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el2995 Ridgecrest - A travel report by USC
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Ridgecrest,  United States - flag United States -  California
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el2995's travel reports

Ridgecrest

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The town of Ridgecrest is situated in the scenic high desert region of Southern California. Ridgecrest is perhaps the largest town for quite some distance and is the home of the Navy's famous China Lake research and test facility, officially known as the Naval Air Warfare Center – Weapons Division, which is essentially the sole reason that the town exists. A road trip to the area by car on business proved to be quite enjoyable given the variety of the environs that are encountered along the way.

Favourite spots:
As you leave Hwy. 5 and head East along Hwy 178 through Bakersfield, the surroundings soon transition from flat and agricultural to rocky tree-studded canyon walls that tower above as the road snakes its way through the narrow Kern River Valley and affords sporadic glimpses of white water cascading between smooth boulders. Soon the forest begins to thin and the ears begin to plug as you ascend into high desert and pass the sizeable Lake Isabella, whose volcanic landscape and very scant vegetation conveys an almost lunar feeling. As you lose a bit of altitude, the hilly and rock-strewn surroundings become studded with desert scrub brush and only occasional hints of civilization. As you approach Ridgecrest the topography changes to expansive flat lands with majestic mountains in the distance.




What's really great:
My work took me onto the base and out to one of the many test and processing facilities, which gave me an appreciation of just how large the base really is. The best part of the trip was a visit to the China Lake Museum. At the time, the museum was accessible only to those allowed on the base, but they are in the process of moving the museum to just outside the main gate so that the general public can experience the museum. The Sidewinder Air-To-Air Missile was developed at China Lake and is featured prominently with photos and cross-sectioned hardware. There are inert samples of all the missiles and weapons developed at the facility on static display which includes Air-To-Air, Surface-To-Air, Air-To-Ground munitions and remotely-piloted aerial vehicles, in addition to videos that cover the history of the base and provide some dramatic footage of the tests being conducted. If you’re a fan of military technology, this museum is not to be missed.

Accommodations:
A variety of hotels are available.

Restaurants:
Bangkok House Restaurant, located on Hwy. 178 a short distance from the main gate, is perhaps the only Thai cuisine for at least a hundred miles, and is definitely worth a try. Try the Beef and Chicken Satay, the Pad Thai Noodles, and the Musman Beef Curry. The service was good, and the waitresses were friendly and quite attractive to boot.

Published on Monday September 30th, 2002


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