I am getting excited about going back to Trona and Ridgecrest for our book signing, to be held in Ridgecrest on August 3. It is true that we decided to make the venue for our horror tale be Trona, California: A dry, hot, and sometimes stinky, little desert town. I think it makes a good backdrop to our story. But, lest anyone misunderstand, I love Trona and always enjoy going back there to visit. I grew up there, and I still can’t think of anywhere I would have rather grown up.
Not everyone understands this. The first time I took my wife to Trona, which was after about 10 years of marriage, she expressed profound sympathy to me for having lived there as a child. Oh, but I loved living there and still think of Trona as a special place.
I think the thing I miss the most since leaving Trona is the freedom. Imagine being able to walk out your front door and just walk into the desert to get away. Just cross the street and walk out of town into the baking wilderness. You can’t do that in the city. And even when we lived in a small town in Wyoming that wasn’t possible. All the land surrounding the town was owned by ranches, farms and mining companies. One had to drive a substantial distance to get “get away”, and even then the best you could do was a national forest, with all the laws, rules and regulation that come with that.
In Trona, you could just get away. Go away, virtually any direction, and leave everything else behind. You could build a fire just about anywhere you wanted. You could camp wherever your fancy dictated. Tents were rarely needed because it rarely rained. Sleeping in a tent is one thing, literally sleeping out under the stars takes the outdoor experience to a whole new level.
And like many small rural communities, the people in Trona are friendly, laidback and helpful; just more neighborly. Even if it is a little stinky there, once in a while, I can breathe easier. I can breathe freer.
Where am going with this? I’m not sure. I’m certainly not apologizing for writing a scary story that takes place in Trona. Right here I could say that “every town should be that lucky”, but that would sound vain and egotistical. I guess it would be better to say that I have done Trona no harm. I have only represented it as it truly is, and set up a fictional, but scary, narrative there. That in no way should reflect my fond feelings for it.
I know it will be hot as Hades when I get there, but to me that is part of the charm. Not that Hades is all that charming, but one’s hometown is always charming, even with all its quirks and oddities.
It will be fun being back in Trona. I can’t wait.