So, tonight is the first night in a long time (we’ve only been out here 6 days?) with no ticks. Last night I had zero and Mike had two, so he is winning the tick competition at this point.
We took trash to the dumpster today. All trash must be brought up to the front of the camping loop. It would be a long walk but we were headed out in the van to the store adjacent to the entrance to refill propane and get ice. Ice they had but will not refill propane (unlike what the sign says). They expect you to trade your canister for one of theirs. Seems odd. So, we drove a ways down the road to a tractor supply store and refilled our five pound propane canister. Bonus – I found hand sanitizer spray in the store when I was walking through roughly an acre of store to the bathrooms in the very very back.
There are certain surcharges when you leave the campground. You have to go the Sheetz (what kind of a name is that?) which is a gas station with a food service set up. You have to get two sandwiches, tater tots, 6 bananas (what a find!), a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a Snickers bar, two small packages of roasted peanuts, M&M peanuts, and, of course, a chocolate muffin. A chocolate muffin is the modern update of the Hostess Sno-ball, which was once the most delectable snack on the planet. Perfect chocolate cupcake, some kind of frosting inside, and soft gooey marshmallow all around with toasted cocoanut sprinkled liberally on it. Later it was hollowed out – cake not tasty, hard, filling a little spurt, marshmallow coating thin and chewy, cocoanut smaller and fewer pieces. And then of course, after corporate hacks destroyed the product, the whole company went out of business. But chocolate muffins are pretty good – with chocolate chips inside. They’ll do for an illicit snack.
We are collecting sunshine and converting it into laptop and cellphone power. And lanterns and fans. And electric toothbrushes. We can make tea and coffee of good quality. Our ice chests work. Mike made dogfood from scratch. We are figuring out how to use our stuff, organize our stuff, and FIND our stuff. That last bit is kind of the hardest. We have a dishwashing system worked out. Mike has a solar water heater, but you can also just heat up water on the stove and put that in there and it has a foot pump to build up air pressure to drive a hand held sprayer. It’s effective. We even washed a cloth napkin today and dried it in on our cool clothesline. I have ambitions to wash more clothes that way. I need to get started early on a sunny day and perhaps I could wash my pants.
So I broke down and bought a roll of paper towels today. I had beat the paper towel habit when I had a washer and dryer handy. I used real towels and washcloths and rarely used a paper towel. I could get one eco-friendly roll to last months . . . I’m already starting to recycle plastic bags again. I have Mike wash them and I hang them on the line unless they are gross. I had been planning on never buying plastic bags again . . . but now I am going to buy some more gallon size and see if I can find some larger zipper type for ice. My ice idea worked but once the ice in the plastic milk containers thaws . . . it takes up room I don’t have. Camping is a drain on certain resources, but we are using way less fossil fuel generated power. No heater. No AC. Very little electricity, comparatively. So I think the planet is better of with me camping than with me in a house in Fredericksburg.
It was hard to leave the house in Fredericksburg – good friends, good work. But all migration has a push and a pull. And one of the pushes was ARMI property management. We got mice in the kitchen and we tried to just use glue traps, but they kept coming. The house was porous.
One day I was sitting at the dining room table and I heard the tell-tale scratching sound of a mouse in the kitchen, and I looked in just in time to see a mouse fall from the light fixture in a hail of mouse poo. It landed on the kitchen floor and scrambled under the stove, ne’er to be seen again. Well maybe he was contestant number 10 in the glue trap on the counter next to the stove, who knows? The mice in the winter were skinny. This one was a fatty.
So, I finally decided to contact ARMI – I filled out an online form on Friday about my distress but of course heard nothing back. I called on Monday – no one answered so I left a voice mail complaining bitterly about their lack of responsiveness. Eventually I got an email back claiming that problems of mice infestation are the responsibility of the tenant. I am still floored by that. The problem is that the house needs to have the holes patched up where the mice are getting in. I looked it up online; in Virginia law the owner is responsible for vectors like mice. But when you are a tenant, you are in a powerless position. If you are perceived as a problem by the owner/property manager, they can withhold your last month’s rent and cleaning deposit. So ARMI is a slum lord, as far as I am concerned. I have no hope of getting back a nickel from them; they have shown themselves to be content to violate Virginia law and have a cavalier attitude in dealing with tenants. We were at that location for six years and caused zero problems but ARMI is just a computer algorithm.
Out here in camping land – the mice have every right to be here. If I leave food out and they take it – it’s my bad. We only have food out while we’re eating, and we generally clean up and do the dishes immediately after eating. The forces of nature are intractable.
Monday, May 10, 2021
ARMI knew we were leaving on May 4th. They agreed, in writing, that we would be turning off the utilities on 5/5/21. But none-the-less, they contacted us this morning to tell us that if we didn't turn the utilities back on until Friday, they would charge us . . . how much? Unknown. Hard to say. Whatever the market can bear, which, when you exploiting people from a position of power, could be one's entire next pay check. There is no way to hold them accountable. They hold all the cards, that is to say: the first and last months rent, a deposit, a pet deposit, and the money we wish to have back from leaving the property before the lease is up. Slum lords are used to abusing tenants. It's how they roll.
We are out here, in part, to escape the jack boot of our corporate masters. But they are having a hard time letting go. It's coldish and overcast. No sunlight to capture on our magical devices. Hoping for some sunshine soon.
~ Dr. P-J