Saturday, December 10, 2022


Building an RV park from scratch: Why I am thankful


By Machelle James
Today, as I write my article for you, I have to stop and reflect on how far we have come on our journey to building a campground from scratch. I have reread my stories and have come to realize that building a campground takes A LONG TIME! There is no” hurry” to anyone but us.

We are finding how long it takes to have certain agencies call you back, review your file and get done what you need. We still have been unable to submit our Zoning change from Commercial Residential (CR) to Special Use Permit (SUP). I called Planning and Zoning and they confirmed the current zoning as CR. That can mean single-family homes and multi-family homes can be built here. This is definitely not our vision and we truly believe we will be able to make the change to SUP and move forward to building our campground. We are waiting on ONE letter and then we can formally submit our plans!

Max and Levi

Since it was Thanksgiving last week, I am still feeling pretty sentimental and I’d like to share a more personal peek into our lives. AJ and I decided to go down to the Valley and see our grandbabies and visit with my parents. We have a new grandson, Levi, who is three weeks old and was born with a wig. Seriously, I thought my kids had a ton of hair, but nope. Levi had hair down his arms and back as well an entire headful of jet-black hair! His older brother, Max, is 3 years old and he just figured out that Levi can’t play with him yet. He was slightly disappointed as he was desperately trying to get him play with his Avenger toys. Levi will get there, Max. Oh, you just wait!

I feel so fortunate as both my parents are still alive and well. I cherish the time we have together now in this moment. I finally SEE them as aging and it is so strange. In my head, I see them as when I was young. But face to face, they have wrinkles, bad backs, heart issues and all the normal things that happen as one ages. They also have so much wisdom, love to offer and lots of belly-laughing stories to tell. I fear I may be afraid to lose them.

My mom is, well, a mom. Totally selfless, takes care of everyone else, cooks for us, cleans after us – and I gently remind her I am 48 years old, and have had three children of my own. I am a grandparent and quite capable of taking care of us and her. She doesn’t care – I am her baby. She tells me to enjoy it while she can still do it. So I just inserted myself wherever she was in the kitchen and she finally would hand me a knife. I was in charge of cutting vegetables all week! As we stood side by side, talking about life and drinking coffee until noon, it was really nice to not only help, but to feel her love for all of us.

Machelle and her dad. Yep, he looks like a rebel, all right!

My dad and stepmom are amazing! I have always felt like I had two awesome moms when I was growing up. My dad in his older age has truly surprised me. HE is the one introducing me to the laughingly inappropriate Netflix shows. When Dad put on a movie and said, “Now you have to have open mind,” I had no idea what we were in for. All I can say is AJ and I laughed so hard and were shocked and surprised at my dad’s newfound humor. We would have never guessed HE, the super-straight-laced parent, would grow up to be a REBEL! Moments like those are truly what Thanksgiving is – that Dad trusts us enough to let us see the real him, for one thing.

Machelle and AJ

We are so thankful our parents encouraged AJ and me to follow our dream. Thankful for the advice, support and unconditional love they give us. I am so thankful my children are happy and healthy. I am thankful for Jenna. After all, without her and our journey of being parents of a special needs child, who knows where we would be. I will tell you one thing – I wouldn’t change a thing, as Jenna has opened our eyes to another world that, without her, I am afraid we would never have had the honor of knowing.

Thank you for following our campground journey and as always, see you in the trees!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna James
AJ’s Getaway RV

Read Machelle’s previous articles here. And please feel free to leave a comment below.

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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3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your journey!! I’ve really enjoyed your articles.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Peggy

Thank you Peggy for your continous support! We appreciate you!!!

3 years ago

You Go Girl! Live your dream and thanks for bringing us along.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  tom

Hi Tom! Thank you so much for following our story! It is such a wonderful opportunity to share the ups and downs of opening a Campground!!

Allan Weber
3 years ago

Good luck on your endeavors.

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Weber

Thank you Allan for your support!!!

Machelle James
3 years ago
Reply to  Allan Weber

Thank you Allen! We appreciate you taking the time to send out kind word and positive vibes!!