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Off-base activites build your CAF

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ -- The Critical Days of Summer draw near. I know that in our shop this kicks off a slew of safety briefings about how to minimize the chance of injuries and stay out of danger. However, this shouldn't discourage you from going out and exploring the Valley of the Sun.

Luke is an amazing base because of the surrounding areas where there are tons of outlets for relaxation, excitement and adventure. There are a few such opportunities that get underutilized and going beyond Luke's gates for a social gathering with friends or co-workers can be a great way to set yourself up to address the key pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness without even realizing it.

I know plenty of Airmen who live in the dorms who never get out on the weekends. Outside of work they don't align themselves with the social or mental aspects of CAF. Take them on one of these activities to give them an escape from the daily grind of the military lifestyle.

Baseball is widely known as America's pastime. Situated in the heart of downtown Phoenix is Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. There is nothing better than getting some cheap grandstand tickets and enjoying the atmosphere of Chase Field. They even have a promotion going that gives military members a 50 percent discount on Sundays. Even if you aren't a baseball fanatic, there is something there for everyone. Who doesn't like watching the D-backs legends race, rooting for Mark Grace to win?

If baseball isn't your thing, then head over to Mesa to enjoy floating down the Salt River. This "lazy river" is a popular attraction with good reason. There is something therapeutic about putting on a swimsuit and being whisked downriver under the Arizona sun. Tubing season started Saturday. Just remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a bag of marshmallows!

If being at the whim of a meandering river isn't your thing, try exploring one of the numerous state parks on foot. There are myriad websites devoted to the different venues available to get away from it all.

Though it's a longer drive, the Grand Canyon is definitely worth seeing while you're here. Pictures don't do it justice. Last November I went and saw the Havasu Falls situated just past the town of Havasupai. It's the only town in America where U.S. mail is delivered by mules, so it is a little bit of a hike, but the towering waterfalls make it worth it.

The point of all this is that these activities are just a drop in the bucket of what is available to do around the Phoenix area. The Bolt, published monthly by the 56th Force Support Squadron, is also a great tool for finding new activities. Get out to see what you are missing, and bring a wingman with you.