The Mojave Desert is not a landscape loved by normal people . . .

The Mojave Desert is not a landscape loved by normal people. The saying is that the people who come here are either on a quest or on the run. I suppose we are no exception, although I’m not sure where we fit into that taxonomy. (“It’s not a binary, it’s a spectrum,” offers P. as he looks up from his book on the history of Death Valley borax mines.) Sex offenders, world-class herpetologists, tweakers, self-appointed mystics, doomsday preppers, retirees with woodshops and VFW membership cards, geologists, three Whitney Biennial artists, and now an intrepid fleet of urbanites (transplants I like to grumble about despite—or perhaps because—I am self-consciously and self-loathingly of that ilk). People who, for various reasons, seek out a certain basic animal solitude.

No fortunes have ever been made in this corner of the Mojave, which is part of its appeal. There’s a certain assurance in guaranteed penury, in knowing that any aspirations or ambitions are by default going to have to be spiritual or physical because you can’t make any money here. Which is why vegans and celibates and Buddhists do well out here; they already possess the disciplined constitution for lack. Society’s expats in collusion with the landscape. (The rest is here.)

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