Around Beale

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., -- This is my 5th year at Beale, and I still believe that no place in the Air Force beats this base or its location. I know some people disagree with that, and that's okay. However, I'm going to take this opportunity to discuss some things that being at Beale offers, and hopefully persuade some people to try to discover some things about this area and themselves.

The central valley of California is an ideal location to reach everything almost any American could want to do. The coast is a couple of hours away. The mountains are closer. Stating the obvious, right? Transportation is a minor challenge that is easily overcome with a plan. Have you considered taking the Amtrak train into San Francisco? It runs from Colfax, Rocklin or Sacramento. Or, if you prefer to drive to the Bay area, consider taking the Baylink ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco and skip all that traffic. Parking at the ferry dock is free and secure. The price of the ferry ride is less than you'd pay for parking in San Francisco. Dare I mention the opportunities of staying in a hostel in San Francisco? Don't knock it until you've looked into it recently. They are stylish and offer private rooms with bathrooms. The days of sparse, open-bay dorms are all but gone.

Have you ever visited Empire Mine State Park that takes its visitors back to the California Gold Rush days of the mid-1800s? It's the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California, and is just a 25-minute drive up to Grass Valley. If you're looking for some outdoor adventure, but don't want the crowds of Yosemite, head north less than 3-hours to Lassen Volcanic National Park near Redding. You'll be surprised by this well-kept secret and it doesn't get the heavy traffic that Yosemite gets.

If you're of legal age and are into wine, of course there are world-class wineries at our front doorstep. Better yet, you can make your own wine for pennies on the dollar here. It's a lot simpler than you might expect because some wineries sell their grape juice after having done all of the growing, harvesting, chemical analysis and preparation for wine-making. They'll even sell you the yeast and barrels that you'll need.

Do you want to learn to skydive, paraglide or other type of flying? That's all within a 35-minute drive of Beale. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay for some of it, too. Maybe you want to get a professional certification to bolster your skills and give you a competitive edge over your peers. It's probably offered at one of the various schools between Yuba City and Sacramento and probably could be paid for with GI Bill benefits.

The diverse combination of awesome missions that we have here is only the beginning of how an assignment to Beale will truly enrich your life. I've hit on just a few things available to us, but the Beale Outdoor Adventure Center can help you find much, much more. Please take the time to truly discover this area while you are here, and enjoy your life around Beale.