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Operating an RV park: ‘Fire in the Sky’ UTV event; and we’re almost to the finish line

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By Machelle James
Last weekend was one for the record books of how to have fun and meet cool people! We were the Host Campground for an event called “Fire in the Sky UTV Fun Run”. This is our second year hosting this event and it just gets better every year!

As we prepared for this event, of course there was our usual yard work and whatnot. But we also had to coordinate porta johns, a food truck, HUGE solar lights, and a stage with sound and audio. The vendor putting this on took care of ordering it all. We just needed to decide where it would all go. It was so wonderful to watch the transformation of our normally bare event area into a full-blown packed event area with tents, vendor row, prize alley, food and drink area. It looked like a professional pulled it all together!

Weekend-long “Fire in the Sky” event

Two groups getting ready for their ride.

We had approximately 80 Side x Sides or UTVs here for a weekend-long ride, games, cornhole tournament, prizes, and alien-themed rides and campsites. On a Thursday, the sponsors and vendors came in early to set up. We have partnered with a traveling off-roading group who gives guided rides throughout our state. Obviously, this one was in Heber-Overgaard. They had five rides from Friday night to Sunday morning.

As the happy campers arrived, we were SO excited to see them again and meet the new riders, as well. Since we already knew mostly what to expect, we were able to relax a lot more than last year. We found ourselves hanging out with guests more and really being able to enjoy the moments we had with them.

AJ and Steve leading a night ride.

AJ and our friend Steve were in charge of one of the night rides. They took their riders to the location where the supposed alien abduction of Travis Walton was, in Overgaard. (The movie, “Fire in the Sky,” was about what happened to him.)

Bonfire in the forest for the night riders.

We already had a crew drive out earlier and set up a bonfire so that when they arrived, they would all be greeted to a warm fire under the stars. I will say it was a HIT! The riders were so surprised! And they absolutely LOVED the ride and seeing where the abduction site was.

Travis Walton came to our “Fire in the Sky” event

AJ and Machelle with Travis Walton

Speaking of Travis Walton, he came to our event for the second time and he spoke to the crowd for about 20 minutes! He was much more talkative and informative than last year. I think the crowd was really interested in what he had to say! He took pictures with everyone and autographed “Fire in the Sky” books for anyone who purchased a book. It was wonderful!

Now, I know many of you may think it’s a hoax, and you are welcome to your opinion. I believe that he and those 6 other men believe they saw an alien spacecraft and witnessed Travis getting knocked out by a laser of some sort. (The movie says it was only 5 men; Travis said it was 7 men. But Hollywood thought that was too many people and decided on 5 men.)

Best alien-themed campsite.

Anyway, it was a night that memories are made of, and we are thrilled to have made those memories with these folks! As we waved goodbye and said our see-you-laters, it was heartwarming for us to be able to make these connections with people from all over the country. I have no doubt they will be back.

Difficult to say goodbye to our long-term guests

We also had to say goodbye to several couples that had stayed here for a month or so. We really enjoyed having them and it was hard to say goodbye to them, as well. It is nice to know that we will be having repeat guests for next year as we have made friendships and relationships with these campers.

We see the schedule slowing down a bit and we are thankful for it. We needed a break from the event activity, and we had four days of very few arrivals. Now we will pick right back up over the weekend, but this short reprieve was much-needed.

We can see the seasons are changing early this year. We are already wearing jackets and pulling out the flannel sheets. Last year, we didn’t do this until the middle of October. We are ready for the furry boots already!

We’re almost to the finish line

I can honestly say this season has been flying by, as we are only open for five more weeks! We can do it—we are almost to the finish line for this year!

We love hearing when our guests inform us they heard about us from RVtravel.com. It means our stories are reaching you and you want to see what the fuss is all about. Thank you for being so supportive of our story and our hard work. It is truly paying off—no matter how any times I complain about the weeds!

Thank you for following our Campground Journey, and See You in the Trees!

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.

##RVT1071

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Ed D.
2 months ago

Machelle and Family,
It looks like you found your calling in life. I am jealous that we have not been able to visit you as of yet. But we are planning to come up next season. Like Ken said below, “We have followed your adventure from the beginning” and it has been filled with ups and downs. In the end, it all has come together and you guys appear to be the best Campground Hosts that anyone could ask for. Wishing you continued success and happiness. Ed and Robin

Machelle James
2 months ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi ED! Well we will be here when you can make it out this way! We are on the UPSIDE for now and are realizing we can’t do this alone. When we get some help, it will be SO MUCH BETTER for us as a family. We love the people we meet and have made really good relationships with our guests! See you next year, hint hint!!

Ed D.
2 months ago
Reply to  Machelle James

Will do! Hint Hint! 🙂

Ken
2 months ago

I have followed this adventure since the beginning. Congrats on making it a success. I know early in your process there were concerns by your neighbors of your dream campground, noise, traffic, encroachment, etc. How are the neighbors taking your large gatherings and success. You and AJ are the community now, it sounds like, and it seems the area (region) is in full support of your efforts. Are there still “the old fuddyduddies” that don’t want the growth?
Again. Congratulations and best wishes for the future.

Machelle James
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Hi Ken! Well…I think most neighbors are ok as we are done with lights and microphones by 9:00 pm. We do try and be as respectful as we can and still have a good time! We have a few locals that will always complain about everything, not just us- so we can move past that as well. We think the general perception has changed as we do NOT have a dumpy trailer park, which is what they assumed we were building. Thank you for the well wishes as we will take it to heart for this season and many more to come!