I don’t come from a military family. The first time I stepped on a military base was right before we got married – we had gone to Florida for Amanda and Kevin’s wedding, and while there we visited McDill Air Force Base, where Ken was stationed prior to his retirement. I was a bit intimidated, what with an armed guard at the entrance, everyone in uniform, military vehicles, huge refueling planes coming and going.
Things are different now, as I’ve stayed at a few different bases, sometimes for days at a time. I now look past the uniform and just appreciate the polite person behind it. The guns are more of a comfort anymore. We are also married, and with that came the coveted military ID. Now just getting and on and off base now takes seconds, where before it was a whole process.
One thing I haven’t gotten use to though is the noise!
We recently stayed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, near Pensalcola, Florida. One of the benefits of Kenny being retired is that we are able to stay on most bases very inexpensively. Some have hotels, extra base apartments, dorm rooms, or as in this case, campgrounds.
I didn’t see any big refueling planes there, what I did see were F-35 fighter jets. Lots and lots of fighter jets. They were so loud they could actually disconnect your phone call just by flying by.
I don’t have any pictures of them – every time I heard one to take its picture, it was already gone by. We did go sit on the flight line to watch them come and go for awhile, but I was afraid to take pictures – what if they thought I was a spy and arrested me?
The campground was very nice – and while we were there it wasn’t even a third full. The sites were large and fairly private (of course no one was on either side of us so of course it was private), with shade. Negative…. fire ants! We didn’t spend too much time outside there and they all stayed outside thank god. Poor Kenny had to fix some wiring on the tow dolly and was lying on his back – he had a rug down and said he didn’t get bit.
The shower house was clean (though we didn’t use it) and there were many washers/dryers for only $1.25 a load. Again, while I should have used it…. I didn’t… it can wait (some things don’t change just because you are on the road).
The office was loaded with books, movies and puzzles to borrow or trade. It was also the location of the free WiFi hotspot. For what it was worth… if you sat at the picnic table right in front of it -and if you were lucky – you might be able to look at your email for a few minutes, as long as there are not any pictures. The library had free wireless though.
I say had a little prematurely, but as of April 30, the library on base will close due to budget cuts. Now wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were told that congress is still getting their meetings catered? Now if they would just give up their Starbucks and bagels, don’t you think there might be a few dollars left to keep a little tiny library open for military personal and their families? That place was packed while we were there and I saw people in uniform and not, working on resume’s, school assignments,shopping and reading. Not just because the library, any library, is my most favorite place in the world, but that REALLY sucks! Not just the employees that are going to lose their jobs, t hose people obviously need and use that library – yet there was that sign every where you looked…. “because of budget cuts, the library will be closing April 30. Return all books and materials immediately. No new material may be checked out.”
Kudos to Obama who took the 5% pay cut (think it was 5). Even if it was just for show – more could follow suit. At least it was a gesture guys. Maybe a few more gestures and attitudes might change- get rid of this ridiculous and out of date policy that all companies follow “use it or lose it”.
For those who don’t know – all departments everywhere, public or private, have a yearly budget. That budget is based on supposed need. If a department has left over money at the end of the year the higher ups who determine budgets say “guess we gave them too much money, cut their budget next year”. So…. what every department in the world does is spend their budget…. all of their budget….every last cent. Even if they don’t need it – they will cater their meetings, buy more office supplies, throw a department party…. anything other than leave a balance of money at the end of the year.
Close a military base library? Shame on them! And that’s my soapbox for today.
(note: this test of using free wifi as we find it along the road is getting old quick. Our current internet is provided by the campsite and you pay by day …. but I’m not even able to post a picture, so this blog will be pictureless. That’s ok,there weren’t many interesting ones for this anyway, but I will add them later if you want to stop back.)