b'CAMPSITE VISTASThe James Family Works Toward Dream Parkandpriortowearingmasksand couple, said Machelle. And more im- road vehicles, as well as large RVs.gloves everywhereArizona residents portantly, how we could make money We wanted to keep the park smallMachelle James and her husband, AJ, doing it. enough so that AJ and I could manageSue were re-evaluating their lives. AJ was The list? They enjoyed camping and it without bringing in a team of people,working in a corporate environment off-roadriding.Machellealsolisted said Machelle. We planned to sell ourBray and was losing his enthusiasm for his people on her list while AJ included home in the Phoenix area and live injob. They had a grown special needs campfires on his.our RV at the park as we developed thedaughter and wanted to include her in Whynotbuildacampground?It property. And AJ needed to keep histheir future plans. seemed crazy at the time, but they de- job.Long before wed ever heard of coro- We sat down and tried to figure out cided to pursue the dream. Fast forward to April 2020 when wenavirus, self-distancing or self-isolation what we like doing as a family, and as a And yes, many of you, dear readers, caught up with Machelle again. A lotmay be a bit skeptical at this point. has happened, and much has changed.Machelle and AJ began looking at The James have been successful in re-property in Arizona and stumbled upon ceivingcommercialzoningdesigna-a vacant parcel in Heber-Overgaard, in tion. They had hoped to open in thethe western part of the state close to summer of 2020; however, COVID-19Show Low. It was close to the highway, has put a halt to their progress. Theyand part of it was zoned as commercial dont believe they will be able to getproperty. It also had nearby access to back to work until January 2021.off-road trails. They purchased the 15 Inthemeantime,theysoldtheiracres in December 2018. homeandmoveduptothecamp-When we first talked with Machelle ground with their daughter, renovatingin March 2019, the James had begun a small cabin on the property. Their RVthe zone application process. And what has become guest quarters for familyplans they had! and friends.In an effort to keep the campground Local town officials were not recep-water usage low and within the towns tive to the original plan to limit waterlimitations, they were planning to build andsepticbyinstallingfewerfull-only 26 to 28 full-hookup sites. All other hookup sites, so it was reengineered,siteswouldbedrycamping,which and now there are 41 sites offering full-wouldalsoallowthemtoinstalla hookups, plus two cabins.And the 65smaller septic tank. to 80 feet between sites wasnt workableBecause they enjoyed privacy when either.As much as we wanted to, wethey were camping in their RV, their had to narrow it down to 65 feet be-original plan was to keep 65 to 80 feet tween neighbors, said Machelle.Youbetweensites.Theparkwouldbe cant make money, so 65 feet is our newfriendly to off-roaders, as they could magic number.drive their vehicles to trails half a mile The James have been able to retaindown the road. They planned to build the longer length of the sitesmostramadas with BBQs, a community area will be 65 feet by 100 feet. They are es-with a clubhouse, a large playground pecially proud of their corral camping.and big open areas for pets. You park in a circle or semi-circle withTheywouldalsoofferRVstorage friends and family, and share a camp-and, of course, laundry and bathroom fire in the middle, said Machelle. Wefacilities. Individual campsites would will have three corrals. Two will hold upbe long and large so that they could ac- to four rigs and one will hold up tocommodatefamilieswithextraoff- seven. They are for our multi-genera-tionalfamilies,familyreunionsandtraveling sports teams. Theyre a greatconcept for people who want their ownprivate space to camp together.TheJamesesarestillplanningtobuild their clubhouse in phase one ofthe project and envision it as a gather-ing area for community activities andevents. They plan to make it availablefor private party rentals, as well as offer-ing wine tastings, arts and crafts fairs,moviesandotheractivitiesfortheirguests. RVers can still drive their ATVs ahalf mile down the road to access hun-dreds of miles of off-road trails.Machelle has attended campgroundmanagement school through the Na-tionalAssociationofRVParksandCampgrounds (ARVC) and considersthe lessons shes learned very valuable.Unfortunately, she also learned that herlarge pet park concept is not going to bea reality at this point due to Americanwith Disabilities Act(ADA) regulationsfor pet runs.WhilenoteverythingtheJamesesdreamed of for their dream park hasmaterialized and they have definitelyhad to make some compromises, muchof their original vision is beginning toemerge, even during the coronavirus.Theyve faced challenges in the past particularlyraisingtheir23-year-olddaughter, Jenna, who is one of the mainreasons they decided to build AJs Get-away RV Park. 28 -June 2020 Woodalls Campground Management'