Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Operating an RV park: Invaders in the park; and Happy 50th, Machelle!

By Machelle James
What I am learning when operating an RV park is that most people are good people, like, really good people. We have been so fortunate to meet the most happy, fun and generous campers in the last few weeks. I turned 50 last week and we closed down the campground to the public for the weekend. We welcomed a few campers that were already here to stay and enjoy the festivities.

Birthday dinner with our friends

AJ made carne asada for dinner for everyone on Saturday. We had DJ Alan (our security guy and handyman) play some old school music both nights. There was serious karaoke going on and Oh, Boy, was that a joy to hear! We had my parents and longtime friends come up for the weekend to celebrate.

Day ride on the trails was fun!

It was so fun to see everyone again and to be able to go on a day ride on the trails. We had a whole group of ladies that had never been in an off-road vehicle and they rented one for the day. I can honestly say they were SO THRILLED with the experience that I am sure one of them will be purchasing a side x side in the near future. The smiles, the giggles, the pure joy made us both so happy to have made new memories with our longtime friends.

Birthday friends

One awesome camper made me a beautiful handmade basket and bought me a cheesecake! I had another guest gift me Christmas ornaments and it just about brought tears to my eyes. This guest is still here and he is 89 years old. He and his daughter are here to get out of the Yuma heat for a few weeks. But he took the time to shop, came to our house and dropped off the gift bag. I remember telling him when he made his reservation that we were closing down the campground to the public for my 50th Birthday. I told him there would be music, dancing and a few drinks would be had. He said, “Well, that sounds like a good time to me!” He told me we was a Vietnam Vet and he recently lost his wife of 56 years. I could tell how much he loved her when he said she was most loving person he ever met and he was so sad to live without her.

Machelle with family

We are also in the “human” business at our RV park

Yes, we are in the campground business, but we are also in the “human” business. Connecting with our campers is something I am finding we are both very good at doing. Everyone has a story to tell and sometimes our guests want to relive the good ol’ days. Or they are widowed/single/divorced and they want to share their life story or meet other like-minded people to connect with.

I have yet to make a “love connection” with our campers, but I have NO DOUBT I will at some point. We already have regular guests and it feels so good to see them on the weekends, knowing they are coming back for not just the camping, but for us as well. It’s interesting learning the different personalities and knowing who wants to be alone and who wants to talk. We have already made connections with a gentleman who owns a truss company. He is going to build the trusses for our camp store. We are going to barter with him when he stays here. This is a WIN WIN for the both of us!

Fire pits in the RV park, including community fire pit

We also have had friends stay up here and help us build fire pits as we can burn firewood now. I made a community fire pit and will make up event flyers on when we will have it burning and all campers are welcome. We also started the area for Bocce Ball as we truly enjoy playing it. We are still working a little bit, every day, so we don’t get burned out from constant chores. There are about 20 more fire pits to build and we need to finish the fencing to go along the back of the property. I also still need to stain the fencing we already put up, so that project will be any day now.

Sunset from our porch

We had a MASSIVE rainstorm come through and dump 6” in a few hours two weeks ago. Our drainage did its job and routed the water to the detention area, where we had s steady flow of water. We even lost electricity for about 15 minutes! We drove around the campground to make sure no one needed help and suddenly the electricity came back on. I will say what a freaky sight it is to see when your whole neighborhood is blacked out. Everyone was fine and we waited for the sunlight to see the damage, but it was only dirt that ran into the roads.

We have invaders!

On the flip side, every ant colony underground came up to the surface. We have HUNDREDS of ant hills all over the place and it is driving me crazy. I went and purchased Diatomaceous earth (DE) and applied this all over the campground. It doesn’t look very pretty right now with all those while lines, but my GOODNESS is it effective! I hardly see any movement as I think we got the Queen ant.

On a side note, we also have a new invader and it is a pesky gopher! This little bugger is making holes all over our roads! He is definitely making me angry for tearing up our new roads! I bought the pellets and I will let you know if he ends up being toast or able to survive. I’ll be darned if AJ ends up tearing the ground up like in the “Caddyshack” movie! Next option will be to put carbon monoxide into the holes if need be.

It’s an adventure here and the fun thing is, you never know what will happen next!

Thank you for following our campground journey and See you in the Trees!

And please leave a message!

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.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Neal Davis (@guest_137083)
2 years ago

Doing great! Keep up the great work and keep remembering to enjoy all that you do. 🙂

Machelle James (@guest_137413)
2 years ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Thank You Neal! We are truly enjoying all the fruits of our labor. Its hard work, but its OUR work!

Montgomery D. Bonner (@guest_136949)
2 years ago

Ortho fire ant killer also takes care of regular ants too. HD has it in 10lb bags. Read instructions, I treat our lot in spring and make it mostly through summer before Fire Ants appear, if close to fall treatment, I spot kill with Orethine also Ortho product. Spectracide brand to me does not have enough killer to be effective as long. Do this in the late afternoon, at least 6 hours before rain. Then pets don’t get into it (night, and the rain washes into ground). You can put it out with hand broadcast spreader. Do like 5 sites which are empty, and common areas too, then just do sites as they empty letting folks know you have treated. If CG Closes for season, do it when totally empty.

Machelle James (@guest_137412)
2 years ago

Hi Montgomery! Let me tell you..I used those granules and those stinkers actually MOVED them away from the nest! I watched them with my own eyes. They were too big for these little ants, but dang were they smart! I used the DE and they were gone in 24 hours. I could NOT believe it. Well they moved to other locations, but I got those too. I have never used DE, and yes its ugly with all the white lines..but HOT DOG is it working!! I still have the other for fire ants as we do get them, I just haven’t seen them yet!

Jayne Kelly (@guest_136945)
2 years ago

Machelle, you look sooo much younger than 50! Must be that mountain air!

Machelle James (@guest_137411)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jayne Kelly

Awwww!! Thank You Jayne- you are too sweet!!!

Vickie L. Ames (@guest_136911)
2 years ago

Hello! My sister fights the gopher wars in her horse pasture with The Gophinator sold online by Trapline. Easy to use, put down gopher hole, be sure and tie a light string (clothesline?) to it so gopher doesn’t drag it out of reach. 19 confirmed and counting. She tried everything and swears by The Gophinator!

Machelle James (@guest_137410)
2 years ago
Reply to  Vickie L. Ames

THANK YOU VICKIE! AJ is looking at this right now. That sucker is tearing up my roads and now I’m MAD! I will give this a shot and let you know how it works!!!

Ed D. (@guest_136832)
2 years ago

Good morning Machelle,

Happy 50th Birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day! Yes, for sure you are in the people business. Anyone that chooses a business that interacts with the public has to have good “people skills”! If not, they shouldn’t be in that line of work. So you guys will do great in that regards. Glad to hear that your drainage system did its job! That is a very important thing. Gravel roads are prone to washing out in heavy rains. That will be a never ending battle for you. We are heading back to Florida next Friday for around a month. Our son is coming home from Germany for 2 weeks with his wife. He is a Chef in a Hotel in Koln, Germany. We haven’t seen him for 3 years and are looking forward to it. We finally pulled the trigger and bought 1-1/2 Acres in Robbinsville, NC to place out Class C on. It is a wooded tract with a stream running down one side. Perfect for getaways when we want to be absolutely alone.
Well, be safe and we will see you in the trees!

Ed D. (@guest_136882)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

PS, I thought you were going to go with the “Operating a Campground” Title?

Machelle James (@guest_137409)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi ED! Sorry I didn’t get back..I caught a bug, and feeling much better now. Thank you for the Birthday wishes! And what wonderful news about your Son! We visited there when our son was stationed in Germany and WOW is it beautiful there! The castles, the rivers, the shops, the BEER! Oh it was fantastic! I am so happy for you all. Good job on buying land for your RV and YES- See you in the TREES!

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.