Friday, March 6, 2015

Back to Kanab

A man from Alberta picked us up at the North Rim and offered us a ride to Kanab. He has been on the road nearly non-stop for the past five years. The reason for this is that five years ago, his wife passed on. She had encouraged him to pursue another woman or something that he loved to do after she left, and he told her that his plans would be to travel. So he retired and has been on the road since then. At first he suppressed the pain of losing his wife. Then one night he had a dream that his wife returned to comfort him, and he began to grieve. From then on he stopped running from the pain and just traveled and healed. Challenges did continue to come his way, such as the time he got lost in the desert and almost died. But through all of the difficult times, he has learned so much. Based on his experiences, he says that you learn more through travelling than going to college, so he recommends to any young person to see other parts of the world first.

The Grand Staircase in the distance.

Our ride told us that he too was staying in town. He was trying to win the Wave Lottery and was in no hurry to leave. Once we arrived in Kanab, we were taken first to Red Rock Inn, where we were hoping to see our friend Dan and to bargain with him yet again. But the place was closed for the season, so we were dropped off at Travelers Motel instead.

Travelers Motel is run by a local family, who also own the barber shop up front. The motel was closed for the season, but Tim, the son, let us into the lobby and called his mother to see if a room would be available for us. His mother, Rebecca, was on her way back from the hospital with their father, Fred. When they returned, Rebecca gave us a room for two nights, lowering the rate for the second night. As we chatted with Tim's daughter, Daisy, Rebecca proudly shared with us some photos of their very large family.

In the morning we walked down to Honey's Marketplace and met some Germans travelling to South America in these gigantic vehicles. They were in the midst of a 3 year journey around the world.

As they took off for their next adventure, Happy Feet showed up! We had just met him in the Grand Canyon with his dad. Now he was walking out of Honey's with his friend, Chocolate Bandito, and they were about to continue the Arizona Trail to the south. We offered to meet up with them later for lunch, but it didn't work out. They were leaving town that day.

Returning to our room after doing laundry and eating lunch, we ran into Tim, who was relaxing in the barber shop chair and watching TV. He gave us some fresh-picked bell peppers from their garden. Then we headed out again to hike the Squaw Trail and to make some stops along the way.

At the Kanab Visitor Center, the front lawn is decked out with all sorts of movie scenes. In the past, Kanab and the surrounding wilderness was used to shoot several old western films, giving the town the nickname, "Little Hollywood." Inside the visitor center we obtained information about free tours at Best Friends, the no-kill animal shelter just outside of town, as well as recommendations of other places to visit in southern Utah along our journey back to Moab.

We stopped by the library next so that I could transfer some pictures to my external hard drive. Then I joined Freebird this time around for a hike on the Squaw Trail, which rises above Kanab, to watch sunset.

Once at the top, we could see the Grand Staircase to our other side. As we witnessed a herd of deer running past and some peregrine falcons soaring above, the full moon rose in the east.

We moonwalked back down the trail and returned to the library. There were still more photos that I needed to transfer off of another memory card. This time the whole process took much longer than I had expected. Thankfully, Jana kindly allowed us to stay a half hour past closing as we waited for the transfer to finish. In all the time that we talked with Jana, we learned that one of her former colleagues and best friends now works at the Moab library. We met her friend months ago!

On our walk back to Travelers Inn, we came across Parry Lodge and decided to check it out. Beth greeted us at the front desk. It was a slow night and not much was going on. Jim, the maintenance man, offered to give us a tour of the place. He took us into the Neil Summers and John Wayne rooms, named so because these movie stars are said to have stayed there. We also passed by other rooms named after Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, and other well-known figures. At this time of the season, Parry Lodge's prices were much lower.

So the next day, we checked out of Travelers Inn and got a room at Parry Lodge for our third night in Kanab. We would be visiting Best Friends in the afternoon and knew that we would arrive back late, so it was best that we continue our motel stay. We reserved the Neil Summers room, in the newer section that Jim had recommended.

The Parry Barn, where old movie screenings take place during the summer.

During our first attempt to hitch to Best Friends, we couldn't find a ride. There was still one more tour later, so we would just try again in awhile. Until then, we walked over to the Little Hollywood Museum to pass the time.

Just inside the museum's front doors is a gift shop. Behind this is a miniature "town" that is composed of reassembled props from old movie sets.

Returning to hitch for a second time, we were offered a ride from Conner to Best Friends. We watched an informative video there and then began a free tour with Michelle of the nation's largest no-kill animal shelter.

One of their pet cemeteries.
One of the many facilities for cats, the first building at which we stopped.

After playing for awhile with the cats, we moved on next to the animal sanctuary's dog section.

At the end of our tour, we were given an assortment of pens, stickers, and brochures. Then it was time for us to try to leave. Michelle offered to give us a ride back to Kanab after getting off of work, if no one else would pick us up. We hitched from their parking lot, thinking that perhaps someone else who attended the tour would offer us a ride. Sure enough, one of them stopped for us. Matt was also staying in Kanab and gave us a ride back to the front door of Parry Lodge.

The next morning we ate breakfast at the lodge, one of the best and cheapest breakfasts we've had so far on the trail. Nearby our table, George was celebrating his 96th birthday with his friends. The waitress came over to hand him a present, a $20 gift certificate that some out-of-town women just purchased and anonymously gave to him! George invited us over for cake and to meet his friends. They shared with us so many heart-felt stories of their beautiful community there, such as when everyone worked together to raise money for a girl's cancer treatment. George introduced me to his friends Gail and Paula, whom he said are his wives (they call each other "sister wives") and asked me if I'd marry him too and join their family!

After a second memorable stay in Kanab, we checked out of Parry Lodge and walked out of town to hitch. I will never forget all the wonderful people that we met there. Now Bryce Canyon was calling to us, and it was the perfect time to visit before the temperatures dropped anymore. Bryce is at the highest elevation of the whole Grand Staircase, so that means winter will probably be arriving there much sooner than anywhere else we will visit in southern Utah. We reached the edge of town and stuck our thumbs as the cars drove past. Soon a man from Molokai, Hawaii picked us up. He would be the first of a few hitches that would bring us to Bryce Canyon.

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