James at the California City maintenance yard. (11/07/2009)
California City, population 12,659, is located in California's Mojave Desert, near the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It sits 109 miles north of Los Angeles, and about 70 miles Southeast of Bakersfield. The closest thing to California City that anyone has probably heard of is Edwards Air Force Base, which is where Chuck Yeager famously broke the sound barrier in 1947 and has been the site of several Space Shuttle landings.
We were in town visiting our good friend Sergio, who currently lives and works in California City. Since we met Sergio earlier this year, he has always been the one to visit us. This was our first time visiting him.
What California City looks like. (11/07/2009)
After months of hearing Sergio talk about California City (more specifically, the lack of things to do in California City), I was dying to see this exotic locale with my own two eyes. So Friday night Tim and I packed up the Envoy, threw in Truman, and embarked on the 3-hour trek to Cal City (as the locals call it).
Our first glimpse of the town was not too exciting since we arrived at night (although we did stop at the city's one stoplight). But I was impressed to see that Cal City had its own McDonald's. The next morning Sergio gave us a city tour. We saw the city maintenance yard, the municipal airport and the Silver Saddle Ranch and Club, an 80-acre "resort oasis" (or as I would call it, a "campsite").
Sergio & James in California City. (11/07/2009)
Afterward, we decided to have some lunch and then go bowling. The nearest bowling alley, of course, was 42 miles away in Lancaster, CA. Despite the lack of a bowling alley and a decent grocery store, I thought Cal City had a lot going for it.
It had a Quizno's sandwich shop. It had a Wimpy's 1950s-themed diner. It had a Sears (albeit in a strip mall), but it was nicer than some Sears stores I've seen. Plus, the take-out food we picked up from Green Tea Garden Chinese Restaurant was pretty darn good.
The California City supermarket. (11/07/2009)
Another thing that California City has going for it is it's immense size. It has a total area of over 200 square miles, making it the third largest city in California (only beat by Los Angeles and San Diego) and 35th largest city in the United States.
Although I can't argue that there's a lot to do in Cal City, one great thing I can say about the town is that it's affordable. During Truman's morning walk, I came across a sign that listed apartment rentals. I was amazed that you can find a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment for as low as $550 a month (it would be $1,200 in Orange County). There was even a 4-bedroom, 2-bath place for rent at the amazingly low rate of $850 a month (unheard of in Orange County).
James at the California City Airport. (11/07/2009)
So if you don't like living anywhere near a large city, want an affordable place to live, and don't mind the lack of diversions, then check out California City.