It’s a good thing that I love road trips so much because I’ve put a fair number of miles on my trusty Subaru in the last nine months or so. Seattle > southern California > Seattle > Utah > Seattle > and about to get on the road and return to the southwest again. There is something about the open road that I have always found appealing, each day an unwritten book of possibilities and a visual feast for the eyes. There is a freedom in it, and I enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Kanab is about an hour and half from the north rim of the Grand Canyon and a trip to see it worked out at the end of my volunteer time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, so I made a short overnight trip to go see this big ol’ hole in the earth that was on my list of national parks to visit. The north rim gets about 1/10 of the visitors compared to the south rim, so the north rim was a bit more my speed given my limited time. I got there in late afternoon and had sufficient time to explore the rim trails around the lodge area and get a bunch of photos with the changing light as the sun made its way to the horizon. There is about a 1000′ difference in elevation between the north and south rims of the grand canyon, with the north rim being at about 8000′ and the south at around 7000′, and I was feeling the effects of the high elevation, which forced me to slow down a bit, because you know… oxygen and such. Funny that.
No trip to southern Utah would be complete without visits to both Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks. While they share some similarities, there are some striking differences, most notably that a trip to rim of Bryce Canyon is looking down into the impressive landscape, and a trip into the main canyons of Zion is looking up at it. My late March trip to Bryce Canyon NP is mentioned in a previous post along with photos, so let’s focus on my trip to Zion, which I took several weeks ago. It’s a short drive from Kanab, Utah, where I’ve been staying during my internship and volunteer work with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and I opted to make a mid-week trip and stay a couple of nights, so that I had one full day to explore the park.
Five weeks went by so quickly, and I was glad that I decided to stay for longer, as it allowed me to just enjoy every day of my final week, knowing that I would be able to visit all the animal areas again, just in a different capacity as a volunteer. My last week of the internship was with all the horses, pigs, and goats. And of course also with a cat that has taken up residence in the area as the unofficial mascot of this part of the sanctuary, ironically named Meow, as I never heard her make a peep. I had heard from many people during my previous four weeks that this area was a favorite, and that they were most surprised by how much they enjoyed spending time with the pigs. So I was pleased to start my week with a couple days with the pot-bellied group, and what a fun time it turned out to be!
Dog week had finally arrived, and I was so happy to finally get spend a week in Dogtown, especially in this magical place, as there are just so many, each with a unique and special story. I was fortunate to be assigned to a great area, one call Old Friends, which is an outdated name, since they have dogs of all ages, including a set of nearly 8 month old special needs puppies. Since I love diversity, it was perfect to have such a mixed bag of dogs to focus on for the week. And what a week it was!
JDN: This one’s for you. ♥
The third week of my internship was spent with cats. A bit different than my time with lions in Africa, but it’s interesting how similar the various feline groups are in mannerisms, as I’ve seen both domestic cats and lions have many of the same behaviors, just at very different scales and impacts. The cat and dog areas of the sanctuary are the largest in terms of total number of animals in these areas, and interns are typically assigned to one area for their week, so we just see a limited amount, but it’s still a great experience. I was fortunate in that I was able to spend in two cat areas, with a few hours in a third one, as well. Having been a cat owner, and being around cats my whole life, this area was familar in many ways, but there were still things to learn when it comes to caring for this many of them in one place. It’s a bit of an overwhelming prospect, really, but they manage the best they can, and for the vast majority of these animals, they have a better life at the sanctuary than from where they came.
My first week at the sanctuary flew by, no pun intended (I was with the parrots), and for my second week I was in the All Day Adorable area of the sanctuary that is the Bunny House. Upon arrival I was greeted by a senior caregiver who was very welcoming and helpful, both my first day, and all week. She’s been with the sanctuary for 15 years, half that time in parrots, and the last half with rabbits, and she’s fantastic. A kindred spirit in terms of her work ethic and attention to detail. There are two main buildings, plus a whole area of outdoor enclosures, and then a separate area of the sanctuary that was dedicated to the care of a huge number of rescued rabbits, originally 400, now down to about 10 (more on that in a minute). The intern group had toured the rabbit area during our orientation, and I was given a quick refresher on the two main buildings, with a demonstration on the process for the morning feeding and cleaning, and then it was off to the races to get all the inside runs done by lunch, with enough people is very doable.