Building an RV park from scratch: Monsoon season is here!

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By Machelle James

Oh, joy! We had our first monsoon storm of the summer and it did not disappoint us! We are used to monsoon storms down in the valley of Arizona, but up here at 6600 feet? What a difference!


The thunder is louder, the clouds are darker and the rustle of the wind-blown pine trees is quite a treat to your senses. It kind of sounds like a hum from the freeway but there are no cars driving anywhere.

We patiently waited for two days of teaser rain, with humidity that curls your hair and makes you sweat just opening your door. I even performed my Indian Rain Dance to see if that would bring the rain. (I am sure I did it wrong, but it felt good to do it!)

Finally, at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, the rain fell, the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and we were trying to absorb and admire this new season of weather and our life on our front porch. As we clinked our celebratory beverages of the rain, we stared out into trees in awe of the beauty in front of us.

If you asked me two years ago what we would be doing in Life, this would not have been the answer. I’m so thankful AJ trusted in me on this new life direction we are going. We make a good team. Yin and Yang we are. Learning to work together as business partners. Yes, we do disagree, but we always find a way to compromise and not always have to be right. I like the saying, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” 99% of the time, I choose Happy!

We have been quite the busy bees lately. We moved AJ’s office into the cabin, hung drywall, taped and mudded walls, and installed inside and outside lighting. We also installed our final window and the casing as well. Just in time before the rain came down!

I cannot wait for our kitchen to come in on approximately August 12th. That is when we can install the Pergo waterproof vinyl flooring. We can’t have tile in this house as the floors flex too much. So Pergo it is! After that step, we can start moving in!

Alas, for now, we happily sit in a dusty shell of drywall particles, sanded mud on the walls and, of course, one HUGE mistake we made. We applied the mud around the shower so thick that we had to hammer it all out. It was back-breaking hard, dusty and heavy work to do. Also a learning lesson that we are not good at everything! But we can fix that mistake and make it right.

Today we meet the propane salesman to explain about setting up propane on site to sell to our campers. We need certifications in order to do that. So we will learn about all that as well.

A drone did fly over our property and come to find out it was a nosy neighbor. That really did irk me. I know it is airspace, but I wasn’t dressed (PJs) to be videoed by strangers. I pointed at it and gave it the bird. Not the most eloquent thing to do, but I felt violated!

The real drone that videoed our property was an airplane-type of drone and we never even saw it. But they did their job and we are waiting for the edit to come back so we can put our ideas on paper.

Our engineering team has the formula for water usage for the laundry, bathroom/shower, dump area and per-camping-spot usage. When we meet, they simply tell us what we can and can’t do to keep us under 3000 gallons of water per day. That is the magic number so ADEQ doesn’t need to get involved and we don’t have to pay the HUGE startup fee of $25,000. That plus the annual reporting and testing costs to get the water reports sent to them. Maybe down the line, once we start making a profit, we can do this and offer more spots. But this is definitely not happening for a few years.

This week’s checklist is focused on opening a business account, finding a local CPA, and finishing the texture on the walls so I can paint them.

On a side note, Jenna (our daughter) is away at her special needs camp this week. I cannot recommend Camp Tatiyee in Lakeside, AZ, enough! They offer a FREE week of camp for special needs children and adults all summer long (since 1958). They rely on fundraising and donations to operate. It’s based on age and disability type. Jenna has thrived and learned valuable social skills and so much more from this camp. It also gives Mom and Dad a much-needed break!

If you know of anyone who lives in Arizona, who has a disabled child and wants their child to have a safe, loving camp experience, look up Arizonalionscamp.org. I 100% trust them and know the staff will make sure Jenna bathes, has her teeth brushed, takes her medication and also makes sure she has FUN! I am going to learn a lot from them when we open our Campground. They have activities down to a science and I want that knowledge for our kid campers as well. Bumper Balls, anyone?

Thank you for following our journey and as always, see you in the trees. And please leave a comment!

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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Kathee Merkley

Thunder in the mountains is so loud. It echos and reverberates around those rocky canyons. Love the swishing from wind in pines. Happy you have electricity. But I will celebrate long distance when you have a working kitchen.

Jean Totten

Moved here to AZ in January and still waiting to see what a monsoon is all about. Your rain sounded delicious. I can just smell that “just-rained-on” odor!
So happy you are moving forward. Anxious to become one of your tenants….maybe just for a few days in a boondocking area….. since we live so close by.
Admire your tenacity!!! If we were 25 years younger…….

Jamie S.

So exciting to hear about all your progress. We had a neighbor’s drone fly over us a couple weeks ago too. If it had just flown over it would have been fine, but the hovering over us was annoying. Total invasion of privacy.

Zil

My neighbor had his new drone out flying about my wife and our windows. I went for a visit and admired his very expensive drone. Asked him about it’s capabilities. Then casually told him I would react with my shotgun if it ever looked in our windows again. He now takes it into a different neighborhood.