Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Building an RV park: Saying Goodbye to 2020 – and a surprise interview!

By Machelle James
While we celebrated a quiet Christmas here at home, we are now getting ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve and say Goodbye to 2020! We have a good friend, Alan, staying here on the property in his travel trailer. He helps us with practically everything and has become a great friend and confidant to us.

Jenna opening her gift from Santa

Alan also has a well-behaved dog and is working with us and Jenna on her dog issues. (Read the previous article if you are lost on this conversation.) He was here for Christmas and we made sure we made him feel welcomed. AJ and I smoked bacon wrapped Filet Mignon on the Traeger for an hour. Then we finished it off with a quick sear of melted butter from our cast iron skillet. All I can remember is how quiet we were while we savored each bite of Heavenly bliss!

Some unexpected, and good, updates

In between eating and meal planning, we also have some updates for you. First, our friend and a fellow business owner, Pam, is giving us a Direct-to-Garment Printer and a Solvent Printer/Cutter. Basically, this means we can make some of our t-shirts and stickers now that we have this equipment! We were both so surprised and thankful for such an enormous gift!

Pam also is a tree expert and she graciously walked our 15 acres to let us know if we had bark beetles in our trees. Come to find out the trees look droopy because they are THIRSTY, not because we have bark beetles. She also showed us which trees/shrubs are suckers and which ones to remove in order for the pines to grow big and healthy. So, we bought 400 feet of dripline and starting watering our trees.

We also are having a chainsaw party with our friends so we can tackle this job, as all the trees are tagged that need to be cut. We are having a very dry winter here at this point and have had only two light snowfalls so far.

Our General Contractor update

I called the owner of the company that we are using (he was recommended by a local General Contractor that couldn’t take on our project) as our General Contractor. The Superintendent that was assigned to us for our job was slacking and I told the owner of the company how incompetent his employee was and asked WHY wasn’t he getting the bid to our bank? He apologized profusely and he made a few calls and we are now 80 percent done with the total bid of our job.

It is so unfortunate that WE have to beg to get the numbers to the bank, as clearly the ball was dropped on our superintendent’s end. There are just no excuses for this kind of delay as there is a formula for them to follow. It not only delays our funding, it delays our start date and finishing date. I cannot say whether or not we will recommend this company at this point – we will see as the project starts and finishes.

A surprise interview

We recently signed up with our new reservation system. We chose Campspot as we have met many happy campground owners who use this service. We received a phone call that they would like to do a feature story on us and our building of a campground from the ground up. They also haven’t had the opportunity to watch a campground being built from scratch. WOW! Are we are thrilled at this opportunity to share our story with another audience. We should be featured in the middle to end of January, and I will happily share that information when the time comes.

Website update

AJ has been a busy bee getting our website up and functioning. It looks SO nice and clean and way different than the one we have now. I am so fortunate to have a highly talented Computer Guy that can do almost anything when it comes to web design and online security.

Now, if only we can use his mad skills for our Wi-Fi setup! Remember, our little town has Frontier Internet and we have DSL for our Internet. However, we have the option to upgrade to fiber optic for a whopping $800 a month! It is a 3-year contract and we are seriously torn as we know Starlink will be here in a year or so. That service will only be $100 a month for the same speed.

We know campers need their Internet, but would you NOT stay here if you couldn’t stream Netflix? If you could check your email and send email, is that enough? We are in a tough spot as the other options such as Hughes Net and others just do not work well up here.

Final thoughts as we say Goodbye to 2020

I think of a roller coaster when looking back on the past year. We’ve had highs and we’ve had lows. The scenery is constantly changing and we need to adapt quickly to what is needed. From Planning and Zoning, Civil Engineering, Town Halls, Electrical Plans, Flood Plans, Soil Samples, Permits and Banking… It is WAY MORE than we could have ever imagined. Would we change course? NO WAY! We know it will be worth it in the end. If becoming a business owner were easy, everyone would do it!

AJ and Machelle wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and your families! We wish you health, happiness and prosperity!

Thank you for following our Campground Journey and See You in the Trees!

And please leave a message!

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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Tom (@guest_108888)
2 years ago

Wouldn’t be a problem for us. We don’t go RVing to stream movies. We only use internet to check in with our children, email and maybe check places to stay (although we usually have our nights pretty well set). Happy New Year.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom
Machelle James (@guest_109041)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Hi Tom! This is good to hear! Thank you for your input as we are trying to navigate how we want to open our Campground WIFI wise!
Happy New Year to you and your family too!

Goldie (@guest_108686)
2 years ago

We like decent internet and we like to stream (as opposed to satellite). Because we do, we carry two unlimited hotspots – one Verizon and one AT&T. We rarely will even bother to try a campground’s internet.

Machelle James (@guest_109043)
2 years ago
Reply to  Goldie

Hi Goldie! Well this is good information! Thank-you for your feedback as we move forward with our WIFI decision!

Joni Weed (@guest_108662)
2 years ago

We only want to check our email and maybe watch a UTube (on how to fix something in the RV). Not having the faster speed would not faze us in the least.

Machelle James (@guest_109044)
2 years ago
Reply to  Joni Weed

Hi Joni! I can relate to watching YouTube to fix things. Its amazing what you can learn on there!
Thank you for your input as we are thankful for the feedback from actual Campers!!

Neal Davis (@guest_108577)
2 years ago

Happy new year! Looking forward to having your campground as the destination of an RV trip. 🙂

Machelle James (@guest_109045)
2 years ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! We are thankful you found us as we cannot wait to meet our readers!!! Happy New Year to you and your family as well!

Tom (@guest_108568)
2 years ago

We carry our own MiFi. Works for us. Can not remember the last time we relied on a campground WiFi. Basic would meet most needs.

Machelle James (@guest_108572)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Hi Tom! This is good to know! Thank you for feedback as this makes us much less worried about WiFi usage!

Suru (@guest_108566)
2 years ago

No Internet would not be a deal breaker for me. But I’m retired so do not need Internet for work. I camp for pleasure only, not full time, and I’m not a big TV viewer.

Machelle James (@guest_108573)
2 years ago
Reply to  Suru

Hi Suru! Glad to hear this! We aren’t TV watchers either. When we left the city, the last thing we ever wanted to see was a TV. Connect me to Nature and that’s how I recharge!

Patricia Neuzil (@guest_108513)
2 years ago

My husband and I have been full-timers for almost 7 years and have been to hundreds of RV parks. We don’t expect the parks to have fast internet so use our own Verizon jetpack. I would wait for the cheaper alternative since almost no park we’ve been to has had more than basic internet options.

Machelle James (@guest_108545)
2 years ago

Hi Patricia! This is excellent feedback! Glad to have full timers chip in with their experience! Happy New Year to you and your family!

Barry (@guest_108489)
2 years ago

I for one would not base my decision to stay with you on internet access. Frontier internet in my area, Ft Worth, TX is extremely poor.
Best of luck with your endeavor and hope to see you in the trees soon.
Happy New Year to you and AJ.

Machelle James (@guest_108546)
2 years ago
Reply to  Barry

Oh good to hear from another Frontier user…it’s not just here!
See you in the trees and Happy New Year!

Gordy B (@guest_108598)
2 years ago
Reply to  Barry

Frontier is extremely poor in Michigan as well.

Machelle James (@guest_109046)
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordy B

Well isn’t that Shocking! It is better than nothing, for us to work with. With LOTS of people though, it won’t work.. hurry up Starlink!!

SteveH (@guest_108488)
2 years ago

We began RVing before most RV parks had an internet service that could be used for streaming anything. For years, we would stop for lunch at McDonald’s or Burger King (or even Safeway/Carr’s in Canada and Alaska) just to read and respond to E-mails while on the road. In the evenings, a tourist info center, library, or Denny’s might have WiFi available. Now, however, as others have said, we have a hot spot that we activate only when we are on a long RV trip. So, we are certainly covered for WiFi during short stays and would not need to depend on high-speed park WiFi. Only when long-term snowbirding south of I-10 do we count on park WiFi.

Machelle James (@guest_108547)
2 years ago
Reply to  SteveH

Hi Steve! This is a good reminder that we are a place for quick getaways and not full timers. We are realizing that most everyone has a hot spot and we shouldn’t worry too much about the Internet. We will wait for Starlink and hope our guests enjoy the trees and the dark skies!!

Tammy King (@guest_108475)
2 years ago

Hi Machelle, As you know Internet connectivity is super important to those of us who plan to “work from the road” but for those of us in that category, many of us have our own MiFi’s, Jetpaks and Hotspots that we utilize with our unlimited data plans. I know Verizon works well there at your campground so because you are a short term facility (no live in’s) I’d say skip the expense and wait the additional year until Starlink moves in. The folks that really require it likely already have what they need as long as there is good connectivity to their provider. I’d like to think that most folks can get by on what you have provided for their weekend stays and will spend more time enjoying the beautiful countryside vs. technology.

Happy New Year,

Tammy King

Last edited 2 years ago by Tammy King
Machelle James (@guest_108548)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tammy King

Hi Tammy! Yes I completely agree with you! Most people do have a hot spot connection, including us when we travel. Let’s hope our guests look up at the stars and planets above instead of looking down at their phones!
Happy New Year to you all as well!!

Wyo Bus Boy (@guest_108456)
2 years ago

Love watching the progress. Who doesn’t have access to a hot spot whether it is stand alone or on my smartphone. If there is cell service, I’m all set. Have a great 2021.

Machelle James (@guest_108550)
2 years ago
Reply to  Wyo Bus Boy

Hi Bus Boy! We do have great cell service here! We have a Verizon tower very close by. Thank you for following our progress and Happy New Year to you!

Brenda Odom (@guest_108754)
2 years ago
Reply to  Wyo Bus Boy

Ditto that!

Carl D Jones (@guest_108425)
2 years ago

I’ve been following your posts since the beginning and have the greatest admiration for you both. My wife and I get to Arizona every couple of years or so and the next time we’re there we will definitely be visiting you. Congratulations on your progress and I look forward to hearing of your successful grand opening.

Machelle James (@guest_108434)
2 years ago
Reply to  Carl D Jones

Hi Carl! Thank you very much for your kind words and support. We do hope you will be able to make it our way as we would love to meet our readers. Happy New Year to you and yours!

Joe Allen (@guest_108376)
2 years ago

Happy New Year to you both! Hope to make a visit to your neck of the woods soon, once you get er done! Congrats on taking on this challenge and we know with perseverance, you will succeed in your dream!

Machelle James (@guest_108436)
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Hi Joe! Thank you for your support and YES, perseverance will be our driving force to open in April!
Happy New Year to you and your family!

Ed D. (@guest_108373)
2 years ago

Hello Machelle and family,

HAPPY NEW YEAR and may this year see the fruition of all your hard labor and efforts! Keep your noses to the grindstone and keep pushing forward! The light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting closer! We are all rooting for your success and happiness. We can’t wait to stop in for a stay with you. Internet is a must for us, as we have a business that we maintain, even when on the road. But we also have a device from Verizon that provides us with internet when we are on the road. It is called a Verizon “Hot Spot”. Maybe you can work a deal with one or more of the phone companies to offer these for rent by the day or by the week. Just a thought.
Well, have a great week and we will see you in the trees!

Ed. D.

Machelle James (@guest_108437)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hello Ed! We mysteriously received a call to lower our monthly fees…hmmmm..lets see what the new offer is..otherwise we wait for Starlink!!!
Happy New Year to you and your family!

Ed D. (@guest_108438)
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Always negotiate! Have a good weekend!

Dave (@guest_108371)
2 years ago

We find most of the RV parks we visit have basic internet and If we want to stream we use our hotspot. Not a deciding factor of whether we stay or not. Like the previous poster said just make it clear that’s all you have and set your router to prevent it accordingly. We are hoping you get the park open this summer so we can stay at your park this summer for a week or so.


littleleftie (@guest_108357)
2 years ago

Yes, I would stay with basic internet. Streaming of Netflix is not a basic need, although some folks think it is. When people go on to your website, make it known that the internet, for this first year, will be basic only. Re-emphasize it at registration. Once you let them know, really, they should be arriving at your campground with the full realization of the limits. Once the cheaper option arrives in your area, snap it up and upgrade. But signing on for $800/month for 2 years longer than you need to so some people can watch a movie seems excessive to me. After all, they ARE camping!!

Suka’s Mom (@guest_108382)
2 years ago
Reply to  littleleftie

100% agree. Wait for Starlink.

Machelle James (@guest_108441)
2 years ago
Reply to  Suka’s Mom

Hi Suka’s Mom! Thank you for the advice! We think that is what we will do to save on costs!
Happy New Year to you!

Machelle James (@guest_108440)
2 years ago
Reply to  littleleftie

Hi Littleleftie. We will definitely let it be known that we have limited Internet Capabilities up here. I agree with you about enjoying Nature reconnecting with Nature…you would be surprised how many people cannot ‘Camp’ without watching TV. It blows our mind as we have watched TV ZERO times in all our years of Camping.
Happy New Year to you and your Family!!

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