Friday, February 3, 2023


Building an RV park: SBA loan delays, videos of elk fighting over pumpkins

By Machelle James
As Christmas music plays in the background, hot tea in hand, I truly have no idea what to write about as AJ and I sit here, waiting … and I mean, WAITING … for our GC (General Contractor) to get the final checklist to our bank. When you apply for an SBA Loan, the checklist alone will make you want to give up.

What the General Contractor has to supply to bank for SBA loan

I am sharing with you what the bank will want from your GC before you can get funding. Mind you, this is AFTER we already submitted 107 pages of our business plan, site plan, permits, proof of income, our living trust, taxes for the past three years, invoices, canceled checks, gift monies, and bank statements.

Our GC needs to submit:

  1. Fixed sum contract for all construction work to be completed
  2. Detailed Schedule of values that corresponds to the construction contract. Profit and overhead must be listed as a separate line item
  3. Copy of general contractor’s license valid for the state in which the project is located
  4. Evidence of general contractor’s general liability and worker’s compensation insurance listing (our bank) as certificate holder
  5. List of subcontractors to be used on the project, including name and trade
  6. 305 Contractor Statement of Qualifications or attached template
  7. Most current two years’ tax returns and a current P&L statement and Balance Sheet (for general contractor review due to size of project)
  8. Evidence of builder’s risk insurance in the amount of the construction contract plus FF&E (furniture, fixtures & equipment), listing (our bank) as additional insured and Lender’s Loss Payee
  9. Copy of all applicable city and county permits, or sufficient evidence that all plans are fully approved by municipal bodies and permits are prepared for issuance
  10. Estimates for all soft costs, such as architect/engineer fees, permit fees, impact fees and utility tap fees

So this is what you need to be prepared for if you decide to utilize an SBA Loan. What we have learned is we need to have PATIENCE. We never expected a Pandemic to occur, which in turn slowed down this entire process by about a year. It’s a trickle-down effect and we have absolutely no control over anyone but ourselves. This is the last piece of information we need before the loan can fund and we can truly start the building process.

It’s been a crazy two weeks

I will say we still have a life to manage and it has been a crazy two weeks. AJ, Jenna and I all had dental, doctor and physical appointments. Jenna has been awfully tired lately and just not herself. We have not received her blood test results yet, but we know something is going on. She also has been having therapy appointments for a year to help her with a HUGE issue she has experienced her whole life. She is DEATHLY afraid of dogs. It is so bad even mentioning the word “dog” will send her backing up, looking for a place to hide.

She has never had a bad or frightening experience with dogs as we used to have two Chihuahuas when she was little. We quickly learned she cannot tolerate barking and after a year of having them, we had to give the pups to my mom. If I had to try and describe it, it’s almost as if dogs cause her pain. She has low tolerance for loud, sudden noises and I think the unpredictability of dogs barking makes her extremely anxious. Fire alarms, sirens and fireworks are a definite NO NO for her.

We are working hard to try and have Jenna accept that dogs will be here in our campground. Also, that our campers view their dogs like their children and they LOVE their little fur babies. She isn’t having any of it yet. We may need to have her wear her headphones again to drown out the sounds. I am fully open to learning from others on techniques to work on for special needs children! Please offer advice and tips as I am feeling we are running out of time for her to accept what’s coming her way.

Elk in yard “dueling” over pumpkin

Elk in our yard discussing who gets the pumpkin!

After Thanksgiving, we had left-over pumpkins. We were told to smash them and leave them out for the elk to eat. Well, it worked – and we had elk fighting over the pumpkins for days! We have tons of videos on our Facebook page if you want to see them in action!

Our fireplace is ready for Santa

As we wind down this year, we are very much looking forward to Christmas. We have our Christmas lights up and our tree decorated. Jenna fully believes in Santa and she writes the cutest Santa wish list every year.

Elvis, our Elf on the Shelf, is waiting for Jenna to find in a new place every morning!

We also have to move her Elf on the Shelf, aptly named Elvis, every night. She looks for him every morning and talks to him like you would talk to a friend. This weekend we will make cookies and tacos for Santa. Jenna knows Santa likes tacos and margaritas!

Looking forward to next Christmas

I truly wish we were open this year as we could have had our first-ever Santa event here at our Campground. This is a vision of ours that we have had since we knew we were moving to the mountains.  So we will wait and we will bring this event to our Campground next year after we open.

Think of a quiet, decorated space, with low lights where parents can make appointments with Santa. These kids can have a safe, one-on-one experience to see and talk to Santa and his Elves. I tear up just thinking about it because it’s usually special needs adults who get forgotten about, come Christmastime. They are still children in their minds and they believe in Santa too. I hope I am able to write about this next year for you all to be a part of this heartwarming joy these kids will get to experience!

As we say Goodbye, Sayonara and Adios to 2020 and welcome 2021, we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Thank you for following our Campground journey and 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.



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2 years ago

Hi Machelle! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! My daughter is a special needs teacher and she said to try and get Jenna to associate the word dog with something good, whatever she is interested in now. As she gets used to that idea, maybe show some puppies/dogs on youtube to get her used to the sound of them “talking”. I hope this can help some….

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

Hi Kathy! Thank you for the tip as I can do that! Great thinking!!
I’ll share updates as we move forward with her therapy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!! 🎄🙏🎄🙏🎄

2 years ago

Merry Christmas and Happy NEW Year to y’all! May you be blessed with the completion of all the necessities to get your campground completed. I pray that Jenna will be able to tolerate all the changes that the campground will bring, and can be a big help to you and AJ.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Linda

Thank you Linda for the kind words and support. I am hoping she will also be able to tolerate the pups. I hope everyone gives us grace as we make this transition with her!

Bonnie W
2 years ago

Doesn’t Pokémon have a dog? Pokémon actually looks like a dog himself. Tell Jenna Merry Christmas. Maybe Santa or Elvis the Elf could adopt a dog? Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from me!!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie W

Hi Bonnie…so we tried to watch an adoption show on puppies today and she walked out of the room..I tried to have her just listen and not look and she said, “NOOOOO…NOPE NADA”!
I am trying… and now she is into Sonic and Super Mario Brothers and all those characters! Bye bye Pokémon after 5 years!

Thomas D
2 years ago

I so enjoy your updates on progress ( or lack of). Too bad you have so much trouble with the loan program. I can imagine all the hoops you must go through. Remember the old adage ” I’m from the Government. I’m here to help” SURE YOU ARE.
Keep the faith,Things will get better

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Oh this made me laugh! As long as one foot moves in front of the other, we are making progress! Thank you for you continued support Thomas!

Ed D.
2 years ago

Good morning Machelle & Family,
Reading your letters makes me know I would not want to build a Campground from scratch. I am too impatient and patience is something one obviously needs when undertaking such an endeavor. But you are doing a great job and we all appreciate your keeping us abreast of how things are going. The fireplace is beautiful and I wish there was a way to have one installed in an RV. We have an electric Fireplace but that isn’t the same as an authentic one. The Elk were great too! Thanks for sharing that with us.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your entire family, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! And may the NEW YEAR bring you success and joy!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hello Ed! I have to admit, we have been taught patience when we had Jenna! She made us slow down and CALM down. It is not easy for anyone as we really need to get moving on the building part!
We have Elk or Deer almost daily right now..even a very healthy coyote has been stopping by this week. It always a surprise to see what wildlife shows up on the cameras!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

Ed D.
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thank you Machelle!

2 years ago

To you all, Merry Christmas and all the best for a fabulous opening in 2021. This adventure of yours has been lots of fun to follow along…..thanks for sharing each step of your journey and thanks for being honest about the trials and tribulations. And the financials. It makes me appreciate all the more what owners have to deal with at any campground I stay at. One day I hope to visit your place!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  littleleftie

Hello Littleleftie! I am so thankful to share this journey with you and our readers!
Merry Christmas to you and your family as well! 🎄 🌲 🎄 🌲

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