In the first three weeks in May 2016, we anchored down at USNWS (U.S. Naval Weapons Station) Cheatham Annex near Williamsburg, Virginia. This liberty port was two-fold. First, for visiting friends, family and shipmates; some even 250 miles away. Second, to learn a bit of our Nation’s history at Appomattox Court House.
Continue reading “Appomattox Court House National Historic Park – Virginia”
MILITARY RV PARK REVIEW
Campground/RV Park: Navy Weapons Station Cheatham Annex – VIRGINIA (military)
Location: Bldg. 284 Chase Road, Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185
Date(s) Stayed: 5/1/15 – 5/21/15
Length of Stay: 3 weeks
Site #: #25 back-in (end)
Cost per night (with taxes): $25/night
Discount Used: none
We TOTALLY enjoyed our stay at Navy Weapons Station Cheatham Annex as its located right off the Colonial Parkway and close to Williamsburg and Yorktown. There are signs on I-64 as well as Route 199 and Colonial Parkway showing Cheatham Annex exits. This RV park is located on the Navy Base therefore, entrance is through gated and armed security; military, DOD and Civilian ID checks mandatory. It is located very near Water Country and a short drive to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg. Driving to tourist areas is convenient however, parking in downtown Yorktown and Williamsburg may be a challenge. NWS Cheatham Annex is a very small Navy base. It only has a shoppette with gas station (Diesel also!!!). On the other side, there are rented cottages and water access. Lots of nice places to run and ride your bikes. Golf course on base as well. Too many other amenities to list here so please, click on the link above for more info.
The location of the RV park was secure, manicured, beautiful and clean. Mature trees surrounded the area but the RV concrete pad sites themselves were nicely spaced amidst young bushes and two-three year old small trees. Sites backed into communal areas. Each site were ample spaced and had a picnic table and fire pit. Weekends were full and weekdays were approximately 25% to capacity. The bath houses were new and clean; locking outside entries to each unisex room. The laundry room was clean and roomy with three washers/dryers ($1.50 each), deep sink, soap vending machine, fold table and chairs. Near the bath house and laundry was a small playground for young children. There was also a conference room in the same building. There were beautiful new cottages on the backside of the park. Though sites were FHU’s, there was also a dump station near the dumpsters close to the entrance of the RV Park itself. Navy Security drove through several times a day/night which was nice. Because of military regulations, it was nice and quiet after 10pm, even on the weekends. There were occasions of hearing the sound of freedom from artillery and range operations in the distance; nothing close and it wasn’t loud.
Free WiFi “IF” you could get on; frequently spotty and during the weekends, forget it. We had our own AT&T hotspot which was spotty at best. Only in certain areas of the park were we able to get an AT&T signal from one of our phones. The other was Verizon signal was zero. We waited until we were off base to make our phone calls and doing any internet work or research. While the park itself and amenities were fantastic, this was the only low point of staying at Cheatham Annex. The Navy needs to work on this. If you work on the road via internet, you may want to think twice before staying here unless you have a WiFi booster.
Every morning, we were awakened at 0800 by the sound of the bugle playing the National Anthem and at sunset, we heard TAPS. Please note military protocol of respect if you’re outside during both; remove your hat, hand over heart, face the bugle sound and stand at attention with no movement (teach your children and grandchildren this!); if in uniform, salute covered. This is an HONOR to do so, please don’t run inside as our Fallen Warriors didn’t run away from battle in their day.
We plan on returning to NWS Cheatham Annex.
One of the most-remembered memorials in Washington D.C., for us, was the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. From a distance, we could tell where the American Airlines Flight 77 had made impact simply because of the new masonry. All other evidence was nonexistent except for the Memorial benches below. Once we arrived at the memorial, the feeling was like none other.
Continue reading “9/11 Pentagon Memorial”
Memorial Day weekend in 2015, we RV’d to Washington D.C. to take part in Rolling Thunder. This was our 4th Rolling Thunder “Run for the Wall”. While we were in D.C., we also visited the grave of a Fallen Hero friend, CSM Michael Buxbaum, and our Coast Guard Iraq KIA Nathan Bruckenthal in Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
Continue reading “Ready to Rumble: Rolling Thunder”
CAMPGROUND REVIEW – Military
Campground/RV Park: Fort Benning Uchee Creek Army Campground
Location: 7 Uchee Creek Rd, Fort Mitchell, AL 36856 (706) 545-4053 or (706) 545-7238
Date(s) Stayed: 3/18/15 – 4/19/15
Length of Stay: 1 month
Site #: 52 and 411
Cost per night (with taxes): $648/month
Discount Used: none
Fort Benning Uchee Creek Army Campground is an Army managed (more like “mismanaged”) campground located ‘off’ post. Being totally transparent and honest, we would NOT stay here again nor would we recommend this campground to any military RV’ers, friends or family.. Beginning with the staff, except for a sweet young lady “Nadidia”, they seriously need to hone their customer service skills. Most of the office staff have foreign accents that may be difficult to understand. Watch your credit card! They overcharged us even before we left. We spent 30 minutes there telling them how much we owed because they couldn’t understand fluent English or mathematics.
We made a reservation over 2 months in advance, explaining to the woman who was taking our reservation that we needed a big rig site for our 43′ 5th wheel toyhauler. When we arrived to our assigned site, it was awful. We literally had to shoehorn our rig between trees that were inches from our slides when they were out on muddy packed dirt site. We were unable to put our awning out because the trees and branches were too close and low hanging. The sites were dirty, unkempt, overgrown and firepits that needed cleaned with sterile gloves. We literally had to clean our site just to be able to enjoy looking at it. The picnic table was falling apart. Not 30 minutes later after hooking up our electric, we experienced a power surge that could have fried our whole rig’s electric/electronics had we not had our power surge protector. Still, it damaged our refrigerator which cost us $120 service call. After experiencing two more days of power surges, we went to the camp office to ask to move to the BIG RIG sites over in the 400 section (why they didn’t put us there to begin with is beyond us!). We would have asked to move earlier however, the MWR office sponsored a “civilian” archery competition in which they had already rented out all of their other sites to “civilians”. That weekend was total mayhem! No MP’s or security at all. Participants in their cars, trucks, and golf carts were speeding through the campsite (the speed limit ranged from 10-20mph). Made a very unpleasant weekend on top of the already power issues and filth we were experiencing.
After the weekend was over, we packed up and moved over to our new site which was much improved and cleaner with asphalt pull-throughs. However, the electric power still had serious issues throughout our stay. Every night precisely at 6:00 pm, power would go out for approximately 15 minutes (dinner time?) and with frequent power outings/surges. We were told by one of the staff that came to look at it that they have had nothing but problems with the underground cable/wiring. Their provided ‘free WiFi’ worked sparsely. We tried to use our AT&T hotspot and Verizon WiFi’s which worked only 10% of the time. We couldn’t even get a signal for our phone calls. We assumed that because of the location of the campground to the air strips, that the air traffic control may have been jamming disallowing our use. If you are an RV’er that relies on internet, buyer beware. Several times we had to take our laptop to the PX food court to do research and make reservations.
The laundry was expensive for being a military facility. There were no tables to fold your clothes on. The bathrooms were dirty. The Camp Host’s idea of cleaning the bathrooms was just refilling the toilet paper. Again, I mention there is NO SECURITY even though its a military owned campground. In fact, the gate on one side is in the stuck position of up. ‘Anyone’ could drive in and access the campground; not a safe place for military families to enjoy security while their loved ones may be deployed. Also, it is quite a drive just to get to the campground; 10 mile drive just to get to the gate to get on post and about 17 miles to the commissary/px.
This military campground was quite expensive for what it was and offered; at least in the spring month that we were there. The pool and pool area was disgusting. The whole grounds severely needed landscaping help. What we’ve heard from several ‘upper level’ military members is the MWR there mismanaged their books and now are trying to recoup the funds on the backs of those who use the RV campground. Also, this was the first military campground that charges military retirees based on rank, but either way, it was the most expensive ‘military’ campground we’ve ever stayed at. Average is $450-500/month. Uchee Creek was $648!!! We’ve stayed at gorgeous RV RESORTS that were less money.
Unfortunately, it hurts our hearts to write such a negative review of a campground, let alone a military campground. But we are honest and want folks who may consider staying here to be aware of the mismanagement of this Army MWR.
RV PARK REVIEW
Campground/RV Park: Live Oak Landing
Location: 229 Pitts Ave, Freeport, FL 32439 (877) 436-5063
Date(s) Stayed: 2/18/15 – 3/18/15
Length of Stay: 1 month
Site #: 52
Cost per night (with taxes): $650 month
Discount Used: none
Live Oak Landing was a nice surprise after about a 30 minute drive from I-10; nestled in live oak trees draped in Spanish Moss with views of inlets to the Choctawatchee Bay. Big Rig friendly with paved concrete pads for back in or pull-throughs. Each has a fire ring and picnic table. Small playground for children. Nice pool for warmer months. Nice walking path for evening walks to watch the sunset over the inlet. Small boat ramp for cottage residents and RV’ers. Peddle boat, canoes and motorized small fishing boat for rent available. Nice picnic pavilion located in the corner on the inlet. Gorgeous views. Fenced in Dog Area to let them run and do their business. Laundry area is outside under awning however it’s clean and roomy. Bathrooms are clean and ample. Staff is friendly and accommodating. Cute, clean cottages for rent as well. Located approximately 30-40 minutes to Panama City; about 20 minutes to Eglin AFB. We would consider returning to Live Oak Landing
MILITARY FAMCAMP REVIEW
Campground/RV Park: Gunter-Maxwell AFB FamCamp
Location: 390 March Blvd., Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-5005 (Montgomery, AL)
Phone: (334) 953-5161
Date(s) Stayed: 1/10/15 – 2/25/15
Length of Stay: 2 weeks
Site #: #63 Pull-through
Cost per night (with taxes): $400/month $120/week $20/night
Discount Used: none
Gunter-Maxwell AFB FamCamp was a decent campground ‘on post’; you will have to go through post security gates to enter. FamCamp has lots of room for the kids to play with playground. Flat part-gravel, part-paved pull-through and back in sites; spacing a little tight but do-able. Each site had a picnic table and standing charcoal bbq grill. No firepits provided; no open flames permitted. Some sites have metal canopies over picnic tables. Two clean bath house and bathroom facilities. Laundry rooms have 2 washers/dryer and folding table. Free Wifi available in the park, though we used our own AT&T Hot Spot as free WiFi was intermittent due to other users. Local tv but satellite if you have your own. There is a fishing pond on the other end of the FamCamp with lakeside pavilion and bbq grills. Boat rentals available. Great long roads for those who like running or long walks. Quite a few permanents due to military and civilians going to or instructing schools. We gave it 3.5 stars because of gravel sites, no firepits or open fires permitted and the accessibility (getting to/from) was a bit tedious. Security gate guards didn’t hand out maps (that were provided) to get to the FamCamp nor were able to give directions how to get there. Be aware you will be privy to hearing the sounds of freedom; airstrip is close by but that didn’t bother us.
Can be made up to 4 months in advance by Active Military, National Guard, Reservists, Retired, 100% DAV, DoD Civilians. . Site assignments are made on a reservation basis with priority given to active duty. PME students may make reservations in advance for the duration of their school. Some sites reserved for short stays up to 14-days. 90 day stay limit (except for students). 7 night stay limit in tent sites. Has four overflow sites with electric/water (no sewer) for awaiting FHU sites.
Gunter-Maxwell AFB FamCamp Brochure
We were pleased with our stay at Gunter-Maxwell AFB FamCamp and would gladly return again.
Campground/RV Park: Two Rivers Campground
Location: 2616 Music Valley Drive, Nashville, TN (615) 883-8559
Date(s) Stayed: 11/28/14 – 12/3/14
Length of Stay: 5 nights
Site #: 313
Cost per night (with taxes): $44.25 winter rate 50 amp
Discount Used: Good Sam
Connections: 50 amp FHU
We picked Two Rivers Campground based on reviews. They are located just two miles north of Opryland and shopping area, Opry Mills off of I-65. We arrived about 3 pm to check-in experiencing typical process. The sites are very tight even though they told us on the phone that we would have no problem parking a big rig. Lots of trees and oftentimes, vehicles parked that may hinder maneuverability. The campground had a ‘campy’ damp feel with all of the trees, packed mud, etc. The sites were packed dirt/mud with a small concrete pad with a picnic table. The sites backed up to each other; therefore, not good for toyhaulers that need to unload their toys from the rear of their coaches. The bath houses were not great; poor lighting and dirty, even throughout all hours of the day/night. They have a camp store on location. Camping World is located right down the road within walking distance. While it is located near Nashville tourist areas, next time, we will camp/park elsewhere. We will not be returning to Two Rivers Campground .
RV PARK REVIEW
Campground/RV Park: Red Stone Arsenal (Military) (Huntsville)
Location:Outdoor Recreation, Bldg 5139, Sportsman’s Drive, Redstone Arsenal, AL 35808
Phone: (256) 876-4868 or 6854
Date(s) Stayed: 12/3/15 – 1/15/15
Length of Stay: 2 weeks
Site #: 17
Cost per night (with taxes): $120/week $20/day
Discount Used: none
Connections: 30/50 FHU
We were pleasanty surprised when we arrived at Red Stone Arsenal Campground. This RV Park is located ‘on post’ therefore we had to go through post security gates. Easy to get to. Once on post, signs direct you to RV park area.
Reservations are highly recommended and are accepted 90 days in advance. A 5-day cancellation notice is required for a full refund. Sites 2 and 3 are designated for overnight campers only. Reservations will be accepted based on availability. As this is a military post, make sure you are retired, active, or civilian/contract employee to have access to base before calling for a reservation.
Fairly new concrete pads 25 x 65. Clean sites! Fire pit and picnic table at each site. Please know there aren’t trees except for occasional sapplings in RV Park area; we stayed in the winter therefore wasn’t an issue but can imagine summer months to be considered. Stay limit is 60 days during peak season and 90 days during non-peak season per SOP and AR-215 regulations. Sites 2 and 3 are designated for overnight campers only and may use the self-check box. Stays for longer than 1 night should make reservations via telephone or check in at the Outdoor Rec office to insure availability (sites may already be reserved).
Free limited WiFi at the RV Park. We had to use our own AT&T Hot Spot. Limited cable TV, RV Storage lot, Dog Run. Other MWR facilities on post such as Outdoor Recreation (equipment rental), bowling, bingo, golf, Officer’s Club, and more. Laundry room was clean; had three working washers/dryers with fold tables and chairs to sit. Bath houses had single shower and single stall toilet, so you had to wait your turn to shower but that didn’t affect us as we were self contained. Playground for children in back of pavilion. Great safe place for kids to ride their bikes. Diesel not available on post; had to go off post to fill up truck before hooking up. This IS a military arsenal so be aware that you will hear the sounds of freedom with big booms and bangs from their training area but none to deter us from leaving. Close to post/base ammenities and services (golf, library, gas station, commissary, PX, fitness center, shopette, swimming, snack bar, Class VI, movie theater, museum, hospital, post office and car wash.
We enjoyed our stay here and would return again.