By Machelle James
The anticipation is building and AJ and I are pacing the property. We are excited and nervous and OH SO READY for this moment. The underground and septic crews are pulling in today. We have waited for this moment for months and it is finally coming to fruition. The construction will begin as soon as the crew arrives!
It is dusk and they are not here yet. We knew they were coming from Tucson and it was going to be one long drive. We see them. Their lights are shining through the trees and we see them pulling in. We run out to greet them and welcome the crew to the future AJ’s Getaway! These are the guys that are going to make the magic happen. We are fawning over these guys like they are Rock Stars because, in our eyes, they are! They unload the tractor and leave to get settled in to their Airbnb for the next 8 weeks.
Tomorrow they will come back and we will discuss the plan again, in person. We have had several meetings over the phone making the construction plans, but this is the first time they have actually seen the property. We have my cousin coming up tomorrow from Chino Valley with his dump truck. He has an 18-foot hydraulic truck (AJ says it’s a Super 10) for him to dump the tree debris at the Brush Pit. Remember, we don’t have a landfill up here, so we have to manage with the Brush Pit for our tree, shrub and pine needle discards.
Tractor Tim will be here to load up the dump truck as we make way for the underground work to begin. This truly is the first time I will see a construction project and all the moving parts come into play. We have all but 3 spaces cleared out as of today as we cannot reach them with all the rocks on the ground from the septic dig.
This has been an expensive week
This by far was the most expensive week we have had to date. This is why you need financing or have a HUGE cash reserve in place. We had to pay our underground crew $200,000 for a down payment. We had to pay our local Navopache Electric Cooperative $26,000 for four 400-amp transformers and the engineering to go with it. AJ is still questioning why we had to pay this amount. They are giving us the transformers, as we have to pay the electric bills. So we really don’t know if this is for wire, engineering, or what. We have to do all the work, which leads me to my next payment. Plus, we had to pay $13,000 for 1,600 feet of 4-inch electrical primary conduit.
I guess AJ and I like to take chances because even as the construction begins, we are still in the approval process with a commercial loan. We had a friend recommend a commercial banker in Scottsdale. So far, she gave us terms that we can work with. We submitted all the paperwork today and are playing the waiting game. We have faith this loan will work out for us as it is a Commercial Veteran Loan Program. I will keep you posted. We are SOOOO close to having all the funds that we need for the construction of our campground.
Today as we woke up it started to snow, then rain. Of course, we would get soppy weather on the first day of construction! The sun eventually came out and warmed us all up. We had the team gather and do a walk-through of what this week’s goals are. AJ and I walked with Thomas, our underground guy, and marked out where we want the utilities to go in each spot. We spent the day at each space, measuring either the halfway mark if it is an extra long space (80 feet or longer) or 1/3 towards the back if it’s a shorter space (70 feet or less).
At this time, we have 30 spaces over 80 feet long. Ten of these spaces are in the 90-foot area, and 8 spaces are more than 100 feet long. What we like the most is almost all of the spaces are 70 feet apart! Wait until you see these sites. They are HUGE! We even have one space that is SO LONG that we are making it a really long buddy site. This site is for campers that want to pull in one after the other.
And the construction begins!
Dan, our alternative septic guy, and his crew are up here, starting the back-filling of dirt in the septic area. These guys are all figuring out their roles, making sure the tractors don’t run into each other in their specific job duties for each day. They seem to work really well together as they navigate the roads and do their respective jobs.
My cousin Jeff arrived with his dump truck late today because a leaf spring had broken. But as soon as he got here he went to work. We only got one load in today to the Brush Pit as they close at 4:00 p.m. They’re only open three days a week for their winter hours. Jeff has a full load ready to go first thing in the morning. I am taking pictures along the way for you all to see the before and after. We are thrilled the real work is finally beginning. Let’s just pray nothing goes too far astray so we can stay on track.
One last bit of good news this week. We started the process of setting up our reservation system! They asked for the dimensions of each site and any special features of each spot. We had to make the pricing for daily and weekly stays and any discounts that we will offer. They also needed our cancellation policy, and I am now working on our Rules and Regulations. AJ and I are hoping to have our system up by the beginning of April to make reservations for the 4th of July week!
As soon as we know for sure our opening date, we will open up the system for earlier camping dates. Remember – we are shooting for Memorial Day weekend. We are so hoping to make this deadline. We have so many of you who want to camp here! And we are very much looking forward to meeting you!
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.