Following my last day at NV on Dec 16, I went on a vacation to the Kanab, UT area with Robin and my in-laws. I'd gotten permits for Coyote Buttes North and South, and we also planned to drop by the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and do some volunteering.
Coyote Buttes North was pretty easy to get to despite the BLM office's warnings of mud everywhere. I had permits for two days, but the first day was a single person permit, so I went out at 5:30am by myself (sunrise hikes really are neat!) while the rest of the family did BFAS tours and orientations and some volunteering. For some reason, I didn't feel compelled to take much in the way of photographs, and then the ones I did take seem kind of flat to me. Oh well. I was toting around probably 35 or 40 lbs of stuff at that point, which really wore me out; on the following days I wound up leaving most of that stuff behind and had a much easier time as a result.
On the second day, we all went. The only snag was that I thought it'd take less time for us to get there, so I didn't bring most of my warm clothing, and then got antsy about leaving with sufficient time for us to get back to the car before sunset. Sure enough, by the time we got back to the half-mile wash hike at the very beginning, it was getting both dark and cold. So we did make it to the Wave, and stuck around for half an hour, but didn't really explore the area further. On the plus side, I don't think anyone had anything to complain about afterwards.
Coyote Buttes South the next day proved to be a bit harrowing to get to, though perhaps it was only in our minds. It took 3 1/4 hours to get there, and much of that was because the sand roads had snow on them that the undercarriage of the rental Jeep scraped against. In retrospect, it probably wasn't that big of a deal, but by the time we got to the parking area, we were all pretty rattled, so we wound up aborting the final hike a scant 1/4 mile from the actual rock formations and heading back. I guess the silver lining there is that I now have substantially more experience dealing with this stuff and know better how to drive in it, but next time, I think I'll push for something with even more ground clearance.
With the hiking out of the way, I spent a whole day at BFAS myself volunteering with the cats. The morning saw me at Quincy House, one of the two special needs-cats residences, where I helped clean stuff up and then took Marv on a walk (with a towel so that I could pick him up without worrying about him relieving himself on me) before getting mobbed by the residents. For the afternoon, Robin, her sister, and I all wound up at Morgaine's Place, where we took turns passing Snip around our shoulder blades. Robin decided she wanted to walk a cat as well and wound up taking Dazzle out for a bit, with Dazzle questioning just about everything she saw. The day pretty much flew by; I can see why people go there just to volunteer for an entire week.
One interesting wrinkle that we didn't anticipate until we were just out of time was that Kanab basically completely shuts down over Christmas. We did figure this out and were able to put together a reasonable dinner plan for one night, but we wound up spending Christmas evening in the motel lobby monopolizing the microwave oven and sitting around. Frozen mac and cheese and vegetables steamed in a bag... worked well enough, though you won't mistake it for a big holiday bash!
We rounded out the visit by paying Bryce and Zion National Parks a visit. As usual, I want to go back and spend more time. I guess maybe I should book two weeks the next time I go.
So what do I do after all this, with a few days left before I start my new job on Tuesday? Slice off the tip of my left thumb, that's what!