Wonder Valley

Photographs by Preston Drake-Hillyard

Writing by William Hillyard

They are an accretion of outcasts, driven by society to the edge of town after town until the towns ran out and all that left is Wonder Valley.
The summer temperatures are perpetually above 100 degrees, frequently as high as 120. It is below freezing in winter. Winds blowing under blue skies can reach hurricane force. Dust devils the strength of tornadoes rip roofs from cabins, snap telephone poles. It receives virtually no rain. Wonder Valley is not a place conducive to human habitation.
These days, maybe a thousand people, the snowbirds and retirees, the artists and writers, the drifters and squatters, live in ninety square miles of Wonder Valley, each on the vestige of a homestead. They coexist in Wonder Valley like separate competing species living isolated on an island.
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
— Joan Didion
What the hell is Wonder Valley? It is a thousand places. One per person.

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