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Building an RV park: We see the light! Update on bank loan

By Machelle James
As I sit here, trying to remember everything that has happened in the last two weeks, my mind goes blank. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember a time when we’ve worked harder, longer or more feverishly. It’s all melded together like glue and I have to pull the pieces apart to see what has happened at our RV park.

I’ll start off by relating a very last-minute decision to have Jenna stay with her Grandma and Grandpa in California. I am sad to admit that we weren’t giving her the attention she deserves while we work through these last hurdles to open. I reached out and asked for help in watching her so we could work as hard and as late as we can. Thankfully, Grandma and Grandpa said they would watch her for 3 weeks while we finish up. We are truly thankful for their help. On a side note, I asked Jenna if she missed us and she said, “NO, I’m having fun at Grandma’s!” So that made me laugh and feel good!

RV park picnic table debacle

Next to report is our picnic table debacle. Did you know there is a picnic table shortage? Whether it is wood or composite, you just can’t find any in stock! I knew which ones we wanted for our RV park, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Come to find out they are being discontinued for some reason and I had to act fast before they were all gone! These are Lifetime tables, rough cut series. I like the look of wood, the ease of cleaning the composite/resin material. This picnic table was a compromise of what we were looking for. Well, you couldn’t buy them online. We had to call each Home Depot and ask if they had any in stock, as the website wasn’t accurate.

I drove to the valley (2 ½ hours away) and stayed with my mom as I was a MISSION to get those tables for our campers! I had to call each store until they found them as they were hidden away on a top shelf in a secret pallet location. The managers couldn’t even find the picnic tables for more than 30 minutes!

I stayed calm as I waited on the phone to see if they were actually in the stores. Once I had confirmation, I told them our campground story and how I needed every table they had. I drove to Mesa with my mom at 9:15 p.m. to get them paid for before they closed for the night, and told them I would come back in 2 days to pick up those 8 tables. I woke up the next day, went to another Home Depot in Apache Junction, and paid for 7 more there.

Truck was already full of propane bottles

You see, I had gone to Costco and the bed of my truck was full with 27 propane bottles for you all! We ordered Fire Rings from our local fireman who makes incredibly safe, lightweight and portable propane rings. We will have these for rent during fire season, when we cannot have wood-burning fires, but we can have propane fire rings. Hence, I had no room for the picnic tables once I found them.

Well, my picnic table MISSION was far from over as I needed at least 30 more tables. I had to ask for help from family to search for these picnic tables. I am happy to report that our family from Arizona found 20 tables and our California family found 12 tables. They are bringing them out when they come to help the last week before we open our RV park.

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I have to say, I have the BEST support system up here and within our families. I had a picnic table assembly party and our friends came over and assembled 20 picnic tables in one day! You have no idea how much stress that took away by having them help us.

On a tree-trimming mission at the RV park

I was on a tree-trimming mission that day, so one of the gals and I trimmed 1500 linear feet of trees and shrubs along the edge of the RV park property. I ran the chainsaw and she threw the limbs in piles. We were a great team in working together and we found our groove too.

Landscape in progress
Landscape in progress

Next, I had to hire a landscaper to do the interior of the campground. I called for weeks and I couldn’t get any help in the time frame that we needed. Everyone is so busy out here that each job was at least a month out. Or I was just told, “No, we can’t take on a job like this.”  I was freaking out as there is NO WAY RV’s could come through and NOT hit their RVs with the low-hanging limbs. I had an idea to call our old landscaper from our home in the Valley. It just so happened he was available and he came up and trimmed the HECK out of each space. I have NEVER seen anyone but him work with such intensity and focus. But there was a reason for not quitting until the job was done.

Time is of the essence to cut limbs at the RV park

We are going into a STAGE 2 FIRE RESTRICTION on Friday. That means no gas-powered tools, equipment, campfires, charcoal and several other rules. I asked our hard-working landscaper to chainsaw for 2 straight days, then he could pick up the limbs and take them to the Brush Pit over the next 2 days. Our property looks like a bomb went off! But in a few days it will look brand-new with all the limbs cleaned up. Also, we are having our fence installed!

Yes, we finally had our 200 fence panels delivered last week. We’ll have a fence-hanging party once the post holes are dug and the concrete is delivered.

Electric panels
Electric panels

We had hired a local guy to dig post holes for us and so far we have 40 post holes. We ordered a concrete truck as my electrician (who is my cousin) and his crew are up here from Phoenix. He needs the concrete to secure the SES Cabinets in the ground. So why not order more and use it for the fence posts?

Setbacks with materials

There were a few setbacks with types of material he had used, so he had to redo some of his work to Navajo County Standards, which are not Maricopa County standards. Let’s just say he is a patient man as his work got chopped up, moved and replaced. He is still working, late at night, so we can pass inspection. I admire his work ethic as he is the first one to arrive at 6:00 a.m. and he has not left the job site before 6 p.m. I am thankful for him and his crew!

Call from the bank

We just got a call from the bank to sign the loan docs next week! I don’t even know what we appraised for. But it had to meet the minimum or we wouldn’t have any papers to sign! I am doing the HAPPY DANCE right now. This is wonderful news!!

Our reservation system for the RV park went live last week and we had 59 reservations on our first day! I have no idea what the average is for a new campground, but to us this was a FANTASTIC night! I have to say how much I enjoy talking to guests that already reserved sites and to potential guests that just have questions. They truly are just as excited as we are!

We’ll get photos on our sites up soon

I HAVE to get photos done on our sites as people want to see where they will be camped. I will have this done in about a week or so, so please check out our uploaded photos at Ajsgetawayrv.com then. Our rock for the road and pads will be delivered June 21-24, so they will be sans rocks for now. I ordered all the internal signs for the speed limit, check-in, one-way roads, security, surveillance areas and more. My custom/handmade street signs should be here any day. I cannot wait to see them and show them to you!

I invited the Navajo County Supervisors, Planning and Zoning and the media to our Ribbon Cutting on June 30th. As of this writing, most of the Navajo County Supervisors will be here. I will let you know about if the media can join in. That would be such good news if even one of them could come out and cover our campground opening up!

My next article comes right before we open and you will hear all about the FINAL PUSH before the gates open. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and WOW! does it look good!

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 @ Ajsgetawayrv.com or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.

##RVT1004

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Rusty
4 months ago

I enjoy following your park build.

Gail Wagner
4 months ago

Hoping to visit you some day! An amazing journey and loved reading along.

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Gail Wagner

Thank You Gail! We are almost to the finish line!!!

Diane Mc
4 months ago

You are totally amazing. I was having an anxiety attack just reading your search for the picnic tables and all the things being done & deadlines….like the fire restrictions. My admiration for you is greater with every post you do. So excited for you and AJ and can’t wait to read your next post and hopefully visit soon.

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thanks Diane, you’ve been a continued support for us and we appreciate you for it! It is SO stressful right now as I feel we are running out of time now. My Campers can’t camp without a picnic table! NOW, off to install more fence panels and stain them! Wish us luck!!

Tammy
4 months ago

Amazing job Machelle and AJ! I LOVE how supportive both your families have been in this endeavor. They are a true testament to “family” and the way you have pulled folks into this journey with you just goes to show you how much everyone believes in you and what you are doing! I can’t wait to see it all when I get back to Arizona!

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Tammy

Hurry home! We have so much to show you! It looks AMAZING!! We have found a great support system and we TRULY cannot thank them enough!!

Bob M
4 months ago

I think you need to be thankful that you were able to progress to where you are. With everything being in short supply and the cost of everything skyrocketing. Sometimes because of price gouging or businesses not being able to get workers. Since they can sit home and make more money on unemployment. Hope everything works out for you and your family. God bless everyone.

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Thanks Bob- we are very fortunate to have some ordered items way in advance. We know there is a shortage of RV Pedelstals now and getting transformers is back logged. SO we are thankful we ordered a long time ago! Now as you said, getting good help is hard to do!!

David F.
4 months ago

Fascinating!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  David F.

You are welcome David! I am so thankful to keep sharing our progress!!

Donald Schneider
4 months ago

59 reservations on the first Day!!! That is FANTASTIC. We opened a new park that had little to no advertising before hand and did not have 30 reservations in the first 6 weeks they were open.
Do you know how many of these reservations were from people following your journey on RVTRAVEL.com? If not then you should start tracking that so you know where to spend advertising monies in the future.
HURRAY FOR YOU AND AJ!!!

Machelle James
4 months ago

Hi Donald! THANK YOU!! It was an amazing day to see the emails come through for each reservation! We were shocked and thrilled at the same time. We are keeping track of where our referrals come from and so far, we have had 5 come through from RVTRAVEL.com! Most are coming from Facebook so far!

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
4 months ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Hi, Machelle. Not to be nitpicky here, but just curious. I wonder how many of your FB followers got there in the first place from the link in your articles in the RV Travel newsletters? Have a great day, and don’t work too hard! 😀 –Diane

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  RV Staff

This is true Diane! When I make the reservations, I ask them how they heard about us. But online, I am not sure what they are checking..I’ll have to run a report and get back to you!

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
4 months ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thanks, Machelle. It’s no big deal, but I was just curious. 😀 —Diane

Ron Maynor
4 months ago

This has been an intriguing journey and we are very happy for you. Hope to see you someday.

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Ron Maynor

Thank You Ron! We have learned so much more than we could have imagined over the last 2 years! We do hope you will make it out here and see the fruits of our labor!!

Ed D.
4 months ago

Machelle,
Congratulations on your progress. I told you the Bank would come through for you guys. How could they refuse? We are excited that things are falling into place and the Park is coming together on time. I can’t wait until we will be able to make the trip to your neck of the woods to see your Campground. That will be at least next year some time but it gives us something to look forward to. Keep up the good work and you will reap the benefits from it! I will eagerly await for your next update to see how the finish product looks. See you in the trees!

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Thank You Ed! It is happening all so fast right now! We also look forward to meeting you and giving you a big hug for all your supprt!!

Dan kalm
4 months ago

Pretty compelling story of true American grit. Super happy for you all!

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan kalm

Thanks Dan! We never thought it would take 2 years! Every day..working.. and now it’s almost time to open up!!

Don
4 months ago

This has been such an inspiring story, packed full of all-American guts and glory! Well done to you both, and all the luck in the world for a great opening and success in the future.

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Don

Thanks Don! I am honored to be able to document this journey for the public to read. I had no idea the hardship from the emotional toll it took on us, financial swings, legalities, true friendships, and just getting the right people to work with us.. we both learned so much and wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!

Tom
4 months ago

You Go! Girl!

Machelle James
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Thanks Tom! It’s been a journey for sure!!