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Road Trip 2011

Well it was time for our annual visit to Best Friends Animal Society and this year we decided to try something different and drive down there. After all, we have a great truck, a very nice trailer and plenty of time. Since we planned on taking Cordell, we figured he would be much more comfortable in his little travel bed in the back seat. So we loaded up and headed down the highway for the start of a great trip. We left Patience the cat at home but in good hand of our pet sitter Jenny. Some people ask, why don’t you take the cat with you? Uh yeah, have you ever known a cat that could car travel well? I haven’t seen that many. She is perfectly fine at home, but I am sure she gets a bit lonely since she is a very social little feline. Jenny gives her a lot of attention when she comes for a visit!

Our first stop was Boise, Idaho. We stayed at a the Boise – Meridian KOA. It was ok for just a one night stay. We planned on stopping in Boise so we could visit our niece Jennifer and her fiance Austin. Austin got a great job offer down in Dallas and they would soon be moving, so it was great to get a chance to see them before they left. Talk about good timing! Next we headed down into Utah and the Salt Lake City area. We both have been in Salt Lake before, but never actually looked around much. We stayed in Draper which is south of Salt Lake City so we wouldn’t have to deal with morning rush hour traffic on the day we left. We stayed at the Mountain Shadows RV Resort. A very nice place but very close to the interstate. We drove out to the Great Salt Lake and let Cordell romp around. The thing is huge. You forget that is a lake after looking at it awhile. We also drove to downtown and visited Temple Square, world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mormons. We learned quite a bit of the history of the Mormons of which I was always very confused about. Now I have a clearer understanding of the religion, if that’s what it is, but don’t plan on converting any time soon.

The next leg of the journey took us to Kanab, home of Best Friends and had our only glitch of the trip. While stopping at a very large Flying J Truck Stop, one of the guys working there passed by and noticed one of our trailer tires looking very worn and unsafe and offered to put the spare on just in case. After talking with the guys in the tire shop, we ended up buying four new tires, much better ones that were on it. I don’t feel we got railroaded into anything because the tires that came on the trailer were just cheap pieces of crap. It was much better to be cautious and get some good rubber for the rest of the road. It was very nice to be back in Kanab again. The place is beautiful and seems to be timeless. It was our first time needing a place to put the trailer and options were limited. Luckily we got a spot at the Hitch N Post and it suited our needs just fine. Back at Best Friends, the return was bittersweet. We first worked with Pigs in Piggy Paradise and just a week before, our best friend there Brandi Bandi passed away. It just wasn’t the same and even the pigs seem to feel the loss. She was a very special person who loved her piggies and gave so much to them. She was taken way too soon and will be missed very much. We also worked in dogs and took Cordell with us to his old run. You can read all about that in the previous post! While we were there we got to go to the September Blessing at Angel’s rest. It was very heart warming and emotional. See video of part of the blessing here!

We then departed on the longest leg of the journey of the trip. We drove 12 hours to South Lake Tahoe. This took us through a big part of Nevada which we had never seen before. We drove on the Extraterrestrial Highway for a long time and no, didn’t see any UFO’s. It is a pretty bleak state until you get in the northern part. It was also quite an event filled leg of the trip, experiencing wind, thunder and lightning, and a fire near the road which luckily we got through. But we made it. By coincidence, a couple that Debbie has known for many years was also on a road trip of their own and met us in Tahoe. They stayed at the same campground we did just a few spots away. They were good people. I also got a chance to see my half brothers and sister which I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years. They brought their wives and kids and we had an impromptu family reunion and had a great visit and rekindled family ties. There was a Oktoberfest celebration that was going on and we checked it out too.

We left after two days there and started on the final leg home which brought us back through Oregon and then into Washington and they grey skies and rain that were mostly absent the whole trip. It was good to be home and in our own bed once again. Cordell was great the whole trip and had a great time himself. He loves to travel and travels very well. Patience was very vocal on our arrival and was obviously glad to see us. I have uploaded photos in our Flikr photo page so go check them out when you get a chance. Now it is time to get back to the reality of life, work, bills,etc! until next time!!

ROAD TRIP STATS
ELEVEN DAYS
SEVEN STATES
2911 MILES

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It Was Bound To Happen

We are back at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah for our annual volunteer week with the animals. As usual, we are having a wonderful time. It is so wonderful and satisfying working with all these wonderful creatures! It is a lot of hard work, but you know it is much appreciated by staff and the animals themselves! This trip we did things differently. Instead of flying to Las Vegas and driving from there, we flew to Salt Lake City, then to St George where we rented the car and drove. It was much better doing it that way! I must admit, getting on a small propeller plane to go to St George was a little scary and then landing on a freaking plateau in St George wasn’t pleasant either!!! But the short drive to Kanab made up for the harrowing experience! Before we started our stint we had a day to go visit Zion National Monument and took a long hike which was very challenging and somewhat scary at times. It was the Angels Landing hike and took us up on some very high and narrow spots! Debbie did pretty good even though she is scared of heights. We decided that trying to reach Scouts Lookout was too much and continued on the West Rim Trail! It was a beautiful hike and we were both wiped at the end! Now on to the sanctuary!

This was our third trip to the sanctuary and as usual we always work with dogs, cats, pigs, and horses. This time we also worked in the Parrot Garden with all the birds. It was loud as expected, but we learned just how intelligent they are. The average cockatoo has the intelligence of a 3 -4 human child. It is also very sad to see them in cages as that is where they should not be! Please never buy a bird from a pet store because you are just exasperating the problem of bird mills, yes they exist. If you must have a bird as a pet, get them from a rescue and realize they can live for decades!! We also learned that one of my favorite piggies, Raisin, who fell in love with me on the last trip, is getting adopted and will be leaving the sanctuary for her forever home! We are happy for her, but at the same time sad we will not see her when we return. Here is another adoption story, ours. We have always come here with the idea that taking home any animal is not in the cards. A year and a half has past since Simon, our last kitty passed over the Rainbow Bridge and we have been pet less ever since. I kept that idea in mind, yet Debbie fell in love with a little cutey named Cordell. He is a Chihuahua mix and is the sweetest little dog we have ever met! Also, while we were working with cats, a little gray princess named Patience fell in love with me. She more or less decided we were going to give her a home, so did Cordell! So as of today we have adopted both of them and they will be joining us in our home in Snoqualmie. Cordell will be flying home with us Sunday and Patience will fly in later the next week. We will soon be pet parents once again. Oh God what have we done!!! We have one more day of volunteering, then doing the logistics of adoption paperwork and transport details. There are pictures up here of the trip and videos are up at our YouTube Page. In the mean time meet the newest members of our family:

Meet Cordell

Meet Cordell

Meet Patience

Meet Patience

Many New Pictures Posted

Wedding

Wedding

San Antonio 2009

San Antonio 2009

At Best Friends

At Best Friends

Have a look at our photos from our recent vacation. Click each image to go to the album or just go here for our complete Flickr Photo Page!

The Personality of a Pig

When thinking of animals and those with distinct personalities, we often think of dogs first then maybe cats and horses. If you can go no further than that, then you haven’t met a pot bellied pig. Our time spent with the pigs in Piggy Paradise at Best Friends Animal Society was so much fun and very enjoyable. Deb loves them, and I really grew towards them after an initial hesitation. Most people think of pigs a dirty, stupid, stubborn animals that are only good on a plate! While it is true that if you visit a typical farm and walk by the pigs in their pen, you’d think they were disgusting. All you see is them wallowing in their own excrement and mud. This is not how a pig likes to live, but are forced to due to areas too small for the number of pigs in them. Typical farms have only small pens for their pigs and don’t really give them much of an option of living they way they want to. A pig absolutely hates to eat where they poop and are actually very clean animals. the pigs at Piggy Paradise where spotless and didn’t even have a smell. Their snouts are a little wet and smudgy, but they like to root around with them. During the summer the staff makes them big mud pools where they like to wallow to cool off and keep their skins protected from the hot sun, maybe they get a little dirty then. They are also so fun to work with!

Every time we ran into other volunteers, we mentioned working with the pigs and we got the usual hesitant response until we told them how much fun they are and are so personable. For instance there’s Dagwood. He is an older guy and gets a little grumpy at times, but is really good when walking. There’s Naniue which means “beautiful” in Hawaiian and she is very beautiful. She’s a big girl, but the staff have her on a diet and she has lost 60 pounds since June. She is already getting around much better since we last saw her in October. She still likes to eat and gets a little pushy at feeding time. We loved Cherry, a shy petite cutie. She is very cute and took a liking to Debbie. One of my favorites was Raisin, and she really liked me. She would walk with me with virtually no prodding. You usually have to throw down some popcorn, peanuts, or shredded wheat in front of them to keep them going, but Raisin just walked along with me and would stop whenever I would. When I got her back to her run she just hung around me while I was in there with her. I could have taken this baby home if I had the opportunity. Next up is Babe, he is a pink pig that was left out in the sun by his previous owners and got sunburned so bad that staff thought he might develop skin cancer. He didn’t, luckily, and is doing fine but he has permanent dark markings on his back from the sun damage and he is really sweet.  Now Metro and Penelope, on the other hand, are real ornery! They are real stinkers and like to snip at you if you aren’t careful. Most of the time, volunteers aren’t allowed in their pens, but I had to check their water and I went in with a poop scooper to ward them off in case I needed. They were okay with me the brief time I was in. Another couple of characters were Jeffrey and Hogan who had minds of their owns when walking, and stubborn……..whoa boy were they ever. Sometimes it was a real chore getting them back into their pens after their walks. Jack is a pretty laid back pig who just takes everything that comes in stride. He gets let out of his pen to just cruise around the compound and he just hangs around until it’s time to go in.

I could go on and on as there are some more, but i think you get my drift here. Pigs are cool and each have very distinct personalities and are way more maligned than they should be. If you do plan a trip to volunteer at Best Friends, spend a morning or afternoon at Piggy Paradise. You’ll have a blast and will fall in love with these cute porkers!

Walking The Pigs


Here’s Deb walking Dagwood the pig at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s Piggy Paradise!


Here’s another video of Deb walking another pig, Naniue. Isn’t she cute!

Back At Best Friends Animal Society

Yes we are back at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah! After our first ever visit back in October, we had always planned to come back some day soon and recently found a real good excuse to come back just six months later. Debbie’s nephew Nick got married and he and his new bride live in San Antonio so we went down to attend the nuptials. Neither of us had ever been to San Antonio and found it to be a very cool city! We didn’t get to see a whole lot, but we did spent some time in the River Walk area, and did visit the Alamo while we were there. The revisited history of the Alamo was absolutely fascinating! Learning it as a kid quite possibly left something amiss. As an adult, I found it much more, lets say digestible. We had a great time and wish the newlyweds all the best in their new lives together!

So since we were all the way down in Texas, and Utah just happen to sit right in between there and home, well why not take a vacation and stop by Best Friends and spend another visit and do some more volunteering! So that is exactly what we did. We had to fly from San Antonio to Phoenix for a quick plane change and then head to Las Vegas where we would pick up our car and drive the 200 plus miles to Kanab. It should have been a no brainer, but due to a nasty front that had moved through the southwest, Las Vegas had high winds and planes were stopped from landing or taking off for about an hour, so we sat on our plane in Phoenix waiting for the go ahead. Luckily we got it, but the landing in Vegas was quite a bumpy and scary one! It didn’t end there, because we still had a harrowing drive to Kanab due to the gusty winds. Kanab and Freedonia actually lost power for a couple of hours but was restored by the time we showed up early this morning. After a few hours sleep we were up and ready to take care of some animals!

This trip we started with working with the horses. Last time we didn’t get to work with them. We really enjoyed it even though we did plenty of mucking the pastures. There’s something not too unpleasant about shoveling horse poop. It really doesn’t smell that bad!! We did allot of grooming too which it is the beginning of shedding season and the horses really seemed to enjoy it! The afternoon had us returning to Dogtown where we had spent allot of time on our last visit. There’s nothing like the fresh smell of Fabuloso when you walk into any of the dog houses! The first thing we wondered about was what happened to many of our dog friends we made on our last visit! It was very enlightening to find out that many of them had been adopted to good happy homes! Kirsten, our favorite dog, had been adopted, so had Ali, Tahiti, Garth, Densani (sp?), and a few others that names are fleeting but faces are not. While it would have been nice to see some of these smiling faces once again, the reality smacks us in the face that this is how it should be and we should be happy, not sad! Emotions conflicting, expectations met in respect, the fact reared it’s head that there were now new doggy faces that had replaced those that had left that needed love and attention. I might add that there were still some familiar mugs we still recognized that had still not met the exuberant fate of finding a happy home. So the battle still continues, albeit happy tales are being told.

One of the new faces we met at Dogtown today was Freddy, a very well behaved hound that had noting but love to show us unfamiliar humans he was dealing with despite the horrible past he lived with! He was left for dead in a taped up box on the side of a road as a small puppy. Someone finally got suspicious of the box sitting on the side of the road and went to check it out. Inside was found a very hungry, thirsty, and weak little dog! He was very lucky to be in wonderful hands and was nurtured back to health where he lived in a nursing home for awhile before finding himself at Best Friends. We met him here only eight days after his arrival, so he was a real newcomer. He is a wonderful dog with a very touching personality and a beautiful disposition that will hopefully land him in a forever home really soon. It is just unbelievable to find people out there that can do such terrible things to loyal and loving animals. They are really feeling, sentient beings that deserve far much better than this. Thank God for Best Friends, the people that work and care for the animals, and also the volunteers that come from around the world to love and spend time with these beautiful souls. We will have pictures coming soon and hopefully some interviews for some podcast shows coming on http://www.justjoepodcast.com. Also more stories of our visit will be written as I find the time! As you read these words, think about coming down for a visit to see what all this is about! You’ll never be the same again!!!!

Our Southwest Vacation

We have enjoyed a wonderful 10 day vacation to the Southwest and it was packed full of adventure, travel, sights, enjoyment, fulfillment, and reconnection. We started by flying to Las Vegas where we rented a car and headed out. Las Vegas was just a starting point and did not spend any time there. Renting a car in Vegas looks like it should be an easy organized task but it wasn’t for us. First you take a bus to the rental car building where all the rental companies are all together. I thought this was going to be a good idea! We went in and found our company Thrifty and saw the line of people waiting. It looked like the screening line into the gates at the airport. After that 45 minute wait, we were given our paper work and headed up to the garage where we stood in yet another line. What a mess! Don’t you just get your car assignment when you get your paper work and just head out to the space where the car is??? Well not here. We waited and waited because they didn’t have any cars. Finally they brought up a bunch and started the line. We were supposed to get an economy car like a Chevy Aleo or similar. When it was our turn, the guy asked us what we had and I couldn’t remember, so he just pointed to a 2008 red Mustang and asked if we wanted that! Well hell yes we did and were finally off in a nice ride!

Our first stop was Kanab, Utah! We were going to spend the first three days there visiting and volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society. Now if you have watched the TV show Dogtown on the National Geographic Channel, then you are familiar with Best Friends. What a wonderful place it is and it was better than either of ever expected. Best Friends is a no kill animal rescue/sanctuary that cares for around 2000 animals at any given time. They care for dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses, and goats and employ 400 staff members and host many many volunteers. It is run mainly from the donations of the 250,000 members and it is run very well from what we saw. Our volunteering stint had us cleaning dog runs, walking dogs, feeding and socializing with pigs, and spending time with many cats! We loved it!! We even had two dogs come to our motel on two different nights for a doggie sleep over! They allowed to take two dogs with us for an overnight visit with us which helps the animal get used to being out with people and other dogs. It also helps them get used to the noises of everyday life like TV’s, cars, traffic, phones, kids, etc. Many of these animals are abandoned, abused, hoarded, and rescued from disasters. Some of their stories will just break your heart, but it was nice to see that they are now very well taken cared of and deserve the pampering they are getting at Best Friends. Most of these animals are being prepared for adoption, but if they are not or have issues that will not allow them to be adopted, then they will live out their lives at the sanctuary!!! If you are wondering….. we did not leave with any animal, but we will definitely be returning for more volunteer vacations!!!

Our next stop was at Bryce Canyon National Park on the way to Cedar City, UT. Now I have been to Bryce Canyon before, many years ago, but Deb had never seen it. It was a beautiful as I remembered and we did quite a hike while we were there. We then visited one of Debbie’s former co workers that has retired in Cedar City, Alan and Travis Hoppes. We stayed at their very lovely home and enjoyed a fantastic restaurant. Deb and I really liked Cedar City and it will be a future destination when we come back. It might not be a place to retire to when we are ready, but that’s way down the road. We then left and made a journey to Zion National Park which was different from Bryce Canyon but just as beautiful. There we did another hike and enjoyed the scenery. If you haven’t visited southern Utah, you must take a visit. The countryside and views will astound you. It is gorgeous down there!!!

We headed into Arizona for an overnight in Flagstaff. We drove right by the Grand Canyon, but it was dark and our itinerary didn’t allow for any time to be spent there so it will have to be on the list for our next visit. From Flagstaff we headed into western New Mexico. We made a stop in Mogollon which is an old mining town that no longer exists as a vital town although there are people that live there and we met a few. I don’t know how they do it as they are far off the beaten path. They probably like it that way that’s probably why they live there. It is kind of a spooky place and we were there in the day time. From there we stopped in Silver City, NM and visited my uncle Herbie and aunt Brenda. I hadn’t seen them in over 15 years! We had a nice visit and dinner with them. They are full time RV people and live in it! They had it parked at their son’s (Tyson) place. We went out and saw it and visited with him and his family. It had been even longer since I had seen him. It was great to see them all and know that they are doing good and are healthy!

The final leg of the journey took us to my home town of Alamogordo, NM. I was born and raised here and still have family left there. Allot of the family is there but reside in the town cemetery!! We visited my uncle Butch and aunt Sharon and cousin Lorie. My other cousin Jo Ann and friend Lisa drove over from Carlsbad and met us in Mayhill, NM for lunch and a great visit! We also drove by houses, schools, different points of meaning in my past and it was very poignant to revisit what was my childhood. Finishing off our vacation took us down to the hell hole of Van Horn, Tx. Sorry to any of you that have a connection to the town, but it really is a hell hole! Most of the town looks like it had died on the vine as many buildings that had housed former businesses were abandoned and crumbling. Even former gas stations were closed. Most of what was left were motels and there is a golf course nearby, but not much else. What took us down there was some land we hold that has been handed down to me from family. Since we were in the area and had one last day to kill, we decided to go down and have a look! We did learn allot about it and even found the location of where it was and even drove there to have a look. We weren’t able to get to the exact property as it was not accessible by car, as far as we could tell, but we did get a general idea where it was…… basically in the middle of nowhere! Our last stop was El Paso where we dropped off the car and flew home! It was a jam packed vacation and was allot of fun! You can check out our pictures by clicking here and soon I will have podcasts posted at my newest podcast Just Joe Podcast, so go and check both out!!! That’s it for now, finally!!!

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