Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You could be here

As we all grow weary of the winter weather, our hearts and minds start daydreaming about a great summer getaway. As you envision yourselves lying on a beach or snoozing in hammock, I’d like to plant a different thought.

A few years back I took one of my most memorable vacations ever. I can’t think of anyway it could have been more satisfying. Blue skies, amazing scenery, natural wonders, fresh air, good food and great people.

My inner most animal (and nature) lover led me to one of the most magical places in the great southwest – Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – located in Angel Canyon in the heart of the Golden Circle in southern Utah.

Best Friends is indeed a sanctuary. Encompassing a five mile spread carved out of the beautiful red rocks, it is home at any given time to about 2000 animals. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, pigs, goats, burros…all are given the opportunity to live out their lives in peace and good health.

Our volunteer vacation started each day with a four hour shift working in one of the dog dormitories, feeding and walking about 15 dogs. I was nervous about the thought of visiting a “shelter”, but Best Friends has done an amazing job of making sure their creatures enjoy a wonderful life. No where did I encounter an animal that looked unhappy.

But it wasn’t all work. After lunch in the employee cafeteria, we would head out for an afternoon of hiking in one of the nearby magnificent national parks that create a ring of natural bliss known as the Golden Circle. Bryce Canyon. Mt. Zion. Lake Powell. The Grand Canyon. All are within an easy drive from the sanctuary.

But enough with the jabbering. A picture is worth a thousand words.

This is the view from the employee cafeteria. It is natural beauty as far as the eye can see. Best Friends was fortunate to acquire the land about 20 years ago when it was affordable. With all this land they were able to develop distinct areas of the sanctuary for different species, allowing all to thrive in harmony with their surroundings.

This is a view of one of the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon. Get in shape before you go. The walk down is a piece of cake, but coming up is another matter. Even if you just dawdle at the top, it’s a spectacular slice of scenery. And the lore of the Hoo Doos is quite charming.

As a girl from the flatlands, I was fascinated by the southwestern flora and fauna. Magnificent trees would pop up out of sand. Wild flowers hung to the side of rock hills. Blooming cactus were brilliantly colored.

This could go on forever, but some famous comedian once said,”…leave them wanting more.” For information on visiting the sanctuary,you can click here. Or if you can’t visit but want to see some happy faces, click here.

If you go, let me know just how wonderful it was. If you have any questions, leave it under comments and I will get back to you.

Happy tails. (Yes, that’s a pun, not a typo.)

p.s. The smiling face pictured at the top is a resident of Best Friends


Anonymous said...

He really is a smiling face!
The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary sounds like and looks like a wonderful place to visit.

Thanks for the visit and comment.
Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Two of my favourite things - animals and scenery! I haven't been too rich the past couple of years but I used to donate to Best Friends! Really! I'm so happy it goes to a good cause and that the animals there are happy. The one reason I don't do volunteer work at a shelter here is I'd be a wreck. I'd have forty animals adopted by me by the end of the first day. :( And I'd be a useless weepy mess. This post made me so happy!

As for Utah, we want to road trip down in Arizona, NM, Utah and Nevada in the next year or so. I am so damn excited. I know I was born to live in the desert. I've always known this. When I visited Death Valley a few years back I can't explain it...it was like I was home. I know it sounds weird and it is but it just felt like I belonged there.

Now I'm going to look at the happy doggies and kitties.

Pyzahn said...

And V.A. your comment made me giddy. I'm so happy to know we share a love of animals and a relationship with Best Friends.

I understand the problem with shelter volunteering. I finally found a good opportunity. I present educational programs for a humane organization here. I get to talk to kids about animal love, but I never have to walk the kennel halls.

I understand about your connection to the dessert. Maybe you could get a job at Best Friends and live in Kanab, UT. I almost did it.

I will eagerly await the tales of your road trip to the southwest. Thanks for your happy comment.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

This refuge is a wonderful place. I visited it in December 2007 when my husband & I were in Kanab, UT and was totally amazed!!! I would love to go there again!

Kathleen said...

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this story. Such a beautiful place with a mission that warms every chamber of my heart. My youngest plans to move to Las Vegas after college (as in this fall); we'll have to pay a visit together to Best Friends--and try very very hard not to bring home any more dogs unless they're Alaskan Huskies or wannabes.

Kathleen said...

Almost forgot...have you ever looked at the two-page spread of dog smiles in each issue of Bark magazine? The more I look at those shots, the funnier and sillier they get, till I'm howling and wiping my eyes. Great pickmeup on a hard day, especially if fancy dogs.

Anonymous said...

Aw that's great Pyzahn!

I'm just glad you stopped talking about wishing for summer.

It was 90 degrees here in Mesa AZ. I suffered.

A lot.


Some Guy said...

That place looks incredible!

Vina said...

What a great post. I never heard of this place, but I know of several people (including myself) who would be interested in volunteering there. Thanks for the info. Also, I LOVE the photo; what better thanks is there than that big canine smile??!!!

Cormac Brown said...

Dang, even the dogs smile there, it must be animal Heaven.

Leah J. Utas said...

Bryce Canyon looks most inviting. In a dizzying, I'm terrified of heights kind of way.

susan said...

Well this was an auspicious day for a first visit. Not only did I get to read about the wonderful animal shelter and see your vacation pictures but I just obtained a recipe for a lemon cake that sounds wonderful.

Thanks for your visit to my place and don't worry about the painting. It lives and I'll come back.

Lover of Life said...

This is a wonderful idea! We may just have to think about this for a little get-a-way. Thank you! And thank you for visiting my blog. I'll stop back by.

ds said...

What a super way to spend a vacation! It is so nice to know that places like that exist--not to mention the views! I'll be back for another look. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good to meet ya!

sallymandy said...

Wow, that looks wonderful! What a terrific way to have a vacation.

I love that part of the country, as I went to high school and college in Flagstaff, Arizona. My family went to a lot of those red rock highlights, but I gather from your post that this shelter wasn't there yet. That was in the 1970s.

I loved seeing your photos. So beautiful.

Lori ann said...

Wow! what a great post, and place you've shown us! I would love to go there!
Thank you for visiting my place and leaving such nice words♥

Lori E said...

I could just kiss him right on those smiling lips. What a happy face. I bet you had the same sort of smile on yours.
Thanks for stopping by my site. You should enter to win the Welcome sign.Quick before Tues. morning.