PURGATORY IN PAGOSA – PART ONE

What really derailed us in Durango wasn’t Uncle Skip’s car problems. It was our cabin in Arkansas.

We were 72 hours away from closing the sale, for what seemed like the seventeenth time in six months, and it was a Saturday evening. I wanted to celebrate so I took the family to James Ranch Grill for burgers that were a bit too expensive for my Dad taste, but highly recommended by my uncle. As I was holding my Green Chile Pico Burger with both paws, bringing it towards my widening, salivating craw, Chelsea’s phone jingled.

It was Marcie.

Chelsea’s silence meant bad news. Indy stopped chewing as she watched the blood drain from my face. The look in her eyes, when I finally gave in to the pull of her stare, made me think I was about to have a stroke.

The buyer lost their financing.

The sale of the Arkansas cabin was, once again, a cursed anchor mooring us to a past it seemed we would never escape.

The first time the deal didn’t go down was due to COVID. It also had something to do with our Country Time Lemonade-Turned-Realtor who made Karl Childers from Slingblade look like a genius but that was before Marcie who, by the way, replaced Karl and is excellent at her job. Anyhow, this time the snafu with the cabin had to do with Wells Fargo.

The buyers closed on their home in North Carolina the day before. That very day, Wells Fargo pulled their loan on the Arkansas cabin. We never found out specifically why except there was a nationwide lending fiasco that went down at this time, and we can only assume this loan was part of that scandal. The other bizarre tangle is that the buyer was employed by Wells Fargo.

Marcie tried to soften the blow. She already contacted a loan “fixer” who, after a brief review, offered a life raft. He would need two weeks to iron things out, if we agreed.

If we agreed to close in four weeks.

Another four weeks on the road. In a dirty, wobbly, smelly, cramped 206 square feet, roaming around from campground to campground having absolutely no idea what lay in store for us in the immediate future.

We agreed. Chelsea ended the call.

Within seconds Chelsea received a text message from the sellers of the home in Pueblo.

Everything still on target for Tuesday?

It was about 8:30 by then. I told Chels to respond the following morning.

We got back to our campsite deflated and exhausted. But there ain’t no rest for the wicked, eh? Underneath the camper was a soggy, muddy, stinky pond. Turned out Indy was the last person to leave the camper and she left the water in the kitchen sink running. We weren’t at a full-hookup site, so I didn’t have the gray tank valve open. The gray tank holds thirty gallons and doesn’t take long to fill with the water running. Well, after a couple hours the gray tank cracked and overflowed – luckily just on the outside. But the underbelly of the camper is enclosed, equipping it for extended season RVing. So once the ground absorbed some of that nasty gray water, I had to crawl along the bulging underbelly of the camper and push the water out. I then had to poke holes at low points to drain the remaining water.

Yeah, fun job.

But by now, I was used to this kind of Monkeywrench. After patching the gray tank and cleaning up, Chels and I discussed our options.

Being in Housing Limbo was taking its toll.

Fulltime RVing with three kids and two golden retrievers was taking its toll.

Life during a global pandemic was taking its toll.

At best the loan on the cabin would get fixed and we could close on it, then close on the house in Pueblo immediately. At worst we could be in Housing Limbo indefinitely. Or, in our worst nightmares, call it quits and resign ourselves to a life in backwoods racist Arkansas and wait till all this blew over.

But I knew if we did that, we’d never escape Arkansas. We would never leave.

I could not throw in the towel.

By now we had determined that a life on the road was much more complicated – and expensive – than we had planned for. This necessitated more money. Finding remote, contract and/or temp work while on the road is challenging, but not a big problem – the real teeth grinder was connectivity. Finding and maintaining dependable or consistent high-speed WiFi or cell signal on the road is at best a logistical and expensive pain in the neck or a joke and at worst impossible.

We also had been closely tracking our expenses for years, and our experiment in fulltime RV life was no vacation from that. When we started crunching the numbers, it was obvious that it was much more cost-effective for our family to occupy a sticks and bricks and live a conventional life, whatever that means. Road life, though, was certainly NOT a money-saving endeavor for us to pursue while we were in Housing Limbo.

But we had to do something. We couldn’t camp at The Oasis in Durango indefinitely. We had to keep the kids happy. Uncle Skip had suggested Taos.

We decided to spend the following two weeks in northern New Mexico. We had driven through that area several times before but never stayed and wandered.

“Uh,” Chelsea said with her face aglow from the laptop screen, “the governor of New Mexico just issued a new state order. Everyone crossing the border or visiting the state must self-quarantine for fourteen days.”

That settles that. No New Mexico.

“Pagosa, babe,” I said to Chels. “Let’s just go play in Pagosa for two weeks.”

By then we would surely know what the fate of the cabin, and the fate of our lives, would be . . . right?

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