The Questionable Tastes of Bighorn Sheep… Plus Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley

Our house is in the final stages of being sold. We signed off on it today. The buyers will complete their part by the end of the month. “We’re homeless,” Peggy declared. “No,” I suggested. “our home is wherever we happen to be.” So what if it happens to be 22 feet long and is pulled by a F-150 pickup.

Right now we are in Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s a lovely community filled with friendly people, great restaurants, a fascinating culture, and bookstores. The Grand Canyon is an hour’s drive north. Sedona is an hour’s drive south. A five minute trip out of town yesterday found us scrambling up and down steep canyon walls searching for thousand year old petroglyphs left behind by the Anasazi, ancestors of our modern Southwestern Native Americans. There are certainly worse places we could be.

But as delightful as this area is, we will be out of here this week. We are modern day gypsies, full-timers as they say in the RV world. The freedom of the open road is ours. We aren’t rookies at this. Once Peggy and I wandered around North America for a year. Another time it was for three years. We don’t know how long we will be this time. Our goal is something like ‘as long as we can get away with it.’ Given our combined age of 151, who knows...

Our focus will be on the wild areas of North America. Once again this will include the National Parks of the US and Canada. We’ve been to most of them, but this time we want to explore places we haven’t been, places where the vast majority of tourists aren’t. Today’s post on Mosaic Canyon is an example.

Mosaic Canyon is easy to get to. It’s just above Stove Pipe Wells, one of Death Valley’s main tourist watering holes. And it’s quite beautiful, as this photo by Peggy shows. But it isn’t advertised as one of the “must see tourists sites,” like Zabriskie Point for example. When Peggy and I visited Zabriskie, there must have been a hundred people there. We ran into a half dozen or so at Mosaic Canyon. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
On our way over to Mosaic Canyon, we passed by the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which are always worth a photo. The sand dunes are located next to Stove Pipe Wells and are easily accessible for a hike. Note the person on top. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Here is the road up to Mosaic Canyon. It’s gravel and dirt and a bit bumpy but short. (photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The entrance to the canyon is a wide wash. It quickly narrows down! You can see two of the six people we shared the canyon with. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I captured this shot of the narrows.
Another example. The smooth walls on the left are marble made from Noonday Dolomite.
The national park site recommended walking carefully when crossing the marble because of its slickness. Peggy solved the problem by sliding down. Her shadow makes it looks like she was levitating. “I’m Mary Poppins,” she declared when she saw the photo. But where’s the umbrella?
This breccia is another common rock found in Mosaic Canyon. You can see why it gives the canyon its name.
We were excited to find these flowers growing in the canyon. We had missed the profusion of flowers that sometimes appear in Death Valley after a rare spring rainstorm. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I took a close up. As you can see it’s pretty. But what’s with the hairy leaves. Turns out that this is a desert rock nettle, eucnide urens. If you have ever had a close encounter with nettles, you’ll know that means: ‘don’t touch!’
It’s a message that bighorn sheep ignore. Apparently they love the flowers. I caught this statue of a bighorn at the visitors’ center. I could see where its metal mouth might come in handy!
Eventually, we returned to the exit. Death Valley stretched out before us. We had lunch at Stove Pipe Wells and then returned to our parking lot campsite.

I’m not a huge fan of Sunset Campground at Furnace Creek. It’s a huge parking lot. The advantage is that it rarely fills up, which is not the case for the more desirable sites in the valley. I’ve used it three times over the years, mainly because my trips are never planned months in advance when registration opens up. When Peggy and I arrived, I expected that most of its 270 sites would be full. It was Easter weekend. What we quickly learned was that the campground closed for the season in four days. There were a half a dozen other vehicles in the huge area. When we left, there were two. In addition to normally being available, there are two other plusses: its close proximity to all of the services at Furnace Creek— and the views.

This was the view from our campsite.
Peggy took a close up.
One night we sat outside and watched the sun set in the west…
…and the moon rise. I’ll end my Death Valley posts with this photo. Next, we are off to Zion National Park.

36 thoughts on “The Questionable Tastes of Bighorn Sheep… Plus Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley

    • Thanks, Karen. We admit to having a weakness for rocks! 🙂 They are a lot easier to photograph than say a flower blowing in the wind or an antsy kid or dog.
      Sometimes I fly in my dreams. They are among my favorites. Peggy had as much fun sliding down that marble as any little kid would. –Curt

  1. Curt, enjoy your amazing adventure and wherever it may take you! What an amazing view from the campsite – the landscape almost looks alien and surreal. The photo of the moon is breathtakingly beautiful.Wow!

    • Alien and surreal are good words to describe Death Valley as a whole, Annika. And it changes constantly depending on what the sun is up to. Photography is great fun.
      As for the adventure, it is doing something we love to do. –Curt

  2. Beautiful as always Curt.
    Traveling with a RV is not for everyone and full-timing even less so. Many “full-timers” are just snowbirds by another name. There are very few like you and Peggy. May you both be blessed with the health and strength to keep it up for a long time,

  3. Congratulations on your sale Curt and being “Homeless”… traveling vagabonds really and so much fun. Love your pictures and those big horn sheep. they are the best.. gorgeous pictures and stories upon stories that delight! 💖💖

    • Thanks, Cindy. Vagabonds we are! The stories and photos will keep coming. Tomorrow we explore Mesa Verde. A couple of days ago we were in Sedona. I thought of you. –Curt

  4. It’s both fun and painful to follow your travels. At this point, gas prices have put my easy, impulsive traveling around on hold. The best solution I’ve found is to fill up on Monday, use what I need for work and errands during the week, and then use whatever’s left for wildflower wandering on the weekends. Many people are in even worse shape than I am; more than a few Uber drivers and fishing guides are simply giving up, while contractors, plumbers, and so on are resorting to fuel surcharges on the bill. Green energy is a fun idea, but… telling someone who can’t afford a tank of gas to buy an electric car can be rage-inducing. OK. I’ll stop! And you just keep rolling on, and sharing your finds. I sure do enjoy them, despite my own frustrations!

    • Peggy and I have poor timing when it comes to gas, Linda. Last time we took an extended leave to travel for three years was the last time that gas prices shot up to their present level. Both times we had vehicles not known for great mileage. We are fortunate in that our traveling costs are lower than our costs for owning a house and maintaining five acres of property, so things balance out somewhat. A tank of gas seems to cover us for our travel between locations and what running around we do while at each location. We are trying to stay between five and seven days and travel no more 150 miles between sites. It’s obviously having an impact on travelers. We haven’t had any problems getting into campgrounds by reserving ahead for a week.And campground owners are telling us that there are lots of cancellations. it’s hard to see the outrageous gas prices piled on top of everything else people are facing. –Curt

  5. I really need to check out Death Valley the next time I visit my brother – he lives about 100 miles from there. (Of course, I probably should visit more than once in a blue moon too…)

    I’m looking forward to your take on Zion.

  6. What an incredible landscape, Curt and Peggy. I love that mosaic rock. I’m fascinated by geology in general, a prerequisite, I think, for enjoying these wild places. And isn’t it cool that deserts bloom? What a wonder this planet is. Enjoy your adventures!

    • Thanks, D. And what a wonder indeed. Geology was one of my favorite subjects at Berkeley. And nowhere is easier to get up close and personal than the desert. When I backpack into the Grand Canyon, I amuse myself by thinking of the millions of years of history I pass through with each step! As for desert flowers, we missed the bloom in Death Valley but were fortunate to catch up with it on hikes around Kanab, Utah. –Curt

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