Monday, June 28, 2010

Grand opening of the Rescue and Rehab Ranch

For Friends of Animals Utah, it's been four years in the making. The adoption center (Furburbia) has been cranking out about 800 adoptions a year, but this new facility will allow us to step everything up a notch. We can handle more animals, offer more education programs, provide spay and neuter clinics, and more.

Like most big projects, things don't come together as smoothly as you might like. The last week was a combination of frantic, constant, harried, and impossible. Somehow, literally cranking through the last few minutes, the place became clean, polished and ready to show.

On Friday night we had a private celebration with some of the bigger donors and others who played a big role in making this facility happen. On Saturday we had the big public opening. The ranch is about 10 miles outside Park City and 1.5 miles down a dirt road, so you never know how many people might show. The answer is many hundreds. Cars were parked all the way around the building and up the entry road and the flow of people was constant for the four hours of the opening.

The ribbon cutting was handled by a 7-month old adopted dog. He had a bit of performance anxiety with so many people and dogs watching him. He came through quite well though.

As part of the fund raising, you could (and still can) buy a brick with your saying on it, and it is installed as part of the back patio. They did a great job and it looks very nice.

Of course if you really want to make a permanent statement, you can have a tattoo.

There are two caretakers suites in the building. At least one of the caretakers is there every night. The suites are fairly small one bedroom apartments, but they are nicely done.

... and the kitchen. Almost everything was donated: cabinets, furniture, lights, ... It is handy to be near Park City, where even the hand-me-downs are high quality.

This is the big indoor play area, known as the mosh pit. There is a fence offering separation from the big energetic dogs and the little or older dogs.

The ranch is still a few weeks from being populated by pets. For show, the Furburbia gang brought a collection of cats. They immediately fell in love with the cat play room. If you double-click on the picture, you'll see cats in the wall boxes. Two kittens are hidden in the lime green box on the right. One kitten decided to adopt the orange and white cat and kept snuggling up with him.

Amber preferred the hammocks and anything that kept her away from the three wild kittens.

Lots of people brought their dogs to see the place and they were wonderfully well behaved. At the end of the day though, the sensory overload was just a bit too much for some.

The facility is awesome. The grand opening went better than any of us expected. Julie handled the PR and we got some great newspaper articles and coverage from the Salt Lake ABC station.

After a two or three day break, it will be time to get back and finish the work so that the ranch goes into "production". Part of that will involve finding all the things we hid in the last few hours to make the place look so nice.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just not fair

Yesterday Rob and I drove 20 miles to photograph the Sandhill Cranes. I have my camera backpack, with two cameras, a half dozen lenses of every shape and size, and a tripod strong enough to climb up. The birds stand a half mile off in the field.

Today I am driving along the highway near the Home Depot. Not only do I see two cranes, but they have a chick with them. They are about 40 feet off the road. What camera do I have? My tiny Canon SD880 pocket camera. This is as good as I could do. I thought about trying to get closer, but I didn't want the little one wandering out into highway 40.

Some days it just wasn't meant to be.

Wildlife field trip

Rob Schumacher discovered a field that was an evening hangout for about 40 Sandhill Cranes. We drove to see them, but the little buggers were hanging out on the far side of the field. A very long lens on a very windy day makes for mediocre pictures. I'll go back and try again some evening soon. I wonder where their chicks are.

On our way home, we saw a tiny little fox. He didn't like having his picture taken, so he took off.

When he felt safe, he stopped and watched us. He was a cute little guy.

I think the local fox population went through a scruffy phase as they changed from their heavy winter fur to their summer attire. Now that they are in their summer wear, they are quite pretty again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Grand Table - Year 3

Early each summer, Park City closes down Main Street and hosts the Grand Table. Lots of restaurants bring tables into the street and prepare wonderful menus. We did this last year, but this year's was much bigger and better.

It's hard to get a real picture, but imagine this string of tables reaching from the top of Main Street to the bottom, probably 1/4 mile. There were 1500 of us dining together, with a lot more wandering the streets or God forbid, eating inside a restaurant.

We had perfect weather, sunny and 75. Our group was formed from Park City Wednesday hosts and their spouses. From the bottom working up: Steve and Alison Pierce, Joni and Doug Drexler, Bill and Loris Benson, and then Julie and I. We dined with Shabu, our favorite eating establishment in Park City.

I can't imagine how they will do this much bigger. The street was full of food, people and music. What a great way to spend an evening with 1500 of your closest friends, relatives and neighbors.

Outdoor CrossFit

I have been trying to be pretty religious about heading to CrossFit on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's. This Saturday they announced that they would be doing the workout in City Park. I couldn't pass up the nice weather.

As always, I felt like the fat, slow one, but I am slowly getting better.

Utah leads in volunteering

I rag on Utah for doing a lot of quirky (stupid) things. Sometimes they should get credit for doing things really well.

For the fifth year in a row, Utah leads the country in the percentage of people who volunteer and also in the number of hours volunteered. The state average had 22% of the population donating some time. Utah doubled that with 44%. Second place, Iowa, was a good ways behind with 37%.


If you have any interest in reading about all this, they have some nice info at

Wonder what state was dead last? Why New York of course....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maxwell the kitty

We restarted our search for a new cat that would be friendly with Jasper and Cosette, and as close to hypoallergenic as possible for me. I have bad problems with some cats, a little trouble with others, and no problems with a rare few, including Cosette.

Today we went to Furburbia and tried this cute little fur ball named Maxwell. He was cute as he could be, but another little allergen to me.

We left the adoption center about 2 hours ago, and since then, someone else came in and adopted him! Yeah for little Maxwell! Two other cats also went out today. Furburbia handles 40 dog adoptions a month and 30 cats. That's 800 animals a year that aren't being put to sleep.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Sometimes it is tough to decide where you would rather be. In Raleigh, it is 96 and humid, with a heat index in the 100s. Yuck! That's supposed to be August weather.

Here in Park City, it has been raining for several days. The high yesterday was 42! It snowed up at the tops of the mountains, but fortunately we didn't see any down at our levels. We have given up trying to really break into summer. We would be happy with spring.

This is the view out front this morning. The 10000s of feet of mountains are completely socked in.

The good news about all this cold, wet weather is that we aren't having to water the lawns much. This is important in an area that just doesn't get rain through most of July, August, and even September. The plants are as green as we have seen them in our six years out here.

The nice weather forecasters tell us we should be back up around 70 through most of this week. I guess that's a start.

I don't suppose anyone knows how to merge the weather. I am sure that the Raleigh people would happily give us some heat in exchange for some of our cool.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

We count! We finally count!

We weren't sure it was ever going to happen, but a census worker came by the house today and asked their list of questions. I was really beginning to wonder if we would ever be counted. I'm not quite sure why, but I feel better.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Kelly graduates!

Julie and I went for a long weekend to Hillsboro, OR to watch our niece, Kelly Smale, graduate from high school. She will be starting school at Gonzaga (in eastern Washington, near Spokane) this fall.

On Friday night we attended the school's Baccalaureate Mass. Yes, given that I am not Catholic, nor did I attend a Catholic school, I had to look up how to spell Baccalaureate. Kelly sang with the choir and got to read a prayer she wrote.

On Saturday, we had beautiful weather for the graduation. It was held at Portland University. This is Kelly entering the room. She is very proud of her accomplishments in high school and certainly should be. Saint Mary's Academy is a tough school, but her work got her into a good college with some nice scholarships (academic and musical).

Getting the diploma.

And the traditional tossing of the caps.

Kelly with some of her friends and fellow graduates.

The other two Smale sisters: Laura and Jacky. With any luck, they should graduate in 2 and 5 years respectively. I can't remember too many occasions when everyone was all dressed up.

Julie and her mom, Joan.

Julie's sister and Kelly's mom: Sue.

Marty, the happy dad. I think the yellow ribbon means he was in Honor Society. The cords mean he was in the choir and something else.

Kelly, back at the house. She's smiling because she hasn't found her summer job yet. That gives her at least a few days of sleeping in late. She has submitted a lot of applications so hopefully something will turn up soon.

Julie and Kelly in the Samle's back yard.

Isn't my wife pretty?

Buddy the Dog. Buddy is one of the sweetest dogs on the planet. He's twelve years old now and starting to have troubles getting around, but he still loves being wherever everyone else is.

On Sunday, Jacky had a piano recital. Everyone in the family has been taking music lessons at one time or another. We've seen piano, flute, guitar, and voice. Jacky did well and it was fun to see kids from kindergarten to high school seniors all play.

And finally, Grandma Joan, Laura, Jacky, and Kelly.

OK, I am done traveling now and our pets may think we are abandoning them. In the past six weeks or so, we did North Carolina, California and Utah. Time to settle down and enjoy Utah for a while. The weather is warm and sunny, but that seems to be causing some terrible flooding in some areas. Fortunately Park City is spared, but Cottonwood Creek over near Snowbird and Alta is way over flood stage. Bummer.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

You just can't make this up

I keep finding the weirdest things driving around Park City. Last fall I blogged about taking the frontage road to Home Depot to see the llamas and mini-donkeys. Today I didn't have the time, so I took highway 40. And what do you see at the exit ramp?

One bison, one donkey (full sized), one zebra, and two odd looking goats.

They had a lot of space to wander around and could have spread out over a field. Clearly, this menagerie was hanging out together. I wonder if they know they are different animals.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

An odd golf day

I went out for a round of golf at the Wasatch Mountain course this morning. I was playing with two fellow hacks, Doug Drexler and Bill Benson. They don't bother keeping score, which means their only handicap is their golf game.

I thought I was doing well. One the fifth hole, I hit low on the flag stick on my first shot of a par 3. This is unusually close for me, even though it rolled 12 feet past and I settled for a par. I was happy.

Then Bill steps up on the 13th hole, another par 3. He hits a nice shot and as it's flying, I jokingly say "It's in the hole". Well, it was. It hit, bounced once and disappeared for a hole in one. The odds for an average golfer hitting a hole in one are about 12,000 to 1. Neither Doug nor I had ever seen it happen. Yeah Bill!! Of course he couldn't turn in his score card, since he wasn't even keeping score.

Trying not to be outdone, Doug gets up on the next hole, a par 5, and hits his second shot. It roles inches past the pin and stops about four feet behind it. If it had hit the pin and dropped, it would have been the extraordinarily rare double eagle. The odds against those are quoted at over a million to one.

In the end, I felt like a loser, only hitting a flag stick. I did shoot better than I have been (94) and somehow managed to shoot par on five par-3's in a row.

An interesting golf day. To make it better, we finished, got in the car, and the rain started. We were clearly meant to be out there.