Monday, December 4, 2023


Operating an RV park: Campground updates, and we’re going on a road trip!

By Machelle James
Have you ever packed for a two-week vacation and wondered why you have three bags each at the end? I am experiencing this as we speak. AJ, Jenna and I are packing for a road trip and I had no idea how much stuff we use on a daily basis! Apparently, we take more vitamins than anyone I know. And we each have our own personal items: hair care, shave cream, razors, lotions, face wash, etc.

Well, AJ would be good with a bar of soap, normally, but he is having extremely itchy skin lately due to his eczema. Poor guy is a mess with an advanced case it and we are trying to get it under control. He needs to be covered in goo just to not scratch his arms off at night. He has all the prescriptions for it—he just needs it to start working.

Hard well water taking a toll

I have to say that having hard well water is finally taking a toll on us. We are definitely looking into a water softener when we get back, as Jenna and I are itchy too. She has eczema like AJ does, and she was bleeding from the hard water on her hands. It took a month to get her hands to get back to normal. Let’s just say she does NOT like wearing cotton gloves to bed and it took longer to heal since she wouldn’t wear them. It’s a tactile thing for her. She tried to do it for one night but just couldn’t handle it.

All the above issues and needing four days of clean clothes for travel, shoes and socks for all weather changes. Games, movies, headphones and food to go because there isn’t anywhere to eat when the urge hits. But I think we are possibly about ready to go. This our first cross-country road trip with Jenna. We are a little nervous with how she will handle being in the car for extended periods of time.

Lots to do with the park before we leave

What has hit us hard this week is the last-minute MUST-do items on our list before buttoning up the park. AJ had to finish the underlayment for the roof. It was so cold that the material wouldn’t stick, so he couldn’t work on that for days at a time. He worked on plumbing, and that job is all done as of today.

The inside of the store with the light cans and fan connections

He also installed all of the interior light switches, light can kits, lines for three fans, exterior light boxes and exterior plugs. I cannot tell how lucky I am that AJ knows how to do all that stuff. It is saving us an arm and a leg in construction costs. Now, we are waiting to hear back from our local electric company as the specific 200-amp electrical panel that we were told we need is out 48 WEEKS! We are praying that they will come back with an alternative brand so we can keep on track and open as planned.

We’re going to have a billboard

We also just signed up with a billboard company to have us advertise on a billboard near our Campground. This is so exciting as it is in a great location and we can customize it to read something like, “Happy Campers, turn left in 500 feet and let your Family Vacation begin at AJ’s Getaway.” This should be completed and ready for installation on April 1st. What I like about it is we will have that location for 2 years with an option to renew when our contract is up.

We should have the metal roof here for when we get back, and we are ordering the siding for the store tomorrow. I picked out a company and a color for siding, but it takes four weeks for it to get delivered. We will be hustling when we get back to get the roof done and call for an inspection.

I won’t have any updates for you while we are gone as we will truly be enjoying this time with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

Any suggestions for places for the family to visit?

Our road trip itinerary

I will say, the route I chose will be quite an adventure, as we will be going through Amarillo, Texas, to Fort Smith, Arkansas, stopping in Memphis, Tennessee, then to Tupelo, Mississippi, and our final stop in Covington, Georgia. Yes, we will be visiting Elvis’ childhood home and we will be eating at B.B. King’s Blues Club. We also just got our passes from the Interagency Military Pass Program so we can visit National Parks along the way.

This is truly the first for all of us and we are so looking forward to it. Please offer your favorite places to stop if you are familiar with that route as we would love to hear from you!

Thank You for following our campground journey, and see you in the trees!

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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Patricia Leeb (@guest_173602)
1 year ago

Aw, wish I’d seen this earlier, my sister lives in Covington! But you’re back by now. Hope you checked out the Mystic Grill and the many charming shops, coffee and treats offered on the central square. It’s a nice town.

Bonita (@guest_166770)
1 year ago

Hi! I drive a Toyota Sienna with a tiny trailer. It is SO nice to see that you have ALL pull-thru sites in your campground! I do not enjoy backing up and would love to camp in a pull-thru site, but I’d never do so ordinarily because I don’t NEED one, I’d just LIKE one. I know the bigger rigs NEED the pull-thrus so I wouldn’t want to leave them out. Have a great trip!

Martine (@guest_165962)
1 year ago

Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo. Zoo part is OK but pay for a
tour through the park where some of the animals come up to the vehicle for a treat.

Tom Speirs (@guest_165516)
1 year ago

Glad you’re making progress on the campground.
For the eczema try using castile soap, we use Kirk’s from Walmart, there are other brands and homemade. Also try Gold Bond Eczema relief cream. It doesn’t take much or work immediately but soon you will find the itch all but gone.

Machelle James (@guest_165646)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Speirs

Hi Tom! Yes we have been working like crazy on getting it ready for a FULL season! Thank you so much for the lotion and soap tips. We have been using Kirks for a month and it didn’t help..BUT the lotion we haven’t tried that particular brand yet. That would be so great if it did! Thanks Tom!

The Spices (@guest_165353)
1 year ago

There is much to see along that route. Ditto the comments on Palo Duro and Sisemore Museum plus there is an Indian museum nearby. In Ft Smith, there is Judge Parker’s courthouse/jail and the visitors center is in an old house of ill repute. Oklahoma City monument and the Cowboy Museum (great), so much more. Have a great vacation! Will visit you at the Campground one of these days.

Machelle James (@guest_165645)
1 year ago
Reply to  The Spices

Hello there Spice Family! I screen shotted the locations you also recommended. I am hoping we can make a couple of these stops on our travels! Thank You for your ideas!

Ed D. (@guest_165288)
1 year ago

If you like a really good breakfast that is cooked to order, once you get down South, stop at either a Waffle House, or a Huddle House Restaurant. They have the best Scrambled Cheese and Eggs Breakfast and their Bacon is full of flavor. They also have Grits, if you like them.
Sorry to hear about the problems that AJ and Jenna are going through. I hope they feel better soon. Enjoy your trip and your family. Just relax for a couple of weeks. You guys deserve it! Happy Valentines Day to you and Jenna.

Machelle James (@guest_165644)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! I can honestly say that I have never eaten at a Waffle House! I think we may have to just for the experience of it! I wrote it down in case we see either one on our travels! Thanks for the tip!!

Gordy B (@guest_165276)
1 year ago

If you like old cars, be sure to stop at the Truck Stop on the New Mexico side of the Texas/NM border. They have around a hundred or so cars and change them out a couple times a year from the owner’s massive collection.

Machelle James (@guest_165643)
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordy B

Hi Gordy! Thank You for your great tips. I am SURE we saw this as we passed as I said, ” I wonder who owns all those cars” in the middle of no where!!

Duane R (@guest_165214)
1 year ago

Santa Rosa, NM: Route 66 Auto Museum. Lots of interesting memorabilia. Also, The Blue Hole (SCUBA divers go there to train. Interesting stop!)

Love reading about your process of building your park. Should be able to visit next year. Enjoy your trip!

Machelle James (@guest_165257)
1 year ago
Reply to  Duane R

Hi Duane! Thank you for the must see places! They sound really interesting! I’ll let you know if we’re able to stop and check them out!

Ron Cravey (@guest_165181)
1 year ago

When going through Amarillo, eat at the Big Texan Steakhouse. It is an experience.

Machelle James (@guest_165193)
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Cravey

WE AGREE RON! We will be eating there for sure as we are staying at the Motel next door!!! GREAT food there!! I’m personally looking forward to the gift shop area. It is a HOOT!

Cynsan (@guest_165168)
1 year ago

Are you taking this trip in an RV? If so, try to stay at Enchanted Trails RV Park on the west side of Albuquerque. Vickie Ashcraft owns it and it is a wonderful place!! Even if you are not in an RV, try to stop and visit it. There are some great older RVs there that are fun to see. Also, stop in and visit at the TeePee Curios in Tucumcari, NM. Tell Gar “Hi” from Ranger Lee!

Machelle James (@guest_165191)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cynsan

Hello Cynsan! I looked up both locations and they look SO FUN! I added it to our Possible stops and I hope we can make it. It all depends on the time! Thank you for the SUPER cool ideas!

Traveler (@guest_165470)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cynsan


Bob M (@guest_165127)
1 year ago

In the winter my legs and around my waist get itchy. My Dr years ago prescribed Triam/Eucerin 50/50. Its a lotion/anti itch cream. The pharmacist has to mix them together. I rub some on the areas that get itchy after showering and any area in the day that might get itchy. It seems to work. Been using it for years. I think in the winter the weather causes the itch.

Machelle James (@guest_165148)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob M

Hi Bob! Well that certainly could be the case too. I did not notice the itchiness so much in the summer, so maybe you are on to something! We have that same protocol, so I hope it starts working in a day or two! Thanks for that seasonal tidbit as I didn’t think about the weather!

Beth Dawkins (@guest_164963)
1 year ago

We have read about your campground “adventure” and hope to visit someday soon. We live in Peachtree City GA, near Covington. We are the town with 100+ miles of golf cart paths. Let us know if you want to visit and explore the paths with our golf cart!

Machelle James (@guest_165034)
1 year ago
Reply to  Beth Dawkins

OH HOW BEAUTIFUL! I looked it up and it your area is just stunning! I will definitely message you if we do. Our kids are needing help with their new appliance installs, toilets and what not. Mom and Dad to the rescue! 😉

Sue (@guest_165241)
1 year ago
Reply to  Beth Dawkins

Hello, neighbor! We moved to PTC several years ago, in large part because of the network of cart paths. Hope you can hook up with the James family while they are somewhat near.

Donald Schneider (@guest_164953)
1 year ago

When planning our 4 month RV trips I use Trip Advisor, Things To Do, after I have the itinerary figured out and the gas stops added.
Have a “restful trip”.
We enjoy your RV park updates.

Machelle James (@guest_165033)
1 year ago

Hi Donald! Yes! I’m so glad you said this. I went on there and that’s how I learned about the Elvis’ home. I went down the rabbit hole of trying to squeeze in everything we could do while we are gone!

Carol (@guest_164940)
1 year ago

I see a comment about eczema for those in your family. Have you considered that it might be allergies or an allergy? I tracked mine down to pork and shellfish. Yes, pork – and you would be surprised where that can be found!! It is used in the manufacturing process of many over-the-counter meds as well as some prescription medications! Please consider! Seriously. When they did the skin tests, there were no reactions but I managed to narrow it down to those two items.

Machelle James (@guest_165032)
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol

This is not a bad idea Carol! What leads me to believe it’s the water is we never had this problem in the past since we always had soft water. Up here, the water is SO HARD is builds up after a week! I have to vinegar everything to clean the clogs in the sinks, faucets, the shower head, the coffee pot, because it’s so bad. My hair/head is itchy now, our clothes arent as white..its just so different to have hard water. I so appreciate your feedback- THANK YOU! I’ll post what we decide to move forward with!

Douglas Craw (@guest_164928)
1 year ago

If you are going through Amarillo, you should consider taking a side trip to Palo Duro Canyon (the “Grand Canyon” of Texas). It’s about 30 miles south of Amarillo. Also worth seeing in Amarillo is the Jack Sisemore RV Museum.

Machelle James (@guest_165029)
1 year ago
Reply to  Douglas Craw

Hi Douglass! I had no idea they had this Canyon! What great news! I will look up both and see if we can squeeze it in before we leave. Thanks for the tips!

Jim (@guest_165238)
1 year ago
Reply to  Machelle James

I would agree with Douglas on the stop at Jack Sizemore Museum and Palo Duro Canyon. A quick stop by the Cadillacs buried nose down west of Amarillo.

Machelle James (@guest_165258)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim! Well, good to know! Thank you for seconding the recommendation!

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