(…continued from Part III)
Jay and I sidle up to the counter, tell the old lady who we are and that we have one camping spot and one cabin reserved. I explain that I spoke to someone earlier in the week on the phone, that we’ll be here for about six months while they’re running natural gas pipeline to the Purina plant in Mannquin … She can’t find our reservation.
Furthermore, she says they never rent the cabins by the month. She’s flustered and a bit snappish. She makes me feel like we’ve just strolled into this place trying to pull a fast one, because there is no way, no how, that ANYONE working there would ever make such crazy promises. It’s just impossible! The girl who just drove 12 hours from GA must be lying!
Jay is beyond pissed, but handling it surprisingly well, so apparently all those anger management classes his work keeps sending him to have had some impact. I’m impressed he doesn’t go off and leave us stranded on the side of the road with no place to live.
She tells me she can’t book us in until we talk to the owner, Rose, whose office is at the other end of the building. We go over there to get her.
Rose reminds me of Aunt Carolyn. She’s shorter with lighter hair, but probably around the same age. It’s the way she talks and carries herself that reminds me of Carolyn. I can’t tell if she’s really full of BS or if I’m just putting that on her because of who she reminds of, but either way, I don’t trust her. I feel as if she’s probably a little two-faced and moody.
When we first step into her office she seems put out to be disturbed at her desk. Her initial reaction when I blurt out our whole sad story is very similar to the other lady’s, “No, no, no! Nobody would ever promise you that without clearing it with me first!”
I’m starting to get pissed now. I mean why on freaking earth would I make this up?! Why would I drive 12 hours and take a chance on them having room for us?! It just doesn’t make any sense for me to do this. Obviously I spoke with someone.
But then Rose regains control and puts on a more customer service-like attitude, taking us back over to the store/office to see what she can do to accommodate us. She looks through her papers and says a spot for the camper is not a problem. The price is the same as I was quoted, $385 per month. BUT we have to pay for our electric. The girl I spoke with on the phone didn’t mention this.
When we ask how much that usually runs everyone she says $80-$100 per month. BUT nearly all the people who stay here use their campers only on the weekends, the rest of the time they go home to their jobs and life. This place is kind of like Wasaga Beach in Ontario, full of seasonal residents who set up every year cottage-like. So lord only knows what our electric bill will run with me being here all day long all the time. I’ve been trying to run the A/C less, being very conscious of unplugging appliances when I’m not using them. Still, we don’t have to pay this bill, the company will do it, so it’s not too much of a biggie. Our accommodations should still come in more cheaply than a hotel room in Mechanicsville.
The cabin for John on the other hand is a major biggie. She says they can’t possibly accommodate him, they’re all booked up for the whole summer, he’ll have to stay with us in our camper for the night and figure out other accommodations in the morning. Then John is super pissed, gets that “I’m going to explode and say something nobody is gonna like in a few seconds here, so I think I’ll just walk away” look on his face and promptly goes outside to let us handle this.
Jay says, “Look, my wife talked to someone and she said monthly for a cabin was no problem for $350.” I thought the two old gals were going to have a heart attack! Their jaws literally hit the floor. “No! No! No! The cabins rent for $350/week!!! There’s no way anybody would ever tell you that!”
I’m like, “Well, maybe she thought I meant a week and I actually meant a month and we had a mis-communication, but that’s what I wrote down, that was my understanding of it.” And then I took out my cell phone and looked at my calls dialed and told Rose exactly when I had spoken to someone and for how long so she could figure out which one of her staff was responsible for this clusterf$#@.
Meanwhile she’s frantically looking at her cabin bookings to see if there’s any open even for the night that we can put John into. And lo and behold, she finds one! He can stay the week, but has to be out Friday morning because they’ve got other guests coming in for the weekend. Okay then, this is better than nothing at least and gives us some time to figure out what to do with him because he really doesn’t want to stay in the motel with all the Mexicans, Hubert the black guy, and Brad. He wants to be closer to us and out in the country too.
Our initial plan was to try and get Brad a cabin out here with us too, so now that’s all shot to hell. He’ll have to stay in the motel for the duration and they’ve put him in a room with Hubert, who is allergic to deodorant and can be smelled from 50 feet away first thing in the morning before he even starts working and sweating. Jay spoke to him on the radio Sunday night to apologize that we hadn’t gotten back out that way to pick him up and get him out of there for a bit. I told him we’ll try to go get him and he can come spend a night here with us in our camper sometime soon. I feel bad for Brad. Jay is just livid. Nobody has ever had to room with Hubert before on any of the other travel jobs they’ve gone on. Hubert always gets his own room because he stinks so bad. Plus for Jay there is the issue of Brad being a white boy, and no white boy should have to live with Mexicans and blacks. It’s just not right.
So we start filling out the registration forms and the little old lady asks how we’ll be paying … “Well, my wife talked to the girl about getting direct billing to the company and she said that would be okay.” She just throws her hands up in the air and looks at Rose as if to say, “Can you freaking believe this?!” But Rose is in fine form now that she’s found us a place, fully into customer service mode, “She really should have spoke to me about that first, but yes, that’ll be fine. Just get the company information from them tonight and have somebody contact us either tomorrow or on Monday to set it up.”
By the time I finally sign the guest sheet and get ready for Rose to show us to our spot, it is 8:15pm. It took us 45 minutes to check in!
When I go back outside I see that John is talking to the guy, Scott, who helped us find the campground when we were lost in the detour. He stopped in on his way home from wherever it is that he went in order to make sure we found the place okay. John’s been filling him in on the whole booking fiasco and Scott says he might have a few lines on places to stay. He gives John his business card and tells him to give him a call if he runs into trouble finding a new place to stay or if we ever need anymore help. That was pretty nice of him! Despite all the mishaps, it’s kinda cool being out in the country.
Rose puts me and Jay in lot number Y-14. There are a lot of trees, two big ones at either end of the drive. The road itself is narrow and sandy. We’re not on concrete slabs anymore either, it’s just the ground, which makes it harder to level up. She stays long enough to help guide Jay into the spot, because I’ve never done it before. Then she goes back to the office to take John to his cabin and tell him where to park the trailer off the crew truck.
I’m freaking exhausted! I could just curl up into a pile on the ground and sleep for hours. When we open up the camper it’s hotter than the hubs of hell from having no A/C on all day and everything is spread out everywhere from the rough driving we’ve encountered in Virginia. It’s an overwhelming job to put it all back to right. I can’t face it. Especially when the place is so hot.
By now, it’s dark. We haven’t really been able to size up the spot we’re in. Jay just does the basics so we have running water, electric and are mostly level … well enough so we won’t fall out of bed in the night 🙂 We sit at the picnic table to wait for the house to cool down. John calls to see where she put us and finds his way over to us. He’s about 4 rows over, overlooking the river. There are a lot of people driving around in electric golf carts. They all wave and say hi, which is very different from where we used to live.
The cabin is extremely small, about the size of John’s spare bedroom back in GA. We were told he’d have to bring his own linens for the bed, so he did, but he didn’t bring a pillow and there are none to be found in the place. We give him one of our new ones. There’s also no mirror in the cabin for washing or combing hair or shaving. The bathroom is smaller than the one I had in my Sackville apartment, if you can even believe that! But it really is, mostly because the toilet, sink, and shower stall are smaller models than what I had. John’s shower is even smaller than what we’ve got in our camper, which is insane! Luckily he’s a skinny bastard 🙂
We sit around for a couple of hours, unwinding after the long trip, laughing about some things that happened, still upset about others. We call the people we need to call to let them know we’ve arrived safe and sound. There’s a breeze blowing in off the river, which makes it kind of nice to sit outside. Eventually we wind down and John says good night and walks back to his cabin.
Me and Jay stay outside a bit longer, finishing our drinks. All evening our neighbors have been coming and going on their golf carts. Just as we’re about to go inside, two women in a golf cart pull up next door. They ask if we’re all settled in and apologize they haven’t introduced themselves earlier. The driver and owner of the cart is Debby (or Deb, but NEVER Deborah!) our next door neighbor to our front. The other lady is Suzie, who lives over yonder way halfway between us and John. They’re asking us all kinds of questions about where we’re from, why we’re here and for how long etc. and I guess we passed the good neighbor test because next thing I know Debby wants to take us to the beach to meet other neighbors. We fix fresh drinks and hop on the back of her golf cart.
I don’t even know who all we met down at the beach. There were a lot of golf carts, a lot of people standing around shooting the breeze. There was one lady named Aida or Aileen or maybe Ida, in her late 50’s or early 60’s I’d say, originally from Connecticut I believe, who had spent some time living in Calgary. She has one of those deep scratchy manly voices and has an air about her that reminds me sort of like Marina Griffiths.
There was a Big John and a Little John. Little John is actually physically bigger than Big John, but much younger as he’s probably only in his 20’s. There was a deputy sheriff named Keith, who Jay had a great conversation about the job with. There were some very young, very drunk, very sleazy 20 something girls with their boyfriends. I wasn’t really introduced to any of them. Nor did I really want to be 🙂 Though I have to say Little John’s girlfriend seemed sweet and different than the others.
I learned that Rose is indeed moody. One day she’s all smiles and will talk to you and the next she won’t even look at you or say hello back when you say hi. She runs a tight ship and there are a lot of rules and she’ll evict you in a heartbeat if you get out of line. One of her rules is no visible liquor, so beer needs to be in a sleeve, drinks in solid plastic cups, etc.
Debby seems pretty cool. She reminds me of the Canadian actress Jayne Eastwood from King of Kensington and dozens other movies and shows. Her voice sounds the same. She’s kind of loud and outgoing and straight-forward. She wasted no time telling me that there are quite a few loose women here (she is not one of them!) and I might want to be careful who I hook up with and who I let my husband wander off alone with (as if he’s allowed to wander off alone with ANYONE!) Debby’s husband’s name is Dana, which immediately shows they’re from the north (Vermont) because in the south Dana is a girl’s name only. I didn’t actually get to meet Dana until Sunday when I went over to borrow some butter. He’s much quieter and shy than Debby.
Debby runs her own food business. She’s essentially a carny, selling her foodwares in booths at carnivals and fairs. She and Suzie are pretty good friends. Suzie is in her 70’s and she and her husband are professional drinkers. They start every day with bloody mary’s and continue drinking until bedtime. She says she thinks if she quit drinking and partying she would probably die, her body just couldn’t handle the shock of it. By this time Friday night she was staggering tipsy. Debby drives her around usually and makes sure she gets back to her camper okay most weekends. She reminds me of a character from the movie 54 with Ryan Phillippe and Mike Myers that was based on a real woman who always partied at Studio 54, the disco grandma character who dies on the dancefloor in the club. I like her. I tell her she’s going to be my new grammie 🙂
All at once Debby says trouble is stirring up and we should leave the beach. Apparently some of the younger boys are fixing to get in a fist fight. I guess this happens quite a bit. So we all hop onto the golf cart and head back to our campers. Debby invites us to sit on her deck and have another drink. She has a really big, really nice deck built onto her camper. She also has three dogs who are just the most lovable creatures in the world! One is a young German Shepherd, one is a sheep herder, and the other is a lassa apso. She showed me the inside of her place, which they’ve totally done over and it’s gorgeous! We ended up sitting on the deck and talking until after 3am! Jay and I NEVER stay up that late! I was so over-tired it was unreal.
I went to bed feeling pretty good though. People seem friendly and nice and everyone I talked to said the park was great and really safe. This is all good stuff!
And this ends the Virginia Bound series, because we’re no longer bound but have arrived. Never fear though, there’s more to tell and more pics to share from our first weekend in this new state.