Reviews written by bigtom
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15-17 September 2012
I've reviewed this before, when the base was a large KC-135 refueling center. Under ACC and AMC, millions of dollars were spent updating and replacing much of ADC's and SAC's structures, remaining from the early days in the 50's and 60's. Within the last two to three years the mission of the base's 'owner', the 319th ABW, has changed from operating a major aircraft wing with wartime overseas missions occurring day in and day out to that of little more than a caretaker to the two tenant flying units, US Border Protection and ACC's Global Hawk drones. In 2000 there were 4,200 people on base, recent estimates are there now are about 2,000. That has resulted in far fewer operating hours for many services, including one of the newest and best equipped fitness centers (Olympic size pool, lap pool, squash/handball courts, and well over 100 various machines, as well as a huge free weight room), library, club, etc. Several years ago hundreds of new family quarters were built, some are occupied, many are not. Dormitories and VQ buildings are all new within the last ten years, yet the parking lots are about 1/4 full. Some unpaved walking trails and an excellent BMX trail, as well as family garden plots and a nature center are now abandoned and overgrown. The famcamp remains an excellent value, with full connections available to 21 spaces. The famcamp is on a huge parcel of land, and roads and sidewalks show that when first planned, there could be as many as 50 to 60 spaces. In the rare event that the full hookups are all taken, there are what amounts to a nearly unlimited number of places to dry camp, Not all electrical kiosks work, now do all the cable TV connections, although they are marked, and over the last couple years a lot of coax cable has been spread above ground to enable people to hookup in the event their pedestals no longer work. The laundry is clean, and men's latrine needed new toilet paper (which we supplied), but the heat worked and the showers were excellent and hot! Still just $12 a night, or $6 with Golden Eagle pass. Clearly maintenance has been reduced, you are on your own in many ways, but it is a GREAT place to stay without being hassled or bothered. Commissary small but very nice. BX OK too. 15 miles to downtown Grand Forks. This is our third time here, as well as several times without camping, staying in quarters. VERY clean and tidy base.
2 March - 22 April 2012
We're repeat visitors, and as before, this is THE best overall famcamp we have ever visited. What separates this from others is the attitude and helpfulness of the staff! Although the office is closed between 30 September - 1 May, all one need do is show up, pick an open site, fill out the slips which are provided in a drop box by the door to the office, and start camping. Base maps and regulations are provided in the drop box. Credit cards are welcome, and campers may pay for as many nights as they know they'll be there as long as they realize there's the 30 day summer season limit. You may want to try different sites to get a good satellite shot for your TV, as they are some trees. Latrines are as clean as any we've seen, and washers/dryers are clean and they work, and we found the change machine always filled with quarters, and they work, too! Need help? Call or visit Outdoor Rec in the Community Center across from the gas station. John Rodriguez is the manager. Need a refund because you overpaid? Don't know the policy, but by being able to either pay-as-you-go or several days at a time, you should be able to plan it out. They even have a reduced rate if you have to leave your RV for a few days during the winter season, check with John about this. Helpful, proactive, customer #1, being the best they can be - all those terms apply.
29 Nov 2011 - 28 Dec 2011
The expansion to the east has greatly increased the capacity of this FamCamp, not only in number of spaces but in the size each camper has - some of the best sites you'll find if you have a big rig or more than one vehicle, or guests. All have full hookup, with 50 Amps. One error in construction was not burying the water pipes deep enough to prevent frequent freeze-ups and more than a few broken pipes. We experienced this in this visit as well as in past visits during New Mexico's occasional very cold snaps, which can happen anytime from November thru March. We had a pipe burst adjacent to our trailer, and were showered in spray for over an hour from 9PM into the night, while contract civil engineers were called to shut off the water! Lots of ice formed on the trailer, and the site resembled an ice rink by the following morning! No damage done, everything melted when it hit 32 degrees about 10AM. But campers should know to ALWAYS disconnect their water when there's a prediction to go below freezing. Helpful staff - Janet, the host, is great to work with. Always accommodating with pay-as-you-go, because they'd rather not refund, unless really necessary. Credit cards welcome, and late arrivals and early departures are never a problem.
Still no wifi because of concerns about interference to the mission at the Sandia National Labs, yet there are mo restrictions on using routers if you connect via a Verizon or Sprint card. Go figure - but a minor inconvenience, because the cards work just fine. The laundry facility is fair, and the shower and toilet facility is pretty poor. No issue with cleanliness, but these are old-old-old! Really in need of replacement, and better heating in the winter. Otherwise, a super 'user-friendly' place to stay. Would not hesitate to stay here anytime. Great Commissary and Good BX. Nice gas station/Class VI, and they sell cheap diesel! Fairly good, but older fitness center, convenient to RV park. Good Post Office. Excellent TV reception with line-of-site to the transmitters on Sandia Crest. Lots and lots of things to do in Albuquerque, right out the main gate.
28 Dec 2011 - 28 Feb 2012
Superlative in almost every category. If planning to stay beyond 21 days, be sure to state your intentions by 1500 (3PM) the day BEFORE you're due out. Be advised the pecking order to remain in full hookup when there are fewer spaces to be vacated than campers who wish to stay is determined when you show up the morning you're due out! When our 21 days were up we notified the office we wanted to stay, and the next morning I was the second camper to go to the office, and that was at 0545 (5:45 AM)! By the time the staff arrived there were about 20 campers in the lobby. There were about 11 spaces opening, and five dry campers waiting for full hookup, leaving just SIX for campers already hooked up, wishing to stay longer. Since I was the SECOND person to go to the office, we were able to stay. This may seem complicated, but it is absolutely fair, honest, and the staff and all the campers I saw fully supported this! Only slight improvement I could envision might be to make a further improvement in the wifi system. The office has a couple ethernet connections that are super hi speed, but the wifi does get slowed to a crawl quite a few times. Our Verizon card worked fairly well, although Tucson is a very 'busy' city connection wise. Would absolutely, positively recommend this excellent RV park. BTW the base lodging is also extremely helpful and accommodating to those who might have guests visiting and need a place to stay. Space A time varies from as few as three days in advance to as many as 90 days. Keep trying if they're full, they often get cancellations, and willingly will assist you in getting rooms. Other facilities are top drawer - clubs, BX, Commissary, fitness center, etc.
29-31 March 2011
Easy to find if you follow directions - although we did have to ask at the Shopette as some of the roads and streets are not marked, but once park is found, it is easy to pull in and get connected. Due to a record-setting hard freeze in early February the bathrooms and showers in the nearby clubhouse were closed, awaiting repairs. We used to showers in the aquatic center, which were old, in fair shape, but showers were hot and roomy, so can't complain! 50 Amp service, water and sewer connections were easy and adequate, and adjacent covered patio was very nice. Mountains just behind campground were awesome!! Driving around the vast post is allowed, and if you're into tech stuff, there is plenty to see. "Town" is Las Cruces, a nice city about 25 miles west. Lady who runs campground from Outdoor Rec was VERY helpful in answering questions about almost everything. You can buy guns at Outdoor Rec and get them registered. If you're into outdoor activities, hiking is awesome! Nice fitness trail right next to campground is also nice. VERY quiet, remote setting. Small Commissary and even smaller BX, but adequate. We'd definitely stay here again. If you are Air Force, you'll save a LOT of time and hassle if you register your vehicle and display your decal at an Army, Navy, or Marine installation, or one of the few USAF bases that still issues vehicle ID's, because WSMR indeed DOES require either a DoD vehicle decal, or you have to produce license, registration, proof of insurance, and get a temporary pass - a time consuming process. We registered out truck at MacDill AFB in 2010 and have had zero problems at any Army or Navy base since.
14-28 March 2011
This is our second time at the FamCamp and 4th time at Holloman AFB. The FamCamp is fairly small, but has a vast area for dry camping if one wants to wait for a space to open up. Best feature is weather! Numerous sunny days, some wind in the spring, and little rain. Roughly half the sites are hardstands and covered picnic cables; all have picnic tables. Cable is 'expanded basic', i.e., about 70 channels. Off-sir (antenna) TV, via translators is fair; CBS. ABC and Fox are HD, NBC and a couple locals are still in analog. Wi-Fi fair, but if you have an AllTel or Verizon computer card, its fine. Cell Service excellent. New, although small mens and womens latrine and unisex shower are EXCELLENT. Newer laundry room and check-in day room, open 24/7, excellent as well. Still remaining is older laundry and bathrooms with showers, which are adequate in themselves. Alamogordo is about 7 miles east, very busy, lots of chain stores, fast foods, many new motels, lots of new housing. New Mexico has unusually good roads for a relatively small state, with 4-lane expressways to Las Cruces and interconnection with I-25; 4-lane road to El Paso, TX, and 4-lane roads to Roswell and beyond (100+ miles), and excellent 2-lane and partially 4-laned road to Albuquerque. Excellent value for the $$$: Base is loaded with new facilities - health center, hospital/clinic, BX, Shoppette, Base Housing. Older Commissary, well stocked. Scenery is excellent - big mountain range (Sacramento Mts) to east, desert to north and south, and San Andreas Mts to the west. No reservations, but no limit, either. 1st come, 1st served. $20 a night; $90 a week ($12.85/night) or $300 a month ($10/Night). Clearly a 'hidden gem'...one of the best all-round values in the realm of Military FamCamps!
19-20 April 2010
Follow the directions carefully as the area adjacent to Maxwell is under construction. Base is guarded by Air Force SP's who provide a map and directions. Camp is on far west side of the base, adjacent to golf course and running track. Outdoor activities abound, although BX and Commissary will require a vehicle as they are about 2-3 miles back to the main part of the base. Very helpful camp host. Arrived mid afternoon and camp was 100% sold out, but there were four overflow sites (no sewer) and we got the last one! Most sites were back in, and about half the camp had little or no tree cover so rooftop satellite dishes work well. Plenty of local TV channels with an antenna are available. No wi-fi, but Verizon 3G card works fine. Camp Manager said half of the camp sites are reserved for students who attend one of several schools - Squadron Officer School, Air Command & Staff, and Air War College, and a few others. These are virtually always sold out except for between school times. The other half is your basic FamCamp for retirees, TDY's, military on leave, and a handful of assigned personnel awaiting housing. Because the camp allows all eligible users to make reservations up to a year in advance, and its central location on I-65 & I-85 the camp stays near sold out all the time. Wise to always make a reservation. Will definitely stay here again. Lots of good facilities on base, although the usual local stuff - fast foods, shopping, etc., are several miles away on I-65 & US-231.
25-26 April 2010
We had not stayed here before so this was a new experience. As long as you follow the directions, you will find the camp - new signs on some of the internal roads help. Once there at about 4:30PM we found the Camp Host gone, but two other men immediately came over to assist, one being an Army E-6. Both suggested taking an open site and just filling out a registration in the bathhouse/office, or seeing the host when he got back around 6. I said I'd like a treeless site so our rooftop satellite dish would work, and immediately the guy helping suggested a site that fit the bill perfectly. Roads in the camp are narrow and there is an open drainage ditch alongside the main road, making backing in to the sites along the road somewhat tricky, but it can be done. Overall we found the camp to be old and a little rundown, but really nice folks; an old, but clean bathhouse, newer shower enclosures, and plenty of hot water from good showerheads. Excellent local TV reception from several channels with an antenna. No wi-fi, but Verizon G3 network card worked great. The east portion of Fort Chaffee has been turned over to the local county/city (Barling, AR), and the streets have been upgraded, repaved, and the old WWII barracks now house many small businesses. Even though the campground is now on civilian land, Fort Chaffee still controls and oversees the park itself. Preference is given military, but civilians are allowed to use the park as well. Several fulltimers are in residence, but it appeared there was a set aside of a certain number of sites for military personnel. Since it was a Sunday when we checked in, the PX and Commissary were closed, and both were located on the 'Main Base' which required an ID to enter. LOTS of open land, very quiet, and a great place to run/walk if you're into exercise. The town of Barling is a 3-4 mile drive, and there is a good grocery store, CV's. Going west from Barling about 4 miles brings you to Ft. Smith with a big Wal-Mart, reasonably priced Shell gas & diesel, fast foods of all kinds, etc. I would stay here again. VERY quiet and peaceful at night.
23 November 2009
This is second time we have stayed here. No changes since last year. Small, but rural, quiet setting on base. There are a total of 10 sites, only 8 have water. Sites 9&10 share water with Sites 7&8, so have a long water hose in case you get 9 or 10. Site 1, 9 & 10 are grass, others are paved. No tall trees so satellite should work for TV. No individual sewer hookup, but dump site is adjacent to Site #1 and easy to get to. No WiFi, but Verizon data card works fine. Must go to Air Capital Inn, on your left in 2nd block when you enter Main Gate off of Rock Road. Pay up front, and check if you need to stop by when you leave - they told me no need to so long as I left by checkout time - 11AM. Nice people at the VQ (Air Cap Inn) where you check in. If not full, ask not to be next to someone as sites are fairly close. No nearby bathhouse, so be prepared to use your own or walk/drive to Shoppette or VQ if necessary. Decent value @ $14, year round, and in-town Wichita, KS. Lots of shopping - everything - nearby. Golf course and fitness trail adjacent, good outdoor location.
23 November 09
If you come in the Main Gate, stay to the FAR RIGHT even if the lanes are closed. The AP will open the gate and let you through....there is a sign merely saying to stay right, but not specifically for THAT lane. Checked in 23 Nov 09 for two nights...signs on Scott AFB generally do NOT mention the Famcamp. Best to make a hard left turn once inside the Main Gate onto Golf Course Road and stay on it, around the Golf Course, past the Illinois ANG building on the left...there will be a small, low sign on the RIGHT side of the road for the Famcamp pointing to the left. Once in the camp, choose a site but be SURE there isn't a paper on the post adjacent to the vacant site showing that it is reserved. There is a phone number on the welcoming sign; call it to be sure the site you want is available because the Scott Famcamp DOES take reservations, site specific! Some are treed, some open enough for satellite roof dishes. We found the site adequate, but the bathhouse/laundry was really, really dirty. I visited the Outdoor Rec office and asked about it and was told it was contracted out. Supplies were OK, paper products OK, heat and hot water OK, but clearly no real cleaning had taken place for several weeks, if not months. Staff at Outdoor Rec were very friendly, helpful, and apologetic for the condition, but their demeanor indicated this may be an ongoing problem. Washers and dryers were old, adequate, but not speedy or really hot. Closeness to St. Louis is biggest asset for those wishing to visit the city, easy access on/off Exit 19 off I-64. Would stay here again. Private, safe, and nice rural setting near a nice lake.
14-15 June 2009
We've never camped here before, but have stayed in the VOQ, so we were familiar with the base. Couple things people need to know. One-This isn't a typical Air Force Base. It has a huge swatch of land, much of which is opened for public use - hiking/biking trails, fishing, boating, swimming - an outdoor person's paradise; but there are very few USAF people--lots of civilian contractors. Hence, there is a tiny commissary/AAFES shoppette on the Main Base and its closed all day Sunday & Monday and has very limited hours and selection. If you want to grocery shop/eat/buy stuff, go back to I-24, go just three miles east to Manchester, and right at the exit there's a Wal*Mart, Murphy Gas, Starbucks, McDonald's, all the usual stuff. Setting is gorgeous - but rustic! You're outdoors - you'll see a few bugs, hear ducks, birds, peepers, and people enjoying swimming at the small beach and boating. If you're seeking a "nice" dry, sunny, inland camping experience, don't go here. But if you love inland lakes of clear water, camping where you can enjoy a fire, lots of trees and decent weather away from cities, noise, crowds and freeways, this is your place. No wi-fi at the camp, but there is wi-fi up at the visiting quarters about 2 miles back up the road. TV? There is excellent DTV reception with a simple outdoor antenna from Huntsville - all four networks plus PBS. I gave "location" a 5 because this is a rare find if you like rustic, safe, scenic lakeside camping. If not, then 'location' would, for you, probably be a 3 at the most. NICE people to deal with. Satellite TV is good IF you get a site with a good tree-free shot to the SOUTH over the lake. Pick your site! That's a nice feature.
25-28 May 2009
We drove up from MacDill's Famcamp, arrived here some 330 miles later. Camp had just closed and we checked in at the designated host's site, a guy named Ray. Could not have been any nicer!! Introduced him self right away. I explained we needed to have wi-fi and a satellite connection, and he immediately told us their wi-fi was down temporarily, but would hopefully be back up as early as tomorrow. As to satellite, he said they had free cable and I was free to pick any site I thought I could hit the satellites with on my rooftop dish, and then he said "let's take a ride". He showed me the entire place, and I picked a site, and then said just to see the office tomorrow when they were open and sign up. Did that, and the Hostess-Manager also was terrific..apologized for lack of wi-fi, and said she had it at her trailer and we could sit on her chairs in her yard anytime. Also offered to let us use the office, although there was a weak signal from her trailer. Decided to go to Starbucks for free wi-fi, about 5-6 miles west on US-98, just across the street from Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart is on the LEFT heading west on US98, Starbucks is on the RIGHT across the street from Wal*Mart. A bit noisy as there are lots of F-15 and F-22 fighter missions going on, but hey, its the Air Force, so not a problem for us. Lots of trees, so satellite TV will be difficult, but cable works OK. Rooftop antenna for digital HD only brought in the local two channels, WKHG-7-NBC and WMBB-13-NBC. You'll need cable for CBS WTVY in Dothan AL and for the other usual Cable stuff. Fox, CNN, ESPN, etc. Good system - about 70 channels. The Main Base is to the east about 2 miles from the FamCamp on US98.....easy to get around. The Main Base is to the right (South) on US98, and the runways and Mission part of the base is on the left (North). BX and Commissary are good, and are on the Main Base. Camp is a little weather beaten, perhaps a little old, but community building is open 24/7 and is very nice, and bathrooms are tiled, A/C, nice showers, and very clean. The people are really terrific. My hat's off to Ray, the other man in the office and the Manager. Great people - would stay here again in a heartbeat!
1-12 May 2009
This is the second time we have stayed at Patrick AFB. As it was early May, it was not nearly full, although when we checked in all the Banana River frontage sites were taken. I asked the camp host if there was a waiting list for these sites, and was told there was not, and she offered to check her list and see who was scheduled to leave - which she did. There were two that were leaving the next day, and she said as long as they didn't extend (which you have the right to do until you actually leave), we could have one. The next morning we moved across the street to Space #2. I was MOST IMPRESSED AND THANKFUL to Camp Host Lorri & her husband for being so accommodating. 3 Cheers!!! Otherwise it was about the same as last time. While the overall appearance is good, additional electrification of the dry site will add to the value. NICE multi-workstation fitness course adjacent to campground makes a light workout easy to do, plus the running opportunity to catch a 2.5, 3 or even 4-miler are right there...no need to drive! Distance to the Commissary/BX is not a walk - it is across base but easy to do, plus there's a gate adjacent to the Commissary with access to AIA......exit the gate and take your first left....it takes you to AIA. One thing to remember, if you're ON AIA, you can only access this 'side' gate by leaving AIA on this street....I recall it is called "Ocean Drive" or "Ocean Street". There is NOT an access to the side gate for traffic heading WEST on the causeway from AIA over to US #1 and Wickham Drive. Plenty to see and do here, beside a great beach, too. One major drawback is the lack of wi-fi, and campground hosts are very aware of that need. There is good 24/7 connectivity outside the Library as well as in the front parking lots of the Visiting Officer Quarters. As PC's are quickly advancing to the presence in our lives as cell phones, campground priority improvements should definitely include computer connectivity, as many RV's are occupied by active duty and reserve people who are working, as well as retirees with need to be online. Overall this place is definitely a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, and again, the staff does EVERYTHING to help the customers!
15 Dec 08 - 2 Jan 09
This is our second year...arrived Monday morning and was told it would be 2-4 days of dry camping at the Sigsbee overflow...got a place RIGHT on the water. Very nice camp hostess, although not really clear on how the 'rotation' works. There is not a published list for all to see, but you can check anytime in the RV office and see where you stand. They will let you know after 1200 on the day BEFORE you rotate to one of the 93 full hookup sites. Full hookups at Sigsbee main site and pretty close together, so you'll get to know your neighbor! Several active duty families were there awaiting quarters or out processing. Nice laundry and latrines. Keep your speed down to 15MPH...saw plenty of SP (Shore Police) cruisers, and some police were pulling people over. Barber shop is very small - 1 chair, fairly long wait time. Commissary is unusually small for such a large military presence...would suggest going to Albertson's, in the shopping center across and slightly to the right when you exit the Sigsbee main gate. Huge supermarket - clean - lots of selection. If you have friends visiting, check the "Fly Navy"...its the 6-story VQ facility at Trumbo Annex - usually plenty of rooms, clean, TV, wifi, A/C, all for $50 a night! Nice beach at Truman Annex; never crowded even on the busiest days! Excellent workout room/gym at Truman and world class gym at Main Base at Boca Chica. Weather absolutly perfect! Hi 70's day and about 68-72 by night. Would return in a heartbeat!
8-15 December 2008
We have stayed here before and enjoyed it, having learned you are basically on your own for activities. We happened on it previously and just happened to grab 5 open nights. This time we wanted to be sure, so we reserved. A rigorous procedure - you call the Miami phone number; we got a helpful guy who confirmed our dates were OK, and then took my Visa to hold it, but I had to MAIL the application, because he said the Coast Guard does NOT honor a fax'd signature. OK, fine, we abided by their regs, I took our laptop to a Kinko's, printed the application from their website, and invested $.42 and mailed it. Got a cell call from Miami confirming receipt of same and we were good to go. Got there afternoon of 8 December, got our site. Five days later we went to Key West to scope out Sigsbee since we wanted to go there next, and also did laundry and went to the Navy Exchange (NEX). Headed back to Marathon and I fumbled for my gate card to get access back to the USCG Campground, and could not find it. Punched the intercom on the gate and we got in OK. Next day we searched long and hard for the card, no luck. Being the honest soul that I am, I went over the the Camp host and told him I lost my card. He flatly said, "Hope you got your checkbook, because that will cost you $250." I had remembered being warned NOT to lose the card, but $250? Scheeez!!! Decided to go back to Sigsbee the next day and look in the laundry for the key. There IS a God because there, on the shelf above the washers, was THE card!! Some good soul had found it and just put it on the shelf, rather than throwing same away! LESSON LEARNED: Do NOT, repeat, do NOT lose your gate card! It ain't a Holiday Inn keycard!! These guys are SERIOUS about the replacement cost and they said in no uncertain terms that if you walk away with it or lose it, the US Coast Guard WILL find you and you WILL pay! You have to sign a statement to that effect, which we did, to pull into your space. Final thoughts....rules is rules is rules. Would I stay there again? Certainly. Just a bit more difficult to reserve, you're on your own, and FOLLOW THE RULES. Remember this is the 'real deal'. These guys can and do go out on missions 24/7, sometimes with the .50 cal mounted on the prow, ready for whatever they might encounter. They are serious about their mission, and expect you to seriously honor their rules.
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