4 Reasons You Need to MOVE

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Yesterday I loaded up in the truck and headed up to the transfer station to dump off some trash, dog hanging his head out the back window.  About a mile up the dirt road I ran into a neighbor who was taking a walk, I stopped and we chatted for about 10 minutes with no worries about any other vehicles coming or going.  I love living out here in the mountains and while there are risks and inconveneinces it is far superior to the subdivision life I lived before.  While I understand everyone is in a different place in their life here are, in my opinion, 4 reasons you need to leave the traditional life behind and move out into the wide open spaces.

1- People.  I’m not a big fan, I try to avoid them as much as possible.  For sure if I have to go “into town” and interact with folks I’ll play nice and I do have a tight group of community that I’m working with but generally I like to avoid crowds / traffic / people as much as possible.  Living out here provides the opportunity for me to disconnect as much as I want and control my interactions.  There are no cars driving by, no sounds of other folks, no stores or other commercial outlets within my AO.

2- Freedom of Maneuver.  I remember living in my subdivision, we had a stupid HOA which controlled what we could or could not do.  Permits for everything, licenses, local sheriff, township police, city police and state troopers always lurking in case you set off a firecracker at the wrong time or have a mischevious dog and your neighbor wants to report you.  Not so out here, I could (and have) literally walk out onto my deck and take a piss off of it in only my underwear with no worries.  Build a pole barn, set in some fence, take a shot at a target 500 yards across the gully to the other hillside.  Whatever, nobody cares….and oh by the way the law consists of the Sheriff and they might be 45 min away depending.

3- Self Reliance.  Living out here has been quite the learning experience and I enjoy the challenge.  From well water to a septic system, not being close to resupply for most things and surrounded by wild animals (bear, coyote, deer, elk, turkey et al) it has been a change.  We have had to work a bit harder at things but I value it and much prefer it to punching a button on my iphone and having it done for me.  I must clarify, in no way are we homesteaders but we are much further along than we used to be.

4- Personal Gratification.  I sit on my deck in the morning and watch the sun rise over the mountains and take it all in, so thankful for everything we have and hoping that we never ever take any of it for granted.

Final Thoughts

Living out here is not a panacea, we could still be suspectable to major or minor SHTF events (biggest being fire, water shortages).  Yet when it comes down to it I feel like we are much better off than we used to be, I was not a fan of being surrounded by neighbors in cheaply built homes and well manicured lawns.  At least out here we have the abilty to succeed and/or fail mostly on our own terms, and can do so in relative peace and quiet.  Right now the snow is falling hard and the wood stove is roaring, I wouldn’t go back to a 5000 square foot house in XYZ subdivision in whatever town for anything.  They can have it, all of it.

 

Climbed Pikes Peak: Lesson’s Learned

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Around 13,500 ft, close to the summit

Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs and the Barr Trail to the summit: 13 miles, 7500 ft elevation gain (to over 14k ft) and the last few thousand feet fighting snow and ice.  Many folks who do this trek take 2 days choosing to overnight at the Barr camp about 7 miles in from the trailhead.  Why make it easy, we decided to do it all in one day stepping off promptly at 6 am.  10 hours later (including breaks) we made the summit which was no small miracle.  I have often said that a cornerstone to preparedness is mental toughness because when the chips are down and all the cool gear purchased at REI is lost and the realization that nobody is coming to save you sets in, the mental game begins.  Only those who can steel their mind and push through the suck will persevere, and the older I get the more of a reality that becomes.

The Plan

We would step off at 6 am, take a 5 to 10 min rest stop at each mile marker and a 20-30 min stop at Barr camp to refuel on ramen noodles and hot cocoa.  We had our small backpacks with the essentials and crampons for the snow and ice that awaited.  Everything going as planned the summit would be hit before the road closed at the top and we would catch a ride down around 3:30-4pm.  Back in town for dinner, no big deal.

Tossed these on around 12,000 ft

Murphy’s Law

I knew there would be struggles with the altitude, especially above 10,000 feet and admittedly I’m not as  young as I once was but I’ve made it through worse in my military career.  What could go wrong?

Mile 6 is when I started to feel the ache in my knee, an ache I hadn’t felt in many years and originally developed at a rather rigorous military school I had attended in my younger days (torn meniscus was the end result).  I could push through I told myself, discomfort and “hurt” are different than “injured”, I had to keep going.  By the time I reached 13,000 feet I was almost dragging my right leg and trying not to get caught in the snow or move laterally, otherwise stabbing pain would hit.  I resorted to walking in a peg leg fashion, more hips and almost no knee bend.  The go was slow and the pain, if I slipped or stumbled into deep snow, was terrible.  All this time my hiking buddy was stopping to throw up every few hundred yards between bouts of dizzyness (he had flown in from sea level), we were a hot mess.

Someone to Lean On

If you haven’t done work at altitude I’m here to tell you there are very few folks, probably sans olympic type altheletes, who are immune to the thin air.  Physical prowess and how “in shape” one is usually doesn’t matter, your body just has to work super hard to complete the most basic functions.  It’s exhausting and some do throw up, fight dizzyness and have other debilitating symptoms.

As previously stated I was fighting knee pain and my buddy was hurling his lunch at every opportunity, we suffered and persevered together.  It was surreal, for a few hundred feet I would be motivating him as we moved along.  Another 50 feet, let’s get to that next bend in the switchback.  We can do it.  Then seemingly the tables would turn and I would be in pain struggling to walk, he would take the role of motivator despite stopping to hug a rock.  Heck, we both would stop to lean on big rocks every 50 feet or so to catch our breath, especially the last 1500 feet up which took us almost 2 hours to complete.

In Retrospect

There was very little celebration when we got the top, we were just glad it was over.  Bear in mind this isn’t something we typically do, and other mountains in CO over 14k have trail heads that start at much higher elevations, so a much quicker hike.  Pikes Peak made us earn that one but I did have some thoughts on the whole experience.

  • Age is just a number: FALSE.  Broadly speaking I tend to disagree with the whole age is just a number.  If that’s the case why don’t we see any 75 year old NFL players, or 3 year old stock brokers, or issue driver’s licenses at 8 years old.  You get what I’m saying.  As we get older the body is capable but not quite as capable, my 40 year old self is definitely not my 20 year old self.   Like Toby Keith said, I’m not as good as I once was…but I’m as good once as I ever was.
  • No such thing as a one man army.  I made that climb because my buddy was with me, I have no doubt about that.  I have often said that the whole one many army is a fallacy, after all you have to sleep sometime (think security).  In addition when the times get tough having someone to help motivate is absolutely critical.  Buddy team for the win.
  • The Bugout on foot fantasy.  “When the SHTF I’ll leave my suburban home, toss my BOB on my back (that I’ve rarely worn) and hike into the woods – live off the land and cover 20 miles a day.”  Right.  I don’t care if you are a hardcore Infantryman who has done countless roadmarches in a controlled environment the reality of the wilderness would no doubt be different.  Combine that with other factors like altitude and injury and all of a sudden that sweet plan just turned sour.
  • Mental Toughness.  I cannot emphasize this enough and I believe that as I have gotten older and my body has worn down my capacity to push through mentally has indeed enhanced.  Those of us who have been around for a bit have experience to call upon and a mental toughness that has been forged in the fire, it really is an asset that can be called upon.

The Bottom Line

Get out there and challenge yourself once in a while physically and by that I don’t mean going for a PR on the bench at the gym.  Do something that pushes your personal limits for an extended period of time, understanding  each of us are at different places in our lives.  I climbed Pikes Peak which wasn’t exactly easy but others might scoff at that and need to do something much harder.  Or maybe you are that guy who has 40 lbs of beer gut hanging off the front end who carries a gun because hey, a 1911 solves everything (or so one might believe).  Maybe a walk around the block is in order.  In any event I think soley relying on supplies as a preparedness strategy without giving thought to the physical and mental is a massive miscalcuation.  Take care and stay safe.

 

2018 Preparedness Goals

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Here we are halfway through March but I suppose it’s not too late to post about preparedness goals for this year.  At a time when things seems to be going well it’s often easy to place preps on the back shelf because hey, could spend that money on something other than supplies and would rather head downtown than spend a day working on some skills.  I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to a little complacency but it’s essential that in some respect we keep plugging along.  What follows are a few of my goals for 2018.

Wood Gathering / Networking

In the year and some change that I’ve lived here in the mountains I’ve gone through roughly 5 cord of wood.  Being busy and also with plenty of locals who split and deliver it per specs, I’m sort of ashamed to say that I’ve purchased all of it and had it delivered.  Sure, the stacking sucks but that’s the easy part.

I’ve met a nice like minded individual who frequents a large ranch every month or so, assists with bringing down trees / splitting and stocking the barn.  They need another good man he tells me, all the dry wood you can haul once the day is out.  I like that plan and am not opposed to hard work, will definitely be participating going forward.

Long Range AR10 Dope

You already know this story.  Spend some money tinkering and build a nice rifle, load catridges for it…barely shoot it (safe queen).  I do train quite a bit with my M4 and especially pistol(s) but have neglected my AR10, I need to get out and get some data on it this year and there are no shortages of places I can get out to 500+ yards.  Fortunately I’ve found another buddy who has a chrono and also loads, we are going to head out together soon.

Concealed Carry: Full Steam Ahead

2017 was a great year for training, I hosted quite a few pistol and rifle courses as well as traveling to the east coast to train with my recently retired GB (Green Beret) buddy to hone my skills.  2018 will mean more courses but I’ve already secured a space and have gone full steam into teaching and certifying for CCW.  I enjoy empowering responsible citizens and helping to make them more self sufficient.

Wood Stove Cleaning

I need to clean my stove after the weather warms up, I paid around $250 for a chimney sweep crew to come out and inspect / clean it last season and after observing them I think I’ll be good to go.  Climbing up on the roof shouldn’t be an issue, one man up top shoving the brush down and another at the stove with a shop vac.  Just one of those self reliance things that I never had to do before but want to pick up on.

Gasoline Storage

Currently I have four 5 gallon containers and a 5 gallon safety can which stays in the back of my truck.  I’d like to have all safety cans stored in a lockable container but once again, there are costs involved with that.  Each one is around $50, x 4 and a $300 or so locker.  All in due time but I’d feel much better about that setup than my current one.

More Wood Working Projects

Last year I picked up a compound miter saw and table saw to compliment my other tools and have been hitting several projects around the house.  Everything from small tables to exterior well covers, I really enjoy buiding these sorts of things and hope to do more in the future.

The Bottom Line

Life has changed since moving out to the mountains but it’s all been for the best.  The conveniences are less, the drives to town are longer and the *somewhat* isolation is real.  I enjoy it and am happy to share it with my family.  2018 will be another year where we continue to gain more skills and prepare for something that may or may not come.  It’s the way we choose to live and are definitely thankful for it.

 

Self Defense: If You Don’t Train to Fight, You Cannot Fight.

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You played high school sports, you consider yourself athletic, you still hit the gym for some cardio and lift some weights.  Maybe you hit the punching bag hanging out in the garage too and oh by the way, that 6 month stint in Karate back in the day.  Guess what, it’s not enough.  Most trained folks would make quick work of those who are not, this of course unless you come across someone else with the same background, in which case its a bunch of wild haymaker punches and / or football tackles and headlocks.

So often in the world of preparedness we like to think of self defense in terms of using weapons, but guns (concealed carry or other) should be an absolute last resort unless in a life or death situation.  There exists a wide spectrum of possibilities where one might have to simply use some self defense techniques to tone down a situation, protect one’s self or a loved one.  Remember, lethal force is always last…solve it at another level.

This past weekend I had an unfortunate altercation with a drunk tough guy, someone who provoked and provoked while I mostly remained calm.  When I knew that the inevitable was going to happen I accepted it (I think I remarked, I’m standing right here man to the threat of “I’m going to beat your ass!) and sure enough, he bull rushed me with everything he had.  10 seconds (probably less) later, he was being choked almost unconcious, my hat never fell off, I never hit the ground and I passed him off to some folks and gathered my friend and left.  Nobody really hurt, no police called, situation resolved.

I’m not some great fighter, I’m rather subpar actually.   Combatives and such in the military and 5 years of Brazilian Jiujitsu, nothing amazing but still much more than chest thumping tough guy had.  It allowed me to assess the situation, remain completely calm and simply react to his actions via countless drills on the mat over years of training.

The reality of the situation is that most folks who actually know how to fight are NOT looking for one.  They will avoid, concede and walk away but when pressed…finish it.  You have to ask yourself, when considering your self defense arsenal are you prepared to defend yourself outside of using a firearm?  Adrenaline won’t help you, neither will being able to rep 315 on the bench 20 times when going against a practicioner of a solid martial art.  Think about it and seek out the appropriate training.  Good luck.

 

What Happens When You ARE NOT on Social Media.

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I already know what you are thinking: But I use Facebook to keep up with my relatives and close friends.  Why?  If they are really your close folks wouldn’t you be able to keep up with them otherwise, didn’t folks keep up with each other prior to the internet and social media?

Personally I do not have a Facebook account, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other stuff and yet somehow the folks I need to keep in touch with still manage to share pictures with me and generally communicate with me.  Bonus points because I avoid all the stupid Facebook vomit / drama or Instagram fake trash.  Nobody cares about the link you posted, or the “thoughts and prayers” while hitting the like button.  Political posts are a dime a dozen, nobody is changing anyone else’s mind.

There are other better reasons to avoid social media, mostly because all of those platforms are logged and monitored in one way or another, yes I realize this blog is too but you get my point.  Additionally it’s just a time suck, energy poured into something with very little value on the back end.

I should point out that I rarely watch the news anymore either, had no idea the stock market dipped and was a few days late on this latest school shooting.  Amazing how, when you control what you can and worry about what is actually within the sphere of your own influence how much less seems to matter.

Log off of Facebook and the others, you’ll be better off for it.  Cheers.

 

The Daily Prep: Firewood, water, tires.

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Woke up this morning to some ominious looking clouds over the mountain horizon, snow inbound.  The wind was such last night that it (once again) wreaked havoc with my tarps covering the wood pile, among other things.  I’ve learned quite a bit since moving to the mountains about managing wood for the stove, it turned out to be a little more complex than I thought.

  • 2 cord would be plenty for the cooler weather I thought, I was wrong.
  • Stacking the wood nice and neat satisfied by OCD, but not that practical.  If you don’t pull from the pile evenly it starts to get a nice lean to it, resulting in frustration.
  • Original tarps with bungee cords was great, but as the pile shrank constant adjustments and moving of anchor points was also a pain.
  • New approach was to build a big box to hold 1 cord (this will make a total of 3), just cover that box with a tarp and toss the wood in there any old way.  We’ll see how that goes.

With the wind last night and weather moving in I knew I had to adjust my tarps and also cover the new wood box.  Some old sandbags came in handy to keep things secure along with some well placed deck screws and bungee cords, this between constant requests to throw a log down the hill from my dog.

With respect to water I’m refilling (via well) the large basin / stone pool that is near the house, I’d say it easily holds more than a medium hottub but every few weeks need to add more water as it gets lost to evaporation and animals drinking out of it.  I have a pump that keeps it constantly moving so that’s a good thing.  The reality is I have a well and plenty of storage on site but it’s always nice to have this as a backup to the backup plan because…you never know.

I inspected my tires on my truck and am due for a new set of 2, I’ve staggered purchasing and rotate on a consistent basis but these are not going to get me through the winter.  Something like having good tires on a vehicle is essential to preparedness, can’t tell you how many folks I see on the side of the road when the big snow comes because they neglected to shod their vehicle with the appropriate tires.

That’s pretty much it for now, maybe I’ll include a daily prep segment once a week or so as it’s always good to get folks thinking and keep focused.

 

91 Gallon Gasoline Storage Project for Emergencies

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Preparedness is always about improving your foxhole, going from where you are to the next level bit by bit based on prioritization and available resources.  I currently have multiple 5 gallon containers on site which I cycle fuel storage through, but with three vehicles with a total tank capacity over 70 gallons plus two generators I need more improve my position.  We all store food, water, medical supplies and more but tend to neglect fuel which is a life source for many in times of need.  Granted unless one has a thousands of gallons on site it’s not a long term solution but for immediate needs when faced with natural disasters having a fuel source beyond that of the standard 5 gallon can be an enabler.  Here are a few factors that I considered when building my fuel storage plan.

  • Affordable (Less than $1k total).
  • Mobile, not buried in the ground.
  • Relatively easy to build, instead of buying a more expensive all inclusive option.
  • Minimum of 50 gallon storage capacity which does not require cycling through every few months.

My plan involves taking my existing 5×8 trailer which I bought from Lowes a number of years ago and adding a tank and pump to it.  This 91 gallon tank will weigh around 675 lbs full and that’s easily accomodated with the 1600lb trailer capacity, it will be a unit I can keep on the property or take with me if I need to go mobile.

The Trailer

 

The Fuel Tank

Concept

I plan on mounting this fuel storage container to my trailer, but only after laying wood down on the trailer to create a more sturdy surface.  This container will be able to provide a reasonable amount of fuel storage on site and will also be portable in case we have to bug out with multiple or even one vehicle.  In instances were gas stations are out of fuel or lines are long this would be a a huge advantage, along with having more storage on the trailer for other items.

Bottom Line

Self reliance is a massive advantage when it comes to preparedness, whether it be generating one’s own food or having a fuel source on hand.  While not the best solution possible this project will provide my family with some piece of mind knowing that we do not have to rely on local sources (in the short term) in times of need, and should the power go out for a few weeks at a time we will be able to run our generators with no problem.  Anyone else have a fuel storage plan or project?  Let me know!

 

Hurricane Irma: This is why we PREPARE.

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I’m preaching to the choir but it had to be stated.  If you take a look at what is going on right now in Florida it is a classic case of why preparedness should be a critical part of one’s life.  Folks are lined up around the block for bottled water that they will never get a chance to buy because the shelves are already empty, the next opportinuty to collect supplies probably coming when the National Guard sets up a distro point.

Long lines form at Costco in Florida as residents brace for Hurricane Irma. Image @ KITV Channel 4

Think about these components of preparedness and how they could apply in this situation.

Bugging In:  Having the necessisary supplies (food, water, even gasoline) on hand to stay in place for weeks even without power and without having to rely on outside sources.  Even if the water supply became unusuable for a period of time it would not be a major factor.

Bugging Out:  Having all of the necessary supplies to quickly displace, be self sufficient while on the move knowing that critical items were along for the ride.  Ability to move without having to stop to refuel until out of the danger area, secondary location already identified and ready / willing to accept visitors.

Security:  Understanding that in long term power down scenarios there will be no shortage of folks looking to take advantage of thin law enforcement coverage.  Having a security plan in place in order to address this.

First Aid: Folks could get hurt, not only having the equipment on hand (not just a first aid kit, but things like IFAKs, IV kits etc) but the training in order to employ these properly.

Communication:  Cell phone coverage most likely will go down, having a secondary and tertiary plan (HAM radio).

I could go on and on but the main point is this:  taking initiative and remaining proactive while times are good so that when the tough times come, the only difference is this is now a time for execution and not rehearsals.  I’ve stated this many times, if one is primarily prepping for EMP strikes and WW3 / Martial Law, priorities are misplaced!  The greatest threat all of us face come in the form of localized or even wide spread natural disasters.  Hurricanes, flooding, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes etc.  It’s too late for the folks who are just now lining up hoping to catch a case of bottled water at the grocery store but hopefully many will learn from this experience….sadly most will not.

 

The Danger of Too Much Preparedness

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I know a guy who entered into the prep world maybe 6 years ago, and boy did he ever. He absorbed every bit of information from all of the alt news websites and prep blogs, ran up his credit cards over the course of a year buying up stacks of supplies and guns and knew without a shadow of a doubt that SHTF would be happening in the next year (but surely not more than two). One year passed as he bought more storage food and other supplies, two years passed and then three. Fast forward to year five and he began selling his guns and preps as other priorities in his life came into play. Now 6 years later he is no better off than when he started and probably still has quite a bit of debt. Too much preparedness and not enough balance / perspective and this is what you get.

The story above is not dissimilar from many out there, folks who jump out of the gate at full speed gobbling up supplies and knowledge almost in the hopes that some sort of catestrophic event will take place in order to justify their actions.  In contrast if my body of work, in the form of many years of preparedness, results in no action take and dusty emergency supplies I’ll happily take it.  That would mean that my family never had to endure the hardships which I was preparing for, that I got it wrong and those who live their lives only worrying about the next day were right (or lucky).  Yet as demonstrated by the hurricane that is pounding the gulf coast as I type this and those who will be facing lengthened power outage / bugout situations, the need for balanced preparedness comes around more often than many like to acknowledge.

The Need for a Baseline

There are basic prep needs that are readily known to most in the community, some people probably meet these needs without even calling themselves preppers as most are/should be common sense.  While it won’t require one tuning into Alex Jones and maxing out the Visa card at the prepper convention, a certain mindset and acknowledgement that one could end up in at bind is necessary.  Those facing the aforementioned hurricane would have done good to have a few days of food and water, a decent first aid kit stocked with necessary meds and a vehicle with a full tank of gas / a few extra full gasoline cans.  Basic stuff.  Folks actually can go from zero to having a good baseline in one afternoon with a couple hundred bucks and a trip to Costco.

Analysis and Prioritization

This is where things get a little sticky and folks tend to go overboard.  What are you preparing for?  “Everything!  EMP, Nuclear War, Supervolcano, Martial Law, Drought, Stock Market Crash and ohbytheway that thing were the poles reverse.”  While I must admit there have been a few times where I got spun up (if you recall Ebola) for the most part I’d like to believe things remained practical with respect to preparedness around here.  Sure one can acknowledge the EMP threat and war game it, but to dwell on it seems like a waste of time and energy.  What we don’t want is to be like my friend where things spiral out of control and we get burned out in a sprint, disappointed and disollusioned when the big one doesn’t take place.  If you’ve been around this for a while and have checked some other blogs / alt news sites you can go back 10 years and without exception predicitons of calamity / collapse are in no short supply.    “There is no way we get through _______ (whatever year) without a major collapse and here are the key indicators!”  5 years later…

In order to avoid all of this it becomes essential to conduct an analysis of YOUR situation and prioritize accordingly.

  • What are the biggest high probability threats in your local area?
  • What resources do you have: Time, Money, Friends etc?
  • How can you mitigate the top 3 threats via 2 courses of action?
  • How can you monitor if those threats are going to manifest themselves?
  • What’s the 6 month, 1 year, 3 and 5 year plan to shore up things, acknowledging all at once is not an option?
  • Taking all of the above into account, is there a numbered checklist which prioritizes efforts toward the goal?

The above is just a sample I came up with but as an example, my threat list would include forest fires and being snowed in without power for a few days or weeks at time.  Flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes not so much.  Based on my threat analysis I would begin to prioritize and plan in case I had to take action..and on it goes.

The Long Game

I believe one of the shortfalls that we all can fall victim to is not taking account the long game and by that I mean years or even decades.  Unfornately there are those out there who want to justify their preps, hoping for an EMP to hit (yes, those morons exist) or some similar calamity to befall their area.  We need to play for the long game, constantly shoring up our preps / skills / relationships / resources over an extended period of time understanding that yes indeed at some point something could happen.  This is why preparedness should be a lifestyle and a balanced one at that.  Enjoy life, take the family out, don’t be afraid to travel beyond a 20 mile radius of the homestead.  The long play wins in this scenario and it probably always will.

The Bottom Line

All of this circles back to one thing: practical preparedness.  Once a baseline is established this is a race that the tortise is poised to win, not the hare.  Sound discipline, logic and a good plan of action are key in a successful preparedness journey.  Those who jump out of the gate and overload themselves with “I’m a prepper!” are only setting themselves up for disappointment.

 

The Complacent Phase vs Prepping When Times Are Good

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On the surface things seem to be moving along rather swimmingly.  The story line goes something like: improving economy / Dow trends / more jobs / less National Debt / and just a general feeling that things are going better, whatever that means.  I for one can appreciate that gasoline is not $4/gallon but that doesn’t make me any sort of expert.  A quick browse of the standard prepper-ish websites reveals mostly the same headlines that were there in 5-7 years ago, not so much on TV about prepping anymore because life is good.  It’s so easy to get complacent in times like these after all, Trump is Prez and he will make America great again….right?

Complacent:

adjective
1. pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation,etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied:

It’s tough to prioritize prepping when there really doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency.  Back in 2010 folks were snapping up a years worth of food for storage and plotting potential bugout locations if and when T-SHTF.  Now a new car in the drive might not necessarily be a bad thing, along with that trip to the Bahamas.  Previously prioritized preps (maybe a solar addition and gardening) are on the back burner and the discussions among friends about potential courses of action with respect to threats have all but subsided.  The planning and execution phase has been replaced by the complacent phase.

I believe there is a huge opportunity now to advance prep priorities while maintaining a good life balance and still enjoying the fruits of one’s labor (read: nothing wrong with vacation).  Here are a few reasons why.

  • The pressure isn’t there.  A few years back when people believed the sky was falling folks were scrambling to play catch up, tossing credit cards at preps and making poor decisions.
  • Demand is relatively low for whatever products / materials you might need or what to stock up on.  Ammunition, storage food, water storage devices, medical kits.
  • It’s ok to experiment.  Start that garden now and see just how difficult it can be to grow your own food, try planting various seeds to see if store bought perform better than those stored prepper seeds you have on a shelf in the basement.
  • Save Money.  Pretty self explanatory but needed to be mentioned.  If the job is paying more try to save more when times are good.

The above listed are just a few reasons why I believe that now is the time to take advantage of this lull in the action, calm before the storm if you will.  I’ve often quoted Mark Steyn when he stated (reference the economy): “Something that cannot go on forever, will stop.”  Any number of things could happen to disrupt this current state of relative calm which we are in and it might be next week, 2 years, 5 years and so on.  If you look at some of the major prep blogs out there folks in the comments section have been calling for a collapse based on evidence every year for the past 10 years….”surely 2010/11/12/13/14 is the year” they said.  Here we are in 2017 coasting along on what I believe to be ice that is thicker than others would imagine.  If it all comes crashing down at that point we’ll all have what we have and it will be the mad scramble once again.  Use this time wisely for surely, at some unknown point in the future things will not be so great.  The expanse and impact of whatever it is that will occur, maybe the economy contracting or even collapsing, is anyone’s best guess.

 

 

Next Level Prepping: A Life Changing Event

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I sit and type this with a cool mountain breeze coming through the open door.  Only the sound of the keys clicking and birds chirping, along with the wind pushing the trees around ever so gently.  If I take a moment to glance up from the keyboard, as far as the eye can see and from left to right is National Forest.  No other houses in view, only God’s creation and the sun beaming down rather intensely.  I’m not sure if this is the perfect prepper paradise but for my wife and I it’s very close.

Let’s recap shall we.

I’ve always been one of those self reliant types but could never break the mold society had for the family.  Our last home was great but it was the typical suburban, strip mall a few miles away, totally reliant on the grid and surrounded by neighbors establishment.  I’ve always said that our (then) circumstances reflected the majority of preppers out there, you play the hand you were dealt and do the best with what you had. I believe that’s why this blog continued to be so popular, even when my own posts started to get few and far between.

The Present

If you’ve been reading along over the last year or so you’ll know that my wife and I made a cross country move.  It was a big leap of faith as we had been at our previous location over 12 years and had established roots.  Yet the desire to do something more and to finally do what we’d always discussed, to take the risk and let come what may.  Now we are here and it’s a very different life, one filled with challenges which we continue to learn from (and which I want to share with you all).  With respect to prepping in general I feel that this new life sets us up for success in ways we could not have imagined before, yet it’s also about a desire to generally break the mold which modern society has set for people.  Since moving here we’ve given away one TV and rarely turn on the other, my cell phone doesn’t ring because there is no signal.  The nearest store is a gas station and that’s 5 miles away, most of it being dirt roads winding down the side of a mountain.  We can’t order food, we can’t grab an Uber ride to go out, we can’t order PPV movies or stream Netflix because the Sat Internet is too slow, we can’t do many of the things that were available to us before but it’s been amazing stepping away from all that.

There are benefits that we are quickly discovering with this new life as well.  Our home is position in such a way that it is very secluded.  We do have a couple neighbors on our “street” (more like a trail with drop offs and various wildlife within view) but they are spread out and all very self sufficient.  Anyone that comes down toward the house either lives here or they had better be delivering a package.  My wife once said as we were looking at the place, “well if T-SHTF not too many folks will be coming up here.”  Absolutely.

There have been some lesson’s learned thus far and I’d like to share them with everyone, some might be able to relate or even provide tips as well.

Help is a long way away

  • Where we used to live there was State Patrol, Township Police, Sheriff, City Cops.  Now there is the local Sheriff and Deputies and a few remote fire stations, the nearest level 1 trauma center is over an hour away.  What does that mean:  be extra careful when doing things like splitting wood, cutting with miter or table saw, handling firearms, et al.  A call to 911 means someone could be here in…20-30 minutes?

You have what you have

  • This is a common phrase with respect to prepping in general, if the balloon goes up you’ll have what you have and make due with it.  Living out here in a relatively remote situation it has become evident in everyday life.  There is no running to the store to pick up that thing which was forgotten, a stockpile of most used items (toilet paper to coffee creamer and everything in between) is a reality now more than ever.

Community is key

  • I have met my two neighbors, which I’ll refer to them as even though they aren’t exactly close.  They are very handy and used to this life which is a great thing.  I was briefed on the importance of being ready to bugout in case of fires, it’s for real up here.  I should point out that I have always advocated that localized natural disasters are a more relevant reason to prep than wondering if an EMP strike will take out the grid (although that is still a possibility).

Wildlife is a very real consideration

  • I carry a gun every time I’m outside the home and it isn’t for people.  Maybe I’m a little paranoid but I have been warned that mountain lions have been spotted in the area, by that I mean next to my home.  I think awareness is key obviously but running around with the dog(s) you can never be too careful.  I’ve also been told that if the garage is left open, bears will be inside poking around.  Fantastic.

Communication plans are very important

  • This one is huge with respect to my wife and I and how we travel.  We have layers of communication which I’ll probably write about later, whether around the home (2 way radios) or going to and from (sat commo).  Cell phones just aren’t reliable and if one of us gets in a pinch we need to be able to reach out.

Nice to have is now essential to have

  • Backup generators come to mind immediately.  Getting snowed in with no power for a week or so is a very real possibility.  A winch on the truck is another item, I’ve already used it twice to recover stuck vehicles.  A third item would be a deep freezer full of various meat (in addition to all the other supplies) and the list goes on and on (trauma kits, air compressor, a cord of wood outside for the wood burning stove…)

New ways of doing things

  • Getting used to the wood burning stove has been a fun experience.  It will heat most of the house if done correctly using a fan.  Before anyone mentions it we have had it inspected and cleaned out, safety first!

Fitness

  • We live at almost 9000 ft elevation.  Simple things like splitting wood can become a challenge up here, even walking the dog over uneven terrain takes much more effort than it did at sea level.  While there is a “get used to it” component fitness is huge.

I’ll wrap it up and change gears for a bit.  Across our country for many life seems to be good right now.  People have become complacent once again and long forgotten the very real economic issues we faced less than 10 years ago.  Threats to our society are greater than ever and I would be lying if that did not factor into the decision to make the move we did.  If nothing happens and we simply enjoy the mountain life and learn to be more self reliant that’s fine with me.  Yet if any number of the threats that exist do materialize I’d like to believe we are better positioned to face them than where we were before.  It’s always about improving your “fighting position” and we continue to do so, I hope you will too.  More to follow as we continue on this journey.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! The Way Ahead (new articles coming out).

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Hello all, it’s been quite a while but as most are aware I’ve transitioned across the country and am setting up shop in addition to providing training for folks via another platform.  Before I go any further I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for in 2016 and moving into the new year.  Mostly, even though I was wrong with my Presidential Election prediction we now seemingly have more time to prep before things get crazy (maybe).

I hope to be settled in during the month of December, it’s been quite a transition for the family but something we’ve been chasing for quite some time.  A home which is in the mountains, miles at the end of a dirt road and decently isolated…backed up against thousands of acres of National Forest.  Once settled I hope to pick up regular posting as we work through many of our projects, these will include but not be limited to:

  • Chickens
  • Greenhouse
  • Solar power
  • Managing new devices (wood burning stove, well pump, septic system)
  • Range card creation for area
  • Shooting range setup and creation
  • Reloading bench fabrication and setup
  • Night vision use

In addition to all of the above expect regular posts which deal with everyday life, a life where there is very little to any cell phone signal, a few sporadic neighbors and the nearest gas station is miles down a dirt and then county road.  The nearest store of any sort will be 15 minutes away on a good day.  It will be challenging but I am looking forward to it, finally getting the space we want and associated benefits and challenges.

As a final note I’ve been getting tons of requests for folks to write guest articles, I’ll probably select a few good ones that aren’t too spammy and toss them up to keep some recurring content on the page.  Thanks for everyone’s patience as it’s been a very sparse year for me with respect to posting but I hope to resolve that very soon.

Fear Not! I’ll be back on a regular basis very soon.

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WOW.  Things have been busy, I just logged in and saw pages of comments to approve and for that I apologize.  The good news is that these months that I have been away from the blog will serve to rejuvenate my writing interest and that combined with a few other changes should make for some interesting content.

I hope everyone out there has been getting on well, as stated in another post I’ve been busy working with folks in person on other projects both training and preparedness related.  It’s been very fulfilling but I can’t let (literally) years of work in this blog and all the contributions go to waste.  The writing will continue soon enough but not before I make a move.  That’s right I’m moving WEST, into the foothills of the Rockies.  Setting up the compound (that’s what I’ll call my house) and getting accustomed to living out there will be great, lots of prepper projects on the way!

On a final note there is quite a bit going on in the world today that surely has people spinning.  Various attacks on the populace, a crazy election and who knows what with the economy.  Stay the course, control what you can and maintain situational awareness.

Chat soon.

PJ

 

Where is PJ? What I’ve been up to.

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All-

Just a quick note as I’ve been AWOL lately.  I’ve been very busy and thought to give you all the inside scoop in order to reassure you that I haven’t abandoned this blog.  I’ve recently started training local folks in all aspects of preparedness and firearms (within my scope of knowledge) and it’s been very gratifying.  However building the courses along with interacting and training has proven to be much more time consuming than I ever would have thought.  The good news is that I’m touching folks in person at the local level, helping to educate them.  I haven’t forgotten about the online presence and hope to update more in the future.

Thanks

PJ

2016 Predictions

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted but thought to come back strong with some 2016 predictions.  Let me know what you think!

1- There will be no economic collapse.  The stock market will not crash, at least not in 2016.

2- Hillary will be president.  Read that again.  Hillary will be president and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  She has been anointed by TPTB and quite frankly I believe that none of our votes matter, the whole thing is an exercise in futility (read: sham, rigged, smoke and mirrors).  She will advance the agenda, not of the people but of those who are truly in charge.  I should note it is my personal belief that all of the other candidates are assholes and would do no better.  If I am wrong and Trump / Cruz et al gets “elected” we are equally as screwed.  Trump is an elitist D bag of the highest order and if you think he gives a damn about you…

3- Gun Control will move forward slightly and then gain even more traction.  The current President will do what he can with Exec action which probably won’t amount to much, but after bullet point # 2 happens….

4- A run on all things guns and ammo, believe it.  If you don’t have it stock up now, you have been warned.  Once she is elected guns and ammo will fly off the shelves like nothing any of us have ever seen before.

5- Terror attacks.  I hate to say it and I don’t want to believe it but the reality is we as a nation are vulnerable.  Look for more terror attacks by assholes screaming about their god in 2016.

6- People like you and I will take the above into consideration but continue to prep wisely and in moderation.

Any thought to add, leave them in the comment section below.

 

Watched a Man Get Killed Today: Misc Thoughts and AAR Comments

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Today I was witness to a very violent car accident which left one driver literally in pieces, it happened right in front of me on the highway while traveling around 75 mph.  Since I was on the scene immediately I was able to quickly assess the situation and provide help when necessary before first police/fire arrived around 5 minutes later.  Once everything was wrapped up (which included putting the deceased guy’s parts and pieces into bags) I had plenty of time to sit and think about how I should have done things differently, including how my kit is structured within my vehicle….specifically my emergency first aid kit.

A Normal Day…Or Not.

It was early afternoon and I was traveling on the highway about 1 hour away from my destination, cruising at 75 mph and thinking about the various activities I needed to conduct upon arrival to my destination.  I already had a hotel room booked and it was going to be a late evening, the plan was to grab a few hours and then hump it back to the office in the morning to continue to work back near home.   At that point I saw the tail end of a white van shoot across the median about 300-500 meters to my front followed instantly by an enormous cloud of white smoke as it hit a semi truck just rear of the cab at full speed.  Flying debris scattered everywhere and I immediately glanced and caught what mile marker I was at while hitting the 911 button on my phone.  In that split second I knew there were some seriously injured or dead people just up ahead, that’s how huge this impact was.  911 answered the call I I quickly blurted out what mile marker I was at on the highway while rolling to a stop and opening my door…I was sure they would get other calls.

Assess

My mental checklist was running as I jumped out of the car, I had surgical gloves in the side door pocket and everything from quik clot, Israeli bandages and a tourniquet in the trunk within reach.  No matter that stuff would take precious seconds to gather up, I needed to get to the van which was 20 meters to my front and sitting sideways across the lanes and smoking with the semi sitting another 20 meters beyond that.  The passenger side of the van was in bad shape but as I came around to the driver’s side (with the intention of checking on the victim) it became immediately clear that I needed to move on to the semi.

The driver’s side looked like it had been peeled back with a can opener.  The driver was sort of still in the seat but hanging down to the ground, almost cut in half, insides on the outside, anything above the shoulders completely unrecognizable.  Limbs were sort of….well they were not in good shape.  Nothing I could do here so I quickly moved to the semi which was literally gushing diesel out of it’s tank.

I came around to the passenger side and there was already another guy attempting to help the driver out who was clearly in shock.  He was worried about grabbing all of his things, mumbling about this and that while his truck was smoking and leaking, the only good news being that diesel is not as flammable as gasoline but still I did not want to take any chances.  Once the driver was out I went back to the van and started to warn some curious onlookers who started to wander up that if they went around to the other side of it, they would probably see something that they did not want to.  I also interacted with some traffic from the opposite lane telling them everyone who was there was alright and that help was on the way.

Action or Observation?

I don’t consider my actions remotely special but rather what I believe almost anyone would do in a similar situation.  People are hurt or potentially in need of assistance given the severity of the accident and location (not close to any major cities), who wouldn’t jump out of their car and run to assist?  Apparently not that many at all.  One guy was on scene to help me with the semi driver and a couple others migrated up asking what was going on but even 1-2 minutes after the accident with traffic stopped both ways on the highway the VAST majority just sat in their cars.  Maybe they were calling 911, maybe they were taking pictures, maybe they figured there was nothing they could do.  In any event I just remember wondering why more people weren’t running up to offer assistance.

After Action Review

I sat in my car about 20 yards from the van watching the firefighters cut out and then place the body parts of the deceased into a bag wondering what I could have done better.  Sure I was fortunate enough to be on the scene very quickly but I did make a few mistakes which mostly revolved around my emergency supplies.

What happened:  While I had all the right kit in my car it was dispersed all over the place.  In my door, in trunk in my survival bag.  I would have had to run back to the car, dig around and the run back to the victim.  Not good.

What should have happened:  As soon as I jumped out of the car I should have been able to yank on a small bag full of quick access emergency supplies, maybe just laying on the back seat.  Quick Clot, gloves, tourniquet, bandages et al.  EMS personnel took almost 5 minutes to arrive in this instance so what if one of the injured had an arterial bleed?  Bad news.

The Bottom Line

I thought I had it covered with respect to emergency medical supplies but when I had to move quickly today I realized my setup wasn’t optimal.  I know that there are quite a few EMS  types who read this blog so maybe you all can respond with tips as well.  I’m not thinking any of us need a super high-speed $500 medic bag in the back seat but it wouldn’t hurt to have all necessary items consolidated in a small pack which one could grab on the way out the door.  Thoughts?

 

Everyday Carry (EDC) Has Gotten Ridiculous

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My personal EDC has changed over the years and I’m sure yours has too.  You carry something which you like, maybe you find out you don’t need something else or whatever.  It’s constantly changing based on one’s personal preferences and desires.  YET…it seems that EDC has gotten out of control lately with dudes carrying almost the entire contents of a bugout bag in their pockets: “Just in case.”  Just in case what, in your daily commute on a 6 lane interstate you break down?  Because the entire time you are traveling around throughout the day there aren’t houses, businesses, shops and such all within a 2 minute walk?  Do you really need that fire starting tinder in your cargo pocket?  Do you really need that paracord bracelet just in case you get stuck in line at Chipotle and need to tie a few bowline knots around a Tabasco bottle to burn some time?  Seriously, enough with this crap already.  Sure, have all the goodies in your pack in the trunk but in your POCKETS?

Blackhawk Down

I once knew a really good dude who said that the movie Blackhawk Down was the worst thing to happen to the average Infantryman and I know exactly what he is referring too.  There was a scene in the movie where some of the Rangers left gear behind because the mission was supposed to be a short one, no need for NODs or extra ammo, or a back plate etc etc.  Of course this didn’t work out as they thought it would, I suppose it’s true that no course of action survives first contact.  What that spawned was a ridiculous surge in the amount of STUFF that the average dude had to carry.  Two is one and one is none to a whole new level.

Two is One and One is None

I do believe in having backups, the whole two is one and one is none theory but there is a limit.  Should I wear two belts?  Should I carry two guns, have 4 spare mags instead of 2, have 2 cell phones, drive a car and tow a second one just in case?  I mean seriously this could get out of control which is why there needs to be some common sense injected into this madness along with the reality that one cannot prepare for every scenario.

Pocket Dump Madness

I’ve seen quite a few vids on EDC and some pictures of pocket dumps and I am amazed at how much STUFF people carry.  Yes if you are venturing out into the wilderness on a hunting excursion you’ll probably want more than the average suburban joe, but even then how much would be in your pockets vs pack?  Even the average dude can probably get away with carrying minimal stuff in his pocket and have a backpack (not the survival bag) with standard stuff in it: flashlight, lighter, multi-tool et al.  It’s almost like it is a competition, how much crap can you carry in your pockets.  But wait what if you are driving to work in suburbia and an EMP hits and you veer off the road and end up in a field, tossed from your vehicle with only what you have in your pockets?  Well…I guess you are just going to have to deal with it.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes less is more.  A gun, knife, knot of cash, watch, wallet and phone will get you by in just about every single circumstance.  Most phones have a flashlight on them and if you need a lighter one is probably within reach in your car or bag.  Think about it.