PictureGrand Canyon National Park North Rim
I watched a movie tonight  called "Trading Christmas", a 2011 made for TV family  film starring Faith Ford and Tom Cavanagh   . Another one this time of year, that has been shown since 2006, is "The Holiday"  starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.  Both movies start off with a similar story line about 2 people who decide to 
swap houses for the holidays. 

We experienced our own house swap recently, when we traded our own Casa Esquina for a condo in Kanab, Utah. I know what you're thinking..."WHERE is Kanab, Utah?"and then "WHY Kanab, Utah?!"

PictureThe view of Angel Canyon from Best Friends Restaurant
My daughter was soon going to be celebrating her milestone 18th birthday, and I wanted to give her something special. She casually mentioned to me one day that volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was on her bucket list. The Rescue Center had been made famous over 4 seasons of the National Geographic's series "Dogtown". I sent some emails to the staff at Best Friend's asking about volunteer opportunities, some inquiries on area condos via VRBO and Flipkey, and researched flights using airline points. 

Everything fell into place quickly, and when condo owner Tyler West, replied with "Are you interested in a trade?", I was  even more excited. A house swap made this fantastic bucket list gift, an affordable reality.

PictureBryce Canyon memories taken from the back of a horse
Kanab, is located near the borders of Arizona and Utah, and is very centrally located to some of the most beautiful scenic National Parks in the US; Zion, Grand Canyon North Rim, Bryce Canyon, and Lake Powell. This very quaint town is billed as the Greatest  Earth on Show (and they aren't kidding!). It also has quite a history of movie locations for Classic Westerns. 

Our first night in town, as we strolled the main street, we laughed as the Oscar Wiener-mobile drove by, moments later the chimes at the Mormon church rang the 8 pm bells welcoming us to Utah. We enjoyed dinner at "Calvin T's Barbeque" while listening to a gentleman belt out some old country tunes. Our table incidentally was across the room from some stuffed raccoons playing poker! This town has a lot of personality packed into a little package! 

The closest international airport is Las Vegas, which conveniently gave us an excuse to do a little shopping and take in a show. Las Vegas provided an almost comical and certainly shocking contrast to our time in Kanab and the National Parks. 

Our adventure included riding mules down into the Grand Canyon and horses in Bryce Canyon, a 100 mile boat cruise to the Rainbow Arch, touring the Antelope Slot Canyons, and hiking in Zion. The highlight of our holiday was volunteering at Best Friends working with the dogs and horses for a couple days. We ran out of time,  and didn't get to go sledding down the sand hills in Pink Dunes State Park but we had to leave something for next time!

At the end of every busy day, we had our "home away from home", Tyler's comfortable 3 bedroom condo, where we could settle into evening Netflix movies with our feet up. We would enjoy breakfast at home and pack sandwiches for our daily adventures (except for the volunteer days where we enjoyed the most amazing vegetarian 5.00 buffet lunches). The Kanab area had a great selection of  family diners, providing home style cooking at reasonable prices.

Unlike the movies based on the house swap theme, Tyler and I chose different dates to swap our vacation homes, making it completely convenient for both of us. We completed our travels at the end of August just before my daughter headed off to University, and Tyler chose to travel to Cabo this past December week, which provided him a perfect escape from the early winter chills of Salt Lake City.. 

This swap worked out perfectly and I would certainly consider similar arrangements another time. As a matter of fact my new years resolution will include advertising Casa Esquina on homeexchange.com to see what our next adventure might bring!

Karen Barnert loves to stay in other vacation homes almost as much as she loves staying at her own Casa Esquina...almost! 
For more info on Tyler's Kanab Condo: http://www.vrbo.com/381855, For more info on Best Friends Animal  Sanctuary www.bestfriends.org


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