As it turns out Altus, is not the Maldives. Who would have thought, right? Well, it might sound funny but I came to Altus many different times before my husband actually PCSed here. I always referred to those TDYs as our “Altus Vacations.”
Truth is, it was a vacation. When he and I first met in 2009, he was rarely home. Dave was either deployed, TDY, or on crew rest. There were a few 7-10 day periods of time when, by some miracle, he was home uninterrupted, but for the most part he was flying on the other side of the world. So whenever he had to come to Altus for training, I made every effort to tag along. Not because Altus was the destination of my dreams, but because it’s where we could spend time together, without the mayhem of life at McChord and Charleston.
In all honesty, I was not thrilled to actually move to Altus. As many of my friends know, my job search was incredibly unsuccessful when we moved here. After our PCS to Altus, Altus no longer felt like a vacation from reality, like it used to be. Instead, Altus became home. Somewhere far from any good jobs for me, and a place to escape from.
That said, those “vacation like” qualities are still here! Really! And so below I’ve got 5 tips on:
How to make Altus your vacation!
1. Unwind up at the lake!
Once the weather cools off a bit, treat yourself to a light lakeside lunch at Lake Altus Lugert. You can pick up some quality cheese and picnic meat at the Commissary, or even Walmart if you look carefully.
It’s not Whole Foods but you also won’t spend your whole paycheck (if you have one of those…) My husband and I once stopped at Jersey Mike’s Subs and brought our sandwiches up to the lake. It’s definitely nice to enjoy some food with a water view, and your toes in the sand.
2. Stay active and take a hike!
While you’re up there near Lake Altus-Lugert, you can take a hike on one of the many hiking trails at Quartz Mountain Nature Park. The New Horizon Trail is my favorite because of the stunning panoramic view once you reach the top. It’s not exactly an easy hike, but it’s worth it. If you bring the kids, they should be pretty tired afterwards.
The Sundance Cafe at Quartz Mountain Resort offers a military discount, and has a very tasty “Hail Caesar” salad. Sundance Cafe also offers fajitas and margaritas on Thursday nights, a seafood buffet on Fridays, and BBQ buffet on Saturdays.
3. Enjoy the sky view!
Don’t forget to look up at the sky once in a while. I randomly saw a heart shaped cloud a few months ago. It vanished just seconds after I took the picture, but I was thrilled to have seen it.
Did you know there are over 64,000 posts on Instagram tagged with #oklahomasky? This is your chance to capture and share some amazing photos of your own.
4. Engage with the local community!
Engage, but try not to get argumentative. The “I hate Altus” vs. “Altus is amazing” war-of-words shows ignorance on all sides. The constant bickering is what has been happening for decades, and it’s not productive because everyone just stops listening.
I know it’s 100 degrees outside, but have a delicious Hawaiian shaved ice, and chill out.
We live here together.
My suggestion is to go out into the community, smile, be kind, say hello, and listen. Drop in at the Candlelight Lounge for some drinks. Engage in meaningful conversation with people you don’t already know. Seek out that common ground we all crave. You are not alone if Altus isn’t your favorite place in the world. That’s okay. I hear you! Also realize that other people come here and choose to stay forever. That’s okay too. We can all laugh about living in Altus, and we can all “leave Altus better than we found it.”
5. Take time for yourself and your friends!
I saved the best parts for last. Honestly, time with friends is my favorite part about living in Altus. We have many friends from previous assignments here, and they make Life in Altus worthwhile.
Not only do we know our neighbors, but we spend time with our neighbors. At McChord and Charleston everyone lived far apart, and due to the ops tempo, it was very rare that all our military service members were actually home at the same time. Now that we live in Altus, we can all meet up for dinner, and share a bottle of wine — or two or three — hey, don’t judge.
Every day can be cause for celebration with awesome people. Altus is a chance to develop friendships that you will genuinely miss one day when we all PCS or move on to new places.
Being at Altus AFB is also a self-improvement opportunity. Use your downtime to work on things that make you happy. You can grow your own food in a vegetable garden, become a better cook, enroll in some short-term classes at The Southwest Technology Center, or immerse yourself in a new hobby to pass the time.
It was during one of our many “TDY vacations” here that I decided to go back to college, when I was 27. A year later, I came back on another TDY with my laptop and homework. I spent my days at Wild Brew Yonder, trying to figure out why my code sucked. My husband would come find me at the FCC during lunch, and we would play Fast and Furious Super Cars. Every moment counts.
Enjoy your Altus vacation!