Monday, September 12, 2011

a look inside: MAGTFTC Twentynine Palms, CA

Hello and welcome to my look inside of MAGTFTC Twentynine Palms. How do you like that acronym? It stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command. I'm Shannon and I'll be giving you an inside look of this base. First, though, a little introduction about me. I've been with my husband for 6+ of his 7 years in the Marine Corps. After meeting at a party in our hometown, we dated long distance (him in CA and myself in MA) for 2 years, including one deployment to Iraq, before getting married. Shortly after we got married I got pregnant and he deployed to Iraq again. Our first daughter was born just three and a half weeks before he returned from deployment. We have another daughter who is 22 months younger than our first. This is our second duty station (MCAS Miramar before this one) and we'll be PCSing soon (MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL). I'm a stay at home mom and I'm obsessed with digital scrapbooking. My hobbies include working out, scrapbooking, photography, reading, watching HGTV and the Food Network and writeing on my blog. You can find my blog here: You can also find me on twitter:

Are you ready for a little bit of information? Ok, lets go -

Location: Twentynine Palms, CA. It's in the middle of the Mojave desert. About 4 hours from Los Angeles and Vegas. About 3 hours from downtown San Diego. And about an hour from Palm Springs.

This about sums up how Twentynine Palms looks:
It's brown, dry and desolate.

Originally from: Pittsfield, MA. It's in western Massachusetts, right near the NY border.

Military branch: Marine Corps

Housing: Ok, I'll have quite a bit of information here. We currently live on base in the Joshua Heights housing area. It's the Staff NCO housing. We live in a 3 bedroom that is about 1333 sq ft. The housing is the 2nd newest housing on base (they just finished building a huge housing area in mid-July 2011). It's a small housing area and pretty quiet. Before moving here we lived in Adobe Flats, which is NCO housing (a promotion plus a second child meant a move). It was a two bedroom and fairly small. Maybe 1200 sq ft? The neighborhood is fairly large, but it has a lot of grassy areas. The housing areas on base break down like this: 2 junior enlisted neighborhoods, 4 NCO neighborhoods, 3 Staff NCO neighborhoods and one officer neighborhood. There's also government housing out in town,

The BAH for Twentynine Palms is fairly low. We also didn't feel very safe living out in town. To live in a location where we felt safe that would mean living about 30 minutes away in Yucca Valley. There are a lot of families that live there, but my husband did not want to do that drive twice a day. Other than living out in Twentynine Palms, the other option would be Joshua Tree - which is between Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.

The wait list is usually pretty long. We got lucky and only waited 6 weeks for our first house on base. When we put in for our move to our 2nd house we waited 7 months.

Pests are a given in the desert. We've had crickets stuck in our wall (annoying!!), black widows in our garage & house, a scorpion on our back patio and a mojave ground squirrel chew it's way through our garage wall. Nasty stuff. There's also all sorts of other spiders that get in the house. But on base you can call maintenance and they will send out pest control for free. They've been incredibly helpful.

If you're on facebook you can check out this group: Moving House for the Military Spouse. People submit pictures of housing from all different bases.

Base shopping: The commissary is pretty typical of a commissary - they are decently stocked, produce isn't as good as a normal grocery store and they don't carry a lot of specialty stuff. They're also closed on Mondays and don't open until 10am Tuesday-Saturday, noon on Sundays.

There is a brand new Exchange (as in, it just opened on Thursday [September 8, 2011]. It's huge and very nice. Similar to a Target. Very open. There's many aisles of non-perishable foods in addition of everything else you'd find in an Exchange. There's also a huge beer cooler and a "virtual bartender". What's that, you ask? Well it's this little kiosk that gives you an alcohol shopping list. You can put in how many people you're expecting for a party and it'll print out how much alcohol you should buy. Or you can find a drink you want to make and it'll tell you the ingredients you need. Cool, right? There's also a food court with an Asian place, Nathan's hot dog place and pizza place. ITT and a barber shop are located inside as well. And the best part? Starbucks. Not just a little Starbucks stand - but a full out Starbucks store inside of the Exchange.

There's also three mini marts and one gas station. A full list of retail and services can be found here.

On Base activities: It seems like there's always something going on on base. Our library has story time three times a week. On Mondays and Wednesdays (starting at 10:30am) it is for kids up to 3 years old. On Tuesdays (starting at 10:30) it is for kids from 3-5. There are a bunch of different youth sports throughout the year. There's a splash pad and several parks. There is also a golf course! We have a movie theater as well. Admission is $2 per person, and children under 6 are free. The theater is actually really big! There is also a MOPS group on base, though I don't have any information on that. As for gyms, there's 4 located around the base. Several times throughout the year there are special events held for families - some are open to anyone stationed on the base, others are just for people who live in housing.

I should also note that there is an elementary school on base.

Off base activities: Like I said above, we're within driving distance of Los Angeles, Vegas and San Diego. Palm Springs has a lot of shopping and restaurants (and it's also where the closest Target is located!). There is a children's museum in Palm Springs that my kids love. There's also an ariel tramway that I've never been on, but it got raving reviews from my dad and brothers. In Cabazon (about the same distance as Palm Springs) there's a huge outlet mall. If you don't want to drive that far to shop, your only option is WalMart in Yucca Valley.

In Twentynine Palms you'll find Luckie Park which is a nice, big park with lots of grass. There's also Joshua Tree National Park. There's awesome hiking and sightseeing there. You'll also find great rock climbing areas there. And if you like the outdoors, Big Bear is just a short drive away too!

This is a shot of Joshua Tree National Park. It really is a beautiful place filled with these amazing, majestic rock. My husband loves to rock climb there!
Joshua Tree National Park Photos
This photo of Joshua Tree National Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

About the town: Twentynine Palms is a small town. So are Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. There's really not much to do unless you go down to Palm Springs. It seems like a really long drive at first, but it gets better the more you do it!

My opinion of the base: I really don't like it here. I don't like how isolated it is and I can't stand the summer heat. I don't hate it - we keep busy and enjoy ourselves. It's what you make of it. But after a while, the desert starts to wear on you (and we've been here two years). I will say, though, that MCCS does a great job of trying to bring activities to the base. All of their activities are advertised on the font page of their website:

Thanks for sticking with me through that novel. I hope I've shed some light for you and given some helpful information! If you have any questions or want to get in contact with me I'm always available via twitter (linked above) or through my blog (linked above as well).

Thank you Shannon for your information about 29 Palms!! I don't know Shannon in real life but she is a very nice internet friend and an amazing scrapbooker! I always turn to her for all my scrap questions!! Please check out her blog!

Be sure to stop by next week for a new look inside post!!

P.S I'm still looking for new posts! Please email me if interested!!!


  1. it is interesting to read about the base/town from a spouses point of view. I was stationed in 29 Palms with my father for count them 11 years until I joined the AF and left. I married into the AF as well and just retired after 29 1/2 years. I was there when there were no stop lights and the Walmart in Yucca Yalley was not even built yet. Let me tell you, there was nothing there for a teen to do. Good luck with your PCS to FL. I think you will find that the AF facilities will meet your liking.

  2. What's the newest SNCOhousing now?