Saturday, April 1, 2023


Building an RV park: We have tractors! Septic system, fencing and more updates

By Machelle James
(Thurs., Nov. 5) — It is our last week before the crazy, cold and unpredictable weather comes in. We received a phone call that our Septic Engineer, Dan, and his team would be here on Thursday. They are going to dig the septic system area for two days to get the area ready for the septic installation. Apparently, our septic system can be installed in cold weather – you just can’t prep or dig the area in wet, muddy ground. Dan decided to work for as long as he can over the next 48 hours to get it dug out and ready for the next step.

Tractor had to park across the street and we drove it in

Needless to say, AJ and I are “over the moon” excited to finally see the dirt being moved and the progress truly starting to begin. The area being dug now is 40 feet wide by 30 feet in length. It is also going to be 12 feet deep with a ramp area for the concrete trucks to back into. This is how big the area needs to be according to our state laws for Alternative Septic Systems.

It has been 1½ years since we started the process of building our campground and it truly took this long to get the whole process of engineering, the permit process, soil testing, water pressure testing, neighborhood meetings, planning and zoning meetings, county supervisor meeting, in order to even start digging. Even the banking is still not 100% in order, so we are using our saved funds to start the project until the loan is funded.

Our general contractor is still pricing out the materials and labor to submit to the bank. This is a tedious process as they want it narrowed down to light purchases and even how many nails we will need. It is a bit overkill, in my opinion, as we can estimate most of those costs; but the bank wants concrete numbers for every material and working hours.

Remember our fencing concerns from our last update? Well, we still haven’t 100% decided which way to go. We are leaning towards the wood fencing to save costs. I’m not happy and I am being kind of “pouty” about it. I understand the costs savings – I just don’t want to do it twice and have the money literally thrown down the drain in two or three years. I know what I like, and I like the concrete fencing. My visually based brain can see it, but my checkbook doesn’t. We are looking into all options before we decide. Who knows, maybe we will get a vinyl fence that looks like wood. (Shhhh. Don’t tell AJ, as I am getting pricing on this option!)

More good news: We just received our grading permit yesterday! We can start grading the roads as soon as we have the funding. It figures – everything is finally coming together in the winter! We will work as long and hard as we can to get up and running for our projected opening next spring. We are celebrating this night with hot beverages to toast the first real dig to move us closer to opening our Campground!

Jenna is the Bacon Girl!

Last week was Halloween and we participated in our first event for Trunk-or-Treat with many of our friends and community members. There were over 45 vehicles that participated and decorated the trunks of their cars or trucks. It was invigorating to see the happy faces of the children and their parents. For those 3 hours, it was a somewhat sense of normality and we all reveled in it. We left the event already knowing what we will do differently and better for next year!

Jenna was dressed up as a piece of bacon and she just loved her costume!

Machelle and her spooky trunk

I dressed up as a witch, and our ladies group performed the Witches Dance two times throughout the night. It was far from perfect, but it was fun and the kids were able to see the “Crazy Witch Ladies” dance with their decorated broomsticks. We all laughed and truly enjoyed being in the moment of Unity and Community.

We are so thankful for all the support we have from you, our readers, and from our family and friends. We look forward to continuing to share our journey with you.

Thank you for reading, 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

Machelle, I hope you’re keeping a detailed journal so you can publish or consult on anyone who wants to do this.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Hi Tom! We are definitely taking notes on this process! What companies we recommend and who we recommend working with for up here. Lots of procedures to learn and the ol government rigmarole…

2 years ago

We were just camping on Mogollin Rim two weeks ago and I wanted to venture east to see you’re area but that quick winter storm said snow so we went south. Really like what we saw of Pay so area. We’ll be back again as we’re exploring the area for retirement relocation.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Donn

Hi Donna! I’m glad you were able to see Rim Country! It is so pretty here in the high country. Most people think of Arizona as a desert, when in fact, we have all sorts of surprises in our state! It will be snowy and cold up here until May. Come back up when the weather is amazing!

Carol Kellogg
2 years ago

It is great to hear your news! You were due for good news and progress.Happy for your family.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Carol Kellogg

Thank you Carol for your kind words or encouragement!

2 years ago

We “RV Travel” newsletter readers have agonized and celebrated with you through this interminable process of planning, permitting, and, finally, the beginning of construction of your park. So, congratulations on actually moving some dirt!

FYI, our cedar privacy fence withstood 48 years of Colorado winters before it needed to be replaced.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve! I am thrilled you are following our Campground journey! It is so wonderful to share our stories of struggles and successes with all of you. Its not always easy, but it will be SO worth it in the end!

Retired Firefighter Tom
2 years ago

I never realized how long the process takes before you even start with the construction. it has been an eye-opener. With today’s forecast for snow in the higher elevations I hope your progress isn’t slowed down. Best of luck with the remainder of construction. It’s a long drive from Wisconsin but we’ll be sure to make it once you’re open. Might take a few months, but we’ll be there.

Machelle James
2 years ago

Awww Tom, we would love to meet you and your family. If we ever build another Campground, at least we will know the procedures! We should have the hole completely dug by the end of the day! Snow is coming tomorrow night!!

Ed D.
2 years ago

As always, we are happy to see you progressing. The Vinyl fence option is a good call. You ought to start a contest about the nails though. Whoever gets their guess closest to the actual number you submit, wins a free night. Just a thought… 🙂 Keep your head up and keep smiling.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

ED, you are cracking us up! That is a great idea for a contest! We are definitely smiling today as we have a massive septic hole in the ground.
GREAT PROGRESS!! I cannot wait to share the photos in my next article so you can see it!

Ed D.
2 years ago
Reply to  Machelle James

I am looking forward to the photos. Thanks.

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