Thursday, November 30, 2023


Operating an RV park: Memorial Day weekend update, and a big Thank You!

By Machelle James
I think I could have had a heart attack last week. The stress level for us to get the store opened and the sites cleaned before our guests arrived for Memorial Day weekend was more than I bargained for. First off, our landscapers canceled and I could not get anyone to come in at such short notice to weed-whack and clean up the sites. Let’s just say, the new landscaper is the one typing this article.

I’m pretty good at weed-whacking, but our electrical whacker was not working well. The string ran out and I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the cap off, let alone re-string it. AJ had to drive to the valley that day and I was ALONE, trying to figure out what to do. I watched YouTube videos and I still couldn’t do it! Needless to say, I called AJ and asked him to get me a new weed eater.

Another interesting fact I learned while landscaping is which weeds grow into being what I call “Devil Weeds”. The ones that turn into burrs, the ones that have sharp edges and poke you, the ones that are bad for dogs. I am learning WAY more than I ever anticipated about the weeds. Honestly, I am calling a company that offers a non-toxic alternative to killing these weeds. We do not want any sick pets, so we will schedule when we do not have Campers coming into sites to get it done.

Amazing store

Now, about the store and check-in area. AJ worked until at least 8:00 p.m. every day until the walls were up, the switch plates were on and the cabinets were in place. He made a top for the counters out of plywood until the wood countertops are done. The store looks AMAZING, and we aren’t even truly finished yet!

Side view of the store.

My friends came in to help stock the store and organize the items. PepsiCo came in with the refrigerator and brought us the drinks for stocking. We had the whole store ready to go by Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend—right in the middle of 17 arrivals for that day.

Cups, goggles and supplies.

Our regulars came into the store and were BLOWN AWAY with how much work had been done in such a short time. We sold hats, T-shirts, goggles for off-road riding, ice cream, insulated drink cups, sodas and snacks. One HUGE disappointment was that we did not get our ice cube freezer delivered with bagged ice in it. We need it so badly, and that was the only bummer with the weekend.

One of the countertops is finished!

One thing we learned about the coffee machine was that we DO NOT get to have the grinder type of machine unless we get a ton of customers. We have to prove ourselves before we get the top-notch equipment. For now, we received two commercial drip, air pot coffee makers. So, for now, we have to wait another week for the approval from the Health Department before we can sell coffee. We wait and look at how pretty the coffee bar area is instead. I’ll take pictures when the countertops come in this week.

Happy Campers over Memorial Day weekend

We had a full house of Happy Campers over Memorial Day weekend! There were no issues or complaints, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. AJ and I were FINALLY able to relax on Sunday when we finished stocking the store. We had friends over for a BBQ and they were telling us how WONDERFUL the store and porch area was and, you know what? We have been so busy getting it all done, that we truly didn’t even stop to appreciate all the hard work that went into this project. It is GORGEOUS! The bar tops outside, the patio chairs, the inside décor, the whole process came together and DANG, it looks amazing! We did this—and we do deserve a pat on the back as we didn’t even have time to sit and soak it all in yet.

As we waved goodbye and said our “See ya laters”, we took a deep breath and went to bed early that night. We were exhausted, yet on Cloud 9 at the same time. We love this lifestyle and are so happy with the people we are meeting.

Thank You!

I have to give a huge “Thank You” to you readers as we have seen a whole bunch of you lately! We cannot thank you enough for supporting us and trusting us to help you along the way to your next destination. Please come visit us if you’re traveling in North Eastern Arizona!

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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JoLynn (@guest_185859)
1 year ago

I enjoy reading your articles. Congrats on the improvements.
I own a small what I call a “Four site Glamping Airbnb/Hip Camp” Campground. With two “Tiny Cabins”. One of which, was recently installed. I raced time to get it ready for last weekend.

Your Weed Eater story was funny. Currently I do all the work around here. Weed Whacking is my most dreaded worthless activity. Hate the prickly weeds.

Thank you for what you do. I know it’s a lot of hard work. Guests can be the best.

Karen Grace (@guest_185706)
1 year ago

Congrats to you both. Looks like a great place.

Machelle James (@guest_185848)
1 year ago
Reply to  Karen Grace

Hello Karen! Thank you for commenting- we really think it is a special place to camp. If you’re ever in the area, please come on by!

2 Maridocs (@guest_185658)
1 year ago

Machelle, AJ. Great to follow your posts and see how much progress you have made in a year from a crowd-funded idea to what sounds to be an exciting, delightful, successfully developed campground. We had hoped to stop by a few months ago, but driven away by fires and schedules. We have family in Phoenix, so we will “see you in the trees” another time when we are in the area. Jack and Jean

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  2 Maridocs

Hi, Jack and Jean (via Machelle and AJ 😉 ). How’s it going? Have a good night. 😀 –Diane

Machelle James (@guest_185847)
1 year ago
Reply to  2 Maridocs

Hi Jack and Jean! Yes those fires were everywhere but here fortunately! We hope you can swing on by when back in the Mountains. We would be happy to show you around!

Diane Mc (@guest_185653)
1 year ago

So wonderful to hear how it has all come together. So uplifting. Such a contrast to the opening article of todays newsletter. Thank you!

Machelle James (@guest_185849)
1 year ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Thanks Diane! We are truly loving how the check-in/store turned out! It’s work, but good work!

Neal Davis (@guest_185596)
1 year ago


Machelle James (@guest_185652)
1 year ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! Thank you!!!

Thomas D (@guest_185564)
1 year ago

So happy it all came together
And from now it will be even better.
How about some pic of camping area, maybe with rv’s and if someone has a drone some overheads too.
I hope you continue to post articles. I find them very interesting

Machelle James (@guest_185650)
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Hi Thomas- I can do that! I usually don’t take pictures of our guests while they are camping, but I can certainly ask! I have a great buddy site in now and I’ll ask! Stay tuned for more articles as we really get our first full year opened!

Ron (@guest_185439)
1 year ago

Great job. Love reading about your journey. Keep the updates and pictures coming. Best of luck.

Machelle James (@guest_185649)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

Hi Ron! Thank you for your support! I will have more pictures in my next article- stay tuned for more!

Steve H (@guest_185438)
1 year ago

Looks fantastic! Wish we were there right now instead of heading off to the humid Southeast.

You might want to see if anyone in the Payson-Show Low region has a herd of goats. Goats love weeds! And they might provide a unique animal encounter and some entertainment for your guests. Goat farmers here in Colorado are renting their herds (complete with herders and transportation) to control weeds in parks, open-space areas, and seasonal mountain subdivisions where burn bans are in effect.

Don (@guest_185418)
1 year ago

Great job! We are so glad that you share all of your challenges in building and running an RV park. This way a lot of people get to read about the “behind the scenes” WORK that it takes and maybe have a greater amount of patience when they have issues at an RV park. Thanks again!

Machelle James (@guest_185647)
1 year ago
Reply to  Don

Hi Don! This is exactly why I am writing this. Some people don’t understand the work behind the scenes, and we have been fortunate enough to share it with you all. Patience and hurry up, all at once 😉

Joe Allen (@guest_185407)
1 year ago

Congratulations on your successful Memorial Day adventure. It just goes to prove that hard work and determination to make it right, pay off in big dividends! So proud of all your accomplishments and wishing you both a magic first year in the business! Take some time and smell the roses and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Machelle James (@guest_185646)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Hi Joe! Thank you for your kind words of support- it really means a lot as you GET IT!
We will be enjoying our evening with campers tonight, on the porch! Cheers to you!

Ed D. (@guest_185383)
1 year ago

Good morning Machelle and family!
Yes, you DO deserve a huge “pat on the back”. You have done a fantastic job in a very short time! The countertop on the display with the M & M’s is absolutely gorgeous! Your ability to use your creativity is phenomenal. Please post a photo of the completed outside porch area if you get an opportunity. Give AJ a huge pat on the back from all of your followers for the store interior. It does look great, even with it not being finished yet. Taking on this big of a challenge can only make you appreciate it that much more. Of course, all of the “other” things that have to be done around the Park to keep it maintained are every bit as important as the cosmetic things. Cutting the grass, weed whacking, picking up trash and just maintenance, in general. Work, work and more work! Thanks again for sharing your progress with us and taking us along for the ride of your journey, through your articles. Keep up the good work and we will see you in the trees!

Machelle James (@guest_185645)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi ED! AWWWW!! Thank You!!! It looks even better in person! I will take a photo of the porch for my next article. It looks so BEAUTIFUL! I am taking a break from weed eating for 1 more day, then back at it! It seems they grow a foot a day!
See you in the trees Ed!

Ran (@guest_185380)
1 year ago

Great job you 2! We tried to stay there last month, but were chased around by the fires! However, “I’ll be Back”!
Good success stories are nice to read!

Machelle James (@guest_185644)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ran

Hi Ran! Oh yeah- there were fires everywhere but here!! We hope you’ll make it back our way and see you next time!

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