No Phone, No Pool, No Pets (Part One)
Not just any road trip, but a trip we’ve been pining over for years. This year, finally, we’d travel many, many hours to clean litterboxes and dog runs! Because it would appear I’m a little confused about what the definition of the word “relaxation” is.
If you know about animal rescue, you’ve seen their work. After Katrina, a branch of their organization spent nearly a year in the Louisiana/Mississippi area, rescuing and placing homeless animals. They took in some of Michael Vick’s dogs. They’ve sent support to international rescue groups in times of crisis. They’ve got their own show, Dogtown, on the National Geographic Channel. They average 27,000 visitors a year, about 4,500 of whom end up volunteering. This is no small achievement because Best Friends isn’t just 36,000 acres of space located within a thriving metropolis. No, Best Friends is proudly off the beaten path. It’s surrounded by Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon's North Rim, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Lake Powell, which mostly means people are driving through to go somewhere else about five months a year, during the tourist season. The rest of the year you can stand in the middle of the road in the local town, Kanab, for minutes at a time if you felt so inclined, because there’s no traffic. Directions in town are based on whether you go to the first light or the second light; there are only two. How far off the grid is Best Friends? My GPS stopped working for several miles during the trip there. So if someone is coming to work at Best Friends, it’s because they worked very hard to do it.
Yes, I’ve arranged for someone else to teach my child math.
The trip was a little over eight hours. Many of those hours were spent driving through the desert, which makes for a challenging learning experience unless you’re trying to teach your child every single synonym for the words beige and featureless. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the desert, but it’s a love based less on novelty and more on how impressive it is to go hundreds of miles without anything actually changing. It’s the visual version of a Philip Glass piece. There was a brief flurry of excitement around Las Vegas, what with the billboards (“Mom, why would anyone need edible underwear?”) and then we were back on the moon again. To pass the time, we ate the taquitos and Girl Scout cookies I packed. Daughter learned a valuable lesson about her mother; road-trip food sneers at Recommended Daily Allowances of anything nutritious.
And then we drove into this.
Notice how it appears to only be over the highway? That’s because it was only over the highway. Over the sound of the fire-hose inundating the car, Daughter and I tried to think of synonyms for apocalyptic.
LESSON TWO: You never know.
About six hours into the journey, we started the drive through Zion National Park. A mile or so into the park, we stopped at a gate; the park fee was $25.00. I flinched. “Is there no other way to Kanab?” The forest ranger shrugged and said, “You can go back around at Hurricane.” Hurricane was an hour back, which meant I was weighting $25.00 against my sanity or a deep vein thrombosis from having sat for so long. I grimaced and paid, all the while cursing Google for never saying “Hey, this route? It’ll cost you.” We went into the park and then we saw this
The mountains were red, as were the roads, because they used the local rocks for paving material. The sky was ludricrously blue. The clouds and the snow were the same pristine white. It was like a landscape created by a kindergarten student with two crayons. Daughter squealed in joy because she thought she saw a mountain goat scrambling across a hill but then decided it was probably a shadow. We came out from a tunnel and saw this.
“You remember my irritation about having had to pay?” I said to her, barely concealing a grin. Her eyes shining, the kid said to me, “It was so totally worth it.”
She was so totally right.
Eight hours and a few minutes after we started, we landed in Kanab, Utah, the setting sun turning the mountains the pink of an Easter ham, a few golden beams lighting up our home base for the next four days, the Quail Park Lodge, an adorable renovated motor lodge from the Route 66 era. I can rave about it, I can unequivocally recommend it for the customer service (details to follow), or I can show you one of the two dogs who is there every day. This is Foo,
There's also an affable huge Leonberger named Coda, but he mostly slept and every picture I got of him looked like a meditation on roadkill. Just take my word for it, he was there.
We arrived at eight, ate the last of the taquitos and cookies as a sort of dinner and collapsed in exhaustion by nine. We needed to get our sleep; we were due at work the next day.
PART TWO: LESSONS LEARNED AND MAMMALS SOCIALIZED.