Friday, October 7, 2022


Operating an RV park: We have a new RV!

By Machelle James
The last article we left off with us having a massive leak in our RV’s roof. Well, it is worse than we thought, with leaks from the cap all the way to the back. We have queen beds in the back, on the HappiJac system, and the beds have been in the UP position for months. We dropped the beds to remove the bedding and all the pillows, the mattress and sleeping bags were soaked through.

This was quite a shock as we knew there was a leak, not a waterfall in there! I was crushed. This is where our children spent most of their childhood when we traveled, and it was ruined. We must have camped in Glamis, Buttercup and Gorden’s Well about a year altogether over the years. We had a sandrail (an off-road motor vehicle for traveling in sand) back then and this was one of the few RV’s that could hold it.

That time camping isn’t even including the numerous trips to the White Mountains for 10 years. We truly used our RV. I can say we honestly got our money’s worth, and made many happy memories in the process.

AJ pulling into the Campground

Time to replace our beloved RV

We knew our beloved 2006 Fleetwood Toybox was on her last legs, as she is old and weathered. So we did what anyone else would do in our situation. We put out a call to action to our friends to see who had what for sale and what brands to look at and those to stay away from.

The response was overwhelming and super-informative. The newer RVs have all these switches, auto levelers, slide outs, automatic awnings, closets, storage, half-baths and all the things we never knew we needed! I was pretty determined to find a toyhauler with the Arctic Package, as I knew we would have to travel during our off months. That means winter.

View of living area from top of stairs

I remember looking for property in our old RV, in winter, in the mountains of Arizona. We stayed at a local RV park for the weekend, with full hookups. I will say that camping in a 3-season RV, even with electric, is not sufficient to be in when it is 20° outside. The bedroom was the only place that heat would work. Trying to cook dinner, or even sit on the couch, was MISERABLE. I had to boil water just to make steam to keep my face from freezing, and I’m pretty sure I cried ice cubes. I vowed to never again camp in the winter unless we had a 4-season camper.

Searching for our new RV

OK, back to the new RV search. I reached out to a new friend who knows a TON about toy haulers, as he has had several makes and models. His suggestion was to stick with a Heartland, as they are well-built. Well, lo and behold, he just happened to have a 2022 that was only used a handful of times. He read our plea on Facebook and said he isn’t married to the RV, just to his wife!

Beautiful kitchen with plenty of storage!

It seems this guy has a wonderful connection of RV dealers and they are literally begging him to get the latest and greatest RVs to promote to the public. He has had four different Heartland models and a few others that I won’t mention as they fell apart on him. But in all reality, he has influence and he is honest about the RVs he’s had. He is looking forward to trying out a brand-new model from Grand Design.

What we got

We had a conversation. He knew our daughter Jenna needed a safe place to sleep with AC and her own bathroom for privacy. He knew AJ is a Veteran, and that we are small business owners. It was a match for both of us and we made a deal! We purchased an upgraded Heartland Gravity 3610 with 3 A/C’s. It has a 13-foot garage for Jenna to sleep in, as well as to hold our Can Am. It has every upgrade you can imagine. We truly don’t even know how to use it yet.

Outside kitchen

It is parked in an empty RV site right now. We’re attempting to get it loaded with new sheets, blankets, pillows, etc., in between guests and chores. That really isn’t working out well right now, as we are so busy every day.  We would like to sleep in for a night or two and practice using the switches and all the stuff we don’t know about yet. It is on our list for this weekend, as we have company coming into town and they will be sleeping in it! We will have a report for you next time to see if we love it as much as we think we do! Thanks for all the help we have had in making this decision. We appreciate your advice and feedback.

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, 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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Ed D.
1 month ago

Hello Machelle, sorry I haven’t left any comments in a little while. Things here have been hectic. My brother-in-law passed away on the 19th of last month and my sister, on the same morning, was rushed a hospital in NY with cancer. She won’t make it and there is no telling how much longer she has. I flew to NY to see her and spend some time with her in the hospital. Other than that, everything else is going okay.
A wise choice on the Toy Hauler. Looks like a beautiful RV. How are things going at the Campground? Has business been good for you this season? I hope you guys have all the success that you have worked so hard for. Enjoy the rest of the season and we will see you in the trees!

Machelle James
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! I was wondering where you were and hoping all was OK. I am very sorry to hear what’s happening in your family right now. It is so hard to see family suffering and the passing of loved ones.
As for the Business, we are BUSY! Word has spread about our Campground and we are full every weekend and 75% or more.during the week. So it has been good!
We need help with Landscaping and phones and are going to hire some folks for next Season. It’s a TON of work and the exhaustion is setting in.
We are happy and tired. So it’s not bad at all, just need help.
I’ll have a super exciting post next time as lots of things happening in our town and Campground, so stay tuned and See You in the Trees!

Ed D.
1 month ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Thanks Machelle. Glad that things are going as planned. With the POSITIVE attitude that your entire family has, how could they not go right! Take care.

1 month ago

The question that I have, Where do RVs go to die?
Have only seen one or so in a pull-a-part yard.
They still have usable parts.

Machelle James
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

That is a great question Tom! We have been told there are RV Junkyards for people to get parts from up here somewhere. We definitely have research to do as we will not keep it here to fall apart even more. I will write about what we found and the solution we came up with!