Monday, December 4, 2023


Operating an RV park: We are back and busier than EVER!

By Machelle James

Jenna and a statue of a 13-year-old Elvis!

AJ and I are losing days of the week, because we’re busier than ever. We returned from our amazing trip across the country and have experienced everything from rain, snow, sleet, sun and ice.

For starters, Jenna enjoyed seeing Elvis’ childhood home, church, the family Plymouth and all the exhibits in Tupelo, MS. We ate at local diners, stayed at local hotels and enjoyed the scenery of traveling through the Midwest to the eastern U.S. Visiting our son, his wife and our granddaughter in Georgia was so enjoyable that we cannot wait to go back next year. The weather was so unpredictable day to day that you never knew if it would be hot, rainy or freezing!

Our Granddaughter, Aurora aka “Rora”

I can say that our granddaughter warmed up to Papa AJ way faster than she warmed up to me. We got a call that she was crying for her Papa when she went to bed the night we left. We must have taken a thousand photos to document our trip so we can remember this period in our life when we get older.

Our Goodbye picture with Rora

There was even time to go see old neighbors who lived 2 hours away from the kids. Now that was a reunion! We haven’t seen them in 7 years and it was just where we left off when they moved away. Their daughter grew up and is in college, and she is now designing our new T-shirt logo and fun sayings for our Polar Camel cups. Oh, these are going to be so good, as I have seen the proofs for the cups!

Work done at the Campground while we were gone

While we were gone, however, we still had work done at the Campground. Tractor Tim came in and removed dead shrubs, trees and shag bark trees that were trying to overtake our pine trees. He said he pulled out more than 100 stumps/shrubs, and WOW, do the sites look clean! Well, we do have holes to backfill a little more and smooth out to make the sites look pretty again. It made a huge dirt mess and we will need TONS of gravel to make it look clean again. Nothing a tractor and rake can’t handle!

Our Check-in area with the roof on

We ordered the siding for the store, we ordered our roof, and we had the concrete pads poured where the steps will go into the store. The metal roof was installed the weekend we got back. AJ finished all the electrical work that he needed to do before our inspection. (He passed!) Even as we speak, our siding is being unloaded from a big rig!

Huge storm at the Campground

Also, while we were gone a HUGE snow and wind storm came through and knocked down about 12 fence panels. I was told the wind gusts were over 50 mph, and tons of neighbors lost fence panels and even some roofs! It looked like a war zone when we first came back. There were downed fences, dirt and debris everywhere! We still have to get the fence panels up before guests come in on Monday for Spring Break.

This next week will be so busy as we are painting the trim to match the roof, and AJ will need to install it before the siding can go up. It is all happening so fast and we only have 4 weeks until we open back up. The pressure is ON to get everything looking sharp and the store stocked and ready.

We are both feeling an incredible amount of pressure as we navigate these next few weeks. We have our RV storage all booked up for the season. I am taking calls every day, answering as many questions as I can, while folks learn that we are the new Campground in town.

Wondering about reservations

AJ and I are both cautiously waiting to see if reservations will slow down due to gas prices rising. I think our saving grace is that we are no more than 3 hours away from the Phoenix area—and that is who our main market is. I’ll keep you posted as the months go by to see how/if we were affected by the high gas prices.

As I run out the door to paint, I want to thank you for following our Campground Journey. We love our jobs, and sharing the headaches and heartwarming stories with you makes it all worthwhile!

See you in the Trees and please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, built, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them at their website, or on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park, or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.


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Neal Davis (@guest_171071)
1 year ago

Congratulations on all the progress and being so close to opening the store! Have a great re-opening! 🙂

Machelle James (@guest_171526)
1 year ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! We are so excited, we can’t even stand it! The store looks so nice and it’s not even finished yet!

Ed D. (@guest_170624)
1 year ago

Good morning Machelle. Glad to hear you had such an enjoyable trip. I just returned from a business trip in Pa. on Thursday. Not as good as visiting friends and relatives. The weather here in Florida has been good for the most part. Starting to get the afternoon rainy periods though.
The Store is really taking shape. Can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like. AJ has his hands full and there will be “no rest for the weary”. There will always be something that needs to be done but that is what you signed on for and will appreciate it many times over, once you get a handle on the whole park.
As a follower of your journey, it has been my pleasure to watch your progress and intestinal fortitude that your entire family has shown. It is hard work running an RV Park, but even harder to build one from scratch.
Enjoy the weekend as much as you can and know that we will always wish you the best! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

Pete (@guest_170643)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Well said Ed D.

Ed D. (@guest_170783)
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

Thanks Pete.

Machelle James (@guest_170967)
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

Ed is the Bomb!

Donald Schneider (@guest_170784)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Glad your back from your travels. We missed your weekly articles but as work kampers we know how busy it gets running a campground.

Machelle James (@guest_170965)
1 year ago

Hi Don! We have been running since we got back and WOW do we have lots to do! I walked around the park today and there was SO much debris from the shrub removal. I worked for 4 solid hours on just picking up downed limbs and the fine stuff that gets stuck in the rocks. Wait until next week when you see what AJ has done in a day. The man is a beast. We are back to work and back to writing. Talk to you in 2 weeks!

Diane McGovern (@guest_170904)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

What he said👆

Machelle James (@guest_170966)
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane McGovern

Awwww! Thank You Diane!!!

Machelle James (@guest_170964)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! I have to say that AJ started installing the painted trim and WOWZA does the store look amazing! He must have been a carpenter in a previous life! I am so thankful that we are even able to take the time off to see the country. Work hard and play hard. It is a delicate dance that one must master. We so hope one day, we will meet you in person as you are such a positive person and blessed cheerleader! Thank You again Ed!

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