Urban refugees from the Wasatch Front, they left the rat race behind for a less-frazzled existence.
"Shopping's the pits . . . there's no mall," concedes Aaron Robison, who moved to southeastern Utah with his wife, Kim, in 1994.Trading Provo for small-town Moab was worth it, though, insist the Robisons, who work full-time as innkeepers at the low-key Sunflower Hill Bed & Breakfast a few blocks off Main Street.
They made the switch for family values, leaving behind professional jobs in Utah County, where Aaron was the lead psychiatric technician for mentally ill patients at Utah State Hospital and Kim was a registered nurse at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
"In Provo, the baby-sitter was raising our son," said Kim Robison, who decided with her husband that it was in nobody's best interest to leave their toddler, McKay, in day care 35 hours a week.
"It was really bugging us, so we kind of got our bills in order so we could accept a lower-paying job and just came down here," said Aaron Robison.
They took over the inn, a family-owned operation founded seven years ago by Kim Robison's parents, longtime Moab residents Marge and Richard Stucki. Started as an out-of-the way lodge with little clientele, the site's original adobe farmhouse has since been remodeled and expanded into six rooms. Last month, the operation grew further when a new Cape Cod style house opened next door, with five bedroom suites.
The Robisons live on the premises, where they say the ambience is right. McKay is 3 years old now and is given to wandering in the sunny and spacious garden. In March, the couple became parents to a second son, Maxwell, and are rearing their family in living quarters inside the new house.
Though theirs is not necessarily a get-rich occupation, the Robisons say it has its rewards.
"It's a lot of work, but it's great meeting all the people from all over the country," says Kim Robison, who rises at 5 a.m. to cook breakfast specialties that range from oven-baked French toast to breakfast burritos and smoked turkey and eggs.
Aaron Robison's duties include putting the place to bed and chasing patrons out of the hot tub by 10:30 p.m.
Though there's only one theater in town and not much in the way of any other formal entertainment, the Robisons like their proximity to Canyonlands and Arches national parks, not to mention the Colorado River, the Slick Rock mountain-bike trail and any number of other outdoor attractions in a region famed for its beauty.
"We might miss out a little on some of the culture in Salt Lake and Provo," says Aaron Robison, "but we can always drive up there."