escape to the Sonoran desert

Leaving Las Vegas the next day just as quickly as we could, our next stop was Flagstaff, Arizona. It was the longest and more tedious of the drives on this trip since our real destination was on the far side of the state. But we did find some clicks even so.

We did take the time to stop toΒ explore Willow Beach at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. We were lucky to encounter this Desert Mountain Bighorn Sheep (an endangered species.)

I spotted some color along the road even zooming along at 70 mph and we were lucky to find a spot to pull over. Looks like at least some of the cacti were in bloom.

Arizona-6583

The final shot for the day was this tiny globe mallow. It’s a great time to visit the desert after some rain to bring out the flowers.

Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.Β 
― Terry Pratchett, Jingo

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42 thoughts on “escape to the Sonoran desert

  1. Oh how I enjoyed this trip to the desert, Gunta. Your photos are wonderful, liked the effects of a rain, and even your description of driving through (driving is always so fast on desert roads) relayed this vastness well. I especially enjoyed the Desert Mtn. Bighorn Sheep. What a thrill that must have been for you two, for they are so shy, and endangered. Accompanying quote great too!

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    • It’s such fun to share these images with appreciative folks like you. T’ain’t easy to describe the thrill of spotting and photographing that shy, wild bighorn. We certainly weren’t expecting it in the middle of the day like that.

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  2. Love the quote, you quote-master! Beautiful flowers, and the Bighorn Sheep has a surprising delicate look – we saw one up here (other side of the mountains of course_ that was very fierce looking. I bet you were excited – good thing your driver is willing to pull over. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to more photos and news of the trip – I’m glad it was good –

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    • Thanks. I don’t have the knack for poetic writing that you do. I have to borrow the words from other more talented beings. Eric had just finished saying he’d spotted a bighorn near where we were some time ago and up popped this little guy. It was like magic. I think Eric was at least as thrilled as I was. We didn’t have to pull over, just stopped in the road behind another car with a guy with a bazooka lens. No other traffic around at that moment. It was pretty cool!

      The trip was beyond good… loved our Navajo guide and more.

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  3. Such lovely desert flowers, Gunta, and those sheep are most unusual. I remember that we spent one night in Flagstaff at the Red Roof Inn. It was horrendous. The room stank of stale cigarettes, the bed was so uncomfortable and a train went through the town every few minutes blowing it’s horn. We left at 3am and vowed never to return. 😯

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    • I think we were very lucky to catch that one sort of cactus and its particular color in bloom. There was a time when I was really lucky and caught nearly all the cactus in bloom with the full spectrum of color they have, given the right amount of rain and warmth. Sorry to hear of your horrible experience in Flagstaff. Eric described something similar. Our stay at the Best Western wasn’t bad. It was probably the most basic, but adequate and clean of the entire trip. Luckily, these days all the motels have gone smoke free. As for the train… if you’re anywhere near old iconic Route 66, you’ll have the trains going by all night. My trick is to turn the A/C on for white noise. It tends to blot out or subdue the train noises -that is if the fan itself isn’t too loud.

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    • It’s the sightings of wildlife that seem to make these trips something special… though I’m not knocking the special sort of scenic beauty of the desert either. It’s a great change from the coast when things start feeling a bit stale.

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      • I’m shocked~stale coastline?! hahaha! That reminds me of a group I was a member of, that traveled to see a rare butterfly. It was so plentiful where we found it that after an hour or so of oohing and ahing we started looking at our watches. πŸ™‚

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  4. Great sighting and capture of the Desert Mountain Bighorn Sheep! WOW the cacti flowers are gorgeous!! I’ll be in Williams AZ next month, just a hop skip and jump to Flagstaff. My post is forthcoming…… πŸ™‚

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    • The funny bit was that Eric had been talking about spotting a bighorn near that same spot years ago, but didn’t have a camera. You can imagine the excitement when this young buck sauntered across the road in front of us and then casually headed up the hill, stopping to look back at us several times. We couldn’t get to a prime spot to shoot because some guy with a bazooka lens was blocking the road… fidgeting to put it all together. πŸ˜‰ oh well!

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    • Hi Joanna. I’m not sure about the ‘abundant’ part. I probably tend to discount the creepy-crawlers that I try to avoid. And things tend to be a bit sharp and prickly, but getting past all of that, the desert does have its own unique beauty. I’m learning to enjoy it when it’s not too hot for the likes of me.

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      • I was referring to there being more than meets the eye. There may not be as much as in the jungle perhaps but when you know the desert there is more to see than for a novice. It’s like the moors of England where folks think they look barren and empty, but it is teeming with life if you know how to look.

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        • I understand what you meant. I learned that bit when we camped in the Mojave and other desert locations. I was amazed at the many things there were to photograph once you started looking a bit closer. And the desert sunrises and sunsets are like nowhere else I believe!

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    • The shock might have been a whole lot worse if it had been hot in the desert, but it wasn’t too horrible this time of year. The bighorn was wonderful luck. I had hoped that more cacti with all the various colors had been in bloom, but alas these were about the only ones we saw on the whole trip.

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  5. The globe mallow and cactus flowers are glorious and it looks like the Bighorn sheep were checking you out from a distance! Beautiful. I’m enjoying these photos from your trip.

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    • The desert really comes alive with colorful cactus flowers after a spring rain. I remember one time years back when I happened upon cacti blooming in every imaginable color. Seems we were lucky to catch these prickly pears, but were a bit too early for the others.

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