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Your Patuxent River Area Guide

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Nestled near the tip of Southern Maryland lies Naval Air Station Patuxent River better known as PAX River, home to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), it is called the place where the future of naval aviation begins.

While being in the forefront for naval aviation is NAS Pax River's claim to fame, the area itself holds a unique charm and beauty. With a host of restaurants, chain and independently owned, parks, beaches and lively community, the area known as St. Mary's County is not one to bore. It has the small city with a touch of country charm that appeals to those who love the city and those who feel more at home in the country. It's just over an hour from our nation's capital and two hours from Baltimore.

ARRIVAL AT PAX RIVER

When you first arrive, you can stay at the pet-friendly Navy Lodge or the Navy Gateway Inn. If those are not available, there are a host of hotels out in town that are military and pet-friendly.


HOUSING

Housing is abundant. Owned and operated by Lincoln Military Housing, Pax River has six housing areas in all. The three located on base are:

• Lovell Cove – newer with 3-4 bedroom spacious homes
• Carpenter Park – historical and renovated, also hosts 3-4 bedrooms
• Gold Coast – Officers housing – lies in the heart of the Patuxent River

For those looking to live off base, there is:

• Glen Forest – right outside of Gate 2 with 2-4 bedrooms
• Challenger Estates – 10-15 minute drive from the main base – officer single family homes and enlisted duplexes ranging from 3-4 bedrooms
• Columbia Colony – Officer housing right behind Target – single family homes with 3-5 bedrooms – about 5-10 min from the main gate.

You can check out more info on Pax River Housing here.

SCHOOLS

Schools are highly rated and are all a part of the St. Mary's County School District where per their website "Over 94% of our students graduate ready to take on the challenges of college or careers. With almost 18,000 students, our school system is large enough to offer a wide variety of academic programs and services, yet small enough to maintain an atmosphere of friendliness, helpfulness, and personalized service."

With a host of early childhood education programs, 19 elementary schools, 5 middle schools and 4 high schools, there is room for your children no matter their grade level. There are also abundant extracurricular activities for your students to explore their hobbies and interests. For more information, head over to St. Mary's County Schools to gain more insight.

PARKS AND BEACHES

Probably the BEST part of St. Mary's County is the parks and beaches! They are plentiful and there is one of each to suit every need. Lancaster Park located on Willows Road right outside of Gate 2 has two dog parks for both large and small furry family members. Other amenities include a beautiful jogging trail, football fields, basketball hoops and baseball fields. It is also home to the Little League football team the Pax River Raiders!

NAS Pax River has some of the best parks in the area. Many are nestled on the beach n base (more on that in a minute) or in hidden areas. They are all clean and all provide seating areas, grills, and a scenic view. Who knew?! St. Mary's River State Park is $3 per vehicle. It boasts a long trail that you can walk, ride a bike or horse on, or have access to the water. Nicoleti Park is $2 per person per day. They also have the option to purchase season passes for the family or single individual. This park is a water fun type that has plenty of spray and fountain fun for the kiddies to enjoy.

There is also Greenwell State Park where admission is on the honor system. It hosts trail rides and a historical home where weddings take place. It is also a favorite spot for those that like to fish and for photographers who enjoy the scenic setting for their clients.

My absolute favorite park, Pointe Lookout Park is the gem of the parks in the area. It sits at the southern tip of Maryland and hosts not only a park, but a fabulous beach as well. There are plenty of spots for fishing, camping and just all-out family fun. There are 143 wooded campsites and 6 camper cabins available for overnight stays. Did I also mention this park is also a civil war museum? All around the park there are historical markers to educate you on how that area participated in the war. We have been twice in two years and have yet to touch it all. Admission varies and it's on the honor system.

Speaking of beaches, remember when I mentioned that the Base has a great one? I was not kidding. NAS Pax hosts a gorgeous beach along the back end of the base. It also has a beach house that has a private beach as well.

PAX RIVER WEATHER

Maryland experiences the four distinct seasons of fall, winter, spring and summer. Winters are relatively mild with an average snowfall for the region of 14 inches with most of it falling in January and February. Summers are hot with high temperatures reaching 87 in July. Mild temps stick around in September and October, but by Halloween the fall foliage is in full view with the vivid colors of autumn.

ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOPPING

A host of restaurants along the main strip (Three Notch) include: Outback, Applebee's, Texas Roadhouse, and Olive Garden. There is also the local owned and loved Linda's café who makes the BEST breakfast in SoMD and Bollywood Marsala, a fabulous Indian restaurant that never disappoints. There are plenty more restaurants in the area to please your palate.

Shopping isn't sparse either! While the closest mall is 45 mins away in Waldorf, MD, there are still PLENTY of shops! JC Penny, Belk's and Kohl's are the major Department stores in the area, along with a Target, Wal-Mart, Marshalls, Ross, Best Buy and a slew of other stores. The Base also hosts a Navy Exchange (NEX) for service members to take advantage of savings on otherwise high priced products. For groceries, there is a small commissary. Weis is coming soon to replace two local Food Lions. There is also a Giant, Aldi, and Shoppers which offers a 10% military discount on total purchases on Mondays and a 15% military discount on Shoppers brand products all other days and a Harris Teeter coming soon.

DAY TRIPS

• Washington D.C., – 85 miles; 1.5-hour drive
Monuments, Smithsonian, the White House, history comes alive at the Nation's Capitol!

• Annapolis, Maryland – 85 miles; 1.5-hour drive
Gorgeous town, quaint restaurants, and the Naval Academy!

• Philadelphia, PA – 185 miles; 3.5-hour drive
Make like Rocky and take a run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. History comes alive on Independence Mall and at the Liberty Bell and local Philly cuisine is available at the historic Reading Terminal Market.

• St. Michael's, Maryland – 112 miles; 2.5-hour drive
Maryland's Eastern Shore features crabs and scenic water views like no other!

• Lewes/Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – 150 miles; 3.5-hour drive
More beaches! Bring your lotion and your bathing suit and enjoy!

All in all, NAS Pax River is a great place to be stationed. You can enjoy 'quiet city living' all while not being too far from the big city to get your thrill. And this is coming from a big city Girl!
Welcome To NAS PAX RIVER!

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

You have orders to Southeast Arizona! Living out west may be going home for you or, like many military families, it might be a brand new adventure. Living in a desert climate can be quite a different experience if you have never done it before. Knowledge of Arizona geography is usually limited to the Grand Canyon, Phoenix and maybe Tucson. In fact, if you have orders to Fort Huachuca (Sierra Vista), you might have to really search the map. Southeast of Tucson you say? Is there really something southeast of Tucson in the US? Sure enough, and it's called "High Desert" which is something you may not even know exists! We have put together some information we hope will help you learn more about this desert area you are about to call home!

IMPORTANT INFO

Snowbirds – Arizona has a huge retirement community. From military retirees to golfers, there is a definite influx of an older generation when the snow starts hitting the northern states. It isn't a huge deal as rush hour traffic isn't that bad to start with in most areas, with the exception of the Phoenix area. The real challenge is that the base pharmacies are not staffed for these military retirees, so starting in October there are generally longer lines. Oh, and for those who are looking for off-season tee times, that happens in July in Arizona.

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Maybe you've been able to avoid the assignment for several years, or have been dying to move to the area, but now the orders are official! If you are depending on a typical duty station experience, you may be disappointed. Most agree the National Capital Region is unlike any duty station you've had in the past.

Get ready to enjoy this unique experience full of history, politics, inside the beltway traditions and patriotism like you've never seen before! After you read the rundown of the Nation's Capital below, head to PCSgrades.com for neighborhood reviews with photos and maps to help you pick the perfect part of town for you.

WHERE IS THE PENTAGON?

While you may hear people say they are PCSing to Washington D.C. for an assignment at the Pentagon, this unique building is actually located across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. You've seen large bases and posts but when you park at the Pentagon, it gets tricky remembering your parking space among the 67 acres of parking lots, which accommodate over 8,700 vehicles.

The Pentagon itself is indeed impressive. This concrete structure featuring seven floors, two below ground and five above, is the largest office building in the world, covering 34 acres. It is double the size of the Empire State Building. Nearly 30,000 military and civilian employees share 691 water fountains and 284 bathrooms. There are no elevators in the Pentagon. Ramps accommodate those moving from floor to floor. Pentagon tours are offered which are always a hit with out of town guests.

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PCSing to coastal California is a dream assignment to some: beautiful weather, an abundance of things to see and do, and the Pacific ocean! And yes… there is also a higher cost of living than many areas you may have lived before. It means being stationed at the home of the 1st Marine Division, the oldest, largest and most decorated division in the United States Marine Corps. It's a large installation, spanning more than one county, and can be a different experience for many military families. So let's dive in and explore your new duty station, then head over to PCSgrades.com to for reviews for base housing, neighborhoods, and more!

WHERE IS CAMP PENDLETON

Camp Pendleton is nestled up against the Pacific Ocean, in between Los Angeles and San Diego, and sandwiched between Oceanside to the south, San Clemente to the north, and Fallbrook to the east. It boasts a coastal climate, with average low temps dipping into the 40s and highs reaching into the 80s.

Interstate 5 runs the entire length of Camp Pendleton against the Pacific, and Interstate 15 runs alongside the base to the east. I5 and I15 are connected south of the base by highways 76 and 78.

The Coaster is a commuter train that runs from Oceanside straight through San Diego and travels right next to the water. The Sprinter is a commuter train that runs from Oceanside inland to Escondido.

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So you've accepted orders and are PCS'ing to Texas A&M at College Station. Gig'Em! Here's the information you need to make your A&M tour rock:

PERTINENT INFO

College Station is one half of a set of twin cities known as Bryan-College Station. The twin cities are the 11th largest metropolitan area in Texas, but you wouldn't know it from the town itself, as it is cleverly disguised as a small college town surrounded by farmland and ranches.

Bryan-College Station (BCS) rests quietly in Central Texas, roughly 2 hours north of Houston, 2 hours east of Austin, and 3 hours south of Dallas. It boasts a subtropical climate, with average low temps dipping into the 40s and highs reaching into the triple digits.

The local area sees rain year round, with July averaging 2 inches of rain, and October averaging about 5 inches. Winters are mild, lasting approximately 2 months, and summers are long, generally warming up early March and staying hot until mid-October.

BCS is smack dab in between I-10, I-35, and I-45, with highways 6, 21, and 190 branching out from the BCS area to meet the interstates.

There is a small local airport, Easterwood Airport. It regularly has flights to and from Dallas and Houston and is open from 4am to 11pm.

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Your Fort Belvoir Area Guide

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The Fort Belvoir homepage states: "A list of the organizations who call Fort Belvoir home reads like a 'Who's Who' of the Department of Defense." Often in the shadow of the Pentagon, there is perhaps no other Army installation in the world that can compare to Fort Belvoir's diverse mix of commands, activities and agencies. This northern Virginia military installation provides logistical, intelligence, and administrative support to a wide range of United States military organizations.

Here is out list of all the things you need to know before relocating to northern Virginia.

WHERE IS FORT BELVOIR?

The main post is located off Interstate 95 (exit 166), 12 miles south of Washington, D.C., 9 miles south of Alexandria, 7 miles north of Woodbridge, and 5 miles west of Lorton.

Fort Belvoir is home to nearly twice as many workers as the Pentagon and is the largest employer in Fairfax County. The post is actually comprised of three geographically distinct properties: the main post, Davison Army Airfield, and the Ft. Belvoir North Area.

Agencies headquartered at Ft. Belvoir include: the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Acquisition University, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, the Defense Technical Information Center, the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, the United States Army Military Intelligence Readiness Command, the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, all agencies of the United States Department of Defense.

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