This weekend’s jaunt took me to Quantico Marine Base, where I hoped to visit the base airfield and the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS).  As with any trip to the eastern part of the county, this required a successful navigation of heavily trafficked roads.  The springlike weather made the trip very pleasant and may even have had a positive effect on the drivers, some of whom actually stopped to allow me to cross some congested areas.  I didn’t have any close calls with automobiles, which is always a welcome event.

After reaching the base, I made my way to the river and the airfield which sits alongside side it.  There were some great views at this point, but sadly photography of the airfield is prohibited.  Not wanting to spend the rest of my day in the brig, I kept my camera stowed and continued on to the OCS facility, about a mile further down the road.

I found the school to be vacant, probably because there is no class in session at the moment or possibly because the candidates are in the field at the moment.  The first thing I came across was a large “parade deck,” which the candidates no doubt spend many exciting hours on.  As an Army man, I was amused that the Marines would pave over a perfectly good parade field just so they could call it a “deck.”

These were the only occupants in evidence near the barracks.  They were not cooperative subjects and had an annoying tendency to turn their backs whenever I closed to take a picture.

On the opposite side of the barracks was an impressive obstacle course.  When the candidates are not drilling on the parade deck, they are no doubt amusing themselves on this.  Pictured is only a portion of the course, which runs for over a mile.  Good times.

As I left the school, I took the below picture.  I always feel compelled to take a photograph when I cross railroad tracks.  I guess I’m a sucker for the “disappearing into the horizon” image they provide.

My trip home was uneventful.  The entire route was only 27 miles and was happily devoid of the drama which I endured during last weekend’s ride.  I returned home with plenty of fluid and I had increased peace of mind brought about by this handsome addition to the contents of my saddle bag.  I suspect it will be many months before I need my emergency stash of money, so it is folded neatly inside a ziplock bag to protect it from the elements.

24 thoughts on “OCS

  1. Steve, as you know, I was working at Quantico this fall when I contacted you to get a local ride. The “real” OCS action is in the beautiful and massive western part of the base with their BEQ’s (bachelor enlisted quarters), barracks for you Army types and is this is where they are trained to be combat leaders. I will have to say, I was incredibly impressed by these college grad officer candidates as they were physically fit, highly motivated, disciplined, and intelligent. In auditing military bases in all the services and being a life -long civilian, my observation is that our entire military is very well trained and motivated. Marine parade grounds are “decks” as are the floors of their buildings, stairwells are “ladder wells”, and all restrooms are “heads”. It is almost impossible to walk by any Marine on any base and not have them give you a salutation with “sir” attached to it. I obtained permission and almost every day during the afternoon I rode my bike in that massive western part of the base to the feel it in your chest “whoop” of 155 mm artillery. Nothing like riding to a cadence to heavy artillery.

    1. I work closely with Marines in my current job (and several work directly for me), so this was not my first exposure to the awkward placement of nautical terminology in what is clearly a shore-based operation. 🙂

      It does my heart good to read your observations on the military. It is similar to many other comments I have received from people with little/no connection to the military, most of whom expect to see the discipline but are pleasantly surprised to also find intelligence and nuanced opinions.

  2. I,m always amused when I read your reports about riding around military bases in the USA. My experience of trying enter the USA is that your security checks are insane, with the assumption everyone is a terrorist. Here in the UK we’ll let anyone in and frequantly do. However you can’t get near a miltary base for love nor money. I will be trying out your immigration service later this week as I visit my daughter in New Jersey. Wish me luck.

    1. Each day, over 1,500,000 people fly in the U.S. on over 25,000 commerical flights. Our experience is that slightly more than 20 people can destroy two sky scrapers and kill over 3,000 people amongst other mayhem to buildings of national importance. The trick is to figure out if 20 such people are flying today while minimizing the inconvenience to the remaining 1,499,980. Here’s hoping you enter the New World with a minimum of inconvenience and quickly find yourself driving on the wrong side of the road. Have a great visit! 🙂

  3. I’m glad someone else beat me to the Canadian joke. I really didn’t want to have to do it. I like the perspective of the railway, too. Makes me want to go someplace.

    1. There’s plenty of room in this space for Canadian jokes and no need to limit things to one joke per blog post. Please feel free to add to the fun!

  4. So glad you had such good spring weather at the weekend. Here in the south of the UK, we are drought-afflicted (meaning we have restricted use of water) but this April has been the wettest April since 1910, with floods hitting many parts at the weekend. A friend in another club had entered a race and……….well, take a look at the post on his blog, especially the video-clip: http://velorichard.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/rutland-melton-cicle-classic-even-the-spectators-dnfd/

    1. Stay dry, my friend. I’ve been on a few rides like the one in the video, but only a few and I certainly don’t intend to make them a habit!

  5. I grew up next to railway tracks and always have the urge to see how far I can balance on the rails, a favourite past time when we were kids. It just occurred to me while typing this that it would be fun to cobble together a conversion kit so a person could pedal a bike on the rails.

    1. Pedalling on rails seems extraordinarily dangerous to me. Would your kit include an emergency warning siren and ejection seat? 🙂

      1. Fascinating on many levels, not the least of which is that someone not only has thought of your idea, but has built the contraption and ruined it as well. Although the idea appears to be out there, clearly it needs refinement and I think you’re the right man for the job! I suggest we change the siren so it warns of an impending derailment vice an oncoming train. I thought the designer’s description of his derailment was hilarious!

  6. I just want to say its good to see all that clear blue sky. We didn’t see any at all in April apart from a brief glimpse yesterday.. its good to know its still up there somewhere, i was beginning to doubt !! 🙂

    1. Remember that glorious April you enjoyed last year? I think you may have used up your allocation for nice spring weather. Here’s hoping your May balance is in better shape.

  7. I’ve always enjoyed many a long ride on the western side of the base, completely car free for endless miles with naught but turkey and deer to keep me company. FABULOUS RIDING! I’m so honored to be a service member and have easy access to it.

    1. I need to get over there more often. It’s a bit of a chore for me, having to traverse the Rte 1 corridor or Joplin Road (with two car deaths in the last six months) but it would be great once I got there. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your service!

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