Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kanab, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (4/27/2016)

After a few days to catch up on sleep, laundry and housecleaning, I did some touring around Kanab while the weather was not at its best.  I tried, but failed, to get a permit for Coyote Buttes South, so drove into Arizona and visited the town of Colorado City.  This town occasionally makes the news due to its Fundamentalist Mormon population that still practices polygamy, but I never saw any signs of controversy, just a lot of very large homes that were clearly not homes of the wealthy.

Finally, on a very cloudy day that failed to inspire me to go for a scenic destination, I decided to re-visit the Best Friends Animal Society that is only a few miles outside Kanab.  If you're not familiar with this facility, please go to their web site and read their amazing story (  I believe they were the first animal sanctuary to espouse a "no kill" policy.  Through their efforts, this policy is now widespread and saves millions of animal lives each year.  Best Friends is recognized around the world for their good work protecting and giving homes to abandoned, unwanted, injured and abused animals.  The founders have sacrificed a great deal to accomplish all they have.

I did not take the official tour this time, but drove through and stopped where it was practical.  The growth in the operation since my 2006 visit is astounding, both in the numbers of various animals and physical facilities to support them. 

In the 1980s, Best Friends purchased a large tract of land in Kanab Canyon, now informally known as Angel Canyon, where they built this sanctuary from the ground up..

New cabins and cottages are said to be available (at a modest cost, I'm sure) for both volunteers and those who simply need a place to stay.

The Visitor Center is one of the older buildings. 

From one or two horse corrals, there are now many such facilities and many more horses using them.  It's perfectly obvious, too, that employees and volunteers love their assigned animals, and welcome visitors.

Even the lone burro has a great life here.

There are several "cat houses", but I wasn't able to go inside since I wasn't part of a tour.  However, I got a few photos of cats enjoying their "outdoor" playgrounds.

In 2006, I saw one pot-bellied pig.  On this trip, there were a dozen or more.  As you might expect, volunteers and visitors enjoy spoiling the pigs.

In addition to dogs, cats, rabbits goats and horses, the sanctuary also houses a variety of birds, including parrots, and various wild animals.  I saw on building labeled "Bear House", but that seems hard to believe.  Wild turkeys roam the grounds, and why would they ever leave?

The most touching place on the grounds is known as Angel's Rest, where deceased animals are buried. It is many times larger than when I was here before, with what appears to be thousands of grave sites.  There is a stone for each grave and a small rock on which the animal's name is painted.  In addition, small baubles, such as stones, glass trinkets, etc, are placed on the graves.  Wind chimes are located around the cemetery with weights containing the name and/or photo of a beloved animal. Whatever  these animals may have endured before coming here, they ended their lives in a caring and loving situation.

Anyone looking for a worthy organization to make a donation should give serious consideration to Best Friends.  Their web site tells how it can be done.  Also, many people combine a vacation with their volunteer work here.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Success here has led to expansion into other regional locations.  Best Friends operates pet adoption centers, spay/neuter clinics and no-kill initiatives in Los Angeles, New York City and Salt Lake City, as well as a No More Homeless Pets Network of animal rescue groups in every corner of the nation.  None of these is likely to match the beauty and ambience of Angel Canyon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

White Pocket - Day 2 (4/22/2016)

Sleeping in the Jeep is not conducive to a solid night's sleep.  I slept for short periods, waking many times during the night.  Each time, the full moon was shining brightly through the rear window, reminding me why I was here.  I finally rose about an hour before sunrise, had my cereal and milk, picked up my gear and trudged through the sand to the middle of White Pocket.  I quickly found a strategic location that allowed me to photograph several specific formations just by rotating the camera on the tripod.  The setting moon did a nice job of lighting the overall scene, so that was my first priority.

Even before the sun cleared the mesa, it was lighting the western sky, and putting up some color above the mesa..


 Once the sun was above the mesa, it put strong light on the distant formations, even while the setting moon was still in view.

Pretty soon, the sunlight was hitting all the formations.

 Having accomplished my objective, I headed for camp feeling that my experience was certainly worth the lack of sleep.

Monday, April 25, 2016

White Pocket - Day 1 (4/21/2016)

Two years ago, I made my first trip to White Pocket, in midday, and immediately promised myself I would return when I could spend the night, thus being able to photograph these marvelous formations at both sunset and sunrise.  My plans for the current trip included a visit to White Pocket, but I hadn't determined when.  Then, while preparing to do laundry last Thursday, I suddenly remembered there was a full moon that ideal time to be at White Pocket.  So, I forgot laundry, packed some necessities and headed out.

White Pocket is a fairly small part of the Vermilion Cliffs N M in northern Arizona, about half-way between Page, AZ and Kanab, UT.  From Kanab, it's fifty miles on paved highway and twenty-five miles over gravel, deep sand and jagged slickrock partially hidden by the sand.  It is so remote, very few people ever came here until the last few years.  Photos on the internet have sparked its popularity with photographers.  Those who don't have 4WD pay local outfitters handsomely to be escorted.  Some outfitters offer an overnight trip with two meals and sleeping gear, for well over $300.

As I was nearing White Pocket, I met another vehicle that had just left there.  It was the woman with Safari Tours whom I had met earlier in the week.  She told me there was no one there, I would have it all to myself.  And I did.  My only companions were a few jack rabbits and one little kangaroo rat who came over to be friendly and share some of my Chocolate Chex.  Of course, my good friends Smith & Wesson were also along for the ride, not that I expected any trouble.

Last time, I stayed in the middle of the formation, so this time I made a point of walking around the outside perimeter.  This allowed me to see quite a few formations I had missed before.  After about two miles of walking in deep sand and climbing over sandstone, I was ready to stay in one place (where I could see the trail back to the parking lot) and wait for the sunset.

Sunset was sort of low key due to thick clouds , but I still enjoyed it.

Here's why the hour after sunset (or before sunrise) is called the "Blue Hour".  That sandstone is actually white.

The full moon rose over a nearby mesa, blurred quite a lot by the wispy clouds covering the entire eastern sky.
As soon as it got dark, I settled into my sleeping bag in the back of the Jeep and tried to get some sleep.  No problem being up for sunrise.  (To be continued.)