtly that I could get it filled at the "Ice Factory". And a guy in line chimed in, "Yeah, on Milpas". Thanks, Guys! Hey, I know Milpas! That is on the Trolley route! Near Trader Joe's! So, Attempt One is a failure but I have gained the sacred knowledge of where I need to go to accomplish my Merit Badge Task! (Never mind that we walked RIGHT IN FRONT of this place when we made our Epic journey to Trader Joe's exactly one week ago today... we apparently did not notice the signs...) Max helped me lug the empty canister back to the boat and I made plans to find the "Ice Factory" and trolley over there in the morning with Samey while Max took his Science test, before Marcus and Ben got back. SO. This morning, I check online and find out that, indeed, there is not only such thing as an "Ice Factory" it is also called "Santa Barbara Ice and Propane". On Milpas. Which is a street that ends at the beach, near the end of the trolley line. OK. I can handle this. Late morning, Max dinghys us over to the dock closest to the street with the canister strapped (no, uber roped - Max-style, from the trip the day before) to our rolling cart (this is a BIG marina). We head across the parking lot to the trolley stop and wait. And wait. The trolley stop is next to a playground. Samey wants to play. I tell her later! After we do our very important job! And then the trolley pulls up and it is the same guy who has been driving us back and forth along that line for the past three days. And he tells me, "Oh no. I am not allowed to take that on the trolley." I say, "It's empty!" He says, "Rules. But, if I were to not "see" what you are bringing on board, I might not notice that it was on board." And I say, "OH, I see." And another guy on the trolley says, "Go over to that little store and get a bag! The trolley will be back here in a half hour!" So, I take Samey back off the trolley and drag her past the playground explaining to her that I need to go get a bag to hide the canister and then we can get back on the NEXT trolley. As you can imagine, this makes NO SENSE to her. Trudge, trudge back across the parking lot and into the store where the guy is actually nice and, as I purchase an ice cream sandwich for the toddler who wants the playground, he gives me a white trash bag to "hide" the canister and put it back on the rolling cart, all the while they are laughing about how much "safer" it is to have the canister wrapped in plastic and I am mentioning that I am also lugging around a toddler and they have a good guffaw at that, too. Untie, untie, untie Max's many knots, free the canister, drop the canister in the bag, cinch the bag. Decide I don't want to tie it back on there. Stubborn-like. I set it on the cart and use the plastic ties from the bag to "secure" it to the cart. Back across the parking lot with the canister in the bag, sliding around on the rolling cart because why? Because I refused to take the time to retie it back on and my husband does not believe in bungee cords (WHAT? Dangerous or something. He got hit in the eye one time... OK, OK but they are SO useful!!?), over to where the stop where the trolley stops - did I mention it is conveniently next to a little playground? We have time (the evil canister is concealed! Not secured but hidden, sorta) so I let her play. And then, she does that sitting down thing where I know she needs to pee. And so I take her behind a tree and she pees. And goes back to the playground. And I am watching her, watching the rolling cart and the bagged canister and watching for the trolley to come back. And then she tells me she has to poop. OMG. Whatchagonnado? So, off come the shorts, on with the diaper, hiding under the play structure and then me begging her to let me change her quick so we can leave the poop behind and be better prepared to take the other toxic materials on the trolley with the nice man who is going to pretend he doesn't see my canister wrapped in a plastic bag. Quick! Quick! Phew. Diaper changed. And time to spare. The trolley returns. We nonchalantly get on. The driver is kind. We sit. I hide the sloppy rolling cart with my backpack to be respectful. So he could really pretend he had "no idea". Samey is hungry. I have snacks! Here's an applesauce squeezie! And pretzels! And we're off to Milpas. Helpful as we descend, the driver and another passenger make sure we know to go up the the corner, cross the train tracks and next to the batting cage/pastrami deli (!!) is the ice factory ("Just like the Letter Factory", says Sam). There is an arch, HUGE, like a rainbow right there. Art. Samey loves it and wants to play around it. We do but I am eager to get this DONE with. Let's Go, Samey! She pouts. We walk, slowly, picking flowers as usual, up to the corner, down the street, over the train tracks, past the batting cages with me stressed about the canister sliding around on the rolling cart and the wandering toddler as cars and trucks whip by (did I mention this is close to the on and off-ramp to HWY 101?), to the ICE joint. We find it. We go in. He asks me where I am parked. I say I am on foot. Samey is dancing to the loud music. They sell beer, kegs, helium tanks and balloons. A real party place. He takes the tank, goes in the back, fills it and I pay $9.95. It takes five minutes, max. After all that. So, then we go out. Again, I refuse to tie the tank on. It is surprisingly light and I have doubts that it is even filled. It would fit the story, right? But how should I know? I've obviously never filled one before!!?? We walk our painfully slow way back to the Milpas trolley stop. Again, picking flowers and rocks. Wobbly tank in plastic bag. Cross the park with the rainbow and the bums. We wait, wait, wait at the trolley stop. We get back on the trolley with our same driver (I guess there is only one on that route? Thankfully, he is super Santa Barbara nice) who nods at us but does not say a thing and we head back to the marina. More snacks and water for Samey who just loves those trolleys. Me, too. Windowless, along the road that parallels the beach. It is a lovely ride. I thank our driver heartily after we descend. He waves at Samey and she waves back. And then rolling, rolling back up the long dock and finally to the boat. Mostly, I had to carry her, the backpack and pull the rolling cart for the last stretch up the dock. And there. Three hours later. We have a filled extra propane tank! Thanks to me! Yes, me! And Samey! Now, I ask you, DID I OR DID I NOT EARN MY PROPANE MERIT BADGE?
Chromatic Gate by Herbert Bayer


  1. You have indeed earned your badge. Eventually you will earn your joker valve badge.