was how I began my winter getaway of (somewhat) discontent.
It all began so innocently in Snobsdale, AZ. My usual Holiday season hangout.
Snobsdale is all about the sunshine, uphill hiking, tank-top wearing warmth, viewing blockbuster movies and of course, the fabulous shopping. I rented a VRBO condo with all the above nearby.
Admittedly, I had a malevolent premonition about this joint. My kosher “Spidey Senses” were warning me, but the price was right and it was available. (For a reason).
I booked it.
Upon entering, I was overcome by the distinct smell of mold (and a possible scam.) It didn’t take me long to find the source. A dripping warm water pipe splashing into a full turkey roasting pan below. The carpet was spongy boggy wet.
A did a quick 360 through the rest of the wreck. It was heavy on TLC. Tender Loathing Care.
I retreated outside before I developed an upper respiratory infection. I phoned the management company. “Plushy Hosts” the name itself should have tipped me off. (More like Flush the Toilet Hosts.) This began a roiling blend of actual conversations, texts and emails filled with platitudes and stonewalling. I was getting nada with my demand for a refund.
I took a deep breath and headed back inside to shoot crime scene photos. I knew this was going to become a full blown 💩 poop fight.
I was right.
I booked another rental 200 feet away. It was clean, quiet and comfortable. That same day, I filed a dispute on the VRBO scam charge with Capital One. Days later I was credited the dough, BUT the slumlord could dispute my dispute.
We’ll get back to this drama later…
As I mentioned before, Snobsdale in December is usually fine weather. One doesn’t expect freeze warnings, or gloomy skies or an Noah’s Arc deluge and hale. This isn’t Fake Weather Reports. This really happened. I soldiered on while wearing more fleece and Windstopper jackets. At times, I even donned pants. Outrageous!
It wasn’t just me. The locals concurred it had been an atypical in a weird way winter.
On January 2nd, I marked myself “Safe!” after surviving another holiday season. I aimed Sanctuary Too further south for my 2023 inaugural campout. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument would be my pad for three weeks.
In January 2022, I spent two glorious weeks in this jewel of BIGLY views (including the Great Border Wall of Bigotry which can be seen from the campground.) Last year the weather was perfect with incredible sunsets . The vibe was senior citizen retiree chill. I could have easily spent more time there.
It was not to be in 2023, the swaddled baby layered look was the typical campground fashion statement. Morning lows were often in the high 30’s. Sunsets drove me quickly inside my cab or camper. Throughout the night, I could hear my neighbors furnaces kicking on but not off.
The worse stretch was the three days of low lying London like clouds, which caused my solar panels to valiantly strain to keep my camper batteries charged. Low energy batteries means no cold IPAs. A true Sambini catastrophe.
But the real true catastrophe was the Capital One message I received five weeks after filing a dispute. The slumlord disputed my dispute. The scam was back on and I was the victim. The onus was on me to prove my innocence to Capital One. I had two weeks to gather the information they requested. The corporation wasn’t asking for much, just Police Department confirmed fingerprints, a swab from my inner cheek for DNA sampling, a note from my Bar Mitzvah Rabbi vouching for me being a mensch and a cover letter plus copies of texts, emails and photos.
All the while being in the middle of nada with problematic WIFI coverage and obviously no printer.. A total aggravating inconvenience.
Fortunately long time buddy Brad was granted a week off from the Ms. He’d be joining me in Organ Pipe and later on in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Brad became Mr Xerox printing off a pulpwood forest’s worth of evidence and documents.
From the border town of Lukeville (formerly known as “Gringo Pass”) I Priority Mailed the weighty package to Capital One.
After that it was onto Puerto Penasco. Brad and I were supposed to spend six nights there. We left after four which were three too many.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
I returned to Organ Pipe for the simple reason, camping there is simple.
Meanwhile my important provisions such as IPAs, coffee and lastly food were getting low. After a month of camping I decided to spend a few nights hoteling it in Yuma, AZ. It was here at the termination of the Colorado River where I’d decide my next move. Baja, Mexico or Anza/Borrego State Park in California.
By now astute readers have picked up this hasn’t been a typical winter getaway for me. It’s usually invigorating and fun. This one has been a grind. My kosher “Spidey Senses” screamed “No Bueno!” for taking on border crossings, military check points, pesos and a language barrier.
Back to the 1.7 years of $$$$ for Happy Hour IPAs scam. (Based on two IPAs/night. I’m not the lush many people think I am).
On a feeling Meh and cloudy afternoon in Yuma an email appeared from Capital One.
“Please check your documents for an important message.” I followed their instructions. “Capital One will be giving you a refund since your DNA, fingerprints, letter from the Rabbi, photos, texts and emails were conclusive proof of your innocence. UNLESS the scammer disputes your dispute with another dispute. The scammer has 90 days to dispute. Please hold onto all your evidence since we still don’t trust you.
Hugs and kisses from Capital One,
By the way. What’s in your wallet?”
I’m now in Anza/Borrego State Park where the sun miraculously appeared. The winds abated. The temperatures now are pegging the delightful range. Birds are fluttering about and singing. Flowers are in bloom..Hummingbirds pollinate them. Butterflies go about their business of being beautiful. Plus my IPAs are still cold and the morning coffee still hot.
Now this is what a winter getaway is supposed to be like.
Last photo, This is what the inside of Sanctuary Too looks like. Would anyone really want to spend a lot of time in this chaos of camping clutter?
It’s all about the weather.