Saturday, October 1, 2022


Operating an RV park: Oktoberfest and House Whiskey in the house!

By Machelle James
If I could capture the events of last weekend in pictures it would look like a tornado for three days, then a peace sign, then a zombie for two days after. We had not only our town’s Oktoberfest and Lumberjack Games, we also had our FIRST major event at our Campground! We brought in the band House Whiskey, from Nashville, Tennessee, to play for our guests and at Oktoberfest.

The getting ready of the Event area with the stage and lighting was a two-day event in itself. Mowing, weed whacking, trash pickup, hanging solar lights, getting the speakers set up, sound check and setting up tables and chairs was a feat in itself.

Set up new RV for the House Whiskey band

Even before that, we had to set up our new RV for the band to stay in. Remember, everything was ruined by the roof leak in the old RV. I had to throw away most items as they were all moldy/wet, broken/damaged or just worn out. We purchased new sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, cups, silverware, pans, dishes, soap, cleaning supplies—as we didn’t have any for the new RV yet. That took a week to prep for, as that was a TON of shopping and laundry to do.

I was exhausted a whole week before the event, so I did what anyone would do. I called my mom and asked her to come up and stay with us and help us with Jenna and anything else. Thankfully, she said, “Yes”!

If you can close your eyes and imagine this: I picked up the band from airport and we shook hands and jumped in our truck. I confess I had anxiety the night before and couldn’t sleep. I didn’t wake up in time to go to Costco before their flight arrived. So, I dragged all three of them through Costco and I purchased all the necessities you need before a big event.

Making the guys go to Costco with me!

I think it was a blessing in disguise, as I had no idea they had dietary restrictions. Who would have thought a Country Band had a vegetarian, vegan and regular eater among them? It was interesting to learn who could eat and drink what. You normally think that band members party all the time, but that was not the case at all!

We had a 2½ hour drive, so we had time to talk and get to know one another. From the 105° weather, full of cactus, to eventually ending up in tall pines and 85° was a surprise to them. As most of you know, people tend to think of Arizona as a desert cactus state. In fact, we have various degrees of elevation and you can be in the tall pines within a few hours of Phoenix.

First night with the band

It was so cool to have them see the elevation changes, as I knew a good song would come from this ride! I brought them to our Campground and they seemed to be super excited to see this part of the state. I insisted that they go to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner and they truly enjoyed their meals. That night, we played a little cornhole and had some friends over.

Playing a little cornhole

Luckily, the DJ from a local radio station that I reached out to wanted to have the guys on his live radio show for two hours! What troopers they were, as they played games and introduced themselves to our White Mountain Community. It was great airtime and they had their songs played on the radio!

My mom was over the moon with these guys and had an amazing connection to one of them. She is 75, he is 34. It was like watching two old souls reconnect from a past life. They just melded like glue and it was so surreal to witness. The laughs, the stories, the friendship we all formed was pretty instantaneous. We just felt like family and it was really beautiful. Them getting to know us. Us getting to know them. It was comforting to have them here and we all miss them already.

House Whiskey band blew us away

House Whiskey at Tall Timbers Park

Anyway, the day came to play for the town and my mom and I snuck away for a couple of hours. We were BLOWN AWAY by their talent. I mean WOW!! The lyrics, the skills, the vocals were spot on. I had a guy from the audience come up and ask me for their booking agent information. They were THAT good!

House Whiskey, playing at our Campground

Then we high-tailed it back to our Campground, ate dinner together and the show started. We probably had 50-75 guests out there in lawn chairs, waiting for the band to play. Their song “Country Life” spoke to my soul. It hasn’t been released yet, but I’m telling you—it will be a HIT!

We have the same local DJ here and he is LOVING this band. We were enjoying the show and then, BAM—an Arizona monsoon storm hit after an hour-and-a-half into the show. There was NO WARNING. We all run for cover, each man for himself.

Partied all night

Us in the RV with House Whiskey after the storm

We ended up in our RV, with the band, DJ, and my mom. Talk about a PARTY! We laughed, told stories and had the time of our lives. I can honestly say that I have worked so hard getting our business growing that I had forgotten to let my hair down and have fun. I can assure you that I let my hair down and had a good time. No, it was a GREAT time. The jokes told, the memories made, will forever be in my heart. I smile as I reminisce, as it had been all business until that night.

As the sun rose and it was time to depart, I felt a sadness that we wouldn’t see our new friends that night. The long drive to the airport was filled with stops to take pictures with cactus and horses on our descent down the mountain. It was a heartfelt goodbye, and AJ and I promised to have them back again.

When I returned home, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I could hardly even speak to people, let alone do my daily chores. I slept for a whole day to recover and I find myself still tired, four days later. But I have no regrets and would do all again tomorrow.

This lifestyle is so unpredictable and rewarding that you have to learn to go with the flow. I am in the flow again and look forward to the future here at our Campground.

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, 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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Neal Davis
20 days ago

Congratulations! You are doing a great job! Hope to get out your way one of these days.

Machelle James
19 days ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! Thank You so much. We truly had a BLAST after all that hard work!

Diane Mc
20 days ago

All I can say is….wow! You throw your all into everything you do. Sounds like an amazing time. Congrats. Get some rest!

Machelle James
19 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Hi Diane! Yes we do! It was well worth it and we realized we really need to hire help next year!!

21 days ago

Very nice story. Thank you!

Machelle James
19 days ago
Reply to  Drew

Hi Drew! Thank You for the positive comment! It was heartfelt for sure!

Ed D.
21 days ago

Machelle and family,
It sounds like you had the time of your life. I will look House Whiskey up and see if I can find any of their songs to listen to. You had a much needed and deserved respite from the running of your Campground. We all have to let our hair down at times, because all work and no play, will wear you out! Glad you had a great Labor Day weekend. Too bad the music had to end early due to the storm but you can’t always predict Mother Nature. We are back in the Mountains of N.C. and loving the view of the Mountains and Lake all around us.
Stay safe and we will definitely see you in the trees.

Machelle James
19 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! Work/Life balance is real! It was an amazing time and it felt so good to just RELAX. Glad your back in NC as it is so pretty there!

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