We have wanted to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and stay overnight at Phantom Ranch down there for several years now. But so dies everyone else and there are only a limited amount of spaces down there. Thus, Xanterra, the company which manages Phantom Ranch has a scheme: you have to call in to make a reservation a year or more in advance. For example: if you want to stay any day in October of 2014, you must be on the phone calling on 10/1/2013. And, I was, I dialed and redialed for 52 minutes but I got 2 nights in Phantom Ranch for Gary and me and meals also and RV reservations for the park on the South Rim. Cool. We’re excited and we looked forward to it all year long. In September of 2014, we plan our trip to the Grand Canyon so that we arrive on 10/9, stay in the RV park there, hike down on 9/12 and hike out on 9/14 and leave the park 10/16. All planned. Until - someone in our government decided to shut down our government. Didn’t hurt them at all. but - there went our trip into the Grand Canyon. Our trip coincided with the government shutdown. (At least we weren’t tourists from abroad who had flown over here for their vacation during that time. Or a bride and groom who had planned their wedding for the Grand Canyon during that time.)
We got all our money refunded but we had lost our chance.
So this year on 10/1, I got on the phone and dialed and redialed for 1 hour and 32 minutes only to be told that there were no female reservations in the female cabin but that there was one male reservation left. Well, we kinda wanted to go together so we passed.
On 11/1, I got on the phone, dialed and redialed for 1 hour 48 minutes only to get a message that November was booked solid.
We’re thinking that maybe hiking to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is not in our karma. But, I’ll be on the phone in the spring trying again.
We have a love hate relationship with Verizon, as probably do most people. Love their coverage, love their service but hate their complicated bills and their little ‘gotcha’s’. After I spent 1 hour and 52 minutes on the phone dialing and redialing to Xanterra, I decided that my butt had worn a comfortable groove in the chair and I might as well stay on the phone so I called Verizon about a $15 data overage charge on our last bill. We pay for 10G of data each month in our plan. This means that we can use .333 G’s per day: 10G/30 days in a month. We track our usage carefully and even have a chart in one of our cupboards stating how much we can use each day as a cumulative figure so we know where we stand on each day of the month.We use campground wi-fi when we can, we use Panera wi-fi, we go to the library and we have never gone over our allowance.
Until last month. GOTCHA.
Here’s the story. We changed our plan on September 19th from my name to Gary’s name to get his military discount. Our new plan started on the 20th of the month. So, I got a bill for 9/10 (our old plan end date) - 9/18 which we paid. And we got a bill for 9/20 - 10/19, Gary’s new monthly dates and noticed a $15.00 charge for ‘unbilled data from previous months.’ Huh? I arrayed our bills in front of me, looked at the data usage and never, in the previous 4 months, had we gone over 10 G’s. Oh, boy, another call to Verizon. I reached Ceceria from South Carolina where it was 30 degrees and snow was on the ground, and started with an easy question about when our new phone was going to be sent.
Then I asked about the data overage. She spent some time checking and had an answer. In short: note above that we paid my bill from 9/10 - 9/18 and Gary’s bill from 9/20 - 10/19. Note that there is a day missing: 9/19. And here’s where it gets interesting. Verizon prorated our bills and figured we had used .623 G’s of data on 9/19 - which is over our daily use allowance of .333. For the month we used 7.26 G’s, way under our plan allowance of 10 G’s but on that one day we used over our daily allowance of .333. GOTCHA.
But, the Verizon reps are good, she looked at a mass of info, determined what the problem was, explained it to us, noted that we had never gone over our allotment and - she also deducted the $15.00 See what I mean - the service is great. It’s just those little GOTCHA’S that drive us up the wall.
Two lessons here:
1.) check your bills each month and call if you have a question.
2.) call Verizon to see what discounts you might be eligible for. Because we get 10G’s of data we are eligible for:
smart phones which are not under contract are eligible for a $15 discount
dumb phones which are not under contract are eligible for a 30% discount
Jet packs not under contract are eligible for a 50% discount.
we also found out that Verizon has changed their plans: We used to get 10G’s per month for $100 but now that same 10 G’s costs $80. Sweet. Or we can pay our usual $100 and get 15 G’s. A friend of ours used to pay $80 for 6 G’s of data and now can get 10G’s for the same amount.
there might be others that do not apply to us so you need to check your own plan.
In the last two months with Verizon we have:
bought a new phone for my brother
changed our plan from my name to Gary’s
bought a new phone for Gary
changed our data plan from $100 to $80
Lots of changes - no wonder there are lots of chances for GOTCHA’S. No wonder I’ve been on our phone with Verizon for several hours this month. My butt’s wearing a really nice groove.
HERO OR VILLAIN?
Speaking of name changes - we were reading about Memphis and learned of an interesting name change for a park in the center of the city, Forrest Park named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry leader in the Civil War and where both he and his wife are buried. Here’s a picture of Forrest, larger than life, astride his horse in the center of a city park, ringed with trees and grass.
In February of 2014, the Memphis City Council changed the name of Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park and also changed the name of Confederate Park to Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park to Mississippi River Park. Ordinary changes that cities and towns make all the time. That’s the story but the intrigue and back story are ever so much more interesting. Firstly, these name changes came just before pending legislation in the TN Legislature that would prevent the renaming of parks honoring wars or historical military figures throughout TN, in any city or in any town. Imagine that! Tennessee was going to pass a law preventing town and cities from naming and renaming parks within their boundaries. Interesting.
Actually, all of this comes at a time when the nation is readying for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a population that is much more diverse than it was in 1865. America has changed considerably in the intervening 150 years and though many are working to change the images of the past, others are fighting to preserve their local heritage.
Forrest himself was recognized on both sides as a great self-educated, intuitive cavalry leader, feared even by General Grant. His cavalry practiced ‘mobile warfare’ his troops moved fast, fought hard and was a scourge to the Union army. However, a massacre of white and African American Union troops at Fort Pillow, north of Memphis occurred in 1864 by troops under his charge. Whether the troops had surrendered as the Union claimed or had not and were still fighting as the Confederacy claimed, the fact remains that it was a slaughter under his command.
He was a slave owner but it was reported that whenever possible, he kept slave families together, clothed and fed them well and gave them better than expected medical treatment. He was a ‘Grand Wizard’ until Klan violence and intimidation escalated and became widespread in 1867 - 1868 and he ordered the dissolution of the organization in 1869.
In 1875, he was invited to speak to the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, an organization of black Southerners. His speech was what the New York Times called a ‘friendly’ speech and when he was offered a bouquet by an African American woman, accepted it humbly with these words:
‘Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God's earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. ... that I am your friend, for my interests are your interests, and your interests are my interests. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land. Why, then, can we not live as brothers? I will say that when the war broke out I felt it my duty to stand by my people. When the time came I did the best I could, and I don't believe I flickered. I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe that I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to bring about peace.’
At his funeral it is said that hundreds upon hundreds of African Americans attended his funeral to pay their respects.
A controversial figure to say the least and, even in death, remains controversial. Of course, it often depends upon who is writing the story. As we all struggle with the legacy of the Civil War, the renaming of Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park is merely one part of this larger struggle.