Today I was greeted by a beautiful desert morning as I crawled from my tent into the freezing pre-dawn air at 5 a.m., ice on my flysheet and the stars still shining hard and bright despite the faint glow of sunrise already on the horizon and silhouetting the distant mountains. Good morning, Mojave. It's straight to work, heading to a group of old homesteads and quietly cursing my painfully numb fingers as I fumble with lenses I can barely feel in my hands, but so happy that the wind has dropped so the air is still and the light is ideal.
I'm covering a lot of ground every day and I'm beginning to understand that this project is not about the houses at all, it's about the people who lived here and their stories as dwellers and leavers, but also those who chose to live out their lives in the peaceful desert and finally die here.
Everyone who lives here in the Valley leaves a trace, usually a house (a bare foundation with a name and date scratched into it all the way to what can only be described as a substantial bungalow), but often there's more to discover. What is left behind here suggests a great deal about the lives and lifestyles of the departed and also the manner of leaving. More on that soon.