Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sanctuary for a lucky few

The main destination on my agenda for the day is The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. As I was driving out of my canyon I was reminded that Hog Canyon is a haven for OHV activity.

This area was created in conjunction with the BLM and the Canyon Country 4X4 club. I know the club has put in many hours with the BLM opening the area and spends many more hours maintaining it. Just an example of how when a club gets involved we all win. The area has moderate sandy trails to extreme rock buggy trails where carnage isn't a possibility, is expected
. Since I slept in I didn't have much time to explore I wandered some of the sandy trails and made it to where some of the trails started to get rougher than my little Jeep could handle.

I made my way back to the highway. After a short drive on pavement I was at the Sanctuary. Best Friends is the largest no kill sanctuary in the United States. At any given time there are 1800-2000 animals living here. They have dogs, cats, birds, sheep, ducks, geese, horses, burrows and even pot belly pigs. I checked in at the visitors center and made arrangements to take a tour of the facilities.

This hound mix puppy is named Dream. She was born here at the sanctuary when her abandoned mother was brought in. She was eventually adopted, however for some reason her adoptive family was unable to keep her. And today was her first back at the sanctuary. She was an extremely sweet dog but was a bit timid and hesitant to be your friend at first. Who could blame her? If I was not midway through my journey I would have gone through the process of adopting and brought her home with me. Her story really struck the soft spot in my heart and brought a tear to my eye.

We then went to cat world and visited the cats. I am really not a cat person, but it was still interesting nevertheless. It was amazing to see the individual care that the staff here gives to the animals.

After the tour I wandered my way to the cemetery of the sanctuary: Angels Rest.

This is a really nice peaceful place, as most cemeteries are. Around 5000 once abandoned and forgotten animals are buried here. I couldn't help but notice but this cemetery was better kept and had more marked graves than many I have visited so far.

Once I was finished with my visit to the sanctuary I made my way down the interstate to Page, Arizona. Once I was in town I looked into signing up for a tour of the Antelope Slot Canyon. If you have ever seen a photo of a picturesque slot canyon with a bright beam of light shining down this is where it was taken. I found that most people book their tour weeks or months in advance, but planning ahead is something I am not the best at. I was pleased to find that the company had one spot left for the photography tour the next day. I planned to visit and take some pictures, so the picture tour sounded good to me. I felt that $50 asking price for a tour was more than a bit on the steep side.......after all the tour is only an hour and a half. I parted ways with my money and made the reservation hoping I had made the right decision.

I made my way to the Wahweep Marina for a quick shower and to refill my water jug. The showers here were nice, clean and warm. $2 worth of quarters gets you  15 minutes of shower time. The shower so felt wonderful after having gone a few days without one the heat of the desert. After taking my shower I felt civilized again and made my way to Lone Rock primitive camping area to set up for the night. I set up the tent, made dinner, watched the sunset and was finally drifting off to sleep when it got noisy to sleep. It was well after midnight when some jackass with a loud diesel truck and a 5th wheel as big as a house pulled up. He proceeded to blind campers with his headlights and yell at his wife in his search for the perfect camping spot right next to the water. Finally the guy got settled in and the noise died.........until at 2:00 he turned on his generator! I was absolutely blown away at the disrespect this giant mega douche bag was showing to his fellow campers. He had set his noisy generator up 50 or so feet from his trailer. I bet he didn't want to listen to it either. I unplugged his extension cord and threw it off into the sage brush. Unable to find the kill button in the dark I ripped off the spark wire tearing the wire off the boot in the process. I am usually a pretty passive person, but this guy just kept pushing my buttons. More than a little bit irritated and half expecting a confrontation I walked back to the Jeep to get some sleep.

Hiking where angels tread.

I woke up early and headed to the bathrooms to take a shower. The bathrooms were so dirty I didn't dare use them. The dirtiness was from beyond the previous days use. (Too bad I conned the front desk into giving me an extra shower token)
Consider this my review of Zion Canyon Campground & RV Resort:

  • Free WIFI was s-l-o-w. (I tried a few different spots on the property to no avail)
  • Tent sites were shady, but nothing spectacular
  • Bathrooms were really dirty. 
  • Overpriced! $33 for a tent site? 

Needless to say I thought I was not pleased with what I got in return for my money. I was reminded exactly why I dry camp out in the boonies: its cheaper, quieter and although the bathroom is a just a bucket its at least clean.......enough of me venting, on to the good stuff!

I started my visit by wandering the visitors center.
The visitors center was built with a couple of neat features.The eaves are designed so that the summer sun never shines directly in the windows. However they are built so the sun shines in and warms the building during the winter months. Also the towers you see are not just for decoration. They are actually large swamp coolers that utilize the canyon breezes for cooling.

I hopped on the shuttle and disembarked at the Grotto stop. I have always wanted to make the hike to Angels Landing. I have made the trip several times to do so but had been disappointed each time. Either it rained or the group I was with wasn't interested in the hike. The weather was warm, but today would be the day I would fulfill my dream.
Looking up at Angels Landing from the canyon floor. The landing was named by a preacher because he said the only creature that could make ever be able to make it to the top could be an angel.

If you look very carefully you can make out hikers climbing up to the landing on the razor thin edge to the summit

If your scared of heights this hike is probably not for you. This part of the trail is only a few feet wide with drops of several hundreds of feet on BOTH sides.

Looking out of the mouth of the canyon.

The view looking towards the Temple of Sinawava. Yes that thin ribbon on the canyon floor is a road!

After taking in the amazing views and talking to folks from England, the Netherlands, Russia and Nepal I reversed my course and headed down

Looking down Walters Wiggles

The hike into the narrows was closed due to high water flows. With my next plan nixed I rode the shuttle back to the Jeep. I made up a quick lunch and then headed out of the park via the Zion- Mt. Carmel Highway. This route is very scenic. In fact on a trip with my grandpa as a young child this is the highway that kindled my lifetime love for the red rock of southern Utah. I intended to take pictures on the way up but every turn out was full of tourists snapping pictures

Checkerboard Mesa: near the summit of the Zion- Mt Carmel Highway

On my way towards Kanab I made a stop at the Moqui Cave
The Moqui Cave is a neat little tourist trap. The cave was bought in the 1950's by the family that owns it today. They plastered the cave white inside, they built an entrance and poured a cement floor. Once that was done the proprietor built a bar and a dance hall, one of the first in the area. (according to the tour, however I don't totally believe it)

What was once dance hall is now a display of rocks that glow under a black light. The bar is still here (although no longer in service) and the rest is a gift shop. The staff at the cave was a bit interesting. They were a bit pushy at times. On more than one occasion i was enjoying an exhibit when the young woman would pop over and rattle a memorized list of facts at high speed. It was a bit forced and at times they were overbearing but it was a neat way to beat the heat of the afternoon.

I made my way a few more miles down the highway until I made it to Hog Canyon. Looking on my GPS it looked like a good place to pull over and make camp for the night. Before I went to sleep I played with the camera for a bit in the dark and came up with this shot:
Not spectacular, but for an amateur like me I was pleased.
Not dead!

Hey folks stand by for updates momentarily. I know I haven't updated you guys on my progress in a week now.......sorry WIFI was really hard to find until tonight.