in Head Cocked & Eyebrow Up, It's a Sign, Not Quite What We'd Planned, Something's Always Broken, The State We're In

Greetings from the corner of Centipede & Fourth

Curious little place, this.

We pulled into the Phoenix area on Sunday, January 17, with plans to set ourselves up before sundown at the Luke AFB Fam Camp, and stay for a few nights. That plan would have worked great, had we actually read enough of the description to learn that the fam camp is not on Luke AFB at all. Not even close. It’s an hour’s drive southwest of the base, at the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field — the AFAF.

See? Gila Bend AFAF, right on the water tower.

See? Gila Bend AFAF, right there on the water tower.

So a good two hours after sunset, we finally had a place to stop for the night. All the spots with hook-ups were taken though, so we had to dry camp, and then play the vulture game in the morning.

For the non-RV crowd:

  • Dry camping = relying on internal water tanks and power sources, which is not a hardship if you’re prepared with fresh water in your holding tank, a working water pump, a fully charged battery, and, if you want to use anything that plugs in, a generator. We do not have a generator. Sometimes we don’t have any of those other things either. It’s all part of the adventure. Have I mentioned that we’re on an adventure?
  • Vulture game = Peering out windows, watching for other campers to leave, so that you can pull into their spot immediately, hook yourself up to shore power and water, make coffee, and take a hot shower.

Nothing wrong with waking up in the desert.

Nothing wrong with waking up in the desert.


And the base itself is quiet. The visiting officers quarters reminded me of our various stints in Navy housing during Tim's career.

And the base itself is quiet. The visiting officers’ quarters reminded me of our various stints in Navy housing during Tim’s career.

Life here is a bit hardscrabble. There are no amenities like you’d find on other military bases (no commissary, exchange, restaurants, bowling alley, or even a gas station), and the water is unfit for consumption — bit of an issue with arsenic — so you’ve got to fill up jugs at one of many reverse osmosis stations scattered throughout the campground. Plus, you’re parked in dirt.

But hey, the washers and dryers are free, and the rate for full hook-ups is $10/night, which is a steal. Also, truly the friendliest and most welcoming RV’ers we’ve ever met are parked here, probably because it’s so remote and so lacking in all the usual comforts. Newcomers need help figuring out how to survive, and the long-timers, some of whom have been wintering here for more than a decade, are very willing to provide advice and assistance. Hell, we’re borrowing extra hoses from one guy, sharing a water hook-up with another, and we only drank the wrong water for the first 36 hours thanks to these folks!

Nightly campfires are one of many ways this community comes together. We uh, we reduced the average age of attendance considerably, when we arrived.

Nightly campfires are one of many ways this community comes together. We uh, we reduced the average age of attendance considerably when we showed up.


Just behind the RV park? A boneyard for old military vehicles from decades gone by.

Just behind the RV park? A boneyard for old military vehicles from decades gone by.


They get used for target practice on the bombing range!

They get used for target practice on the bombing range!

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Some items are older than others. Wooden wheels with steel rims!

Some items are older than others. Wooden wheels with steel rims!


The business end is stamped "Bethlehem Steel," and some other stuff I couldn't make out. A relic!

The business end is stamped “Bethlehem Steel,” along with some other words I couldn’t make out.
A relic!

And even if you leave the base to go into the actual town of Gila Bend? Yeah, not so much there either.

One of two options for grocery shopping. The other was a Family Dollar. Yeah.

One of two options for grocery shopping. The other was a Family Dollar.
Yeah.


We may or may not have increased the Old Crab population.

We may or may not have increased the Old Crab population.


See? Corner of Centipede and Fourth. That's where we are for the next few nights!

See? Corner of Centipede & Fourth. That’s where we’ll be until Saturday morning, when the next set of vultures can pull in as we pull out!

 

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