Thursday, February 19, 2015

My thoughts on prepping and some questions for the pros

So I have found myself thinking about all this prepping stuff more and more lately.  This is a bit of a tricky situation for me since I also have to think about my family.  You see, I grew up in the military and served myself.  Taking off at a moments notice or flat out picking up and moving to another state or country is something I have done more times than I care to remember.  The loss of friends (since all of this went down before the internet and facebook existed) sucked.  Looking back now, those are all experiences that I have survived and learned from.  Life does go on.  My family however, never had those experiences.  My wife and kids wouldn't know what to do or how to cope with it.  Then there is the whole issue of the fact that I live in the burbs with limited options of where to you could simply disappear to.  So what do you do?

I don't plan to become a dooms day prepper but it would be nice to have some sort of plan of what my family will do in the event of an emergency.  I mean, where are we going to go?  For instance, a tree fell on our house last winter.  After the initial response had past and we started looking at the damage I was then faced with my wife refusing to sleep upstairs in the house for fear of another tree falling.  The money wasn't there to just cut down the remaining 5 50' tall pine trees in the back yard (the one that fell was out of my neighbors yard) and there certainly wasn't money to go stay at a hotel every night.  Yes, insurance covered the damages and all is good now (and yes, I got the trees taken down before the winter hit this year).  But how do you deal with  the fear that has now consumed your family?  Definitely a tricky situation.

Have you ever watched these prepping/bug out videos on the web?  Tons of information out there and a lot of it is really quite interesting.  Learning survival skills is something I think everyone should consider.  Hell, I think everyone should be required to do two things in their life.  Serve in our countries military for at least 1-2 years and work in a fast food or customer service capacity.  Both with teach you life skills that will go a long way with how you treat and deal with others.  Ok, that was off topic.  None the less, tons of stuff out there.  The main thing that comes to my mind however is that all these people seem to live around the woods.  I don't see any of these folks making these videos living in a $450k 4 bedroom split level house in the subburbs.  They all seem to have property out in the hills somewhere.They all seem to be somewhat country folks (I don't mean rednecks either).  I mean they seem to have come from or lived in the country at some point and their current home location also reflects that.

Their mind set is not whether or not something is going to happen, but rather when?  I get it.  In the Army we trained to prepare for all sorts of combat environments.  I totally get it.  I tell you however that I also think that where you live in this country plays a HUGE part in your day to day thinking and way of life.  I would be willing to bet that 99% of the people in my neighborhood have no such plan of "bugging out".  I know my neighbors are Mormon and they have a stock pile of food but that is just something their religion does.  My mom is a Mormon so I have seen it first hand.  Does this make them a prepper?  I don't think so.  They have no intent of vanishing into the wilderness.  Instead they have these large food stores to support each other in the time of need.  Or in my moms case to provide a massive snack craze for my kids when we visit.

So now that I have been hiking through the trails not far from my house that I would normally ride my singlespeed MTB on I have started looking at them differently.  I have started looking for places that I could actually put up a shelter.  Something near fresh water, live trees, lots of green, natural shelter such as large rock formations....  What I find however is that within 2-300 yards of the trail there are frickn houses!  Lets say that the trail runs north to south with a creek down the middle.  There are houses damn near everywhere on both sides (east/west).  You will have to hike pretty damn far to get away from any of them.

Lets imagine a Shit Hits the Fan (SHF) situation.  Our nations military and police forces join up and the government uses them against the people.  This is a very common plot used in a lot of these videos discussed earlier.  The majority of my neighbors are simply going to comply with what they are told and deal with it.  Some might make a run for it of course and naturally, many may head for the woods.  First off, I don't think many of them know where these woods are and have never visited MD's trail systems.  So when they get there, they won't have a clue of what to do.  Instead, they'll be searching for someone like me to guide them or slow me down.  Second, don't you think the damn police are going to be going through that same trail system?  Our trails are very well maintained and I know that park services folks would be called in to work with law enforcement so the trails in my opinion aren't a good option.

In this situation, I would think that a bug out expert would already have a plan to sneak out into those woods to a vehicle they have stashed somewhere and then somehow book out of town.  Head north towards the mountains or west.  None the less, where the hell do you store and extra car?  Who the hell has money to store an extra car?  Who the hell has an extra car that you can just let sit somewhere?  How are you going to keep it from being found?  Hell, I'm thinking that I would have to buy some land just to have a rally point to start with.  I guess that is an idea actually.

Then there is the whole bug out bag craze.  People want to pack a bag that will help them to survive should they have to up and leave in a hurry.  Makes sense actually.  I mean, I have something like that in my car.  If I really wanted to, I could simply pack all my camping crap in a bag and just have it sitting there ready to go.  What most people seem to forget when they start making such a bag is that the whole idea is to get from point A to point B.  Point B should be a relatively safe place where you have more supplies available and a chance to make a decision of whether to head to point C or not.  The last thing you want is to be trying to move in a hurry while carrying everything but the kitchen sink with you.  Remember this?  KISS  Keep It Simple Stupid!  You don't need 3 days worth of clothes.  You might need 3 days worth of food/water though.  Comfort and convenience is nice but if you are in a situation where we are talking about having to survive because your life really depends on it, there are a lot of things that you really don't need and a few that are absolutely critical!

I think I'll provide some of my thoughts on those in some upcoming posts as this has gotten a little long at this point.  But here's another rant really quick.

Most of these guys make videos talking about shooting guns, building bug out shelters, and creating bug out vehicles.  They may even practice tactical drills and train the family on them.  I guess it makes sense if you live in a riot prone area or the city.  That just doesn't seem to be the case though.  Most of these folks are out in the sticks somewhere.  Who's going to come ambush you out there?  Your neighbors?  I would frickn hope not.  I mean, more than likely your neighbors know you and are part of the plan if you are doing this all right.  It would take days before folks from the city started showing up from the east coast if not weeks.  Hell, most of the folks from the city areas, wouldn't make it to the country or know what to do when they got there.  Why do a lot of these folks all look like a bunch of out of shape fat bastards.  They remind me of the cops we have here on campus at my job.  A bunch of retired police officers that couldn't walk away from the job.  I suspect most of them are a pretty good shot because they damn sure couldn't run unless some announced their were donuts in the break room.  For all that time spent prepping, you would think they would be in pretty good frickn shape.

How can you put together a "bug out" vehicle that is plastered with stickers about guns, survival brands, and what not?  Isn't the whole idea to be discrete?  I mean the last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself.  If law enforcement was cracking down on everyone, wouldn't a monster Jeep packed with supplies on the roof, plastered with 2nd amendment rights, gas cans, CB antennas, and what make you wonder what they were doing?  Wouldn't wearing camo, boots, and tactical backpacks make you say, "hmmm???"  The whole idea of the vehicle and bugging out is to get away from the situation or blend in so you can simply slip out without anyone thinking twice about it.  Thus allowing you to put some solid distance between you and the trouble you are trying to get away from.  These jackasses make videos of themselves wearing full tactical gear telling everyone what they have, where they put it, and how it works.  I saw a video yesterday where they guy actually showed that he stored his AR under the back seat.  What a frickn moron.  Now anyone can either come and steel it or anything else you have for that matter.

I'll also add that in the same video, which happened to be made by a guy who looked like he couldn't run around the block I might add.  Showed where he stored the bags, how, and briefly discussed what was in them.  I made note that the bags were pretty nice and all made by Maxpedition.  Basically tactical bags.  They all looked new and other than being packed and in the jeep, never used.  That tells me all the supplies in them were probably used and not used.  First off, this jeep would be a gold mine to hit if I needed supplies.  This of course is why they all add the fact that they carry guns.  But unless you park that bad boy in the garage at night, it is subject to being stolen.  If the bags look new, then this tells me that you haven't put the time in to actually using the equipment that is stored in them.  To me, this guy and all the others like him are just wannabes.  If SHF, I don't think they would really know what to do.  I mean at one point he mentioned having his kids/family in the Jeep with him and implied that they were younger. Then turns around and mentions that he added the 3rd row rear seat mounted to face the back so that guys could be in there laying down fire as they bugged out.  Yah, that would be suspicious at all buddy?

That being said, I think my Scion TC makes the perfect bug out vehicle.  It was bought with the intention of being my twin daughters first car when they get their license.  It is definitely something I could walk away from (can't frickn wait to actually) and has enough space in the bag to throw a couple of bags and the family and leave.  It could get us to the side of the road where we could then abandon it and move out to our next point where we could either hunker down or get another vehicle and continue on.  You see, keep it simple and blend in.  Isn't that the goal of "bugging out"?

Preparing

Well, it has been quite a while since my last post here.  I would love to say that I have been out riding but that isn't the case.  I did get a little in about 2 months ago but the bike has been hanging in the garage since.  I did change a few things on the bike however.  I tried out a new handle bar (an Answer version that has a bit more bend to it...think Mary bar but in carbon of course).  I actually love the bar.  The Mary had way too much sweep for me but this one seems perfect.  I can't remember when I rode without barends on and actually enjoyed the ride.  I got about 3 rides in on these bars and really can't say anything bad about them at all.  I also picked up a set of XT hydraulic brakes as the BB7's just don't have the smooth power that I had grown used to.

I thought I was going to go for a little spin down the street to meet my daughter when she got off the school bus last week but found that I had some serious drag in the cranks/freewheel.  I mean, it took some effort to backpedal.  I thought that perhaps the last time I cleaned it up after the ride that perhaps I had too much tension on the chain.  But that was not the case.  It appears that my BB finally crapped out on me.  It wasn't an expensive one (XT) but I think I had about 1000 miles on it.  Not bad really but I guess I just wasn't ready for that.  I went ahead and picked up a new XTR BB (the new version).  I figured I got some good mileage out of the XT and the XTR only cost me about $35 so why not stick with what you know.  No rush to get it installed at this point seeing how temps are down in the teens and below zero if you factor in the wind chill.  The trails are frozen and covered with snow as well.

On the flip side of things, I'm still in the gym some 4-6 days a week focusing on doing Olympic lifts and some sort of CrossFit workout 2-3 times a week to keep up my cardio.  My weight has dropped down to as low as 175 but seems to be holding steady right around 177 or so now.  I have also started training for a GoRuck event (www.goruck.com) so I have been out hiking when the weather has allowed.

With that in mind, I can say that I have developed an interest to go hiking more and perhaps try to do some camping this summer.  I really think the Army ruined all of this for me for many years.  I mean my wife always wanted to go but I had no desire to go for a walk, a hike, or camping.  Now as I have started to prepare for this event I have really started to get into it.  Now I find myself looking at all sorts of camping and survival gear.  I won't say I have become a prepper mind you but I have definitely started picking up gear and watching all sorts of survival videos (not the tv shows mind you as just about all those are fake).

Along with all this survival crap I would say that I have found myself back in my old tactical mindset.  I have started thinking about what if situations.  No not dooms day stuff but just the simple things that we all have a synapse fire on only to go right back to our ordinary lives.  You know, the little things like, I should really make sure I have jumper cables in my car, or a blanket in the event I get stuck on the side of the road.  With that in mind, I have finally started to do something about it.  Knowing that I could survive with a multi-tool and some dental floss I shifted the focus to my wife.  I have now put together what I call a "get home" bag for her truck (SUV).  I have put some basic items in it for her/the kids but didn't get too technical simply because I know she won't use tools or much of anything like that.  Instead, I kept it simple.

Packing list:
kids old backpack to start with
small first aid kit
4 emergency blankets (they are cheap and disposable)
1 fleece blanket
4 packs of hand warmers
1 8x10 plastic painters drop cloth
some duct tape
some paracord
a multi-tool (yes, I showed her how to open it and what it contained)
jumper cables
mechanics gloves
flash light
head lamp
individual packs of beef jerky
small jar of peanut butter
some crackers
plastic silverware
extra phone charging cord
portable phone charger
extra batteries for all things that use them
4 bottles of water
a bag of Gummi candy (figured it would surprise the kids and boost their spirits)
couple small cans of Pringles (they all like them)

I figured this is enough to keep them comfortable should they get stuck on the side of the road and have to wait for help to get there.  I don't see my wife jacking up her Explorer and changing the tire so perhaps these few things can keep them comfortable for the short term.

I know it seems like quite a lot of stuff but the bag can hold it and it doesn't take up much of any space.  The trick will be going thru the bag every so often to make sure no one decided to eat the snacks without telling anyone and not restock it. So far so good.  No one has touched it and headed my warning that it is for an emergency.  I may actually pull some of the snacks and hide them in some of the rear compartments just in case and only tell my wife.  Then again, she's one of the people that I think will dip into the stash!!!

I have done the same for my little car as well though my bag is a little more extensive.  Not that it is all in the bag mind you.  I have a lot of stuff hidden down near the spare tire.  Basically the things that I probably won't need to get to right away.  I won't say my car is a bug out vehicle but it is now outfitted with some things that would actually allow me to sleep out over night or to walk away from the car if the situation called for it.

Right now things are sort of hidden as I mentioned minus what is actually in a small military tool bag.  I have been carrying a 511 Tactical bag on a daily basis for all my work crap which could easily be dumped and restocked with the stuff I need to take with me.  Eventually, I'll simply have a dedicated bag in the car but that probably wont' happen until I get another car which will more than likely be a Jeep Unlimited or an FJ Cruiser and my car will be handed down to my twin daughters (hopefully within the next year!!!).  My plan then will be to build some sort of storage box in the vehicle.  Basically a flat box of some sort that stuff can simply be put into and still keep the floor space of the vehicle available.  I don't know if I'll make some sort of sliding drawer or just a lid that opens on top.  The drawer makes the box size larger (height) but you wouldn't have to clear the top off to open it.  Who knows, I'll figure that out when I get a new car.

So there you have it.  I'm no prepper but I have started to think about a few things and hopefully have provided some comfort for my family should they end up on the side of the road waiting for help to arrive.  I will say that I feel a little better about all of that now.  I don't plan on having any sort of family training events on what to do just yet but perhaps when we go camping or hiking this summer I can show them all a few things.  Shelter making, the importance of being off the ground, fire making (no I'm not going to be rubbing two frickn sticks together...too much technology for that now days).  I'm thinking it will be fun for them and they'll learn something that they might just have to use one day.