Saturday, September 24, 2022


Building an RV park: Surprise visitors, perc tests and off-roading, Oh My!

By Machelle James
We had unexpected company stop by for my birthday last week. A HUGE Monaco Coach came pulling up in my driveway and I started freaking out. Who is this stranger and does he know we are not open yet? How is he going to turn around? I was in full-fledged panic mode until I walked over and the man said, “Do you have any spaces open yet?”

Even with a hat, sunglasses and a mask on, I knew that voice. It was my father-in-law! My stepmother-in-law was hiding in the back so I couldn’t see her. They surprised us for a week-long birthday stay while testing out their new Coach. Then the shuffle began of having him reverse his 40-footer to be able to park in front of our house and to plug into our electricity. My mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law were coming up the next day, as that was planned. However, those four crazy cats planned the whole thing together, so all the meals and drinks were covered and the fun really began!

I learned how to play Marbles with them on a handmade board game that was given to them. I think it’s a Midwestern thing. I have to say it was a ton of fun and that there is NO being nice in that game. You have to knock your opponents’ spots out and send them home. It was INTENSE! This family doesn’t mess around when playing games. It was so nice, as we were able to take a quick break from work while they were here. The focus was on them as we haven’t seen them in person since Christmas!

After they left, we finally had our perc test completed for the new location in the back of the property. The test turned out great and we have really good sandy loam soil in the back. We decided to do this because the property naturally drains to the back corner, so instead of getting a lift station pump in the front of the property, we are going to put everything septic that we can in the back to utilize gravity instead of pumps.

In the beginning of engineering, we were incorrectly told we couldn’t put our septic in the back of the property due to a “stream” we had there. We have never had a stream, but the higher-ups in the county insisted we did. We had one of the County Planners come out and inspect the land and they agreed that we in fact, did NOT have a stream on our property. This should save us on costs for the septic tank, plumbing equipment, labor and a lift station.

We are finding there are gray areas in this whole process and you really have to fight for what you know is the right thing to do. It also helps to have a network of professionals that will guide you honestly and with integrity. I am meeting the right people and I will definitely recommend these contractors to my contacts, friends and family.

Another person we met with this week is with a soil stabilizing company. We are looking into a copolymer mix to make our soil hard and to see if this product will hold up to heavy RV usage. It is being used in the military and for mining roads, and they say it works great. It is supposedly 1/3 of the cost of asphalt and we need to reapply a coat every year or so ourselves.

We don’t know anyone up here that has this material on their roads, so we may be the first business up here to utilize this dirt-binding technology. It is being used on the roads to the Grand Canyon, so I know it works well in heavy traffic and in the snow.

We should be getting a quote this week as well as a sample gallon to try in our parking spots. We want to see how it holds up to turning around, wet weather and wind. I know it won’t turn our dirt to concrete, but it will be a step below that in terms of hardness and that is what we want to feel and see for ourselves.

Another milestone we achieved this week was participating in our first Annual UTV FUN RUN Sponsorship. We partnered up with Arizona Offroad Promotions to participate as one of the Sponsors and as a rider in the daily 60-mile off-road trail rides. We had our banner made and set up a table at the park. It was so fun to see AJ network for the first time and make new friends in our off-roading community.

We had easy rides and INTENSE rides as we found new trails around town. I will say I am super proud of myself for driving straight uphill over ruts and rocks to get to the top! One gal walked up the hill as she did NOT want to chance their Polaris Ranger flipping up this steep hill climb. We also were able to share our secret trails with new friends and they LOVED the rock crawls and the intense switchbacks that they had never been on before.

As for the next two weeks, we should get our funds from the bank and hopefully start the septic engineers’ plan to design exactly where we need to place the septic system. Since we changed the layout of the camping spaces, we are having the roads re-engineered to make more sense so we don’t have to cut down our beautiful Pine trees. We also are continually working on cleaning up the down tree limbs (juniper and shag bark) and saving the larger trunks to be split, dried out, bundled and sold to our campers.

Until next time, thank you for following our journey and See you in the Trees!

Also, 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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Linda Hagan
2 years ago

Still love hearing of these milestones. Before you know it, you’ll be open.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Linda Hagan

Hi Linda! Thank you for your support! We do hope to be open next Spring!! Fingers crossed!!

2 years ago

If you ever get to the point something doesn’t pass remember you can always ask for a variance, the worst they can say is no.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  TomS

That’s great advice Tom! You’re right, it doesn’t hurt to ask!!

tim palmer
2 years ago

Can’t wait to see you get finished.
I hope RVTravel has a big Grand Opening feature written up on your campground when it’s finished.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  tim palmer

Hi Tim! Thank you for your support! I am sure we will need a dry run for a week before we officially open .. ypu never know what surprises we have up our sleeve!

Richard & Marian
2 years ago

Having built a mobile home park many years ago, we enjoy following your journey with great interest. Hope to meet you in person someday.

Chuck Woodbury(@chuck)
2 years ago

Ditto Richard and Marian — and hopefully when masks are no longer necessary!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

I agree with that Chuck!!

Machelle James
2 years ago

Thank you so much for kind words and support! I also hope we can meet you and you are able to come out and be a guest at our new campground !!

Ed D.
2 years ago

Can’t wait to come up and experience it for ourselves. Keep up the good work and keep making those, smart, money saving, moves! Innovation is what makes this country as great as it is!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! That would be wonderful ! We are trying hard to make our business decisions profitable for the future and also cost savings on what we can while we are still building. I’m excited to see what works the most cost efficiently. (Hopefully the road choice material!)

2 years ago

Your adventure is so interesting. We used to spend the summers in Pinedale, but we got old and have a hard time breathing at altitude

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim! Thank you for following our Campground journey! I absolutely love it here and Pinedale is like a movie setting. Just gorgeous, old fashioned living with neighbors and family being involved in everything you do. I also struggle with the altitude changes for a day or two when I go down to the valley and come back up. I wouldn’t change a thing!

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