Reporter: Guy Atchley
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In a desolate patch of desert, somewhere between the shrines for those who are missed, a hardly noticeable dirt road leads back to those forgotten people who've reached their dead end-- and made it their home.
They call it The Crash Zone, military in meaning, ironic in the human sense.
Each face telling the losses of jobs, of homes and families, of health and the baggage that sped the spiral downward.
This is not a homeless camp. More like a homeless suburb. Not "tramped out" as they say, "room to breathe."
Where the few residents fly below the radar, making just enough at the corner to put food on the grill at night and, of course, something to drink.
If there is such a thing as a homeless celebrity, Valoree Rose is pretty close to it.
She's well-known to the motorists of Valencia and Kolb, a corner she worked more than 10 hours a day for almost ten years, until deputies questioned her cardboard catchphrase of "smilin' for the troops."
Valoree recently married Johnnie Ray in in a ceremony just outside their local Safeway. This is where they wash car windows for tips and sell Miss Valoree's self-published book of poems.
Once back at the rundown RV, which at least provides a roof over their heads, Valoree pulls out a pawnshop laptop to tap out her next words about life and its inevitable disappointments.
Make no mistake, Valoree and Johnnie use only their first and middle names for a reason. It's their way of trying to escape the painful past, full of transgressions which families and strangers might find unforgivable.
It's why life in the desert is so appealing: no one here to judge them, no one to call them names, no one to make them feel worse about themselves than they already do.
Somehow they find comfort in the cactus though-- like their lives it can be cutting and cruel. It's tempered by sunsets and sunrises with dreams in between and occasionally a ray of hope for futures that may never be known.
But for each day they somehow seem thankful, contented with what little they have.
In this place they call -- The Crash Zone.