Wonder

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Laura Sibley, co-owner of the Palms Bar and Restaurant in Wonder Valley, is opening a book shop called Wonderland Books; her family purchased an old homesteader cabin on a 5-acre tract of land in a Tax Auction. Its right across the street from the Palms Bar, with an epic desert view on all sides. Laura mentions the ontology of her desire for a bookish space; once you call something a bookstore, it is just that, it doesn't matter what kind of books or how many books are inside of it. It is an idea, a concept, a way to bring people together. Laura spoke of her love of books; she buys and sells science fiction and war books over ebay, and wanted to make a real space for books she loves, a community space that will be open when she wants it to be for readings and . Wonder Valley is full of dreamers, the gold miners who came out to hit the mother-loads, farmers from the mid-west caught up in the boosterism of Manifest Destiny plopping down on 5 acres of heaven and contemplating a freedom. This land is a slate, a palimpsest of past pasts, a place to write a story with materials, to make an invisible visible. This little bookshop is just that, a hope made real, a tiny thought that grew into this. 

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She laughs as she sits at the librarians desk in the space, performing the role of the bookshop mistress, sitting properly. Robert Frost's poems are displayed prominently, next to a book of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. The cash box is embellieshed with layers of colorful plastic gems, along with various sizes and shapes of candles adding a fairy-tale like atmosphere to Wonderland Books, along with the the Alice and Wonderland White Rabbit sign leaning against the side of the building. 

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The Palms Bar and Restaurant is about a 40 minute drive from Joshua Tree down a road called Amboy, which passes through a land scattered with more abandoned homestead cabins than I have seen any where. This is an unicorporated part of the desert, not a town, but a region about 10 degrees hotter than Joshua Tree. The Palms serves an amazing breakfast on Sunday, belgian waffles with real maple syrup, home-made desert sourdough bread that has to rise in the cooler because its too hot in the kitchen, eggs with orange-yellow yolks. Laura runs the operation with her brother James, who moved out here with their family in 1997 and have created a real place for people at the Palms. Two of the folks at the bar, Sparky, who looks like Edward Abbey, with turquoise rocks hanging around his neck, and a beer in the morning, a floppy felt hat and desert blue eyes and Diane, who found her cabin (you can throw a rock to it from here!) a year ago, tell me that Wonder Valley has put an end to wandering and adventuring; it embodies the desire for movement, for wildness. 

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Laura and James make the breakfasts, their mother Mary works the bar. They live here, and have made the Palms a resting point in the vastness of a valley. There is a stage in the back where the Sibleys (Laura and James' band with their friend Thom) sometimes play. Mary helps write the lyrics sometimes, the resuly is a honkey-tonk, desert wind meets Velvet Undergound......They offer gold mine tours as well at the Palms!