Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Nothing is Simple

We arrived in Arizona on Sunday afternoon, pulling into the Lo Lo Mai Springs campground at just around 5 PM. My experiences with Lo Lo Mai Springs can be summarized in one word: convoluted.

I made the reservation back in July, somehow panicking that we wouldn’t have a place to stay in October (I’m feeling much the same way these days about December, I should add). The campground doesn’t take credit card reservations over the phone– you have to mail them a check. I wrote a check and mailed it, then got an email a little while later saying they didn’t know who I was or what I was reserving for. So I replied (by email) with our in-out dates, starting on September 24.

I then promptly forgot all about Lo Lo Mai, while our plans changed and we were in Acton on the 24th. Whoops. I realized on the 25th that I maybe forgot to cancel with them, and sure enough, I had a voice mail message from the previous day reminding me that I was due in, and it was starting to get dark, and they don’t accept arrivals after dark.

Sigh. I called them (on the 25th, because I was making plans/reservations for Sedona and remembered I might have already done this) and apologized, explained all our plans had changed, and we would arrive on the 30th, if they could accommodate us. They could move the reservation, and did. So, all was well.

Until we arrived on the 30th. Cell phone reception stopped about 15 miles away from the park. We pulled in and registered. Registration was a comedy of fumbled fingers! They miskeyed or miscounted our total charges several times, resulting in three credit card slips (one charge, one void, one charge)! And when they were done, they still overcharged us about 70 cents in tax (at that point, I didn’t want to ask for them to do more math– was just glad they weren’t overcharging us by $30 again). I should point out at this juncture that, really, this is a very pretty campground in the middle of Arizona, with lots of water and trees, and it’s very lush. But you’d better be there on vacation, and really want to “get away from it all!”

I will also mention at this point the animals. Several cats lounging around outside. A dog in the store. Pet rats hanging on the office staff (seriously, if you are so busy you can’t punch numbers into a calculator, put the overgrown gerbils down!) Over near our site were the springs– natural springs with unnatural lighting and several dozen ducks and geese milling around. Oh, goody. Goose shit. [I’m not really being fair, because we didn’t encounter any goose shit, though I was a little irked that our site was next to the bathrooms, making our “side yard” the default “walkthrough” zone for everyone walking their not-always-friendly dogs.]

We then found that our site was underneath several trees, with a whole row of trees between us and the satellite. Even if we could put the dish up safely (which was not an option with all the trees), we couldn’t have had a signal.

But no problem– the park advertises free wifi, at your site, right?

Eh. Wrong. We found a wifi router signal, but couldn’t get an Internet connection off of it. Went down to the store and asked, and was told (rather bluntly) that the wifi router over by the sites was dead. Kaput. No workee. And that we could bring our computers over to the rec room to access the wifi signal.

This…. doesn’t work for me, because I can’t work without a signal and I don’t want to set up over at a rec room, when what I really need is my computer, hard drives, keyboard, notes, and ergonomic chair. I got frustrated and pissy, and John went scouting for a better site. He found one, and walked to the office to discuss the situation. They said they couldn’t move us “because of the holiday weekend.” (Apparently, Columbus Day is a huge vacation weekend for people in Arizona. Who knew?) They were, however, willing to void our credit card for the stay (minus the first night), if we could decide within 20 minutes. Yeah. Thanks. 20 minutes to decide if we’re staying? He walked back and told me this.

We resolved to go out, get dinner, see the couple of other less-treed campgrounds in the area, and return. John walked to the store to tell them we thought we would be leaving, and they asked for the credit card we had charged the stay on (which, of course, John didn’t have… it was my card). So he walked back to the RV and got my credit card. Mind you, none of this back and forth would have been needed if our cell phones had worked. *sigh*

While he was gone, getting the charge voided, I got restless and pacing and decided to walk out and meet him on the driveway to the office. My frustration levels were too high to sit still, in essence. I met up with him, and he handed me my credit card and a fourth yellow credit card slip, which I put in my pocket. We got back to the site and hopped into the Jeep. I put my sunglasses in my pocket, since it was now past dark.

We went to dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant (called Casa Bonita, and I couldn’t stop singing the song from South Park and yes, we think there were cliff divers). Had a margarita and something yummy, and walked out with our leftovers.

In the foyer, I look around and see four suspicious-looking yellow credit card receipts. I bend down. Pick them up. They’re from the campground. They’re my receipts. I look around more. There is no credit card. It’s not in my pocket, either (neither are my sunglasses). We check the Jeep. We go back in, check the booth, the floor, the waiters– no credit card. Shit.

We return to the RV park. It’s getting close to 8:30 now. We check the road where we walked back. No card. We check the site. Nope. I take John’s card (same numbers) and go down to the office to see if it’s been turned in and, if not, to call and cancel the card. I have to wait several minutes, during which I discover (though John had warned me) that they have a habitat for raccoons and skunks, which they deliberately feed to encourage them to settle there. AUGH! It’s not that raccoons and skunks are so bad, but every campground I know of tries to discourage these pest animals from becoming a nuisance! I stood there listening to the crunch crunch crunch noises as the little furry “friends” ate their dinners. No, the habitat was not enclosed in any way. The family of skunks was a large family– little skunks, big skunks, aunt and uncle skunks, a few random cousins…. it was like the Waltons, but with far more dangerous rear-ends.

Finally, the office manager arrives. No, she hasn’t had my credit card turned in. John comes up at this point, unable to find a trash can (I resist the temptation to tell him to avoid the middleman and throw it in the “habitat” directly). The manager tells him where the garbage is– at the bathroom building next to our campsite. “Oh, great,” I say. “That’s where the pay phone is.” I’ve read the map, so I know this is true.

“No. There’s no phone there.” WTF? It’s on the map. I just saw the map– it’s there!

“No phone?”

“No.”

I’m wrapping my mind around this, because I still have to call and cancel my credit card (and remember, I have no cell phone reception), when she says that there’s a phone in the office I can use while the office is open (they close in less than half an hour). OK, good. I go in and call the credit card company.

Oh, gentle reader. If you’ve been with me this long, you know that this was no simple thing. I called them, but the address they use for verification purposes is my billing address, which I do not have memorized. We go back and forth, trying to find common information to veirfy– the Scotts Valley, Ben Lomond, and mailing addresses do not check out. The phone number they have on file is from before we moved to Ben Lomond. And of course– John is back up at the campsite, and I can’t call him and say “what’s the zip code” because, you know. NO PHONE. It would have been hysterically funny. If it had been happening to someone else, if I’d been drunk, or if I could at any point make the zip code materialize.

Finally, we agree that they will put a hold on my card and I will call them in the morning to cancel it. I hang up. I leave the office. I go home and go to bed.

We sort everything out in the morning by leaving the completely isolated, not-wild-anymore animal-inhabited Lo Lo Mai and go to a campground called “Desert Drums.” Let me put it succinctly: It’s next to an Indian casino which has poker and blackjack, and if I squint, I can see a tree far off in the distance.

In short: it’s perfect.

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