Saturday, December 3, 2022


Building an RV park from scratch: It’s freezing, but wonderful, up here!


By Machelle James

Today, Thursday, AJ and I anxiously prepare for our first winter freeze. When we wake up it will be a “bold” 17 degrees! Living in the valley, we rarely have seen it get to 32 degrees.

We have our cabin about 99% completed inside. We finally have our bathroom with a shower and a water heater installed. Talk about heaven! Who would have thought anything about missing taking a bath! Jenna has been SO happy not having to shower in our 5th wheel anymore. Now I don’t have to boil water to do dishes anymore. The smallest things in life are making us the happiest!

We had our grandson, Max, come and stay with us for a few days and we all had a great time! We had our friends come up from the valley and he had 8 girls to play with! He had so much fun as we took him to our local Oktoberfest.

Max had a blast in the bounce houses and watched a movie outside in the trees! All the kids went crazy eating popcorn and being bundled up in blankets while watching a movie on a blowup screen. I cannot wait for our campers to be able to do this as well!

It seems our log delivery driver forgot about us last week and we didn’t get our firewood. Now we are going to get a wood permit to haul away dead and and/or downed trees in the forest this weekend.

We need wood to keep us warm for when the electricity goes out or whenever we choose to have a fire this winter. For now, we have been burning dead trees that have been lying around our property to heat our home and in our campfires.

I haven’t heard back from our engineers since my last article so the status hasn’t changed on that aspect yet. We have had design changes and added more storage spaces, but at a diagonal for backing in instead of straight backing in.

Today, I stopped by and spoke with Heber-Overgaard Fire Chief William “Dee” McCluskey and he had some new input for us. He was filling me in on two other campgrounds coming into town as he said there is such a huge need for these facilities. He explained that it keeps down trash from people dumping in the forest from transit campers and boondockers. It also keeps people safer than camping in the forest in case of an emergency. Now, AJ and our friends have camped for years via boondocking and we have never left trash or left a campfire burning when we left our areas. Apparently it happens a lot and the Fire Department is constantly putting out fires that people leave behind.

I told Chief McCluskey our vision of our campground and he offered his support. There are always naysayers on social media and we have been getting the rumor train and negative posts from a few locals. Many people spoke up for us, as I did myself. He said we can use their community room when the time comes to speak to the neighbors and those that have concerns. So that was definitely good news.

One of the other proposed campgrounds is a horse-friendly RV campground; and rumor has it that a rodeo is coming to town. So that would be an ideal location for horse owners and horse lovers to stay. They will have stalls and all that horses will need.

The other campground is a mixed campground of cabins and RVs. Chief McCluskey didn’t know too much about that one – just that he welcomes all of us. We all have rules and regulations to abide by and there is plenty of room for us all! We do live in a town that depends on tourism for tax dollars. And Heber-Overgaard is a perfect location to get out of the heat!

Lastly, I met some wonderful ladies up here and decided to join them in learning to line dance! I asked my friend, Christina, to join me and we had a blast! These ladies could dance like pros and we finally got into our groove and learned three new line dances! We need to take our men out and show them our new moves! Mountain living is slow, small and wonderful.

I can’t wait to fill you all in when we finally start moving dirt. We took pictures and have drone shots to compare before and after photos. We need to get moving to get this done before next summer.

Stay tuned and thank you for following our journey. As always, see you in the trees. And please leave a comment!

Read previous articles from Machelle 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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3 years ago

Re: the diagonal back-in sites — PLEASE be sure they are angled the right direction so the driver can see where they’re going!! I can’t tell you how many campgrounds get this wrong. Maybe it doesn’t make much difference with a motorhome, but it does with a trailer or 5th-wheel.

Diane Mc
3 years ago

Thanks for doing updates. Very interesting to see how a campground from the “ground’ up gets put together. Not too easily, evidently :-). But it sounds like you are making progress. Your cabin looks very nice. Thank you for changing your sites to diagonals. Should be a law against 90 degree sites, whether back-in or pull thru. So difficult for motor homes that don’t “bend” like 5th wheels or trailers. Although I’m sure those owners appreciate the diagonals too. Ignore the complainers. Some people complain about everything. Continued good luck.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thanks Diane! It will be so much easier for our campers to get in AND out of. Patience is the key here. I’m lucky to share this experience as it is definitely not an overnight business!!

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