Pros and Cons of Living in Ridgecrest, CA

Posted on July 18, 2007. Filed under: california, death valley, desert, Desert Life, Kern County, Lancaster, Ridgecrest, West Coast |

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I’ve noticed that a lot of our readers feel very firmly one way or the other about life in Ridgecrest; it’s either awesome, or the pits. So I’ve decided to jot a few notes about the Pros and Cons of Life in Ridgecrest, California. To give a little background, I’ve lived here for almost 2 years, I’ve also lived NY, FL, and NV. As always, these topics are meant to start a discussion, so feel free to post your opinions here!

The Base, and all it provides
No Traffic
Community Charities, Community Events
Inyokern Airport (yep, you can get out pretty fast if you have too)
The Night Sky in Inyokern
Mild Winters
Reasonable Housing Costs
Reasonable Utility Costs
Wild Horses
An Amazing Horizon (that I never get tired of)
Reasonable Horse Boarding
Lots of Outdoor Activities (shooting, riding, hiking, rafting, climbing, dirtbikes)
High Speed Internet
Good Coffee Shops All Around

Swamp Coolers
Tax Shelters Posing as Small Businesses
Big Fishes in a Tiny Pond
No Night Life
Lack of Fashion
Lack of Healthy Food
Insane Prices on lots of retail items: Cars, Hay, Cereal, Produce
California Emissions Laws
Wind That Doesn’t Stop for Days

Ok, I think that sums up my thoughts. Do you guys think I missed anything major?


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102 Responses to “Pros and Cons of Living in Ridgecrest, CA”

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The pros outweigh the cons. And it’s not too much of a drive to shop in Palmdale or escape the heat by going to Lone Pine,Independence,etc. I do wish that Ridgecrest had a Trader Joes. I would do ALL my shopping there.

You missed a couple of obvious pros, GF. (1) You (and me too in Trona) are surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains that grew up on this planet. I am almost 62 yrs old and the sight of them still makes me go “ooooooooooooh!” when I step outside. (2) You know the majority of the people around you and can rely on most of them to watch your back as you watch theirs. I have lived in places where if I needed help, I would have screamed “Fire”. Screaming “Help!” was a sure way to watch lights go out all over the street you were on…notice I said street? Some places you don’t have neighbors…just folks who live on the same street as you do.

Thanks for sharing this forum with us, Missy.

Ruthie Lancaster

Oh, yes I love the mountains. Last year I flew in my little 17 year old sister from NY, and it blew her mind, the vastness of the desert, and the sky and the mountains. I think you’re right about neighbors too. But I will say this place is pretty “clique-y” and though your house wont burn down, social networking takes a long long time. Look at how difficult it is for new folks in town, who aren’t government employees, to get jobs. You pretty much have to know someone.

Cons… Swamp Coolers? I miss the smell of the turn up and the new pads each season. mmmmmmmm. I miss the smell of a desert rain. There is nothing like it :o)

I was born and raised in Ridgecrest, Burroughs Class of “82”, and still, to this day, consider it Home and one of the best places on earth. The desert has a beauty all it’s own and like no other. I left R/C 11 years ago for the birth of my 1st Grand-daughter. After that, there was no coming back, according to my wife.

Heat is noted as a CON… I will take the desert heat, dry, vs. this Tennessee Humid Heat any day. At least one can breath.

I miss Ridgecrest. I miss the Mountains & wide open spaces and the wind. I miss the location & the sunsets, the people and friends. Thank God for technology! I can keep in touch. I can see that changes in the town. I hate seeing all the hate & discontent being presented about R/C. There is good and bad with everything in this world. Happiness is not a destination but a State of Mind. I watched R/C grow and evolve. So many memories. Being a Desert Rat, I guess the desert is not for everyone. In MHO, if ya don’t like it, move on. This is the USA. Go where ya want. Be Happy!

In the words one spoken to me, “If you ain’t happy, it’s your own damn fault” Mighty words of wisdom from a great person. Simple yet dead on!

Ridgecrest is and always will be Home. I look forward to my next visit very soon.

Swamp Coolers
Desert Heat
Fresh Air
The People
The Places
The Community
Desert Culture
Road Runners
Desert Wild-life
Desert Vegetation
Jack Rabbits
WIDE open spaces
Dirt roads
The ability to get lost and not see another person for days
Grandeur & Beauty of the endless Sunsets
Snow fall in the Desert
NO Malls
Small and Family owned businesses
Night Life

California Politics


Here’s a pro re living in this area. You can have endangered Mojave Desert tortoise for pets. I have two who frankly have become my best friends other than my ten rescued cats and Ms Packrat who lives in the woodpile in my back yard. My tortoise are licensed with the California Department of Fish & Game. You can get them licensed for only ten bucks but seeing as I’m from classy Orange County I donated $250 to the tortoise rescue thingie and feed my tortoise a smorgasbord of primo veggies,etc twice daily.

Ronnie, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree; my husband did some maintenence on our swamp cooler this past weekend, and YUCK I hate the smell of new pads! I don’t know what you mean by nightlife either… maybe it was different when you were here. I’m with ya on the Jackrabbits and all the awesome wildlife for that matter, and on California Politics.

I feel that the Heat is a pro because it keeps out a lot of the riffraff. Just wish LA, Bakersfield and San Bernardino County would quit sending all their welfare trash this way, sure would lower the crime rate.
Lack of humidity is definitely a plus as well as the lack of mosquitoes and other biting insects.
Even though I don’t like the long drive to the next city I feel that the distance is a plus because it makes a nice barrier between us and the crime problems that cities like Bakersfield, Lancaster/Palmdale, and Victorville have.
The lack traffic problems is also very nice however, putting up with the weekend Mammoth commuters is definitely a con. I seldom drive south on 395 that I don’t see at least 1 near miss due to unsafe passing by people only interested in an early arrival to their funeral.

From a San Bernardino transplant: I moved here in 1980 from “Down Below”. I left Berdoo because I had a good job offer here in R/C, even though I had never been here before.
I have been here for 27 years, raised my 2 daughters and even retired here. “I’M GONNA STAY”. My Swamp Cooler works just fine for me, I don’t mind driving out of town for a Dr’s appt., cause I know when I come back into town I have left the RAT-RACE of the big city. My youngest daughter just came back to this tiny town after living in Las Vegas (Sin City) for several years and asked if she could move in with me as she was tired of the Vegas scene.
Where else can I go to bed at night and leave my door unlocked??????

My only comment is that we are often told to shop local and some of my shopping local has gone real well, however I have found that when I need an item and only one shop can provide this item it can cost me up to three times the desirable amount. I have no problem using local businesses do not get me wrong nor do I dislike R/C for I have lived here for most of my life, being born in Lone Pine, Ca. However when said above occurs,it does tend to iritate me, also I have found that some business will quote a price and when you pick item up it tends to run a larger price, sometimes I wish business had a little more integraty. I also wish locals would show a little more pride in the city. I commend the city or businesses on Balsam street for displaying the flag.
Thank you for your time
T. Willikers

Well I think there is something very, very strange about your little Ridgecrest, folks. There is some… secret you are all sharing, and it isn’t that life there is so good there. It’s a little freakish. I am well-acquainted with desert towns, and yours, dear readers, is different than all of them. To be quite frank, there is something devilishly wierd and maybe even dangerous about your little grayish… beige dusty dirtville; something that is hidden in the wind and unspoken – beautiful…maybe. Quiet….oh, yeah. Odd…definately. Hidden, most certainly. Something like… you’re all abductees or grays or walkabouts. Or maybe that government-supported life has left you all feeling secure, but very dominated. It’s a Eureka-town. It should feel friendlier than it does, or it should be larger than it is. I always get the feeling that something is going on there that everyone has agreed to shut up about. It’s in the eyes of everyone you meet there. Creepy. I’m keeping an eye on you. Search engine is ON.

to Notamused: I agree with you. The more I learn about how things work out here in the desert the more I get the creeps. There’s two basic choices. Join the herd or view it all from a distance as a non-participant conceptualizing independently. There are natural wonders out here to boggle the mind. And societal traps to be avoided at all costs.

Notamused, here is an observation of mine, and an opinion only about the wierdness you sense. Without China Lake, this town would shrivel up. There is no other industry here. So, you have a great amount of High Educated, High Income families, living side by side with drug addicts sent from other cities. These two groups dislike eachother tremendously. The group you miss seeing, that makes up so much of the brilliant life of other places, are the 20 or 30-something movers and shakers. They are not here, because they SEE that there is little opportunity for an entrepreneur, they SEE that without China Lake they are done for. They SEE that in Nevada you could run a business for a fraction of the cost.

Now, that’s not to say we don’t have 20 to 30 somethings here, their goal is to work on base, not create their own empire. So the wierdness you feel, in my opinion, is the lack of a buffer between two social classes that can’t get along, yet have no choice but to tolerate the other.

Just my opinion.

to dailyindependent: There’s another element to living in small,desert communities. Small-town mentality/social structure. I’ve been told dozens of times by Tronians to get with the program or suffer the consequences. “There’ll be times you need help. The townsfolk will help you or they won’t help you,your choice. You don’t want to be alone,do you?”. The statement is exactly what it looks like,a threat. Conform go what the townsfolk demand of me or face harm to myself and/or my property.

Daily Independent, do you really mean to lump your city into two classes? That simply does not make sense. What class do your small business owners come under? Certainly not imported drug addicts and most of them don’t come under the extreme high income either…least ways my boyfriend doesn’t lol. Which class do the students that attend Cerro Coso while holding down usually low paying jobs come under? What about people who have worked and lived there all their lives and have retired on fixed incomes or a little better? They don’t fit into either class either but everyone of these groups help make up the culture of your town and make it what many people I have read in your guestbook call home. All you have to do is just look between the pages of your own newspaper to see the rich diversity of your city.

And Poor Fred…Why do you see threats everywhere you look? The fact is no one really cares enough to threaten you. Most of us find you laughable.

I hear what you mean Ruthie, but you’re kinda proving my point a little, ie. how many of the business owners are in their 20s – 30s? And the students going to Cerro Coso aren’t going there to be able to work at a retail store forever, they will be either be working on base, or heading out of town.

I’m not lumping EVERYBODY into 2 classes. I, personally, fall between the categories. Maybe that’s why I notice it.

I’m not trying to be negative. I don’t hate the place! I’m just saying, when you’re at the grocery store, you may see 2 families that WILL NOT NOTICE EACHOTHER, even if they bump carts. Maybe it’s not a merely a class issue, it’s an age issue as well, I’m thinking.

Your point about people at the market really caught my attention. While I don’t live in Ridgecrest, I do shop there. I’ve always pretty much been one of those people who do not understand the concept of the word “stranger” and chatter away to people everywhere…markets, especially. Most people just chatter right back but once in a great while I get someone who gives me that “deer caught in the headlights” expression and sidles away or even just looks past me and not say a word. They make me kinda sad but then I just spring right back and chatter to the next person…however, I bet i will be taking a longer and harder look the next time that happens. It will be interesting to see which group they look like they will fall into.

Being (almost) 62, I have to admit that most of the business owners that I know personally are older but then I really don’t know many of them in Ridgecrest. Here in Trona, every new business that has opened up in the last 3 or four years have had young owners…the Barkers are in their 30s…Crystal’s Nails owner is probably younger than 30 and I have no idea of how old the young couple who has taken over the Desert Holly coffee place is but I think they are in their 20s also.

I guess like you, I fall between the category cracks. I’m a poor but honest 61 year old Cerro Coso college kid who works at two libraries (parttime to make my meager living)and am still fighting that demon spawn, Al-Gebra to get my AA in Social Sciences. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be having this much fun tho…but ain’t life a BALL?

In Ridgecrest it seems to be very not-done to be flashy, to wear high-end designer clothes or expensive jewelry. Expensive cars and oversize houses will draw comment, generally not admiring. I suspect it is a combination of the engineering and the outdoor lifestyle. Both emphasize practicality over appearance. People who do try to import the big city look stand out here like sore thumbs, and are probably not very comfortable. I agree that most of the younger people with ambitions leave, but sometimes they come back with families after they realize how good of a place this is to raise children. And that may be part of the atmosphere too: this is a very family-oriented place, to the point that I suspect single people feel a bit left out.

I feel that RC had a lot more class in the 60’s than it does now. More entertainment. And I really feel that a lot of members of a certain religious group needs to keep their opinion to themselves because they like to berate people publicly and it turns off many others to them. It’s like “christianity” run amok.

And that base, well, it seems that if you’re not ‘civil service’, you’re ostracized unless you’re some big-bucks business in town. Jewel in the Navy’s crown? Let’s face it, we haven’t won a war in 62 years so get off of your high horse, China Lake civil servants.

People were much looser back in the 60’s than they are now. They need to learn to get along with others. And more importantly, 2/3’rds of the world is not christian.

to Chesus: The Daily Independent publishes those freakazoid,Hooterville religious rants because it gives us normal readers the biggest hoot we’ve had since visiting the Long Beach Pike amusement park.

Just because some r/c residents are christians dont make them fanatics anymore than athiests are. Secondly our nation was born on a Christian foundation check out the founding fathers. A nation without a form of religious beliefs will sink. As far as r/c is concerned there is equal number of bars to churches, I believe earlier comments concerning the meths and not meths neither speak to the other. I hope you get a good laugh over this Fred.
T. Willikers

I’ve always been a realist. I was six years old in 1952 when I realized the adults who laughed at childrens’ belief in Santa Claus felt comfortable with their own invented diety. Religion whether it’s organized or some guy pounding a drum in Africa is all based upon superstition,fear,ignorance and especially control. It diminishes the real life we have in favor of getting 72 virgins after we’re dead. Good luck to you visiting an afterlife Disneyland after brain death. Ain’t gonna happen,Bubba.

Only the dead people knows what happens after death all of us speculate to our beliefs.

I firmly believ there is a golden time after we hit 50 till Alzheimers hits us during which we are in effect,gods to the rest of humanity. We have nose hair,liver spots on our wrinkled skin. Yet we are to humanity what queen bees are to the hive. We are what keeps human civilization in decent health. We are evolution’s decisive factor that brought humanity thru the time of the dinosaurs thru the Great Extinction to today. In today’s World perhaps especially in America we are under attack. Our voices silenced. Intelligent minds must ask why,for what purpose?

Because seniors know more than my generation know were going to repeat our mistakes and no one wants to know that. Age spots well everyone whos lived in the desert has that. Saging only is character thats what my 97 year old friend use to say. Spots,scars and sagging means intelligence by trial and error. See my generation is error and point the finger. If you make a mistake and say the wrong thing its your parents, the tv, music etc.’s fault. I say own up to it and move on so what if your wrong,everyone makes mistakes its all in how you handle them if you grow from them its great. This last year in my life has been hard lots of esperiences but my best time has been learning to say sorry and truely mean it. Learning that sometimes you are not perfect, and sometimes the people around you arent either. Learning sometimes the times you have when its bad may be the best you have it. Learning how to blog, lucky you guys huh. Learning all those years of griping when I walked three miles and no pain to keep my weight down and grumbling about it only now to have my first step out of bed be excrutiatinig most days and two blocks right now equates out to a miracle. Learning that simple pleasures of sunsets and sunrises are great. Dinners with my parents are wonderful even if the spicy food is going to kill me because of my medications destroying my stomach. Meetings at church become a hen fest, sorry Ruthie look away ps these women are much younger than you. I personally feel my generation should go through what I have gone through once, it helps me understand what a prize you guys are. No sports cars, no ipods, no bose radios, dollar store foods and kmart. I ve learned if it aint fixable you rebuy but if its fixable keep it. Beans are great if fixed right, spagetti instead of cold cereal in the morning is great. Bologna and cheese with mustard and mayo is awesome,expecially Dollar Tree Store variety. Yard sales are good, the lost art of needlepoint aint half bad. Mending your clothes instead of throwing away is awesome. Better yet buying secondhand with shorts comfortably stretched is alright. If you cant do it say no and who cares what my generation thinks. You see they need to be thrown away with there potty mouths, credit cards and wastefull spending, over use of systems, lack of morals my shack to your shack to bed we go, drug adictions, and etc etc..

Perhaps conscription would help to straighten out the young generation of very spoiled youth. Why, they haven’t seen enough blood. It’s all about “me”, you know.

“Meetings at church…” = henfest. HA HA HA. YES. Gossip queens.

Oh they have seen plenty of blood violence they thrive on it. Your right our generation is the me generation.

Ridgecrest is a great place to live, especially if you have a technical background, as the primary employer is China Lake. Ridgecrest does need to expand it’s employer base, perhaps some light industry or customer service based employment, allowing a wider employment base.

Also, Cerro Coso needs to expand its vocational training programs as to retain our younger population by providing them local job opportunities. Expanding the nursing program would help as nurses are in great demand. Sadly, most of our younger citizens have to leave Ridgecrest to find employment.

We also need to expand services to the disabled and the elderly, if we wish to retain our older population. At one time it was proposed to make Ridgecrest a retirement community. Our climate is far better than Phoenix or Palm Springs and with adequate services we could develop a niche for retired citizens. If the nursing program was expanded, as mentioned earlier, we could increase care to senior citizens thereby enhancing our opportunities as a senior community.

We do have a wonderful hospital and the new pavilion is gorgeous! And the nurses at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital take outstanding care of their patients. I know because they have taken care of me.

We do have a small selection of medical doctors, but we could use more specialists. If we want seniors to stay in Ridgecrest we need doctors who specialize in senior health care.

As to the disabled, we need to develop more independent living homes and related services. We have few services available.

We could use some diversity when it comes to religious outreach, but most folks here do know what it means to go to Temple or to be Kosher. We are an educated bunch.

More plusses for Ridgecrest include clean air, a relatively crime-free town, little traffic congestion (unless you count our small morning/evening rush hour, a mostly well educated workforce, excellent recreation, good city services and most importantly friendly people.

Mary Ash
Been living in Ridgecrest since early 1971

I forgot to add…The Daily Independent’s name is a misnomer as it does NOT publish on a daily basis. If I remember right, the paper is published Tuesday through Saturday. No Sunday or Monday editions. I can remember when it was The Valley Independent or something like that…

To Mary Ash: RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You got it. Really. Good one. really.

Mary, right on about the name of the paper. Check it out though, next time you’re dining out somewhere, ask the wait staff if they have anything Kosher, even if you’re just dropping into… I don’t know… Subway or something. YES, we are blessed with many well educated individuals! I wish they’d work in the food service industry.

All I’ll say is that hell will turn to ice water before I ever spend another dime at Ridgecrest’s Honda motorbike dealer,one of the two heating/cooling outlets and one of the two furniture dealerships. That said I can put a Procol Harum CD in my lufly KMart stereo.

DI is correct in metioning our lack of facilities with Kosher eating. We need another ooutlet for work besides the base we have for far too long put all our eggs in one basket in our valley.

Fred, I’d recommend avoiding Frey’s Gunshop at all costs. The piggish owner likes to talk **** about customers in front of the other customers and he acts like a real snot. There’s friendlier places to shop.

As far as Kosher goes, who cares? Not enough of the population of RC cares. Best go to Westwood or some place close to that locale.

32) We should offer Kosher eating facilities but the problem is the need for a Rabbi to inspect said kitchen and then to maintain it. Very expensive for a small town. We used to have student Rabbi’s visiting the Base Chapel to provide services but I do not know if this is still available due to the small religious population needing such services. Perhaps the DI could do a story about religious facilities available for all faiths.

34) You are wrong about Ridgecrest. Most folks here do care and our tolerant of all faiths, beliefs, etc. That’s what I love about this town — people do care — and more often than not we do get along.


Cheese, I care, and I’m not even Jewish. I do have friends and family that are.

To #36. That’s quite fine. But then, why don’t you and certain others establish an eatery offering Kosher and other middle eastern fare? Do you think that there’s enough clientele in RC to support it?

I know of Jews in our community and would support a kosher resturaunt.

#38 Would there be sufficient volume of business to sustain such an enterprise?

I would think so vegans who look for no meat and fresh foods could use a resturant like that.

How many vegetarian or Kosher eateries can be found from Lancaster/Palmdale all the way to Bridgeport? Shouldn’t that give a clue as to their marketability and viability? Such inquiries should serve as a clue.

Also I know many RC residents who know what Kosher and a Temple are. MANY! But they’ve settled for just a dill pickle. May a mohel shave your beards and legs.

And what’s the current status on Drummond Medical Group?

to Chesus: I worry about that because I go to Drummond for my blood pressure meds and to pay $150 once a year to an elderly doctor who renews my meds prescription and tells me I’m dying. I told the old bugger I drink six beers on Saturday and he says I’m an alcoholic. That’s why I don’t tell him anything anymore except I’ve found geezuz,have cleaned up my life. This makes the old guy happy.

So what’s Drummond’s financial status? Well?

Chesus dont know the status of Drummond I go out of town. One time at RRH had 8 doctors over my bed not knowing what was wrong with and finally decided I had cancer. These 8 doctors were the top in their specialties in Drummond, to find out what was wrong I went to Southern Sierra and seen Dr Schumacher as a walk in and he knew right away and was wisked into surgery to fix the problem. If I would have went to them and their cancer doctor I would have internally bleeded to death.As far as Drummond goes the only Dr. I’ll see is Stemmer the rest I wont see. Heard and seen to many horror stories to continue to care about the group any more. If I need an MRI I see AIC in Lancaster for a common xray will have it done up north only seen at RRH for dire emergencies and I mean dire. My bone specialist is in Mammoth and he handles the olympic team and cost an arm and a leg too but is great and knows what he is doing and comes well recommended Ive played the guniea pig far too long to continue playing their games.

My BESTEST advice to this region’s realtors is not to ignore the numero uno attraction of leaving civilization to live in the desert. It’s an acidhead’s dream out here. That’s why I live in Trona. It’s rich republicans who’re buying houses out here and where do you think they came from? They all fwied their bwains on hallucinogenics during the 1960s,inherited their hard-working parents’ wealth. They naturally gravitate to Trona. I’m saying to the realtors there’s a vast,unexplored market out here. Go for it. Live in the desert. It’s a major head trip.

I like living in the desert and Im not on acid just chocolate. What I dont like is the smoke and today I heard you guys had ash in Trona yesterday morning? Thats really a large distance from the fire. The smoke was so bad that the sun went down at 5 pm and you never seen the sierras yesterday.

to Willkers: I went outside and starred at the smoke-enhanced sun/primo flashback for several minutes till I caught the neighbors looking at me funny. To be looked at funny by Tronians will put a scare thru anyone normal. I ran back inside.

OH WOW MAN!!! Easy journey to other planets. Let’s take off and go.

— A.C. Baktivedanta Swami Prabhubada

Oh Shucky darn, Fred…how would you know what scares anyone that’s normal? 🙂

Fred if your neighbors are looking at you funny you’d better lock your doors good after all the neighbors may take off with your pepperoni or there lookin to be you mate. The smoke bad today too, say the fires going to be out in september yeah right.

I agree with Ruthie duh Fred what is normal? For two days I’ve seen the sierras and its wonderful. Sherman Pass has afire so there is a little poof of smoke coming from that direction.

We just spent two weeks in Ridgecrest — from July 17th to July 31st. I grew up there. In 1980 I left after joining the Navy. I’ve been back most years since leaving. I still love the place.

Like any town, Ridgecrest has its imperfections and problems. But I guess after living in a big city for the past 27 years, I see what real problems are.

I don’t much get into politics and other things like that, so that’s never a worry for me. When I’m there, I spend a lot of time in the Sierras trout fishing. I spend time up in Indian Wells Canyon exploring. I spend time up in the Radamacher Hills breathing in the stark beauty of the high desert.

Maybe you all know how fortunate you are to live there. Seems like some here do, and some do not. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I never knew how good it was until I left. I hope to return in about 7 years. In the meantime, breath it all in for me. Step outside and check out the sun setting over Owens Peak and Five Fingers. One morning drive up on 395 and take in the sun rising over the valley. It’ll take your breath away. Here’s a link to my blog where you can read about and see pictures of our recent vacation there. It’s in three parts. If you’re interested, just follow the links at the bottom of part 1.–?cq=1&p=1283

Thanks John, I really enjoyed browsing your blog. Are you stationed at NAS JAX then? We hope you’ll stop back by and keep us “Posted” lol.

Thanks, Daily! I appreciate your taking the time to go have a look. I definitely love the IWV, and do plan on returning.

I’m not stationed at NAS per-se. I left the Navy in 1987. I do work as a civilian at NAS, but my actual job is at another former NAS in Jacksonville called Cecil Field. Unfortunately, Cecil closed in 1999. Up until then, we had THREE Naval Air Stations here. Now we’re down to two. Confused yet? LOL. In other words, my parent office is at NAS, but I work at Cecil Field.

And now that I’ve discovered this place, you can count on regular appearances from me.

John, I sure know Cecil Field. I lived in Jax from 96 – 99. Lessee, there was Hurricane Floyd, a fire that left 2 inches of ash covering everything out side, a nasty disease that ate up the intercoastal (they were calling it Red Tide, but it wasn’t, really). I’ll never live in Jax again lol, though I still have about 50 shark teeth from Ponte Vedra beach, and will keep them forever. Some fun times there tho, 5 Points and Club 5…

John thanks for the review. It was great and I love R/C and would never want to live any where else. I used to love hiking the Rademachers and looking at the Sierras take a drive on bowman road off of brown road at sunset heavenly. Try it in the spring with the flowers its great.

Hiya Daily. Ah-ha! A former Jacksonvillian! So you know about Cecil then. Did you know the mayor invited the Navy back in 2005, and the Navy was going to take him up on it? But then developers got to him and he suddenly withdrew his invitation. Worse, he got Hazouri and Ed Austin to go along with him in local advertisements before the citizens here voted in a referendum to return the Navy to Cecil. Well, that sealed the deal as about 60% of the voters sided with the mayor and former mayors. Now the westside is being developed beyond your wildest imaginations. Trust me when I say that if you have not been here since 1999 that you would barely recognize Argyle and the area just East of Cecil.

Anyhow, this is not about Jax, this about Ridgecrest/China Lake. I miss the place even worse with each visit back. You’d think after 27 years I’d get over it, but that’s just not the case. Most people that live there don’t realize how much there is to do there. You have to leave to understand. Certainly, if you’re not an “outdoors” type, then you’re going to be limited to your indoor imagination, but if you like to get out and enjoy the surrounding area, your possibilities are almost endless.

Mr. Deffes, I loved your pages and envied you your vacation. What an evocative writer you are. Thank you for your link and other additions to this page.

You’re welcome. Thank you very much for your kind words, T and Ruthie. I truly enjoy each trip to Ridgecrest and savor our time there. Each time I come, I never forget that I may never see the place again. You just never know.

Surely you all saw that Laura Pappas was killed on her way back to Big Pine. I did not know her, but a close friend did, so this terrible accident did touch my life. But what I mean to say is, Laura never anticipated being killed on her way back to Big Pine. Yet, she’s gone.

In case you did not notice while reading my blog, Big Pine is one of my most favorite places on planet earth. I have asked my wife, should I go first, to walk deep into the lower part of the canyon and scatter my ashes there.

Again, thanks.

Johnny D (#61) My grandfather prospected the El Pasos and Last Chance Canyon and knew both the Harts and the Armsteads way back in the 30’s. That’s where I’d like my ashes spread – all over the El Pasos and Black Hills. That’s where WE live always.

Your welcome Johnny D. I like the Paniments thats where my grandparent had mines they have beauty all there own.

to T. Wilikers: Using my ATV to explore the Panamints I’ve chanced across a number of old claim markers with campsite nearby sprinkled with broken pieces of purple glass. Dates these sites to the 1890s. I disturb nothing,take nothing. There are canyons I wish to explore but the Navy guys with M16s give me consternation. Eventually of course I will be unable to resist and will go into those canyons. It’s like Area 51. There’s probably buried sound sensors,infrared detectors and a whole lotta other stuff. I may have to make shoes with soles of cotton and wear a thermal blanket to sneak in there unbusted. If I do get busted I hope to be dragged in front of a military honcho to whom I can plead my case with success.

You crack me up Fred. Seriously Im glad your retrieving history and saving it for the next generation and I am proud of you. Yuck that hurt, just joking !!! Seriously do not go on navy land its not worth it.

I added a link to John’s photography sites, also available from the High Desert Life site (check the links area of the main page).

And you all probably thought I had disappeared. Well, I said I’d come back, and I have. I’ve just been really busy at my regular job. We were doing 12 hour days up until today, getting the latest Blue Angel jet ready to go. Anyway…

Thank you very much, Daily, for the link. What a nice thing to do, and totally unexpected. THANK YOU.

I love the Panamints! I can’t think of El Paso or Last Chance Canyon. I’ve heard the names, but the location escapes me. I’m sure I’ve been there, because both sound so familiar.

Honestly, do you all know how lucky you are to live there? Get out and enjoy it! For groove’s sake, get up tomorrow morning and go for a hike! It’ll be Saturday, so go for it! I’d love to go for a hike here, but I don’t feel like swinging a machete and clearing a path through the vines and spider webs.

It’s hot as heck here today!

Johnny D.:

Both the El Pasos and Last Chance are located south west of RC in the direction of Red Rock Canyon. Burro Schmidt’s Tunnel, Sheep Springs, Black Mountain, Rainbow Ledge – to name a few locales.

Listen even thought its hot and humid. The lightening show on thursday and friday was fantastic just great. It looked like it touched the mountains on thursday.
Pros of living here thunderstorms the cons are heat with them.

If you live in Ridgecrest you’re too close to Trona to sustain mental health. Don’t drive out here if you’re too weak to handle the shock.

Technically your closer to Death valley than I am in R/C. Secondly I have met quite a few nice people from Trona heck its sad to say but I think some of the businesses in Trona are nicer than R/C they seem to be friendlier. I dont have a mental shock when I go to Trona but I do have a craving for egg salad sandwiches though??? Plus I realise that Trona is like a methaphor its gone through great times, not so great times, awfull times and still is living and not a ghost town. In Trona there are people who truely like living there and truely care about it. Likewise there are those of us who love R/C. I am outspoken about Trona because without my families heritage there I would never have existed because my father would never have met my mother because he would still be living in San Diego. Trust me none of the men she liked are as good as my father.Unfortunately Ive had the pleasure of meeting them!!!! Whew thank god for my dad. Listen I know you think Trona is overwhelming but really its not you guys have a better library than us, a better school than us and a darn sight better pool than us. Your town has a small town feel to it where everyone knows your name , here everyone knows about everyone but no one speaks here heck there all related in R/C everybody is somebodys relative through marriage.

to T. Willikers: Small town life can be a canned hell. That everyone knows everyone else can and does mean more often than not the town becomes Black Rock from the 1950s movie Bad Day at Black Rock. Not long after arriving in Trona I was told flat out by one of it’s leadership that there’s a group here who control the town. Control it with the assistance of the Trona Fire Dept. and strong inference that Trona PD is in it up to their necks. I witnessed enough to believ there’s some truth in that. Pardon me for not bending over,accepting that situation. I basically told the group to kiss off. Result being my house has been egged,shot at,rocks thrown at it and numerous online threats. Latest attacks are from thrown,used tampons,maxipads and broken beer bottles. On a higher intellectual note the Tronians have poor problem-solving abilities. This is why Trona,today,looks like a garbage pit. Families from normal communities drive thru Trona and upchuck. It looks like a rotting,hillbilly village of the damned. That I’m the big problem for pointing out the obvious says all that needs to be said of Trona’s leadership,aboveground and hidden.

There was a time at least in the early 70’s that IMO Trona had way more class but perhaps less amenities than RC. I certainly like the Trona women better – being equally as educated as their RC counterparts.

Geeeeeeez Fred, To paraphrase The late and great Winston Churchill “Never in the field of human conflict, has so much stale trash been said to say so little to so many.”

In all the years, I have lived here I have never come across this secret leadership…cabal…underground control you keep darkly referring to. Never have I seen any indication Trona changing its name to Black Rock. BTW, that particular Bad Day was filmed at Randsburg or Red Mountain, (Can’t remember which) not Trona.

As for people driving thru and upchucking…you seem to be the only one who has seen them…Is it possible it is because they saw you too?

BTW Fred, pay attention. Aliens are coming to kidnap all the cute, good-looking people.

Don’t worry. You are safe…I just wanted to say good-by 🙂

to Chesus: The only way for Trona to regain lost glory is for it’s leadership to cut the crapola,face stark reality and deal with it bravely. It is the failure to do so that sent me off into paroxysms. Leadership here needs to be grabbed by the ears and slapped hard.

Hey Fred I agree that you should have the ability to express yourself without the childish behavior of used item and things being thrown at your house. Believe me I express myself all the time, your town is not beautiful in the business sense and is economically dependant on the chemical plant for income. On the other side of the coin is that R/C is dependent on the base without it we die. Believe me building wise ours are no more maintained than Trona. In certain areas of town the streets are similar to Trona ie criminal gardens and north of walmart. We got idiots here too and a few families who control the town as well. The reason we have no other large businesses here is a select few families blocked them from coming to our town. You see we have a few people who control our town too. As far as bending over and kissing ther fannies I dont but then I write under an assumed name so I dont recieve the presents you have. Here we have the drug connection if you piss a tweek off then you piss the whole towns tweeks off. Believe me I understand about nasty messages I recieve phone calls all the time because I pissed a prominate tweek off.
Oh well I figure they’ll over dose and it will be all over someday.

Fred Dear, you said “Leadership here needs to be grabbed by the ears and slapped hard.”

Feel free to try that, Darlin’ for 2 reasons. One, I would finally get to see who makes up this dark and dangerous “Leadership” and two, I would have the express pleasure of seeing you end up waggings someone’s foot like a tail.

Gosh, maybe we could sell tickets for the event?

I just wished that all the speed freaks and religious fanatics would go away. The town would be much better off without them business-wise.

I sure wish I could remember that little place in Trona we visited a couple of months ago after our stop at the pinnacles. As I noted in my trip report (see link in my post above), we were served the BEST fruit smoothies there! Does anybody know the place? They had a map on the back wall with pins stuck in it from visitors. We stuck one in there for Jacksonville, Florida.

Johnny D. The place you are talking about is the Desert Holly run by a young couple named Sandoval.

Funny that you commented on it again. Yesterday I told my gentleman friend that we needed to go by there because you had complimented it from one end of cyberspace to the other (If cyberspace can be measured that way. LOL) While we were there, I mentioned your compliment to the young lady in question and you would have loved to see how thrilled she was. (She is the young wife of the couple who owns it.)

I’m a blended coffee drinker but my friend, Len, totally agreed with your assessment of the smoothies.

Would that establishment have been the Trails Drive In located at the edge of Pioneer Point?

Here is a tool to determine pros and cons of Ridgecrest and Trona if you are into demographics.

No Chesus, I don’t believe the Trails does Smoothies. If you ever ate there, tho, you will be glad to know that their hurgers are still mouth watering delicious.

Finding a decent burger these days that tasted like they did in the 60’s is downright tough.

Hey Ruthie. Thank you! I can’t argue you with you over the name. If you say that’s it, it must be, because I have no idea! I do remember the map, and the beautiful panoramic photo of the pinnacles on the back wall. Tell the young lady thanks for me, and tell her that we will definitely be back!

Lovely that you feel that way, Johnny D. We have a map and pin set-up like that in the County Library just down the street.

Actually, the name of the place is the “Desert Holly Expresso”…don’t know how I left the last word off in my other post. You probably didn’t notice it because the major sign is on the South-west end of the building and not the front.

Mrs. Sandoval was really thrilled at your compliment. Her and her husband work hard to keep their business afloat. I was thrilled also…that is why I repeated it to her. LOL

Ridgecrest-gateway to death!

RC is just a bunch of self-righteous mormons and really dull rocket scientists who never seem interested in carrying a conversation.

Thanks, Ruthie. It does my heart good to know you told the husband and wife that we appreciated their little space in the world. We will be back.

As for rocket scientists, they can be quite entertaining. If you meet one at a party, plant yourself next to him or her and ask if they have any stories about mixing chemicals by trial and error. Entertainment is sure to follow.


Missy, Im “thinking” of moving to Ridgecrest for a job offer. But Im concerned about crime, esp drug crime. What is the drug use problem/crime like there?

You forgot that it’s Hell on Earth!

i know its a late comment but i am a college student in san diego that grew up in ridgecrest until 3 and half years ago. everytime i go home to visit family, i remember all the closeness of friends and the friendly people. and yes it is a culture shock since people are not trendily dressed, especially compared to a big city like san diego, and it sucks not being able to get a burrito at 2 in the morning, and when i went grocery shopping there was a huge lack of vegetarian options that i am used to and had to resort to a veggie burger which was a new experience since i had not been vegetarian for a long period of time and the last time in ridgecrest i wasnt, so i did not think finding good vegetarian food should be a problem. but i also miss the gorgeous sunsets, the mountain ranges, the quiet slower pace, but at my young age of 21 there is no future for me there which is sad, especially reading the comment about the rain and remembering the fresh rain smell. those are good memories.

It was fun growing up there in the 1960s and 1970s (born in Ridgecrest Community Hospital–remember all my old docs-Pinto, McBride) so I’m really, really a native, and graduated from Burroughs in 1979.

But I have to say I was fairly blind to some of the ugliness of the town. I’m sure it’s a fantastic place if you’re white, and somewhat conservative, and Christian and heterosexual (and, yes, I am all of those things). But looking back many years later, and having lived in Seattle, and Cheyenne, and Denver, and Chicago, I never, ever have since encountered the kind of racist talk I heard growing up, or blatantly anti-gay or anti-Jewish actions anywhere else.

There was a gay black kid in either my class, or the class after me, and the way he was treated makes me wish I’d have been more of a man and stuck up for him more. I would be that man today—I wasn’t then. In total hindsight, Edgar remains one of the bravest, most self-assured guys I ever met in my life. To this day.

I really feel for anyone of color, or who’s different living there, and although it’s better now than in my youth, I still visit 2 or more times a year and I never go into a bar or even the WalMart and not hear something that offends me.

But onto my PROS about Ridgecrest:

 I agree that the panorama view is still breathtaking, and I too never tire of it.
 Fishing so many places within 90 miles—the Kern, Isabella, Taboose, Independence Creek, etc., etc.
 Pretty exceptional four-wheeling
 That great, twisting road up to Isabella, even though it’s taken more than a few lives along the way (Bett Baer—you’re never forgotten).
 The good people—and there are lots, who never forget where you came from. And coming back and remembering all the old buildings, or where they were: the Suzie-Q diner on the corner of Ridgecrest and China Lake Blvds, Hucek Travel, almost the same spot, Ann’s Pamper Parlor, The Victory Market, the High Desert Saloon, John’s when it was near the main gate to the base, a thousand other memories
 Small town life with one major high school, and the Burrough gymnasium when it’s packed to the rafters.
 Going back and finding out one of my classmates is now the principal of the high school. Way to go, Ernie Bell!
 Midnight motorcycle rides behind the college
 Exploring mines as a kid
 Parties at the Rocks, the Quarry, Haystack, IWV canyon
 The smell of wet creosote after it rains. Here in Illinois there’s a telephone-pole manufacturing plant that coats its trees in creosote, and it never fails to make me homesick when I drive by after a rain.
 That great old A-frame house up by the college that the Sieferts built in the 1960s. On Kendall, I believe.

Yes, a huge con is the massive growth of drug use, specifically crystal meth. I don’t know about you, but that in itself outweighs any pros you can think of. Not even a water park can make Ridgecrest desirable because of the uncontrollable drug use.

P.S. The pregnancy rate among teens 12-19 is also one of the highest in California. I would definitely call that a con that can affect any parents’ decision to move their family to this sex and drug-driven town.

Boy, you’re right about that. I ran into some new people at a Cub’s game a month ago, and we started talking about where we were each from. I told them about 50 miles north of Barstow. The woman answer: Not Ridgecrest? That’s Meth City.

I frequently pine over the lack of theatre and arts here as well as the ability to purchase decent clothing at a reasonable price.
I too love the horizon and our wonderful sunsets, sunrises and stars.
The other thing that blows my mind is the lack of customer service in a great deal of our small businesses.
I have lived half of my life in NY (born upstate and lived in So. Westchester County for awhile) and the other half in CA (Ridgecrest and a short time in Lancaster). I’ll take the pros here versus NY any day.
NO MOSQUITOES and we aren’t stuck indoors for months (although skiing helped to alleviate that when I could get to go).

My husband, my 1 year old daughter and I are considering moving to R/C. All of our family and friends live in Illinois, so we would not know anyone for babysitting services. I do not need day care, but maybe just for a night out. Any suggestions or ideas on how to find someone trustworthy? Also, any other R/C info. that you can lend would be great. (Points of interest, housing,mother’s groups etc.) Thanks!

I also grew up in Ridgecrest. My parents and Grandparents opened Champs Market. My Mom at one time worked for the Huceks at the travel agency. I graduated in 1970 and lived in Ridgecrest most of that time until I moved to Florida 15 years. I still love the desert and the people.

The one thing I hated about Ridgecrest was the majority of doctors up until the time I left were not current on up to date medicine, were incompetent and arrogant. I also did not like the way the Ridgecrest Hospital was run. I have some real horror stories from my own experieces with the doctors and the hospital there. I told my brother that when I’m visiting him in Ridgecrest that if I’m sick or hurt not to take me to the Ridgecrest Hospital. He’d be in real trouble if I wake up there. I hope things have improved since I left. I know the hospital does have many fine and dedicated nurses.

I do love the brightness of the sky, the jeep rides in the desert, the mountains, the smell of wet dirt, and, after 15 years in Florida, dry heat. I’m happy here in Florida but since I moved here I have really curly hair. I can always tell when it is going to rain because my hair gets bigger.

Another pro about Ridgecrest is that there is no hurricanes there. When hurricane Ivan hit I had water squirting out of a nail hole in my wall. We had about $25,000.00 to our house.

Even though my husband and I will probably retire and live here in Florida, I still love Ridgecrest and miss the people there.

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