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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rockland, Utah

The drive out to Needles Overlook was a winding twenty-two miles. As we prepared to leave, we entered Moab into our Garmin GPS as our next destination. After just a few miles, Miss Garmin (as I call her) spoke up, "In point two miles, turn left!"

Linda and I looked at each other. "Did you see any other roads along the drive in?" I asked. "No," she replied. Well there it was - a narrow, one-lane, red dirt road. The directions on the Garmin said to drive 1.2 miles on "Shortcut Road" to a gravel county road. I couldn't resist the word "Shortcut" and we turned. Windshield view here:

Was it really a shortcut? I think maybe Miss Garmin didn't notice how fast I had been driving on the asphalt posted at 45 mph. This shortcut dropped our speed to about 30 honest miles per hour. After about a dozen or so miles on the county gravel road, I noticed a large rock formation on the left.

Now that is not unusual. There are lots of these large rocks in the Utah desert. I've seen them from the main highway, but here was the backside of one. And wait a minute, what is that at the base of the rock?

It looks like houses, cars and other signs of life. Take a closer look:

We got out the binoculars. Sure enough, vehicles parked in caves. Good sized buildings - almost a small town there. And a large solar panel installation on top of the left side of the rock. What was this?

It was a couple of days later before I could google up an answer. This Roadside America description clears it up. It includes this description of the residents at the base of the rock.
Bob Foster is a polygamist who in 1980 began blasting a honeycombed home into this cliff face for his three wives and 38 children. He was convinced that it would be a safe place when the End Times arrived. For a while he operated a Bed and Breakfast in the caves -- Rockland Ranch Inn -- which may still be in business.
And here's a great news story about the Foster family from November of 2008. A couple of excerpts:
...Foster was born in 1925 in Oregon.

...After spending 20 days in jail for bigamy in 1974, Bob decided to leave mainstream society.

...They do their shopping in nearby Moab or Monticello where many of the community members work, but they said once you move here, you don't ever want to leave.
For a more traditional family living in a cave, you can stop and visit the nearby Hole N" The Rock right on U.S. 191.

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