By Machelle James
As I sit down to write this week’s article, I am exhausted. Emotionally and physically. We heard back from the bank and they are going to fund our loan – with conditions. Meaning, we have to have a commercial appraiser come out and estimate what our campground will appraise for once it is completed. We need to have a 60% loan-to-value for them to fund us. We paid the appraiser and now we wait for them to show up and give us a good number!
Thank you for your emails to the bank!
As you may know, your emails and support really made an impact with our banker. She realized what a huge support system we have with our network of friends, family and readers. We were working outside when our banker, Shoshana, called and told us to, ”Pop the champagne. Your loan is approved!” She went on to add, “It’s is not every day we meet potential clients who sold everything they own to pursue their passion. It shows you really do have skin in the game. You are the type of clients we want to invest in.”
As you can imagine, tears were streaming down my cheeks. AJ had to hold me up because I was shaking so bad. Shoshana told us the next steps of the loan process, and we thanked her for working so hard to get us approved. We ran inside the house to call our parents to tell them the good news. AJ just choked up when he tried to tell them we were approved (which tells me he was even more stressed than he led on). Then we all started crying tears of relief and joy. It is so hard to truly describe the trials we went through to get this loan approved.
Dividing up the business roles
There were the behind-the-scenes arguments AJ and I had out of fear, frustration, miscommunication and flat out not knowing how to work together as business partners. We had to have several honest conversations of defining our roles within the business. We decided I do all the marketing, reservations, responding to emails, and the design of each space (which shrubs come out and what stays). Also, I mark out where the fire pit and picnic tables go. I plan the events, the children’s activities, the sign designs, networking within the community, chainsawing smaller limbs, and ordering for the store.
AJ does the website and IT security, internet, field work, coordination with the construction crew about everything, and laying out the site lines (which I did help with, but not very well as he had to redo them). He’ll do labor as needed, installing the ramadas, watering the trees, making the posts for the campsite numbers, chainsawing the big stuff, making wood bundles. In addition, AJ will be the escort to each camping site, plus whatever else needs to be done.
Visualizing the RV sites
I cannot visualize what an RV site looks like when it’s at an angle and covered in shrubs. But I can see it when it’s marked out, which way the RV enters, and what side needs to be cleared of shrubs. Rule of thumb: passenger side = party side. Party side needs to be cleared out the most. This is probably where we argue the most. AJ wants to keep everything; I do not, as I see a fire hazard and water-hogging shrubs that take water away from my pine trees. So, last week, he said it’s all my decision. So, we “went to town” knocking down scrub trees and keeping mostly just the pine trees.
This is where my exhaustion came from. We had worked for HOURS last Saturday and we must have taken 5 HUGE loads to The Brush Pit. We had our friend Alan help out a ton, and we all were beat by the end of the day. I am feeling a sense of urgency in getting each site cleaned up so we can have a soft opening in a few weeks. Our goal at this time is our GRAND OPENING the week of the 4th of July!
You get to see our new map first!
Now our check-in store probably won’t be completed in time, but the rest of the campground should be up and fully functional by then. We are aiming for our reservation system to be up next week. We are still working behind the scenes on how this reservation system works. Also, we had a new map made of our campground which you get to see first! This is an accurate description of our sites and our buddy sites. We have three 3-RV buddy sites and two 2-RV buddy sites. The rest are individual RV sites.
Propane fire pits
We had a local business owner come by and give us a demo of his patented propane fire pit. Mike Brewer, career firefighter/paramedic, and owner of Quikfire Propane Campfire, came over and showed us his product. We were super-impressed. We were looking at other propane fire rings for when a wood campfire is prohibited but you can still use a propane fire ring.
Some reasons we liked this fire ring are: It is made in America, it’s lightweight at only 5 pounds total, is super easy to use, it can produce approximately 150,000 BTUs per hour, and it puts out some heat! Also, we could rent this out for the nights when we can’t burn wood due to fire restrictions. We are working on bulk pricing now, so we will keep you posted on this item.
More shrubs to remove
While Mike was here, he also walked the property to show us which shrubs needed to be removed or cut to at least 4 feet high, if not 6 feet high. Mike is also a Fire Captain and knows all about how fires spread and how to minimize the fire hazards in our campground. I felt so relieved to hear we needed to trim up the brush and that we could keep the pine needles on the ground as they are great insulators for the trees to survive. That is a huge Win for us to not have extra work to do!
Other great news is we had our water meter installed as well as the backflow preventer. The backflow preventer was something we didn’t know was required, and it was more than a $1,000 extra cost for us. We had to have it inspected and certified before the water company would turn the water on. We are SO excited to finally have water!
Our first event!
We can now confirm that we have partnered with UTV Offroad Adventures to host the Annual Fire in the Sky UTV Fun Run at our campground! This is our first event – and we could not be more thrilled. This event will be September 17-19, and you can come camp here and participate in 3 guided off-road rides. We are super-excited to be a part of the Alien ride, cornhole tournament, food trucks, and raffle prizes.
More great news to share is that we have 3 sites that have full hookups! Now, the sites are not fully landscaped or finished, but they are installed. I can say that each site is HUGE! As in WOW – you just don’t see sites spaced this far apart!
Our reservation system should be up in a week and we will be sure to let you all know when that system goes live. We have been having trainings behind the scenes as well as working with our credit card processor. We know a lot of you are SO ready to make your reservations – and we are almost ready to take them!
Thank you following our Campground journey and See you in the Trees!
And please leave a comment!
Machelle, AJ and Jenna
Read previous articles here.
Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.