Kanab: animals & wildnerness

We’re just home from Kanab, Utah where we went to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary. We went early so we could spend the weekend visiting a few of the beautiful areas nearby with Chris.

On our drive we listened to the last chapters of The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit and on the way home we began Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville.

We stopped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes the first evening and explored. It was beautiful, though my color senses would classify the sand color as orange, not pink. Maybe right at sunrise or sunset the dunes would look pink. We saw animal tracks and wind patterns and sunk our feet into the dunes, slowly climbing to the top of the tallest dune we could find and then ran and slid down the steep sides.

The next day we went to Zion National Park and made our way up Many Pools trail where thanks to lots of snow and rain there were many, many pools.


We spotted lizards and birds, chipmunks and frogs, tadpoles and eggs in the upper pools which was so much fun! We did a little research at home and think the frogs are Canyon Tree Frogs. There was lots of paintbrush in bloom and a few bushes with flowers the bees were enjoying.

We saw tracks of rabbits, lizards, and deer or possibly great horned sheep. There was lots of climbing rocks and playing with sand. It’s a beautiful place and I want to go spend more days there soon.

On Monday & Tuesday, Chris worked while the kids and I headed to Best Friends Sanctuary. We cleaned rabbit houses and filled their water bowls and said hello to any inquisitive rabbits on Monday morning. Gavin watered grass outside for the rabbits to play on and Lilah and I refilled the outdoor areas hay supplies. We each held a rabbit for a few minutes too.

After lunch we went to one of the cat houses, for older and special needs cats. There were forty to sixty cats in each house, split into four rooms of 10-12 each, every room with an indoor area and huge outdoor area. We visited all the cats, petting, feeding, grooming, lots of playing with and talking with them. Each one has a story and unique personality. Gavin particularly enjoyed playing with the cats with toys. We fed one bunch of older cats baby food which they loved. One of the cats jumped on my shoulder and stayed there, purring in my ear for quite a while. We took some cats for walks in cat strollers and Lilah decided we need one at home right away!

Tuesday we visited the parrot area, cleaned up the cockatiel room, scrubbing windows, tables and cages clean and putting fresh newspaper out, then scraping and sweeping the floor. The birds were interested in what we were doing and even flew down on the floor to check out the sweeping process.

We also said hello to the parrots, macaws and cockatoos there and heard about how they care for them from a caretaker.

One of the wildlife caretakers took us on a walk to visit all the wild animals who are permanently living on the grounds and showed us a barn owl’s warning dance and turkey mating dance tracks in the sand. It was fun to see the animals there and even more exciting to hear about the wild animals in the clinic who they are caring for and hoping to release back into the wild when they are ready: a baby hummingbird, four baby cottontails, a pygmy owl, a screech owl. Most of the animals permanently at the sanctuary were there due to human interference; either wild animals as pets gone wrong or car accidents.

In the afternoon we headed to a different cat building and met more cats, mainly healthy cats in this one. Lilah made friends with a shy tortie while Gavin played with many cats very excited to enjoy toys to chase and jump at. I visited with some of the shyer ones and petted any who were interested. There was a beautiful cat who jumped on my lap and stayed there for the next 45 minutes until I had to go. Lilah asked about a kitty who wobbled all over the place and we learned she has a neurological condition that makes her balance off.

It was an amazing experience and we are already planning to go back! It was fun and interesting and the kids were able to help readily and didn’t complain or bystand at all (which I’d been a little worried about, having no first-hand experience with what tasks we might be given.) It made a big impression on all of us and I felt that we were making a difference for the animals and the caretakers both. One of the cat caretakers told me that they are often so busy taking care of all of the animals immediate needs; food, water, cleaning, medications, etc. that they don’t get much time to interact otherwise, but that volunteers doing just that makes the cats more adoptable by increasing and extending their comfort and experience with people and therefore helps find animals homes.



This Week

I’m still working on writing about all the holiday fun but I’d better get something up about now before I am further behind!

The three of us went to the hot springs with our unschool friends and enjoyed the cold air and the warm water, a few raindrops, lots of steam. It was relaxing and the kids were okay in the warm pool this time, enjoying some pool noodles to paddle around with. On our drive we listened to the end of Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. It’s such a beautiful, rich story. I highly recommend reading this one and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to anyone, at any age. Next we’ll be listening to the the third in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Gavin is particularly enjoying the stories about animal societies and heroes.


We spent quite a bit of time sorting Legos and trying to find pieces for a few sets that we are putting away to make room to display new sets. The kids enjoy the process but need a lot of assistance from me because we have so many little pieces. We’ve made a lot of progress and are trying a new storage system, keeping the tiniest pieces in smaller drawers to find more easily. We’ve rediscovered some treasured bits and inspired some new building fun in the process.

We went grocery shopping and then went to the Indian convenience store where the kids helped pick out some snacks and some lentils and beans. Then we visited the library and picked out some new books. I picked a few, each kid picked a few and we came home and read. And when it was bedtime they were still reading.

We started a new puzzle, a holiday gift to the kids. It’s a puzzle of our neighborhood with our house in the middle! It’s very challenging but so, so fun to piece together the streets we drive on and the condos we pass and the traintracks near our house.


We scheduled a trip to Southern Utah, to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to volunteer taking care of the animals there. We will help with cats, bunnies and parrots this trip. I’ve been dreaming of going there for years and am so excited to go and take the kids too! We watched a video today in preparation for volunteering to learn about expectations and safety.

I also shared this video of a dog unwrapping his gift with the kids:

They loved it as much as I thought they would. Life is good.