Monday, December 4, 2023


Operating an RV park: Let the camping season begin!

By Machelle James
AJ’s Getaway RV Park is officially open for the season!

OK, so sometimes one does get ahead of oneself. While AJ and I thought we would have the ceiling of the store completed, we do not. We have a partial ceiling on as of Friday.

Before tongue and groove boards.

AJ finished the drywall installation by himself and that took longer than expected. We still need the drywall texture finishers to come out, but we are not ready for them yet. We need to apply a light stain to the tongue and groove ceiling first, and then have the drywall finishers out. You should know AJ by now. He can do most anything. He wants to do the drywall himself, but I said, “I would prefer you let the professionals handle it and you can do something else. Anything else.”

Installation of tongue and groove boards.

What took so long was the outside digging for the electrical lines. We had to wait for our tractor guy to be in town, so that took a week away from us. In the meantime, AJ and I set the electrical panel on the side of the store and called for inspection. We did not pass. Apparently, the panel has to be attached to rigid pipe, not uni-strut that we had the panel attached to. That was a no-go. So, off to Lowe’s and various electrical stores in Show Low to get the right parts. He will be working on the panel this weekend and call again for inspection next week.

Broken water main

Water main break to house.

To top it off, our tractor guy accidently hit a water main pipe to our house. Thank goodness the water was shut off, just in case it happened—and it did happen. None of us knew where the water lines are on this property from our house to the main line. Well, we found out soon enough. I will say, not having water for two days is TOUGH. From dishes to cooking to cleaning. Even going to the bathroom without water was new for us.

We had two 5-gallon buckets of water in the shower, just to put in the back of the toilet tank. Poor Jenna was NOT happy with no water. She had to use wipes for her hands and face and huffed and puffed the whole time.

This happened the day before Easter. So, let’s just say we didn’t bake at all for Easter, as we had planned, as the dishes were piling up and into overflow. I was not a happy camper. We put all the meats on the smoker and didn’t dare use the water when the pipes were fixed at about 5:00 p.m. It was like dirt water for 2 days. The ice machine is still turning out brown ice. It is getting better as now it is spotted dirt ice cubes instead of solid dirt cubes.

AJ’s shed is temporarily Machelle’s office

With all the interruptions we’ve had, that leaves me with working from AJ’s new shed. Thank goodness it is still empty, as I am using it as a makeshift office! It’s kind of funny working from the top of his new toolbox. Hey, do what you need to do to make it happen. I’ll have an office soon enough!

The back of the most popular hoodie so far.

We have our new T-shirts for sale and our Campers are loving them! I already need to order more jackets and hoodies! I am pleasantly surprised and hopeful I made good marketing choices for our Campers.

As we welcome in the steady flow of Campers to our park, we both just smile and thank them for choosing our park for their vacation destination. I tell you, families on vacation are the happiest folks you’ve ever met. Everyone is laughing, playing and just relaxing.

We drive by in the golf carts and wave, chit chat and relish the moment. This is happening. Our dream is really happening and we get to share it with YOU—the best RVers out there!

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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Wesla Ranalli (@guest_178666)
1 year ago

Machelle, always great to hear of your progress – even when it is mixed with the unexpected. I enjoy reading your articles because we face similar events with our own campground build. We’re looking forward to those golf-cart/chit chat moments too!

Diane Mc (@guest_178229)
1 year ago

Machelle, just wanted you to know that as I’m scrolling through, every time I see there is a post from you it makes me smile and makes my day. Even in your struggles you always remain so positive & upbeat. It’s a great gift. We need to replicate you😊. Good luck getting all the finishing touches done, so you can kick back & relax…..just kidding…know it will be hard work running the park and keeping it up. Much more rewarding when finally done and you can focus on managing instead of building.

Machelle James (@guest_178246)
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

AWWWW!!! You are too kind. I am an optimist for sure, so I think that helps a ton with my thinking and writing. Oh managing instead of building..Oh Happy Day when it comes!

Joe (@guest_178082)
1 year ago

“We drive by in the golf carts and wave, chit chat and relish the moment. This is happening. Our dream is really happening and we get to share it with YOU—”

That’s the best line from the whole story!! Congrats!

Diane Mc (@guest_178179)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

Was going to say the exact same thing! Certainly makes up for the first part! Good news, no damage because the water was off. Bright side to a very annoying set of circumstances. Will be great when the office is done. Getting close! Congrats.

Machelle James (@guest_178243)
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Hi Diane! Thank You! We feel it is so close to opening, yet so far away..We truly appreciate your continued support!

Machelle James (@guest_178241)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

HAHAHA!! Thanks Joe! We really love our new lifestyle. It’s hard work, but then you have times like this and it all melts away!

Neal Davis (@guest_178037)
1 year ago

Congratulations and belated happy Easter!

Machelle James (@guest_178247)
1 year ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! Thank You and Happy belated Easter to you too!

Thomas D (@guest_177986)
1 year ago

Absolutely prevent your husband from doing the drywall. When i built i was going to do it myself too. My builer said NO, you don’t have time. He called and got a crew in the next day. In and out, finished in three days. They supplied the board mud and tape, labor, everything, and about $2500 less than if i had done it.
Hope everything is well weather/ fire wise. Thinking of you when the news comes on about the tunnel fire. Got to be scary.

Machelle James (@guest_178036)
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Hi Thomas! I hate to say it because he is so good at 99% of tasks…But drywall is a real talent to when you have to do the finishing! He did hang the drywall-BY HIMSELF!! It is the finishing where you need to have the skills for a smooth textured finished. And yes- those fires are scary- they are about 2 hours away so we are thankful for that!

Steve (@guest_177984)
1 year ago

We can identify with your muddy water supply difficulties. We experienced a broken water main a few years ago while snowbirding in Las Cruces. City crews broke a main, which filled the water supply system for the NW part of town with muddy water. The crews shut it off quickly, but the damage was done. But, luckily for us, it was no real problem. The previous week we had filled our FW tank just to keep the fifth wheel stable during a major windstorm. In addition, we always use an inline filter on our city water hose. So, we shut off our city water, threw the filter away, and used the tank for our water supply for 3 days. That’s how long it took to get the city system repaired and flushed. Others in the RV park weren’t so well-prepared and survived on bottled water during that time. Our preparedness was strictly accidental, but it sure was nice to have our own supply during an emergency.

Have a great season and we’ll try to get there on our way from Denver to Phoenix for snowbirding!

Machelle James (@guest_178035)
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve

WOW STEVE! That is quite a situation you were in! Good thing you had accidently been prepared, That would have made quite the mess! We survived the water shortage and let me tell you..I do not ever want to experience that again!
Please do come on in when travelling this way- we LOVE to meet our readers!!

Ron (@guest_177846)
1 year ago

Enjoy your updates. Best of luck

Machelle James (@guest_177919)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

Thank You Ron! We are losing what days of the week it is as its always work. We will take time to relax and have fun later today..we all need it!

Joe Allen (@guest_177823)
1 year ago

Loosing water is not good and understand the need not to drink for a few more days. Nothing like muddy water to make your thirst go away! Wishing you the best in your repairs and make a map of your water, sewer and electrical for future digs! You will be glad you did!

Machelle James (@guest_177917)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Thanks Joe! We are so close, yet so far- but we will get there and all will look pretty again, and we will have electricity!!

Last edited 1 year ago by RV Staff
Ed D. (@guest_177761)
1 year ago

Good morning Machelle,
It is approximately 6:12 AM here in the Mountains of NC. I just finished reading your article and viewing the progress you are making. Hopefully, you have the dishes all caught up by now. Being without water is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Like the saying goes: You don’t know what you have until you lose it.
The ceiling is looking absolutely beautiful. Tongue and Groove is definitely the way to go.
The shirts and hoodies are also looking spiffy! Great design!
You guys are going to do a fantastic job of managing the Campgrounds. You have the personality for it. Liking what you do is 90% of any job. And it is obvious you guys love it.
Well, I will sign off now and look forward to your next update. Be safe and see you in the trees.

Machelle James (@guest_177915)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Good Morning Ed! Oh, you are so right! You never realize how many times a day you wash your hands, or fill a pot for cooking until you have no water! AJ is taking a few hours off today to go find a new trail to ride. He needs a break from working and Jenna and I will hold down the fort! Have a great weekend and See You in the Trees!

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