Early Days in Virginia

Despite having stayed up long past our usual bedtime on Friday night, Jay was up bright and early Saturday morning. At 7am he insisted I get up as we had a lot of stuff to do. Wearily I got up and made a cup of tea. It wasn’t too long until John showed up. The boys finished hooking up everything for the camper while I tried to snap out of the fog of no sleep. When they were finished, we started frigging with the satellite.

We actually got a fairly strong signal quite quickly on satellite 61.5, which was the previous setting. We were running between 64 and 68 per cent signal strength. The guy who originally set it up for us in Covington said if we had 50% we were golden, so we thought all was well. Except no channels would come in.

So we called Dish Network the first time and were given a set of numbers for elevation, skew, etc. to try. We were told we needed to be looking in the southwest sky. We tried all this and still had no channels, so we called Dish Network again. This time we went through a series of trouble-shooting that involved turning the box off, unplugging the box, pulling out the smart card, etc. and when none of that worked we were transferred to a technical support expert who gave us a bunch of other numbers for elevation, skew, etc. and told us we needed to not just bring in satellite 61.5 but two other satellites as well in order to get reception. We tried that and still didn’t have reception. So it was back on the phone with Dish Network where we went right through to a different technical support expert (this one was English speaking and not from India, which was a big help). He further explained the process of bringing in three satellites, gave us a completely different set of numbers for elevation, skew, etc. and told us we’d been searching the wrong direction, we needed to look to the southeast sky. He also sent us a manual of numbers by email so no matter where we move we’ll be able to look up the elevation, skew, etc. He also said the other people had been trying to help us assuming we had one model dish, when we in fact have another. Unlike the others, he was in no hurry to get off the phone and stayed on with us while we tried again. But still we got nothing.

There are a lot of really tall pine trees in this park, which makes getting a clear break to the sky very challenging, to say the least. But Debby and Dana right beside us also have Dish Network and somehow they’ve managed to make it work, so it can’t be impossible. After three hours of trying and being on the phone to Dish Network, my hubby was pissed. The tech guy said the only thing left to do was to get someone out here to set it up for us. Of course Dish Network doesn’t pay for this, we have to. Jay flipped his lid. He told the tech guy he’d been very helpful and thanked him for giving us all his time, and it was nothing against him, he’d been great, but he wanted to speak to a manager because he didn’t think it was right that we should have to pay for a service guy. I went outside and sat with John at the picnic table so I didn’t have to hear the long argument and cussing out that happened when the manager got on the phone. This went on for another half hour.

In the end after I called back another two times, they gave us the numbers for two apparently local affiliates that would be able to come out and help us set up. I called the first one and got voicemail, left a message. I called the second one and got a very nice man who would have loved to help us if we weren’t so far away from him. He said he didn’t understand why Dish Network kept giving his phone number to people who were over a hundred miles away, but he got at least two calls a week from customers in the same predicament. He gave me a number to a place in Richmond that would probably have affiliates in our area, but unfortunately they were closed for the weekend.

So ended the dish trauma for that day.

While I’d been on the phone and showering, getting ready for the day, John went to the office to complete his registration (because I’d only done mine and Jay’s the night before) and while he was there Rose wrote down directions to Tappahannock, where there is a grocery store, Wal-Mart Supercentre, etc. and also directions to Central Garage which would take the boys to their job site. We planned to go out grocery shopping, find a liquor store, buy cigarettes, etc. In the meantime Jay met our other neighbors who live behind us and the husband, Dan I think his name is, said the closest place to find what we needed was in West Point. The directions were also a lot more simple, especially for someone who practically has the central VA map memorized (moi!), so we decided we’d go there instead and check out what services they had available.

But before we embark on this particular road trip, a word about the neighbors behind us, Dan (I think) and Lisa. They are around mine and Jay’s age, with I believe two young teenage boys maybe age 14 and 16. They have a speedboat and a couple of jetskis. He looks jockish, kind of tall with broad shoulders and the remnants of a former six-pack now buried in the flab of too many beer six-packs. She looks like a former cheerleader. I would not be surprised to learn they were high school sweethearts, captain of the football team etc. She’s petite with long blonde hair and travels around in string bikinis and halter tops that have not escaped John and Jay’s attention for sure. On Friday night there was a lot of yelling and fighting going on over there between hubby and the missus. I don’t think they have a very happy marriage.

Jay called me out to introduce me to Lisa once he met Dan Saturday morning. She barely acknowledged my presence, so I quickly went back in the house to continue getting ready to leave. I pretty much took one look at her and knew she wasn’t the kind of girl I’d want to be friends with anyway.

Then we were off to find our way to West Point. And getting there was pretty easy though it takes about a half-hour, which apparently it takes to get anywhere around here, kinda like back home in NB.

Crossing the bridge at West Point.
Other side of the bridge in West Point.

West Point is a mill town. You can smell the sulphur as soon as you cross the bridge. It has a liquor store, a Food Lion supermarket, a Rite Aid Pharmacy, a couple of fast food restaurants and not much else. It’s small, and reminded both me and Jay of Newcastle. Because it’s not very big we didn’t have any problem finding places.

Our first stop was the liquor store where Jay bought a couple of half-gallons of whiskey (because we won’t be able to go out shopping as regularly as we used to go) and I discovered that they not only carried one of my favourites (Navan, the vanilla infused cognac) but it was CHEAP! I’d found it in GA but it was crazy expensive. So I got a bottle of Navan.

Then we went to the Food Lion. Jay filled out the forms and got us an MVP card, which gets you savings on everything in the store, while I started scoping out the place and filling our cart. Some things were so expensive I wouldn’t even buy them, while other things were so cheap I couldn’t even believe it. Mostly beef was super cheap and we got a whole lot of steaks and a roast. When we checked out our groceries totaled $205. I nearly had a heart attack. But I wasn’t using coupons either as I hadn’t got my coupon bearings yet (I’ll do better this weekend!). Then she scanned our shiny new MVP card and that brought the total down to $145. Whew! That wasn’t so bad after all.

In GA we had started buying cigarettes at our CVS pharmacy because you get a discount when you scan your CVS card, which brings the total down and makes them the cheapest smokes around (yes, he’s still smoking … for now). Rite Aid also has a card, so we thought it might be cheaper to get cigarettes there too. Unfortunately, you can’t use their card on tobacco products though, so we ended up paying too much. Live and learn I guess. I think maybe we can get them cheaper at Food Lion. They are $6.45/pack at the park store, which is absolutely insane when you’re used to paying $4/pack.

Having replenished our supplies we easily found our way home again and put everything away. We had planned to take another drive out to find the boys’ job site, but by then it was late afternoon so we decided to postpone that excursion to Sunday.

Instead we sat around the picnic table, having a few drinks, until it was time to get supper ready. (People in the south, like the people back home in NB, call it breakfast, dinner and supper instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner.) I was drinking beer. I know! I never drink beer anymore! But it’s just so hot here, it’s hard to get into a glass of room temperature red wine in the middle of the day, so we picked up a 20 pack of Bud Lite at Food Lion while we out shopping.

Jay grilled some of our cheap t-bones for supper. I did the baked potatoes, baby carrots and caesar salad. The steak was a little too well done, but yummy nonetheless. I hadn’t had anything to eat since that bag of salt ‘n vinegar chips the day before, so I wasn’t complaining about how my steak was done.

While we were lazing around the picnic table lots of people were driving past in their golf carts. Jay kept saying that’s the girl from Las Vegas … except every time he pointed out a different girl. I think Dan had pointed her out to him earlier, but he really wasn’t sure which one was her. We are close to one of the bath houses that people shower in when they get out from swimming in the river. There are also washrooms in there. So this girl pulls up in her golf cart to go pee. Jay says, “No, THAT’S the girl from Las Vegas!” And John yells out to her, “Hey, Las Vegas!” So after she gets done peeing she comes over to say hi and meet us.

Her name is Kathy and I think she’s in her late 40’s. She’s got two kids, a boy and a girl, ages 9 (boy) and 11 (girl). Her husband died three years ago from some rare form of cancer, so she’s a widow. And apparently quite well off, according to Debby, who gave me the low-down on her later Saturday night. When her husband died all their bills were paid off and she inherited his business (in refrigeration, I believe) which she now runs with her best friend. She didn’t grow up in Las Vegas like Jay did, but she spent quite a few years there when she was a kid. She’s from Encino, California originally and lives in Richmond now. She’s still got a couple of houses in Vegas though, and according to Jay they are in some ritzy neighborhoods. Still, she used to party at the same places Jay did when he was a teenager. It was kind of nice for him to run into someone from the same place, who knows the same landmarks, etc. We don’t run into people from Vegas very often.

Kathy seems alright. Maybe not bosom buddy material, but good for a chat every once in awhile. When she left Jay immediately started in on John that he should be trying to get with her. And at first John was all like, “Nah! Don’t think so!” but as more beer flowed, he started warming up to the idea. The trouble with John is that he is really in love with Debbie back in Covington. Since we’ve been here, they’ve continued texting all the time and calling each other every night. She says she’s depressed and misses him. But she’s been moody and driving him a little crazy. They were into a big fight on the phone on Friday night. Debbie has no intention of leaving her fiance for John. This is plain to see for everyone. And Jay is hoping John will come to his senses, because Debbie really isn’t good for him. I’ve already noticed a change in the way John acts since he’s been away from her. She brings him down and gives him a bad attitude.

Our neighbor, Debby, came out of her house just as Kathy came back again to go to the bathroom. So they both came over to chat for a bit and then asked us if we wanted to go to the beach with them. Me and Jay hopped onto Debby’s golf cart and John went with Kathy. Most of the same characters from Friday night were down there hanging out including Suzie and her husband, and Aida or Ida or Aileen or whatever her name is. Lisa from behind us was also there. Her and Kathy are bosom buddies, which is mostly the reason why I think me and Kathy will never be, lol. This was the first time I really got to hear Lisa talk beyond yelling at her husband and a kurt hello to me when we were introduced. It’s like talking to Jaime Pressley’s character, Joy, from “My Name is Earl”. She’s loud and nasally and generally obnoxious. And she’s definitely one of the loose women around here that Debby warned me about. I have no use for her, that’s for sure.

I also got to meet the infamous “Deborah”. On Friday night Debby had told us we could call her Deb or Debby but NEVER Deborah, on account of she didn’t ever want to be confused with this Deborah who lives right across the street from her. She pointed out her trailer to us as we drove past on the golf cart. Deborah is the biggest slut in the park. Apparently she’s done everybody and she’ll try to do your husband too, whether you’re standing right there or not. She’s around my age I’d guess, kind of short and a bit pudgier than most around here. She has short curly light brown hair, kinda ringletty, like a Rapider. Her face is round. She rather reminds me of Debbie from Covington’s best friend Robin, who was always trying to get with Jay. Deborah also seems to be good friends with Lisa and Kathy.

We didn’t stay at the beach very long on Saturday night. Debby had been drinking with Suzie all day, which I guess she hardy ever does, and wanted to go home. I was dead tired, so I rounded up Jay and we went too. We asked John if he wanted to come with us, but he decided to stay and hang out for a bit with Kathy. We invited Debby over for a drink when we got home, but she was too tired and just crashed instead. We hung out by ourselves for a little bit and managed to get into bed by midnight, which is still pretty late for us.

On Sunday morning Stan called and said he wanted to walk the job site with Jay. John drove and I navigated from Rose’s directions, while a “still too drunk from the night before to drive” Jay sat in his backseat for the first time. We found the job alright and got in Stan’s truck so he could drive it and tell them the plan. The more we drove, the more Jay and John were shaking their heads. This is not going to be an easy job, by any means, and Stan’s inexperience has set some pretty unrealistic expectations and goals, as well as some totally screwed up plans of action.

Afterward Stan followed us back to the campground, took care of the direct billing at the office and hung out the rest of the afternoon, staying for dinner. I had planned on doing chicken but I only had three breasts, so instead we did steak again with baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions, corn and tossed salad. This left me out of potatoes for the week, which kind of screwed up my plan of putting potatoes in the crockpot with the roast beef on Monday. Stan had to leave around 5pm to get back to the hotel in Mechanicsville to be there when Hubert and the Mexicans arrived from GA so he could get them their rooms.

What to say about Stan? He likes to push Jay’s buttons and he knows how to do it. He thinks he knows a lot more than he really does about pipelining and is loathe to listen to anything Jay tries to tell him. They butt heads a lot and have been for months. He’s one of the main reasons why Jay has been so miserable about work lately. I tell Jay he needs to stop rising to Stan’s bait, that he needs to do and say things so it appears to Stan that it was his idea in the first place, otherwise the whole job is going to fall apart. And we’ve got a lot of money riding on the success of this thing! He didn’t get a raise to come here, but there’s a big bonus on the line, $20,000 if all goes well. But my hunny is hot tempered and has little patience to play the kind of games that seem obviously necessary in order to get Stan to do things right, so he’s not there yet. I keep trying though.

Sunday night John went home pretty early because we were all played out and they had to work in the morning. Jay wanted to go for a walk on the beach with me. Finally! Some alone romantic time! We started walking to the beach, but the sky quickly clouded over. Thunder rolled in the distance, and as we got down there I could see chains of lightning coming down 3 and 4 at a time across the river. The only one out and about was Aida (or whatever her name is) and she stopped to tell us we were under a severe thunderstorm warning, in case we didn’t know. Jay begged me to just stay for 5 minutes. He wanted to sit on the end of the pier and dangle our feet in the water. He was like, “Just 5 minutes, babe! The storm won’t get here for another 10 or 15!” But you all know how that worked out! 🙂 There was no way I was gonna dangle my feet in water when I could see the freaking lightning! So I took my sad hun home quick as a wink and we finally went to bed early.

I don’t think I’ve been this tired and stressed out since … since I can’t even remember when! Maybe never.

Four o’clock came very early Monday morning. Still I finally felt a little rested. The boys got off to work alright, with enough food to feed them both all day and I settled in to catch up on my own work. Monday was an insane day! I had an inbox of 150 new messages that were not spam. Dozens of new submissions. I needed to try and get the house back in order because it was still a mess. Jay called dozens of times needing me to look up this on the Internet, fill out this form and email it to the GA office, scan in that sheet and send it to Stan, total up these hours, find out this or that … it just went on and on. Plus I had the stress of trying to make a John suitable (he’s a much pickier eater than my hunny) supper with enough left-overs for both their lunches on Tuesday. It seemed like I was being pulled in a hundred directions. I didn’t even have time to call the satellite people, because I forgot all about it.

Around 11:30am I decided to walk out to the store and inquire about the laundry room services. Just as I got out to the main road it started to downpour. I mean, it RAINED! I was instantly soaked through to my skin. I stood on the porch of the rec centre under the roof waiting for it to lessen. I looked like I had gone swimming in my clothes. About 15 minutes later when it got down to a light rain, I just went back home to dry off.

After John went home Monday night, Jay wanted to try for our romantic walk on the beach again … but lo and behold once again just as we were heading out, thunderstorms rolled in and crushed our plans.

Tuesday was better. I could at least sense that a groove and routine were possible in the not so distance future, if not this particular day. I went to the store and found out the laundry room is always open, so I can do the washing very early in the morning if I want. There is no change machine though, so I have to get change at the store. The girl working the counter said that would be no problem, they always have lots. This was a young black girl, perhaps the one I spoke to on the phone who totally screwed up our reservation.

Jay called and reminded me to phone the satellite people. The one place I still got an answering machine, so I left another message. Then I tried the place in Richmond that the guy who was too far away had suggested to me. Johnny in Richmond gave me a number of what was supposed to be the closest guy … who also turned out to be over a hundred miles away. I did some internet research on my own and tried a few more numbers, but all I got was call centres who gave me numbers of even more guys … all a hundred miles away. We have decided to tough out this week without tv, move the dish to a different location on the weekend and try to point it ourselves again. If that doesn’t work, then I don’t know …

The boys had class in Newport News Tuesday afternoon, which took them right through West Point on their way home. So Jay stopped and picked up the things I needed from the grocery store, which put my supper schedule for the week back on track.

Tuesday evening after dinner when John left, we tried one more time to take our romantic beach stroll, and once again our plans were foiled by thunderstorms. They got so bad that at some time during the night the power went out. Luckily Jay woke up on his own at 4am Wednesday morning.

Yesterday was the first day they worked late. They didn’t get home until nearly 8pm and it was 9 before supper ended. They were both played out, so Jay and I didn’t attempt a beach walk. We’ve decided we’ll just wait until the weekend, when John should be gone and Jay should be more rested. And you’ll have to wait for beach pics until then too, but for now here are some of our new campsite.

Sitting in front of our camper at the picnic table, that's Debby's drive & firepit, & the bath house across the way.
Our driveway & view across the street. These neighbors haven't been here yet, so we haven't met.
A little to the right of unknown neighbors across street.
Behind us. I put a pink table clothe on our picnic table. That's Debby's camper on left, neighbors on right haven't been here yet. Kathy's camper is visible between those two campers but our dysfunctional sat dish is hiding it.
Our place.
Debby & Dana's place.

4 thoughts on “Early Days in Virginia

Add yours

  1. And the soap opera continues…lol…The new place looks nice. Hope you’re more settled and that Dish Network is not too big of a pain. As I said before, not a huge fan of those stupid utility companies


    1. It is definitely a nicer park than the last one. I am gradually getting more settled, which is a good thing. Hopefully we can get the dish working on the weekend. Fingers crossed.


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