Friday, March 24, 2023


Building an RV park: Thank you! And we can see the camping spots!

By Machelle James
My Oh My, did we have a very successful last two weeks! Thanks to you, our readers, friends and family, we raised more than $4,700 through GoFundMe! Thank you for your generosity, support and mostly the kindest words we’ve heard so far. Your belief in us and your “Go get ‘er done” attitude was truly a blessing for us to get the fencing done. With 56 of you donating, you will be honored within our Campground with your names etched in a very special location when we open!

We also came up with a solution for our fire pits, since many of you had fantastic ideas for us. We decided to repurpose the thousands of rocks that came out of the ground from digging for our septic tank. We will build fire pits out of those rocks and that will only cost us time to complete that project. Why didn’t we think of that earlier? It will fit in nicely, too, with the surroundings – and it fits our budget!

Feathers to mark the future road (photo from July 2020)

Our surveyor came out again and placed the stakes where the fencing goes as well as where the roads will go. AJ and I went to work and placed the “feathers” (markers that you stick in the ground that you can drive over and they don’t get destroyed) where they needed to go. We now can see where the first two roads will be and where the first 20 camping spots will be, including several buddy sites.

All I can say is WOW! WOW these camping spaces ended up being even bigger than we thought they would be. They are averaging 70 ft. wide x 100 ft. long at a 45-degree angle from the road. Walking through each site and seeing how far away you are from your neighbor was thrilling for us! We’ve heard you all loud and clear say, “We want to have space when we camp!”

Our backyard after the snow

This is all falling into place as we received our approval from Navopache Electric (our local electric company) for our plans. As soon as they receive payment from us, we will have a pre-construction meeting with them and our crew. This is to confirm where the primary lines and the transformers are going.

This is perfect timing as we also received our bid from the new crew who is coming out to do the excavation work. Now there is A LOT of work to be done in this area. From removing tree stumps to digging in the road where the septic, electric and water lines will be. They also will grade, fill and compact the roads and each RV camping pad with gravel.

This work is expected to last for 6-8 weeks, depending on the weather.  We also were told they are coming out the first week of March to start digging and to back-fill the septic tank area. We are confident we will be able to be open by Memorial Weekend, 2021.

Before our new crew can do their part, the challenge will be to have Tractor Tim come out and grub each site. That means he will come in and remove the bushes that are in the way and keep the ones that aren’t.

We also need to determine where each RV parking pad will be placed, based on trees on each space. We are really trying to keep as many trees as we can and we have the flexibility to move the pads around each space to honor our trees! He was supposed to start this week, but not anymore, thanks to the weather.

Our swing in the trees

We FINALLY had major snowstorms come through for days on end. Great for the trees, not good conditions for a tractor to be working in due to slipping and sliding all over the place. We had about 18” of snow over the past 3 days and it was breathtaking! We have light fluffy snow that you can barely even make into a snowball yet.

Jenna’s first snow angel!

We took Jenna out in the snow to play and we all had a great time walking through the fresh powder and making snow angels. With a lot of work, we did make a couple snowballs and she pegged AJ and me pretty good.

Jenna pegged AJ!

You know what’s so awesome about all of this? I had commented on Facebook with a video about the snowfall we’ve had here on our property. It was a private group for people who camp in Arizona. I shared a video of the property and said, “We are the family building a Campground up North and this is the snow we had!” Let’s just say the people went crazy when they read we were opening a Campground here in Arizona.

I had tons of messages and emails to answer as they don’t know what you all know. I already have names for people that want to stay 28 days, which, as you know, is our limit! I feel relieved, validated, and secure in knowing we will be very full when we do open. Even the scaled-back version will be fantastic to get families up here camping and back to nature.

We have a few weeks before the madness begins, and we had an opportunity to make travel plans. Our middle son and his family needed another car and we just happen to have one that we barely use since we moved here. So we offered my Mazda to him. The catch is we drive it across the country to Florida(!) before we start the major digging in March.  Then we get to visit with him, his wife and our granddaughter! As a Thank-You, he bought us plane tickets home – and I can’t say I’m torn up about leaving the snow for Florida for a couple weeks.

While things will start to move very quickly in the next month, I will keep you updated with before and after photos. We are so ready to move forward and get this Campground open. We know you are too.

Thank You for following our campground journey and See You in the Trees!

And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle 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.



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2 years ago

Machelle, in addition to the problems Dianne mentioned below about trees, those of us with satellite dishes for RV or internet face a conundrum. As much as we would like shade on the site, the satellite antenna can’t see through leaves, and must be pointed towards the south looking up at about 45 degrees. Just where we would most like the shade, but if satellite reception is important it is nice if the trees to the south of the site are selected to be low-growing or pruned for satellite viewing.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Hi Bill! We will have several sites with low bushes and no trees. As we move forward, we will know which spaces will be for those who want no trees for this reason. It should be a win win for everyone!

Diane Stephenson
2 years ago

Machelle, just a comment about the trees. You mentioned how you want trees on every site. Please consider not having any trees close to where the RV will be parked. In over 40 yrs if RVing we have had many bad experiences with trees, from trees hanging too low and damaging the roof of out fifth wheel to trees that dropped sap on our RV roof and that is very hard to clean off. Eventually I took to carrying a pruner with us so we could trim wayward tree branches away from our rig. Everyone loves trees , but camping too close can be a disaster as we have experienced.
We have also been following your journey from day one and look forward to your column .

Machelle James
2 years ago

Hi Diane! You have valid points and yes, we will keep them in mind. We will make sure they are not too close to the RV’s! Thank you for offering your wisdom in your many years of RV Travel!

Rick Edgar
2 years ago

Those site sizes are great. Happy to see you’re not stacking them in. Comparable to a state park. I’ve been following you since day one. Glad to see the progress. Wishing you the best.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Rick Edgar

Hi Rick! Thank you for being a reader since the beginning. The ups, the downs, the sideways.. who would have imagined it is this hard to open up a Campground! We mindfully made our camping spaces that big as we know how awful it is to camp when you can hear your neighbor snore! Have a great weekend Rick!

Joe Allen
2 years ago

So happy for you folks that everything is starting to fall in place. We will be coming out of Mexico some time in March and may hang around just to make your grand opening. Beautiful area and we wish you the best in making your Memorial Day opening. I have so much enjoyed your blog on your trials and success’! Hang in there and it will get done!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Hi Joe! That would be AWESOME! Thank you for following our Journey and your continued support. We are getting excited for March to see the heavy duty work begin!

Betty Dagle
2 years ago

Wow this is awesome news. I don’t know if I will ever get to Arizona to camp (I live in Maryland). But if I do, yours is one place I want to camp. What a great job you’ve done. And thank you for sharing all the trials and joys.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Betty Dagle

Hi Betty! I am so glad you found our story and really get to see the grit it takes to build. I do hope you get to come out west and visit our beautiful state and town!

Diane Mc
2 years ago

Come on gang! Think I saw there are 66,000 subscribers to RV Travel. We all complain about not enough campgrounds & Machelle & AJ are working hard to give us one in a beautiful location. You can give as little as $5. Every bit adds up. You don’t have to do the fee if you don’t want, but can add your own amount if you want to do less than Go Fund Me’s suggestion.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thank You Diane! I appreciate you and all our readers! We are getting more donations today!! THANK YOU for your encouragement to donate- we need all the help we can get!

2 years ago

You Go, Girl!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Thanks Tom! I’m going!! (Hehe)
Have a great day!!!

Ed D.
2 years ago

Good morning Machelle! I am getting ready to go fishing with my Father-In-Law. We live in Florida and it is expected to get up to 72 Degrees where we are at today! What part of Florida will you be visiting? We are between Daytona Beach and Orlando. Maybe we could meet for lunch if you guys are close by and have some free time. Just a thought.
Glad everything is going great with the project! Keep up the positive attitude and the rest will just fall into place! The snow pics were beautiful. We have a 5th Wheel that we keep stationary in NC and we decided to go up there for Christmas this year. We received 4″ of snow on Christmas Eve and had a White Christmas. We couldn’t have written a better script then how it unfolded. Hope to get out to your Campground before the end of 2021. See you then!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hello Ed! Oh how I cannot wait to see 72* again! I’ll have to find my summer clothes! We will be in the panhandle area as our son is in the Military there. I am thinking we won’t venture far on this trip as we are also watching our grand daughter so the kids can celebrate their Anniversary!
We will have to wait until your travels bring you out West for that lunch!

Two years ago we had our first white Christmas, when we first moved in and I cried tears of joy. I have never had a snowy Christmas before, so I truly can appreciate yours!!

Have fun fishing and enjoy your sunshine!

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