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Caves and Canyons

Our early morning meeting was with a man named Grant who was a local outfitter. It was to be an interesting morning. His home was in a cave, one mile down a muddy road that followed a flowing creek bed for a short distance- and we had no four wheel drive vehicle available. So Mike, Wulf’s neighbor, drove us down there and together we walked in to Grant’s home. Apparently, he was an expert with dynamite, as we walked past a swimming pool he had blasted out of the “slick rock”. Slick rock was the local term for basically large fairly smooth rock surfaces sticking out of the ground. Grant also found it more appealing to blast a home out of a large round rock formation rather than nail a bunch of wood together! It was quite a work of art, really. He had large round windows made of plexiglas- with incredible views. Their living room had a built in cubbyhole sofa, and the stairs up to their home never rotted. Besides, their daughter had quite a cool room to bring her friends over to. Honestly though, we learned that Boulder was full of unique, down to nature, homesteading, survivalists who did their best to live with and off the land. It probably wasn’t all that weird to the daughter’s friends.

Grant’s information would turn out to be our lifeline in the next week. We poured over maps with him and got very detailed information about where the only water and feed sources were on our route from Boulder to Blanding. We were warned that this next section would be full of canyons, very remote, and we would have to stick to the dirt road and not try to go cross country. We had no idea what we were in for.

That afternoon, Wulf and Kristen lent us their old Chevy- one old enough that it had a choke and no seat belts! We went for a drive on one of the many sight seeing routes that Kristen recommended- down Hell’s Backbone Road. The road was extremely narrow and steep in areas with cliffs, canyons, and amazing red rock formations all around us. It was a bit daunting to drive and I’m pretty sure we went just over half of the speed limit the entire way. After riding 3 miles per hour, going 45 felt like we were flying!


  1. In Moab,UT there is a place called “Hole in the Wall or Rock” (I forget it’s been 30 yrs plus) that a guy made into his home. When he died his wife made it into a tourist attraction. He also preserved his donkey…not a great taxidermy job…looks kind of droopy!

    In Afghanistan there are entire communities built into the rocks…really neat places. Our great American Southwest has far more in common with that area than I realized! Maybe even a McGrath like couple riding across the country…could be, who knows? I have heard the saddles they use on their mongol like small horses are made of wood in the book “Horse Soldiers” about our special forces guys who went there right after 9/11 and had to ride horses carrying all their GPS, weapons stuff, etc….don’t even imagine. Really hard on the butt! Ride on…it could be worse!!

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