I have been driving by Camp Pendleton for decades, but I’ve never been on base until last week. I worried about getting off the freeway and hitting traffic, considering I was arriving at rush hour.
As I approached the exit from the 5 freeway, my fears were realized. The traffic sat backed up along the exit off-ramp. I groaned. But something interesting happened, something I’ve never seen at my Navy base. The line moved very quickly. Lightning fast. The Marine guards at the main gate waved us through efficiently and rapidly.
My directions were to drive along the main road, Vandegrift Blvd, for eight miles. Eight miles! What other base, other than Army bases, would you hear that?
The scenery on-base was just beautiful. I passed a ton of hills that I wanted to run. There were rivers and I thought I saw a sign to a lake.
In talking to a civilian (a ten-year Marine who left the service), he told me that there was a buffalo herd north of where I was going. And that it was the largest herd of buffalos west of the Mississippi River. Interesting. (Unfortunately, per this link, they had 147 head of bison back in 2008, which would not make it the biggest herd. But still.)
I finished my business and drove back the way I came. And I found myself staring at every other motorcycle. There were some Italian ones I’ve never seen before. Ducatis and big Ninjas. GSX-Rs and the like. Marines, like Sailors, love fast bikes.
Driving off base, four fire trucks and paramedics passed me. Lights ablazin’. I hope they were training and not actually responding to a real emergency. I did see two helicopters circling another part of the base. A drill, maybe?
It was good to finally get on-base at Camp Pendleton. But I really must bring my running shoes next time I go.