Saturday, September 24, 2022


Building an RV park: We have RV storage progress, and more!

By Machelle James
I had to look back at my calendar to see all the appointments we’ve had the last couple of weeks! We had a very informational meeting with our local Pepsi rep last Friday. What was so interesting about them was how many items they are able to bring to us. It’s drinks, food and snacks all in one.

We were especially thrilled to learn they would even provide the commercial refrigerators we need to keep all our goodies chilled for our campers. This is a huge sigh of relief as we were given a quote of $7,500 for a 2-door commercial refrigerator or $10,000 for a freezer/fridge 3-door combo. Who would have thought this type of equipment was so expensive!

We were educated on what type of coffee/beverages people prefer. In coffee order: black/vanilla/hazelnut coffee; and beverage order: water/soda/Gatorade/energy drinks. We learned the favorite snacks for adults versus children: Doritos for adults and Flaming Hot Cheetos for the kids. We also learned that people of ALL ages enjoy ice cream. We do have to purchase our own floor freezer for these items, but the good news about that is we can sell any flavor we want!

While we still wait for our SBA funding, we had to take out a 400K Life Insurance Policy with our bank as the beneficiary in case anything happens to us while we still owe money on the loan. We had the blood work done last week and now we wait to see if we have anything unknown in our blood or are denied coverage for any reason.

We cannot get the SBA loan funded until all the parties come together with a final price for their part in building our campground. For instance, we have our costs for our septic system, our check-in/store, most underground work, the road work and material for the roads.

We chose to use basalt for our roads as many other campground owners told us it is a great material to work with and holds up well in the rain and snow. We have decided NOT to use the alternative polymer soil stabilizer that we were looking into. It didn’t get favorable reviews for being used on turning ratios and for heavy RV usage. We decided to use what is very popular up here that can handle the monsoon rains and the snow loads that come through our way.

We also are waiting for final approval on our septic system. It has been with ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) for weeks now and we haven’t heard a peep. We will have the electrical plans all planned out over the next couple of weeks and then that will be submitted to our local electric company. Then the electric company has to engineer the campground on what goes where and how many transformers we need. We also need to bury our electrical lines as, out here, they are still on power poles above ground. We have NO IDEA how much this will cost and even if the electric company will pay for it or share in the costs with us.

Tractor Tim clearing land for RV storage

As I sit here now, I can hear the sound of tractor work! We have Tractor Tim here, clearing the land for our RV storage. It looks SO good out there and it is getting both of us excited to see how the RVs will be parked and to see one of our future revenue streams come to fruition.

Secret pond

I will say I was able to sneak away for 2 nights and go on a ladies’ camping trip a few miles away. We have a FANTASTIC group of ladies up here who not only do tons of charity work, but also gather to share stories, teach us of their wisdom and learn from us young-uns. We went for rides in our side x sides to a secret pond and shared homemade Limoncello around the campfire. I will admit we have WAY too much fun together and I am so thankful for the relationships we have to lean on each other.

We have a Witch-A-Paloosa coming up and we are learning a “Witches Dance” to share with the kiddos at our local Trunk-or-Treat. Just because we are all older doesn’t mean we are boring! We don’t have traditional trick-or-treating out here as our houses are SUPER far apart from each other. We also have dark sky guidelines here and it’s just dangerous to be outside in the dark with all the wild animals we have here. We don’t have lamp posts, just headlights from cars driving by. Having said all that, our families trick-or-treat at the park. We all line up in our decorated trucks or trunks of our cars and hand out candy. We dress up too, as who doesn’t like to get candy from a Ghost or a Witch!

Happy 25th Anniversary, you two hard-working lovebirds!

Finally, as this week comes to a close, I do have to say that AJ and I shared our 25th Wedding Anniversary last week. We went to dinner at our local Wild Women Saloon and Grill. We shared a Pastrami Burger with Garlic Fries. I can attest we were fighting over the last of the fries. They were probably the best fries we’ve EVER had! We both HIGHLY recommend visiting them when you come up here. They have FANTASTIC food and they will keep your bellies and beverages full!

Thank you for following our campground journey and, as always, “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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1 year ago

Congratulations you newlyweds! Love your posts on your experience building your dream campground! We will visit as soon as you are ready… good luck!

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Max

Thank you Max!! We are looking forward to growing old together!! ❤
Come on over when when we are up and running as we would love to meet you!

1 year ago

That NSF sticker on commercial appliances means they are easier to clean, mostly, and more expensive. They are also less efficient from our experience. Go for new ones, from our experience, then you shouldn’t need to replace them anytime soon. For some of your appliances you may be able to ask for a variance for household appliance use. Chest freezers are more efficient and available both household and commercial, great for overflow. Check online, Sam’s club may have what you need. There are other online sources. Search NSF

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  TomS

Thanks Tom for your feedback! We are going with new Commercial Fridges from Pepsi and we are currently looking for a clear top commercial chest freezer. I will keep your advice in our back pocket!!

Bill Langton
1 year ago

Congrats you two! I’ve sure enjoyed following along on your journey on bringing this dream to reality! One day in the not too distant future, my wife and I will roll in in our class A Newmar and occupy one of your sites! We will enjoy our time in the Arizona sun and cruise the back roads of Heber-Overgaard in our Jeep toad!

It’s been very eye-opening on the requirements to build one’s dream! Best of luck and keep knocking over each hurdle placed in front of your progress!

(and Happy Anniversary! Next May will be 36 for us!)

Bill & Nana Langton
Ashland, Oregon

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Langton

Thank you so much Bill and Nana for following our Campground journey!! We would love to meet you and thank you in person for your support and kind words! Wishing you many more years of travel and Happy Camping!

Sharon Nelson
1 year ago

Congratulations on 25 years Machelle! I’m glad you could get away and join us for the ladies camping trip… it was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it again. Glad you finally got to taste my homemade limoncello!

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Nelson

Thank You Sharon! I hope we have an Annual Ladies Camping trip after our funtastic weekend!!! And yes, bring more Limoncello!!!

Diane Mc
1 year ago

Congrats on 25 years. Congrats on progress on campground. Thank you for posting these updates. Enjoying your journey and understanding the process, hard work & money it takes to build a campground from the ground up! Also….save some of the Flaming Hot Cheetos for us…we love them. #kidsinourseventies

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

This is AWESOME!!! Thank you for your support and also for being a fellow Hot Cheeto Lover!!

Wanda Pagel
1 year ago

Am so excited for you. And congratulations on 25 years together. Looking forward to coming up to visit when you open.

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Wanda Pagel

Hi Wanda! Thank you for the well wishes!! We look forward to meeting you and thanking you for your support in person!

Ellen L
1 year ago

First, congratulations on your wedding anniversary. I was very surprised that the favorite snack of kids is flaming hot anything! Wow! Will they have any taste buds left by the time they’re adults? lol My former home town (we are full time RVers) has a group that does the Witches Dance at the town festival. Love it! Have fun!

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen L

Hi Ellen! I wasn’t too surprised about the hot Cheetos as our own kids loved them growing up! How cool is that for the Witches Dance! Its pretty popular and it’s so fun to see ladies of all ages learn a dance routine. Thank you for your support and kind words!

Ed D.
1 year ago

I have said it before and I will repeat myself: We are very happy for you and know from our own experience (a Family Business) that you will reap what you have sown. Hard work and perseverance = success! We will definitely make it a point to include your Campground on our list of places to stay! We are always willing to help support an entrepreneur. We can appreciate what you are going through! Keep up the good work and it will pay off at the end!

Ed & Robin

Machelle James
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed and Robin! We truly thank you for your continued support and kind words! We look forward to meeting you both when we get up and running!

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