Building an RV park: The RV pads are graded!

20

By Machelle James
As I sit back and reflect on the last two weeks, it’s a bit of a blur. When I last wrote, we had raised $4,700 through GoFundMe to assist with our campground building expenses. Well, I am happy to report that that number has grown to $6,235. We are so appreciative for the donations, belief in us and the heartfelt messages you have sent us. To say we are growing more and more excited every week as we get close to truly breaking ground is an understatement.

We took a week off to deliver our car to our son in Florida. If you’ve ever made a cross-country trip in a little car, you know the feeling of your back and legs hurting, your tailbone being sore, and the general feeling of being run over by the big rigs. I can say driving from Phoenix, through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, then Florida was a 3-day ordeal! It was 27 hours of driving, not including any stops for gas or food or our hotel stays.

AJ, Machelle and granddaughter, Aurora. “Her eyes really are that blue!”

The I-10 was a decent drive all the way through to New Mexico, and then the 2-lane construction started in Texas and it was a hairy drive! Texas has a speed limit of 80 mph. All I can say is AJ and I learned that I need to drive as I am not a good passenger. He pulled over after I kept putting my hand up to slow down so I could drive. Seriously, he couldn’t take it anymore as I was holding my breath and my mind was convinced we were going to crash.

After that, I just drove. I had no idea I was such a control freak when driving, but, hey, he got to sit back, read the news, play games on his phone and not feel the stress I was giving him. I am mature enough to admit I am not a perfect person! (He is a smart man by making me take the wheel)

Fast forward to seeing our son, daughter-in-law and grandbaby in Florida. We enjoyed every second of being with them and reconnecting with them all. Our granddaughter is almost 2 years old and she is a FIRECRACKER! She has the most energy you can imagine. She runs, climbs, babbles and plays ALL DAY LONG! Not to mention she is a great eater! As in everything you give her, she eats it! Even sushi!

AJ and granddaughter, Aurora. “She likes him more than me!” says Machelle.

We worked long days helping the kids fix up their home. We installed a new sink, new faucet, new vanity, 2 new toilets, painted 2 rooms and cleared out their garage so the car would fit inside. It was tough on us all as trying to work with a 2-year-old is really hard! She dove into the paint when the lid came off! We were standing right there and turned our heads away and her hands went straight in the paint bucket. All of our efforts were so worth it though.

As our week came to an end, we were ready to come home and get back to work on building our RV park. Luckily for us, we flew home and just missed the HUGE storm by a few hours. I am so thankful we were able to fly out before the devastating storms took ahold of most of the country.

A one-way road!

We returned home to see that Tractor Tim had been working hard on clearing our camping spots. He cleared two roads and made approximately 20 RV pull-through spaces in the campground. The limbs are not cleaned up yet, but at least you can see how the pads are coming along. We have a TON of chainsaw work to do, but now we can get to work before the construction crew gets here to start their work.

Now, to fill you in on our refinance situation. We were denied a home refinance as our bank wants us to pursue the SBA avenue. All morning we have been on the phone talking to a broker on what types of loan programs we can qualify for at this point. We have almost all the funds we need; we just need 200k more.

I am going to write about the trials and tribulations of starting your own business, including building an RV park, when this is all over. You truly have no idea the government hoops you have to go through to start your own business. It is beyond frustrating – to say the least – and I can see how most people would give up.

Being a new business is the worst, as you don’t have a reputation yet. No one trusts you even if you have a solid business plan and excellent ideas. How can one start to become an entrepreneur when they don’t give you the chance! You either need a ton of your own money or be lucky enough to have wealthy family members.

Campsite and road intersection

As we move forward this week on building our RV park, we will continue to clean up the property so Tractor Tim can come back and finish the roads and the RV pads. We meet with the entire construction team next week, here on the property, so they know what they are working with. It is eerily exciting as we know in a couple of weeks we will start the real job of the underground work.

We could have never guessed that a pandemic would come, set us back a year, slow down financing, make wood prices triple – and we would not be open the campground for 2020. We are so thankful we have a ton of support from you all and from our local Arizona campers!

Thank you for following our journey – as this is just the beginning of great things to come!

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.

##RVT988

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Thomas V Edwards
4 hours ago

My wife’s a control freak when it comes to driving. She’s also a much better driver. Safer and more cautious. I just wish she’d try driving our 1 ton dually truck hauling the 6 ton 5th wheel. She was great with our smaller pickup and 30 ft bumper pull. Drove it through Atlanta rush hour like a pro a couple times (she insisted she drive each time). You keep up that driving control freakishness. It serves you well. Tell AJ I said so.

Machelle James
1 hour ago

Hi Thomas! Now that’s funny! I towed our 5th wheel one time from Glamis to Phoenix. It really wasn’t too bad. The truck did most of the work. I will say I didn’t have to reverse as that may have had a different outcome! I like driving and I think I will drive for the rest of our road trips. Kudos to your wife as well!!!

Tony Rose
2 days ago

Keep up the good work you two. Will see you this fall. Tony

Machelle James
1 day ago
Reply to  Tony Rose

Hi Tony! We hope to see you in the trees of Heber-Overgaard! Such a beautiful place to be!

Calvin Wing
3 days ago

Count us in if you decide to do the certificate thing! Vivians sister lives in Hereford Arizona so we will be in the state it’s just that she hates the desert.

Machelle James
1 day ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

Hi Tony! We hope to see you in the trees of Heber-Overgaard! Such a beautiful place to be!

Machelle James
1 day ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

Hi Calvin! We are definitely looking into this and several other options! We will let you know for sure and thank you for your support!

Neal Davis
4 days ago

Congratulations on the progress! Looking forward to visiting your campground. 🙂

Machelle James
3 days ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Thank You Neal! We have so many photos to share next article! We appreciate your continued support!!

Dr. Mike
4 days ago

Machelle,

Go to Kickstarter. Pre-sell certificates for visits to your park — say in two week increments — which could be redeemed per day or all at once. Set aside a few of your new sites for certificate holders for the first couple of years. The area you are building in is lovely, and your park won’t be wall-to-wall coaches. I bet there would be many folks who would take you up on that. My wife and I most certainly would.

Good luck! We hope to see you open soon!

Machelle James
4 days ago
Reply to  Dr. Mike

Hi Dr. Mike! This is a really good idea! We need to figure out logistics and talk with our Attorney, but we both like it! Thank you for the good advice and we will keep you posted!!

John Peters
4 days ago

I spent years crawling around the commercial market and secondary market looking for financing. Most of it was onerous, and as you have probably found, required jumping through a lot of hoops for a person totally ignorant of your business. It was all about numbers, nothing else, because that’s all they know. And they will want everything including your grandchildren for collateral, which further hinders your ability to borrow and to grow.

The quickest and best financing we ever found was at the end of our business days, just before we sold. We got SBA backed financing from Newtek (https://www.newtekone.com/). I think they are in the Northeast (I’m in Alabama). They are a large company but were still nimble enough to understand us and help us. I might not have survived 2008-2011 without them. They are not in my phone contacts, and my business files are gone, but you should be able to find help on their web site.

Machelle James
4 days ago
Reply to  John Peters

Thank You John for the recommendation! With the RV Business EXPLODING, one would think opening a Campground is a good business idea! It’s a niche market and so many banks are afraid to take the chance to loan you the $$$. The bank we have has approved us, we have to either find another GC (which adds another 400k) or get creative with financing. I had to open a Life Insurance Policy with the bank as my Beneficiary! If this doesn’t work out, we will call your recommendation!!

John Peters
4 days ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Call now. you need every option working at the same time so if you get lucky you can compare offers.

John Peters
4 days ago

This will apparently be a several part post because of message size limitations.

I am a little surprised but not shocked at what you did not know when you started this project. It’s easier to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than your own. That said, I ran my own business for 25 years and quickly learned that the only time a bank will loan you money is when you don’t need it.

Good luck with your new adventure.

Machelle James
4 days ago
Reply to  John Peters

Hi John! We have a saying here. ” You don’t know what you don’t know.” Until you experience it for yourself, you can only rely on the experience/recommendations of others. We truly had NO idea it would be this difficult to get funding as it touted as a way for people to start their own business. All the rules and requirements are WAY over the top. Even my Life Insurance policy has to go to the bank if I die!
We will make it work, it will need to be creative financing!

Tom
5 days ago

I-10 in Texas has been under construction as long as I can remember. I got my first driver’s license in Texas, in 1962. Under construction then, \under construction now.

Machelle James
5 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Well that’s unfortunate! What on earth takes so long? It was a white knuckle ride before I drove!

Ed D.
5 days ago

I bet you guys hated to leave the warmer climate of here in Florida. Glad to see you had a safe trip and got to spend some time with your family. Everyone needs some time off!

Machelle James
5 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Thanks Ed! We truly enjoyed seeing the kids. We came home to a TON of cleared RV spaces that need to be cleaned up.. its a mess for now!