By Machelle James
These last two weeks have either been full-fledged panic or a constant stream of phone calls. While we celebrated getting the approval to build our campground, I suddenly found myself in a panic. What do we do first? Who do we call? What’s the next step?
I decided to call our bank to tell them we were approved so we can get the ball rolling. Sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? They asked us to send over the construction costs from our subcontractors. What? Oh, yeah. Well, we can’t to that yet as we do not have our final Improvement Plan from our engineer to give to our subcontractors to bid out the jobs. I called our engineer and he said it would be about a month for him to complete it. He is busy and is working on many other projects, so we sit and wait for it.
Staking out the roads with “feathers”
In the meantime, we had the surveyor come out and stake out the roads on the property. We still had to add the other half of the road as he only did one side – which is a normal thing to do when staking out the roads. So AJ and I got to work with stakes, a hammer, a tape measure, a ruler, our site plan and these things called “feathers” that you nail in the ground that you can drive over and they don’t get destroyed. The feathers let you know where the roads are going to be so you know how much shrubs and trees to take down.
We worked for two days to get half the property done. We argued, we disagreed, and we felt overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to read the angles and how to lay out the land. This was on a Saturday and I called the surveyor and prayed he answered his phone because one of us wasn’t going to make it out of road-staking alive!
The surveyor did answer and he graciously told us how to measure our lines and to make the roads on the correct sides of his stakes. We were both wrong on certain roads as the trees and the curved roads mess with your perception as to what a straight line really looks like. We ordered a TON of string so we can make sure our roads are accurate before we start tree removal next week.
We hired a new neighbor to help us with this as he is a retired Campground General Contractor! How crazy that he recently moved up here, and with all his tractors! Thankfully, he is going to help us with a few things that we can get accomplished until our loan gets approved.
We also learned a TON about septic systems this week. Now, neither one us had ever even used a septic system (that we know of) until we moved up here. Our knowledge of this subject is minimal at best. We have to trust others to guide us on what system would work best based on our soil, our daily water output and cost efficiency. I contacted three septic engineers up here for guidance and they all told us we needed and Orenco Septic System. Really, no other recommendations? Nope, none that they would recommend.
So, AJ and I called our local Orenco rep, which did not turn out well. We even called the company to speak to another rep, but they said he was the only one who could help us. He did eventually get back to us, but with a price increase.
What really got me going was I felt I was being taken advantage of. I was told I needed TWO Orenco pods because seasonal transient RV campgrounds make more waste than a full-time RV campground would. First, I was stunned to hear that. Really? Guests at a transient campground open 6 months poo more than year-round campground residents? I call total BS.
I called our local ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) rep and posed this question to her. She calmly told me, “Well, I have never heard this statement before and I do not have the data to back that claim up.” I asked her why everyone I am calling up here is only open to working with Orenco Systems? She calmly said they get large commissions from Orenco to sell their products. So, BAM! I’m beyond being nice and refuse to work with Orenco anymore. Not only were they apparently overselling us products we don’t need, they allegedly would be making a huge commission on us. I called around for hours looking for someone else that was trustworthy and wasn’t an Orenco rep.
I was given the name of a gentleman, Dan, at Alternative Septic Solutions in Tucson by our local septic concrete manufacturer. I cannot tell you what a GEM Dan is. We’ve already had at least five conversations with him. He wants to work with us on what is best for us, not what is best for him – and I respect him for that.
We decided on a Biomicrobics, MicroFAST System. It should be half the cost of Orenco, with less moving parts, less maintenance and less land needed. It is also on the preapproved vendor list from ADEQ. I do not have all the details yet on which system we are using, as there are several ways we can build it.
Now I want to be clear that I do not mind a man making a fair commission for being a good salesman – just sell the right product for me and not for your checkbook.
Now, on to a more pleasant topic
I will say for being a small town, we usually have a MASSIVE 4th of July parade, party in the park and a HUGE fireworks show. Due to COVID-19, it was canceled by our Chamber of Commerce. Well, the locals went nuts and staged their own parades and paid out-of-pocket to have the fireworks go on. Have you ever been woken up at 5:45 a.m. by shooting Anvils before? That is the way our town gets woken up on the 4th of July! Three separate shots are fired all around town and we get this party started!
We participated in one of the parades in our decorated Can Am. It was SO GOOD to see the patriotism and smiles as we rode through the neighborhoods. Everyone stayed on their property and waved at us as about 50 decorated vehicles drove by. It was so special as we all felt that connection that has been missing in this crazy time we are living in.
Jenna and I watched the fireworks show from our property as she does not like the loud sounds that fireworks make. Meanwhile, AJ and our friends drove to the forest a half-mile away and watched the show from the front row. I cannot wait for our campers to see what we do. It is such a beautiful sight to see and to celebrate with friends and strangers alike. Next year, we hope to have you come join us in this very special weekend event!
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.