Saturday, February 4, 2023


Building an RV park from scratch: We had a wedding! … plus park updates

By Machelle James
I have to say “thank you” to Chuck and Diane here at, and offer my apologies to our readers. I completely forgot to write my last campground update as I was busy getting us all ready for my oldest son’s wedding. Between a wedding in Vegas and having our home showroom-ready before we left, I had complete brain fog.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

As I backtrack over our last 4 weeks, it has been really wonderful. We finally have electricity to our 5th wheel and I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing it is! No generator every time we want to make coffee or use the microwave or turn on the lights for more than 15 minutes. Those of you that dry camp know you don’t use the lights for more than a few minutes at a time as you worry about the batteries running low.

I have used the oven, as well – which I have not used often enough. Let’s just say there is a learning curve to bake in it and there was a burnt pizza crust involved. OK, two burnt crusts, but I figured out what I was doing wrong. I will move the trays to the top position and not keep them on the bottom position anymore.

We have been working hard on our cabin as we need a place to live while we work on our campground. Our 5th wheel will not suffice up north when winter comes; hence, the rush to work on the cabin all summer long. The cabin we are going to be living in hasn’t changed since 1977. We cleaned out all the trash, paper-thin carpet, parquet flooring, busted stove, broken counter tops, gross toilet, an old bathtub, broken doors, and knocked down several walls to open it up. It looks so much more livable now and we can really see the potential.

We had our family come out for a week and help install new exterior doors, electrical and plumbing. We also picked up pine cones and pine needles from the property that were about a foot deep. We had really nice fires at night burning the forest debris!

So far, we have been approved by the County Assessor’s office to combine three parcels into one. This is necessary as each parcel has their own setback rules for building. Now that the parcels are combined, we only have one set of rules to follow once we get Planning and Zoning’s approval. We are at a standstill with our engineers as we still haven’t sold our home. We are trying hard to not take out loans until we have to; hence, we’re waiting to pay the engineers until we sell.

We dropped the price twice on our home, per our realtor’s advice, and are getting a really good stream of interested buyers. It’s a unique home with an attached RV garage, in an RV community. We naively thought everyone would love to have an RV garage, but we are finding out not everyone cares about that monster garage or they don’t have a boat or RV, so they keep looking. Meanwhile, we wait for the perfect family to find us and enjoy our killer backyard and RV garage.

While we have been working hard, we also have had to use a neighboring RV park about a half mile down the road for water refills and to dump our tanks. The camp hosts have been so wonderful to get to know. They told us stories about what to expect when we open up our campground. For the most part the people are wonderful. It’s that 1% that we will need to learn to deal with: the drunks, the loud kids, the riding too fast on UTVs. Be firm, is what they said. Kick people out if you have to and no refunds if you do. Of course having clear rules is important and having everyone else follow them is one part to having a successful campground.

We have been meeting people all over town as we shop for supplies. Ace Hardware in Heber has been fantastic to us, as well The Woodshed Cafe, GiGi’s Pizza and The Cabin Bar and Grille. We have truly found our home here in Heber-Overgaard. We cannot wait for you all to come visit our piece of Heaven here in the White Mountains of Arizona.

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

AJ and Machelle James

Read the last post, “We met the neighbors!” here. Or find 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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3 years ago

Oh, one other comment regarding the RV Garage at your home. One idea for those without an Rv to garage would be to build a second floor apartment for an in-law or to rent out. As the primary structure is already there, it might not be too expensive for a buyer to consider.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay

There are endless possibilities for that space. Other neighbors made it into a mezzanine, or a car lift area to work on their hot rods, and yes one made it an apartment! Think big!

3 years ago

Re: the oven. We discovered that putting the item to be baked on top of the broiler pan also helped to eliminate burned bottoms! After 4.5 yrs. of the RV oven struggle (laying on floor to light the darn thing!), we have turned oven into storage and bought a good toaster oven, big enough to roast a turkey breast. Love it. AND, it doesn’t take half an hour to pre-heat.

3 years ago

Good to hear your plugging along. Nothing ever goes as fast as you think it should. Always add 6-8 months time into your equasion for unforeseen obstacles. Keep the faith and I personally am looking forward to visiting your CG.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Thank you Rick! We truly appreciate your support. We look forward to meeting you in the trees!

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