Thursday, July 29, 2021

Ghost Fox

 Sometimes I'll be sitting with guests on one of the porches or gravity chairs in the parking area watching the critters or the night sky and guests will ask what have I seen in the night sky? Have I seen UFOs? There's no point commenting one way or the other because if they believe they already know and if they don't and you say yes then they look at you different so generally I don't comment. However I have an update of sorts to something that happened a year or two ago and was posted here on the blog. I can't find the original picture so I have to take it off the blog and it's not as well defined. Jax and I were walking around in some rocks I call the predator rocks across the driveway. I've followed bobcat, raccoon, fox, and coyote footprints in this area and about once a year you hear a scream up there and it's a final scream. Something just died. As we were hiking about below Jax and I looked up and saw a fox trying to get at a squirrel or something, white tailed antelope squirrel as I recall based on the help cry it was making. We watched for five or so minutes as the fox we saw, and the only fox we saw, was the one standing up lower left in the picture.

When I posted it on the blog some people responded with there are three foxes in the picture. I see them now too but they weren't there when Jax and I were watching. There was one fox that we watched walk around. The other two and even the one we saw from the picture appear to be see through, semi invisible, fox ghosts. I'd be 100% comfortable not knowing the answer to this and leaving it lay but earlier this month, as darkness fell, I opened the hall way door to get food out for the critters and a gray fox, see through, ran out of the hallway, right by me, and out the front door. I could see through it. I could see the food containers as it ran by them. No one saw it run out the front door. I went and got Linny and Linda and brought them over to show them what I saw and I had seen similar in this picture from a few years ago. I went outside with the food, set it on the raccoon side of the porch, and as I got up I could see a couple of gray foxes in the parking lot waiting for a hot dog or two. Someone said "You ever watch something in the night sky you want to tell us about." and I said "No, but I did just witness a see through fox run out the hallway and out the front door." I don't know, but that's what I saw.

Strange Times

 This has been such a strange month. I've had four or five people not make it and all the really difficult spots in the road are gone. There's still a lot of takes some work spots though. Couple people called and said their spouse almost had or was having a melt down. Guy in a stock Jeep Wranger said I didn't describe the road very well and it needs more clearance. I told him Linny had been driving the pass to school in her stock Jeep Wrangler since she was eight years old. Still another accused me of leisurely describing the road. I give refunds for cancellations to include the day of check in when it's highly unlikely I can re-rent it. If they can't find the place in the dark I have to go look for them. It's extra work for me and I take all the financial risk. Why would I mislead them?

We never get rain in July but we're getting in about every 3rd day for the last two weeks or so. The river goes up, drowns the beach, then goes down and the beach is larger, then drowns it, grows larger when it goes down. Last night, Wednesday, we had a violent rain on the north end of the property and the creek you have to cross just pass the No Trespassing gate had three or so feet of water in it and took guests coming back from Arches nearly an hour to go the last mile. Tonight we got a real rough one on the south end of the property and yesterday's creek had nothing in it and mine is pretty deep at the bottom of the Base Camp driveway. Guests showed up after dark and went to have them follow me next door in Linny's Jeep with their Jeep and when I got to the bottom of the driveway and swung the wide left I crashed into a three foot straight up wall that had been carved out in the last hour from the rain. Then something got wet that wasn't suppose to and it wouldn't start again and I was in the flood water. I tried 20 or so times to start it and got it on the 21st and went back to the lodge. I showed the guests a new path we made to get to Last Hurrah. It took them six or so tries and then I guided them over with a walkie talkie. It's going to be ugly-er in the morning.
Here's what the beach looked like this afternoon after last night's rain.

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Finance Story

 I've been working on refinancing Base Camp and Last Hurrah joined together. I only owed about $100,000 on Base Camp as it was almost paid off but still owed around $1.4 something million on Last Hurrah. So I need roughly $1.5 million to pay off everything for a refinance. There's no debt on anything but the real estate.

I submitted to Wells Fargo first because I have twenty something accounts there with all the indoor soccer facilities, Base Camp, and myself. This was classic Wells Fargo. After about three days Wells Fargo sends me a letter says "Dear Gaylen Jorgensen, After careful consideration we have determined that you don't fit our lending criteria." Gaylen was on title with me when I bought it for Let's Play back in 2006 or 07 somewhere but not since. I called Wells up and said "after careful consideration". You don't even know who the owner is or who submitted the loan. Were you all drinking when you gave it careful consideration?
Couple other banks said I lived to far out in the boonies or the ratio of vacant land to structures was too high. The lodge qualified easily for the debt ratio though one bank did say they didn't think I could make that high of a payment though I had been making a higher payment for 40 months. Then I was getting close on one and they ran my credit check. I don't exist. I pay cash for everything but real estate. The Last Hurrah loan was a private loan so they never submitted it to a credit agency and the Base Camp loan was an accident of sorts.
I'm on an airplane from San Diego to Oklahoma City with a stop in Phoenix. A couple get on the plane and sit next to me. I'm just buying Base Camp and loading pictures of the lodge and surrounding area on my laptop. They both keep leaning over looking and I show them what I am buying and they like it. They spend a lot of time in the boonies and they are coming back from some boonie time in Arizona. We talk, they're nice people. They ask what I do and I tell them I run the largest indoor soccer company in America (big fish, small pond). I'm going to OKC to meet with a bank at 3pm about refinancing some of the facilities. The plane lands he says as he's getting out of his seat, "I'm Richard and I own a bank in OKC. Maybe we should have lunch. Here's my card. Can you meet me at my bank in an hour?" I'm not meeting with the other bank until 3pm so I've got a couple hours and I tell him "Yes."

I walk outside Will Rogers Airport and Gary and Carol on the Let's Play board of directors with me pick me up and say let's go do some numbers and then go to the loan appointment. I tell them we don't have time. We have lunch in 45 minutes on the north side of town. We drive up to Legacy Bank, meet with Richard and the loan officer at the restaurant next door to the bank and an hour later we have a deal. We cancel our other bank appointment. Later when I struggled to get a loan on Base Camp, Legacy offered to do that one too and for whatever reason never put it with the credit agencies. Since I've paid cash for everything else, I have no credit.
I have a broker searching for a loan and he hooks me up with a bank out of the south. A month or two of paperwork and they give me a loan commitment last year. I think I commented on it about that time on the blog. Then I have to get interviewed on the phone by some guy, so I do that. Then a week or two later another guy wants to interview me on the phone. The appraisal comes in and the loan will be less than 40% of value. The Phase One comes in, where they look for environmental issues and I'm clean everywhere. The cash flow is well more than the debt payment. The property is good. No issues.

Still every week they find ways to ask me the same questions in a different way though the answer is the same. It feels like they are trying to find a way to turn me down. My loan broker has called me several times saying roughly they've had this loan for six months and now they've decided not to submit it to SBA and are sending it to USDA which has a whole bunch of farm questions. Another month or two goes by and now we're well within a year of my balloon to Doug coming in. The broker says he has somebody that badly wants to do the loan. I've given the original lender $20,000 in up front costs, this lender wants $2,000. Normally I would stay with the original lender because of all the work they've done but in about eight months I'm going to have to come up with roughly $1.4 million so I better not take a chance so I submit all the paperwork to a new lender, a credit union. They are just blowing through the paperwork and after three weeks they say they'll have a commitment letter for me. The original lender says they'll have a new commitment letter from USDA. On Tuesday the original lender calls and they have the commitment letter and are ready to fund, It's ugly. Four points in closing costs plus one to the broker. Five points on $1.4 million. About $70,000 in costs, and there's the $20,000 I've already paid and it's a variable loan changing all the time and with our coming inflation it won't be long before it goes up.
On Thursday the credit union calls, same rate but fixed for five years, no closing costs or points and they'll pay the broker and well as my first three payments. It's a $100,000 difference. Both lenders are asking me to sign. I call the original lender and tell them I also submitted the loan somewhere else just recently because they'd had the loan for eight months and I got a better deal. He immediately says he can get me a fixed rate but there ain't no making up for the $100,000 difference. He's being polite but he's pissed. He's been working on the loan for eight months and it's not his fault people further up the chain have been jerking it around. I tell him I'm taking the other loan. I dreaded the phone call all night after I got the credit union commitment but it had to be done. If the credit union doesn't deliver there's no going back to the original lender.

I call the credit union and tell them we're good. Sign the commitment letter and send it to them. He says, "Just two things. We need to get the original lender to sign the appraisal over, it's customary, and you need to be a member of the credit union." I tell them the original lender is pretty pissed and I don't know if they'll sign it over or not and if not it takes awhile to get custody of it. They give me a web site to join the credit union. While they are trying to get the appraisal I go to become a member of the credit union. First of all they don't have any branches in my areas so there's a different criteria for joining. It's things like how old are my kids, am I a member of the PTA and it list about eight or ten of them, do I do this and that and my answer to everything is "No." At the end it says I failed. I don't qualify to be a member of the credit union. They hook me up with somebody at the credit union who is searching for ways to make me a member. She ask if I attend PTA meetings and do I belong to the PTA? I say no but I've always wanted to belong to the Harper Valley PTA. I hear her turning pages  and then she says "I don't see that one." Finally she says "Have you bought any vehicles in the last sixty days?" I say "Yes, I just bought two trucks." She says "Great, you qualify to belong to the Arizona Economic Council. I say "Great, after Harper Valley PTA that was my other goal to belong to the Arizona something or another. Kazam, I'm in. I'm a member. Meanwhile the original bank refused to give the appraisal over so we have to go through another couple weeks of hoops but finally get it.

Last week the new loan recorded and my balloon is paid off, I belong to a credit union, which doesn't have a branch here, and I'm a full fledged member of the Arizona something or another. I'm looking up dates for our next meeting but nothing so far.

Looking for Help

 Linda and Linny are both ready to move on. Linny has some schooling to finish and Linda, kind of like Gilligan, thought she was coming out to help Linny for a short amount of time (five hour tour I think it was) and nearly six months later she's still here. So despite my track record at The Land I went by to see if they had anybody that needed a job and a place to live.

I didn't find any recent tracks of vehicle or human. No one has been there for awhile.
In town I went over to the hostel and the guy just pointed to the meeting room. There were two couples. I ask each if they wanted some work and neither one spoke English.
Went by the employment office and the doors were locked. Running out of time. Anybody know anyone that needs a place to live and a job or just wants to start life over. I have a deal for you.

Kit Fox

 It's been close to ten years since in the middle of the day once I heard the white-taileds sounding the alarm that there was a predator about and I told four or five guests on the porch with me that day what the call was about and a kit fox walked out behind the vehicles over to the feeding area. I had never seen one here before. Then a few days ago in daylight again I hear the white-taileds, walk outside and it's a kit fox again. We didn't get a very good picture of it but it's for sure as it had a black tipped tail.

Female Hogan Air Conditioning

For years air conditioning in each of the hogans was open the door, set an air conditioner in the doorway, pull a heavy rug down to the top of the air conditioner from above to block the cool air from getting out. Last month I got a complaint about it and I don't think I've gotten any before so I had two extra air conditioners sitting in the big garage brand new. These just have a hose coming out of them and just need a place to the outside for the hose. So Collin cut a hole in the door and ran the pipe to it. We're testing it this month to get feedback from the guests.

The Rain, The Driveway, The Beach, same thing

 Each time it rains some more driveway goes to visit the river and become part of the new beach. The beach is so far out now that it's probably within 100 feet of the other side of the river.

Scott County Kansas

 Andrea who comments on the blog occasionally and maybe Facebook, I don't know, I don't go there, came out to visit a month or so ago and brought her mom with her. When her mom got home she entered some pictures she took while here in the Scott County Open Class Division and got three Blue Ribbons. Looking at that belly I'm wearing I would have expected it to be in the livestock division of some sort especially since bacon accounts for much of it but I guess not. It has motivated me no matter how tired to get up early and go hiking with Jax. So there's that.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Death Has Come

 Guests came back from hiking and said there was a dead something by the sign. I went to the sign and found nothing before realizing it was the sign right at the bottom of the hill from the lodge. I found no tracks, no drag marks, but it was under a small tree as if it had been dragged there to be eaten in the shade. As well the head was snapped back and the neck broken. It's not the mountain lion but I've twice now in the last week while driving next door saw a black bobcat running in front of me and I think that's why my raccoon, fox, and ringtail population has dropped. When I went over to check it there were eight turkey vulture sitting in the rocks above it.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Things are a Changing

 I've been looking for help at the property and maybe somewhere down the road retire again, or at least partially. As well Linda and Linny's days are winding down so I have to find a or multiple replacements for them. We have been full forever it seems like but with my deletion from airbnb for not wearing a face mask we became not full last week sometime and so we're all gotten a little bit of a break. I wanted to stay full and airbnb has gotten rid of the mask mandate but I was too tired to enter them.

Thirty five or so years ago one of the first partners I had in the indoor soccer business was Gaylen Jorgensen. I had an indoor soccer facility in Salt Lake and it wasn't going well. Gaylen had graduated college and did his thesis on indoor soccer. Called me working at my hotel in San Diego and said he wanted to run the place in Salt Lake. He'd fly out to San Diego at his expense and if I hired him I'd reimburse him. Both those things happened and we are still to this day partners in the indoor soccer facilities. 

Gaylen use to come out here quite a bit with his family. One of his sons, Collin, came out a lot and worked at the indoor soccer facilities for awhile. Collin loves Base Camp and his dad contacted him and said that I was sounding tired on the blog and needed help. He should call me. He did and he visited a week or so ago and we're working something out where he works here part time for awhile and hopefully more full time as things progress. Collin is good people and it's nice not to have to worry about the locals and go with a long history of proven talent for a change.

The Driveway Beach

The driveway is still a mess from the rain and we've had a couple more rains since, which we never get in July. It's really hot this year and even the driveway has gone to the beach. Well technically the driveway is the beach and it's huge. Jax doesn't like the water much but when we go down there he does enjoy the mud though not liking the water makes it hard to clean his feet so the hike back is sometimes more of a clog back.

Crop Circles


Criminal Activity

 As crime surges in cities around the country the heat wave has prevented Jax from being on the front porch to guard against rock squirrels. What is a skunk home at night is a rock squirrel haven during the day and here an example of rock squirrels stealing a roll of trash bags and taking them home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Jax, Crazy Dog

Backward Tour Bus

Jax and a squirrel

Some More Stuff

 When the beach was here below the lodge you could drag the kayaks to the water in the sand. At the cement boat ramp that's not working out as well as they get dragged across the cement it's having an effect.

In fairness to whoever is doing the dragging a few of the kayaks, though not these, the handles on the ends are weak or have torn. I look around and I have a lot of kayak handles left but they are all side handles. I don't have any ends. I'd just got back from fixing a cooler water hose with some of the hose and shark's teeth that Tosha send me when she sent me the wallet with Jax and Kobae on it. I looked in the box and I think it will work.
Just stocking up to save time whenever anything goes wrong having something to fix it. I bought four more air filters for the Polaris and then when someone comes back from Wind Caves/Chicken Corner instead of washing the air filter and letting it dry I just stick a new clean air filter in it and they're ready to go out again. Plus more handles for the kayaks. 

This is what 6am looks like to the east and west.

Jax and I do short hikes in the morning because I need the rest of the pre-heat time to fix stuff and organize. Once the heat of the day comes for me it's retreat indoors and do bookings and update listings. On this morning Jax and I make a journey come back to the drive way which still needs considerable work.

I got a clarification that is not a wrecked plane at the property across the river. It's a metal roof that blew off during the storm last week or so. Speaking of which with such small consistent snow melt this year I was not going to get the beach/sand bar back from across the river. Each year it takes the snow melt floods to put everything under water and enough current to change things around and that didn't happen this year. I was thinking the boat ramp isn't bad. I'll have the two regular sandbars but you'll have to wade a little in knee deep water to get to them but that's not the end of the world. Then the storm came which is trouble all around wiping out the driveway by the Base Camp sign, destroying the left hand turn at the bottom of the lodge to go next door and misc patch jobs all around the property plus blocking off the creek access from the lodge to the river for those that prefer to hike. But since I've been going down to the river a couple times a day now to check for trespassers it occurs to me that all of my driveway that got washed down to the river will be a wonderful new beach as soon as the river goes down a couple more inches. Seems like it's going to work out.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Some Stuff

 Five more side by sides at the boat ramp went right through the No Trespassing sign. Emailing tonight the tour companies in town. A few of them have been telling their guests to swing by and say hi or come see us if they need anything while they are out here. I'd say still on an average hot day four to eight vehicles come up the driveway for bathroom, what is this place, buy something at the store?, and the like. Takes 15 minutes to be polite and send them on their way. Telling the companies not to send their people here unless there is trouble.

Jax and I are driving back from town. I stop, get out of the truck, Jax jumps out, I go over on the side of the road and take a pee, walk back to the truck, look over and Jax is peeing on my pee.
I send everyone staying here, even if it's next door, directions to get to the lodge, then I, or Linda or Linny, can take them next door and get them acquainted with their surroundings. Last week I had a family follow Jax and I over to the Main House. They parked, I parked, Jax and I got out of the side by side and when the rear door of the guest's vehicle opened a young girl, probably 10 or 12 years old got out with the biggest smile on her face. I said "What are you smiling about?" She said "I saw you and your dog taking turns eating an ice cream cone while you were driving over here. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen." Yes, she did.
Getting all the reeds out of the pond next door was my priority last year and this year on the list of things I have to worry about and get done, it's not even on the list and it's a big list.
So far, best I can tell most everyone has had their babies. There are two real small mule deer walking around which I see almost every day. Last year there were three. I've only seen one baby big horn and last year there were three, four the year before that. The striped skunks had four babies this year, sadly one of which drown before I got the cistern fixed, still one less than last year. I've only seen one raccoon family and they just have two kids this year of which in previous years, especially the early years they had four or five. It's a small sample but it's my sample, right here on the property, and there may be other factors at work also but I think it strengthens my argument that feeding the critters makes it so many babies are not necessary anymore because a larger percentage of them are surviving. It's not an exact science but it's something.
Have a few people coming by in the next week or two about working here and so far I've gone with all people that I know from the past or worked with their parents in one capacity or another at the indoor facilities so either they have proven their selves to me already or I know the family work DNA. It's encouraging considering my track record of locals in the past.

I'm turning more and more of the daily operations over to Linny should something happen to me she knows what to do. I've given her the daily routine of maintenance on the vehicles, feeding birds, Kobae, and the night life, checking the batteries and generators to get through the night each evening, and watering. When she's got it down we'll go through the next checklist of things that require attention every day or two.