lost, for a little while

the golden circle’s greatest hits: kanab
June 16, 2011, 5:58 am
Filed under: trips

Good times in Kanab

Okay, so Kanab isn’t a national park. But it certainly deserves its own post, because this tiny town in southern Utah is packed with enough campy tourist fare to keep you entertained for days. Like, maybe two.

I admit it, this stop was all my own doing. I have this thing where I get an idea in my head, and no matter how dumb or impractical or silly it is, I obsess about it until I can follow through. Case in point: visit the Eric Carle museum. Also: see alligators and do an air-boat ride in Miami. And: take a ghost tour in New Orleans.

Add this to the list: volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

For those of you who didn’t mainline all four seasons of National Geographic’s television series DogTown, let me explain. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the largest animal sanctuary in the United States, and is located in Angel Canyon, Utah, just outside of Kanab. It has about 2,000 dogs, cats, birds, and other animals on any given day, each with their own area and staff. The animals at Best Friends are usually there because they need special care (medical attention or behavioral training) in order to get them to the point where they’ll be adoptable.

DogTown is the section of the sanctuary for dogs, and ever since I saw the show about it, I’ve wanted to visit. Volunteering with the dogs at one of the local animal shelters was the best thing I ever did while I was in Pennsylvania, and to be a part of this impressive organization, just for one day, sounded like the coolest thing ever to me.

Which brings us to Kanab. After dinner and some of the best pie I’ve ever had at Houston’s Trail’s End Restaurant (recommended by Lorraine of the Mount Carmel Motel), we spent the night camped out at the Crazy Horse RV Campark, which was also added to my Bizarre Lodgings list for reasons that I won’t go into. Breakfast in the morning was at Nedra’s, a Mexican-style cafe that my cousin, Jesse, could not properly enjoy because he’s the kind of person who thinks ketchup is too spicy. He managed to find something suitably bland for his taste buds while Aunt Barby chowed down on some huevos rancheros like a proper visitor of the southwest.

I wasn’t scheduled to volunteer until that afternoon, so I made my relatives come with me to the Frontier Movie Town museum and gift shop. Apparently, Kanab was kind of a big deal back in the day when western flicks were churned out more frequently than the American Pie sequels, and a bunch of the old sets used can be found round back at the museum. Calling it a ‘museum,’ is being kind, but luckily, there was some quality entertainment to make of for the lack of impressive displays.

The talented cast

Two huge tour buses were parked in front of the museum when we arrived, and when we got out back, we found ourselves smack in the middle of a classic western reenactment. Even better, it was a classic western reenactment starring about 50 French, German, and who-knows-what-else tourists. People ranging from their late twenties to early sixties were separated into different groups: cowboys, Indians, saloon guests, frontiersman, coyotes, and the quintessential bad guy vs. good guy. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a middle-aged Frenchman riding a wooden stick-pony gallup away from the town’s sheriff, who’s aiming at him with his fake six-shooter.

In the gift shop, I found the perfect Father’s Day present for Daddy-o, and then departed for my afternoon volunteer session. Before volunteering, I sat through an orientation video with an elderly couple who turned out to be from Michigan, and was then directed to go help with Puppy Preschool.

On my way to volunteer

Technically, I was helping to socialize the puppies, getting them used to all sorts of different people and common household noises before someone adopted them. Really, though, I was just petting puppies and getting kisses for a half hour. No complaints here. Afterward, I went to help walk dogs for the afternoon, and on the way drove past one of the staff members who starred in DogTown. Yes, I’m the only one even remotely excited about this.

As far as the volunteering experience went, it wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as my previous work had been, but that’s mostly because a lot of the time was taken up by the (admittedly necessary) orientation and info sessions that help prepare volunteers for their day and instruct them on what not to do. For me, it was more exciting to see the facilities, which are really impressive, in person. The shelter I used to volunteer at was a rundown building in a very shady neighborhood; the dogs didn’t have a fenced-in run and could only be walked around the building for exercise unless there was time to go to the park. It was the best the shelter could offer, but still really frustrating to accept. It’s nice to know that some organizations exist that can do more than just house animals until they’re adopted; they can offer them a home.

Our suite at the Sun 'n Sand Motel

Night two in Kanab had us spending the night at the Sun ‘n Sand Motel, which is only one notch below the Hostel in the Forest on my list of Bizarre Lodgings. Yes, those are steer horns on the wall. Yes, that is a kitschy horse painting hung crookedly on the wooden paneling. Yes, that is a piece of cardboard from a box for a toilet seat patching up a hole in the ceiling.

We had a suitably trashy dinner to match our surroundings–greasy Hawaiian pizza and a six-pack of Bud Light–and in the morning, my aunt and I wandered down to the office where we were promised breakfast by the motel owner, Wayne. A folding table was covered with bags of different flavored breads and bagels, along with several jars of jam and jelly. Wayne, who looked like a biker after too many years on the road, commented on each of our breakfast selections and yammered on about anything and everything from the animal sanctuary to the number of cops in town to Arizona’s strange anti-daylight savings policy. The man liked to talk.

Unfortunately for Wayne, we had places to be. We downed our cinnamon toast, kicked Jesse out of bed, and headed out. Next stop: the Grand Canyon.


2 Comments so far
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[…] Up next: Kanab, Utah. […]

Pingback by the golden circle’s greatest hits: zion « lost, for a little while

Love your review of Kanab! If there is a next visit, we would love to have you stay with us at retro-cool Quail Park Lodge http://www.quailparklodge.com

Comment by Matt

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