Escape from Tucson: Day 22 – Wednesday

Escape fromTucson by AH TrimbleBy the time we hit Lisbon (exit 34) this morning we were both beat. It was a long night and it wasn’t very cool at all. Actually, it was a little warm with this bigger pack on. But, when we got close to Lisbon I was worried about the overpass. Originally I thought that might be a good place to shade up for the day. But, how many other people may have thought the same thing?

According to the map there appeared to be a spot about two to three miles further east of Lisbon that should have another overpass. I was wrong. But it did have some decent shade bushes/trees so we pulled up there this morning. Ashley was asleep in minutes. I was close behind.

That kid can sleep forever it seems, I am only good for about three hours, sometimes four maybe. So I am writing while she sleeps. Weather is still decently tolerable as long as you are in the shade. You get out in the sun and you get cooked alive. I don’t know how Beans does it with that thick coat of hair on her. I’ve heard that it acts like insulation to keep their body cool but I have my doubts. And Beans doesn’t answer me when I ask her about it.

Funny, all that time I was wanting a rifle, now I have a pretty dang decent AR-15 and plenty of ammo…and it means almost nothing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for it. But, it just doesn’t seem as important now for some reason. I guess i wish I didn’t need it, that the world didn’t demand it, that our lives depends on it.

I talked with Ashley last night about “home.” And I have a problem in my hands…a very big problem. She said she lives in Phoenix. Yeah, there is only one Phoenix that I know of. I asked her if it was a really big city and she said yes, it was real real big. I’m screwed. Now what I am going to do?

Oh, and she is evidently the high priestess of something! When we stopped walking this morning and just before she laid down she said we had to have a prayer. I figured that is something that would make her feel better…I am all for it. Then it started.

I was sitting there under the poncho for shade and she knells and folds her arms. Cute! But she is staring at me. I was like “What?” She told me that I have to knell and fold my arms. I told her I was an adult, it was her prayer, and I was fine just where I was. She said it was our prayer and that I should kneel and fold my arms. Then she said I should pick who says the prayer.

What the heck? Who put her in charge and where did all these rules come from? I finally gave in and told her to say the prayer. She told me to say “please.” What the heck! She said a sweet prayer though. She asked for all kinds of people to be “blessed.” I swear, she sounds like a mini-Jim.

Anyways…the kid is growing on me. Another benefit…Beans is giving most of her attention to the girl. That frees me up to not have a dog head or a dog paw on me while I try to sleep.

This kid is pretty confident for being so young. Musta had good parents.

My plan is all along was to make it back home and see if Lisa was still there, if our home was still there. So now I show up and say, “Hi Lisa, I love you. Oh, by the way meet Ashley our new little girl.” Bigger question, I get home…and there is no home, no Lisa, no nothing…then what? Come on, I mean I was struggling enough as it was on my own and now I have to take care of a 6-year old! How’s that going to work out for me? But, every time I start to panic like this I keep getting this feeling that everything is going to be alright. And, on top of that those words keep coming back to me, “For this reason you are here.”

I must already be insane.

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Storing Harvested Solar Power (Part #1)

storing solar powerSolar Power Sucks!

OK, I bet that got your attention. And you are probably trying to figure out why me, of all people, would make such a statement. I have reviewed a number of solar products and integrated them into my various radio and other preparedness projects over the last 18 months. So why all the sudden change of heart?

Nah, no change of heart. I still love solar power; plenty more reviews and ideas coming in the future. But, for this article I should have named it, “Not Storing Solar Power Sucks!”

Here is the set-up…

You want to have the ability to recharge devices such as Baofeng radio batteries. You are out in the field, you have a portable solar panel set-up such as the Aukey or Eco-Worthy. But you also need the battery in the radio so you can keep using the radio for operational purposes. No problem!

The key to this is still using the portable solar panel set-up gathering in the sun’s energy (i.e. solar harvesting) and storing the generated power until such time that you can charge the battery. For instance…you have to stay on the move all day using the radio. But, you can still have the solar panel strapped to your pack or maybe left back in camp laid out in the sun. Great! That gives you options but only if you can store the power from the energy producing daylight hours until time is available for you to charge your radio’s battery.

The answer is really pretty simple…a storage battery. A place to store all that generated power until you can put it to proper use.

Now, do not allow your mind to paint some picture of a huge vehicle battery that weighs 40 pounds or something along those lines. That would simply be impractical in the field in a situation that I described. But, a smaller, lighter, easy to store and pack option is a great alternative answer. And please, don’t get caught up in the catch-phrase of the day…”solar generator.” That is a fancy term for a solar panel and battery (maybe an inverter attached as well) and normally marketed for way more than its worth. What I am talking about is simple…store power till you need it.

I wrote a bunch of reviews on different portable solar panel units. You can read about them here < click here to read the series of articles on portable solar panel units >

OK, now you have some options and alternatives on lightweight, reliable, portable power generating solar panels. Let’s get back to storing that energy until it is needed.

Obviously the most simple option that comes to mind, or should come to mind, is to store the power in the battery that you are going to eventfully use. That way there is no transferring from one energy storage container to another. Besides, during the transfer you would undoubtedly lose some of that precious power. Remember, I am no highly educated electrical engineer or anything even remotely related. I am just an emergency preparedness guy trying to find gear and systems that work for you and me in the field. And that can be a challenge at times…getting theory into the field to validate that it actually works. Let’s just say I have been pleasantly surprised.

Remember my Seven Preparedness Risk Priorities? If not, a quick review…

  • Violence
  • Sickness/Injury
  • Lack of, or Poor, Communication
  • Lack of, or Poor, Organization
  • Dehydration
  • Hyper/Hypothermia (shelter)
  • Starvation

Failure to properly mitigate these threats/risks in the proper order will result in failure. And failure will not be pleasant, usually fatal or near-fatal results.

Why in that particular order? The order is based on the “fatality factor.” What can kill you, or your family, the quickest.

You mitigate those threats/risks by having the ability to:

  • Defend yourself, family and community.
  • Provide medical care.
  • Use non-standard communications.
  • Use ICS (Incident Command System)
  • Produce, filter and purify water.
  • Provide basic shelter.
  • Provide initial food supply and grow more.

Staying strictly within my priority system I would have to then place my “stored power” priorities this way –

  1. Batteries for weapons’ optics.
  2. Batteries for tactical flashlights.
  3. Batteries for headlamps for use during first aid administration.
  4. Batteries for radios.

Let me address those issues…

The batteries for my weapon’s optics are not rechargeable. The Aimpoint Micro T1 that I love so much takes the CR32 batteries. They last two years if left the optic turned on. I have a supply of five for each optic. I replace that supply every three years. The shelf life of the batteries is ten years. That ensures that I have a minimum of seven – ten years of usable life for my optics with the CR32  batteries. Based on my age I am plenty good in that department should the grid ever go down hard.

And, just in case you want to be a little on the critical side because my optics use batteries…ah, don’t. I have a non-battery back-up optic for each of my weapons. And, then a back-up to that as well, it’s called “iron sights.”  So that gives me triple redundancy for weapons optics, plenty good enough for my needs.

Next comes batteries for tactical flashlights. I use the LED Lenser flashlights. I reviewed two versions; < LED Lenser T2 >  < LED Lenser V2 >  Let’s touch on tactical flashlight usage for just a minute. The only time I use a tactical flashlight, or foresee using one, is for just that – tactical situations. That being said, I can easily see that there are times when it would be needed outside of tactical operations. However, I don’t plan on extended periods of hours, or even minutes where the light would be actually on whatever the situation.

My tactical flashlights are all the same manufacturer and virtually the same model (I have T2s and V2s) so they take the same size battery, AAA. I don’t have any other flashlights, so no other need for other types of batteries. I have an initial supply of regular 10-year shelf life alkaline batteries stored. That in and of itself gives me a head start. And, to back that up I have multiple sets of rechargeable batteries for each flashlight. I use the Tenergy rechargeable batteries. My research and testing showed that they were the #1 rechargeable battery. Tenergy batteries recharge quickly, reliably, and have a great shelf life. I know there are some Enloop fans out there, but sorry, Enloop batteries just aren’t as good a battery in my opinion. First, they are only 750mAh batteries, that is only about 75% of the Tenergy battery life. And more than anything else…they are associated with Panasonic. I have used Panasonic batteries before…Panasonic batteries suck, they suck as badly as Kodak batteries. They even suck far worse than Energizer batteries. So, in my opinion, Tenergy batteries are the better batteries…period. Now that is settled, I will close the loop…I have a pile of AAA rechargeable batteries, Tenergy batteries. That makes having a way to recharge them a priority, otherwise what use are rechargeable batteries?

Then there are my headlamps. I use only the old model Petzl Tactika headlamp (no longer made) or the Princeton Tec Tactical Quad Headlamp. And recently I tested and reviewed the Ozark Trail 150 lumen headlamp…sweet! The headlamps use AAA batteries just as my tactical flashlights.

< click here to read about Princeton Tec Tactical Quad Headlamp >.

< click here to read the Ozark Trail headlamp review >

As you well know by now, my standard radio is the Baofeng UV-5R radio – A & MHP models. For batteries I normally run the standard 1800mAh. But, I also have and use the 3800mAh battery as well. Boafeng radio batteries require a proprietary battery-charging cradle. If you do the math, the larger capacity Baofeng battery take almost four times the power that the Tenergy AAA batteries need to recharge. Think it through…then the Baofeng batteries either need a lot more power going in to recharge them quickly, or they need less power going in, but for a longer period of time. That is important concept for your power supplying/recharging system.

So here is what I came up with to recharge batteries, and to store power for later recharging.

First –

Pick your portable solar panel system. It can be as large as a Eco-Worthy 28w less-portable system or as small as a Anker A2421011 21w system. The first step of the system is the “harvesting” stage, you have to be able to turn the sun’s rays into electricity.

< click here to read about portable solar power systems >

Coming –

The next article in this series will go into storing all that energy that is being created from your portable solar panel. Storing the energy until you need it, then transferring to the device, or battery, that you need to use.


Related Articles –
Associated Articles –



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Bug Out Location or Retirement Home??? – Part #2

bug out location or retirement home

This is the second post in a series of articles about my wife and I searching for, buying, and developing a BOLRH (bugout location retirement home). If you didn’t read the introductory article you might want to do so now.

< click here to read the first article >

So, we are back home and about a week later our agent called and said the 40a property was in-fact going to be put on the market but he didn’t know the price for sure. He would monitor the situation and get back to us when he had the details. Then we started to worry just a bit. Yeah, we hadn’t really worked out all of the details on paying for it. We had a pretty good idea but no real details figured out. We talked to him about owner financing and he told us that the owners were not interested in that. We didn’t want a conventional mortgage but we might be looking at that. He talked to a couple lenders and no one was in the lending business for “land only.” It was time for my wife and I to have a hard conversation. And remember, we had only seen a very small part of the land and only from the road.

Two days later he called, the price was very acceptable to us and we told him to make a full-price offer. He did, and then we had to finalize how we were going to pay for it. Making a long story short, the purchase price came out of our IRA/401(k) accounts. Yup, we took money out of our savings and we were going to pay cash for it. Yes, we would have to pay taxes and yes, my wife would have to pay the penalty. But, we did the math and we were OK with that decision. And, there was this incredible emotional and secure feeling about owning the property outright. Yes, no mortgage payments!

Then disaster struck.

The owners, a trust, had put a very attractive price on the land. Our agent called us the next day, they rejected our offer immediately and didn’t counter. They figured they had priced the land too cheaply based on us putting in an offer so quickly and for the full price. Our agent tried to explain to them that it was all about timing, and we were ready, willing, and able to buy it. The owners still rejected the offer. Our agent tried to do his dead-level best to encourage us to be patient and that all was not lost. It didn’t make much of an impact on us, we were heart-broken.

You see, we had nothing but the feeling, a prompting, that this was the right property for us…period. We had prayed about it and we were sure that this was the property that we were meant to have, meant to build on, and meant to retire on…and if needed, the property to face TEOTWAWKI there as well. But, they had turned us down. There was something wrong with this picture!

After about five days we had gotten over it, I told our agent to keep looking, and my wife and I were ready to return to looking once again. Back to the computer and online ads.

The day after all of that our agent calls…they want to accept our offer. What???? There was no offer to accept, they had turned it down. But, they wanted to revive it, our agent had already told them “yes” because he knew we still wanted it and that it was the place for us. We agreed, signed more papers, and we were back in business. They wanted the original closing date, which was ten calendar days away. I figured no way.

Yes, way! The title company was amazing…we had the closing papers in our hands in a matter of days, we had already sent in a decent deposit, plus the escrow funds. We had to review the well report, the title search results, and a ton of other papers as well. The well report was encouraging, it was a good well, plenty deep, and 2” larger in diameter than the regular domestic well. That means that more water can be pulled from the well than just a normal domestic (or house) well. The reserved rights were normal for the area and we were satisfied with it.

With the final amount due figure in hand we wired that money immediately. And then the waiting game started. See, the deal isn’t really done until the seller’s have signed all of the closing documents. We were nervous that they might back out again.

Three days later we got word that the title company had just recorded the deed…the property was ours! Less than two days later we were in my truck pulling our trailer loaded with the UTV and a bunch of tools, etc. The drive was amazing, we were like two kids on our second date.

When we got there it was really special to pull in through our gate, located in our fence, protecting our property. We found the right parking spot, got out and had a prayer to gave thanks for the incredible blessing that had just been entrusted to us. We were home…our home…and it felt absolutely amazing.

We immediately started to look around, exploring our nirvana. However, when you go camping what is the first thing you are supposed to do? If you said “set up your tent” you would be right. And we didn’t.

Since this was the 4th of July weekend it is technically in the first few days of the Arizona “monsoon season.” Now, don’t get too carried away…there is no “monsoon” in monsoon season in Arizona. For July and August maybe 2″ – 3” of rain will fall each month during normal times…meaning the monsoon season. And here came the rain. We ended up putting up the tent in periodic waves of light rain. But we got it done just in time for the clouds and rain to disappear. We were off to do more exploring.

Dang! You know it honestly felt like Christmas morning knowing you got really cools toys under the tree. We walked around and loved it. 40a is a fairly good sized piece of property when you are used to a building lot in the city. We just enjoyed the walk. But, we also had another important task at hand…dinner! And not just any dinner…Grumpy Jakes BBQ !

We got back to the property just at dark and headed to our little campsite, I had the basics of a fire ready, lit it up, and we sat there for a long time talking about the future, retirement together, what the cabin would look like, and how lucky and blessed we were. Then the next blessing dawned on us…we could see the lights of Taylor, AZ off in the distance. It was such a cool sight to see, but it got better.

We decided to turn in for the night, it had been a long day. The fire had died down, I banked it for the night, we turned off the solar LED lights we had brought with us. (I will be doing a review on these little beauties.) The darkness settled in all around us. And here came another little piece of amazement…the stars. Rather, I should say the “universe” came out for us to see. I had forgotten what it is like to see trillions of stars in an ink-black sky. We just laid there in amazement and gratitude.

The next morning I got up and fixed a cup of hot chocolate…and then it hit me. It was cool enough for “hot” chocolate! It was in the lower 60’s that morning and I was loving it!! An easy 15 degrees cooler than back home. Since my wife is not a morning person I struck out on a early morning hike on my own. I was in heaven! I just walked around drinking my hot chocolate and enjoyed the morning. Even though it was light outside I heard a bunch of coyotes off in the distance. No, not the dirt bag Mexican coyotes that traffic in humans, drugs, and cartel cash…I mean the four-legged versions. Hearing the coyotes reminded me that I would have to set-up the property to be a safe place for our dogs as well.

Finally I heard my wife calling to me in the distance…yes, “distance” and that has a very nice ring to it. No, not because I don’t want to hear my wife, I just like there being distance on our property. I headed back that way and we had a great breakfast of eggs and bacon omelet kind of thing, more hot chocolate, and then off for more exploring…this time in the UTV.

Here are some of things we found –

  • Most of the fence was on the ground. It was obvious that some had been cut, some had just fallen, some “T” posts were actually missing. Cattle were roaming around on the property. One of those “rights” I referred to discussing title issues were grazing rights. The ranch that this 40a piece was cut out of reserved the right to graze cattle. If the property owner didn’t want cattle to graze on the property they had to fence it to keep the cattle out. We had some work to do.
  • There is a two-track cutting the property in half. It wasn’t well used, but it was, or had been used. We traveled it from one end to the other and knew we had to put the fence back up where the two-track had crossed over. Yes, the fence was laying on the ground and whoever had driven on the two-track had simply driven over the fence as it lay on the ground.
  • There is a seasonal creek that runs pretty much parallel to the two-track I mentioned above. It cuts the property in half. We love it! It adds so much character to the property it is amazing. There are some very square looking natural stone in the creek bed that we want to haul out and do something with around the cabin. And, for some of you…there is some black sand in the creek bed…you know what that means😉
  • There will be plenty of firewood for our wood burning stove.
  • There is deer out there aplenty…and some elk as well.

Let me delve into the “cabin” for a minute. Remember I mentioned that it had a manufactured home on it? Well, more like a mobile home in reality. It was added onto and nicely skirted…at one point. The whole place now is nothing more than a rat trap, literally. It will have to be removed, destroyed, or something because it is completely unusable for anything. And on top of that, we don’t like the physical location of its placement.

Why is that important? It has the well close to it and it has a septic system already in-place. Those two things are important to be sure.

A great night with a big campfire watching the stars come out. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing a star filled sky is out away from a city, or even a town. It can truly sooth the soul. Add in a campfire and you have a combination that can make a man know he is where he should be…home. We turned in when we decided we were tired, no need to worry about what time it was, time is not important out there.

The next morning was already a schedule of events, church. We got up fairly early, enjoyed a Mountain House bacon and egg breakfast, cleaned up a little and head into town for church. We were amazed…less than twenty minutes later we were pulling into the church parking lot. Second surprise…the parking lot was full! As we were walking into the building people were smiling, greeting us, shaking our hands, and generally being small-town friendly.

We spent the rest of the day just enjoying ourselves with the exception of moving a bunch of stuff into the storage building. We want to starting moving our stuff that will eventually be permanently there. But, there is no secure storage on the property itself. Problem solved…storage building. We rented a 10’ x 15’ storage room at a storage business about 15 minutes away. We had brought stuff with us, it found its new home in the storage building. We will have to upgrade to a 10’ x 20’ pretty soon. We are on the waiting list.

We enjoyed the rest of our initial stay and hated to leave, but daily life was beckoning to us, it was time to go.

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Escape from Tucson: Day 21 – Tuesday (late)

Escape fromTucson by AH TrimbleMan, it is really getting hot now during the day. I mean hot! After we woke up I swear I could smell us. Well, at least me. I asked Ashley how long it had been since she had a bath. She didn’t remember but said she knew she needed one. I know I did. Decision made, plan coming together!

I am writing this while she is splashing around in the stock tank. The water was crystal clear and running over the side, I am taking a chance it is safe to bathe in. Her turn first, then I will take my bath. Yes, it is taking a chance with our security and safety but I am OK with that in this particular situation. She asked if I would wash her hair. I said no but I must have blushed or something…she said I was a chicken of a little girl. She’s washing her own hair. Beans is just laying around in the shade watching everything.

Tonight when we take off we will be headed east, then southeast. I am hoping to make it to Lisbon by daylight. That is the I-10 exit 34 for Hwy 113 that heads due south to some ranch. I am going to have to start really paying attention to where we are. There is no shade, no deep arroyos, no cover, no protection, nothing but flat barren desert in this part of New Mexico. And we are vulnerable, very vulnerable. One thing I am going to do tonight is start talking to Ashley about her home. I want to try and figure out something about where she lives and what I might be able to do about getting her there. That feels as impossible as it sounds.

So I thought more about the three guys and all of that coincidence. I am kind of thinking it over. I am starting to wonder now if this is all related, somehow inter-connected. I thought back over some of the stuff Jim Hansen has told me in the past. How we are all here for a reason, God wants to use us to help others. It has me thinking.

One thing I know for sure…work the statistical probability that all of this could happen by pure chance. It can’t…it simply can’t. The odds would be trillions to one…if that. Growing up I always knew there was a God. I didn’t have a clue who He was, or why He was, or what any of it had to do with me. But, this little girl has been entrusted to me for a reason. I am not going to fail at this…I am not.


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Ozark Trail 150-Lumen Multi-Color Headlamp

headlamp ozark trail walmart 150 lumenThis is one of those “Wow!” moments. Yeah…seriously.

You know me, I am a gear junkie of the worst sort. I am always looking at emergency preparedness gear. It is sooooo bad I have had several hundred dollars worth of small-battery chargers sitting around my home office for months while I work on those articles. So yes, I am a gear junkie!

And…sometimes a piece of gear comes along that just absolutely surprises me. That just happened again…at Walmart. Yup, Walmart! Not that long ago I wrote an article about finding the Ozark Trail Multi-Tool at Walmart for $3.97. I bought a couple, tried them out, and absolutely loved them for the price vs value of that piece of gear. It’s happened again!

My wife and I were heading to our property in Arizona for a long weekend of fence mending, homesite scouting, etc. One of the things that I wanted us to have on hand was a headlamp. I didn’t want to breakout one of our good Petzl or Princeton headlamps, I just wanted a real simple, virtually disposable, headlamp for night walks or around camp. Off to Walmart!

So I was looking around and they had a pretty decent variety for the most part, all third-tier units or worse, in my opinion. Then I spotted this little sporty little headlamp for $8.97 I think the price was. But, it was only 50 lumens as headlamp ozark trail walmart 150 lumenthe retail package was telling me in bright orange coloring. Ah, but next to it was its bigger brother…”bigger” in terms of lumen, not size. And it was priced at $12.97. A really outstanding price for a 150 lumen headlamp.

Let me divert for just a second, when using a headlamp at night I far prefer the red light vs. the white light. I have very good night vision and white light just destroys that. But, using a red light maintains that night vision once you turn the headlamp off.

For the $12.97 price tag I figured that there would be no way the headlamp would have a red light option. I was wrong. Sure enough right there on the package it said there was a red light setting. Now, if it was anything like most headlamps’ operations getting to the red would be click this, while hold that, and doing thus for 3 seconds after pressing the other button for 2 seconds…making sure it was a cloudy night and standing on one foot. But, I was OK with that…I headlamp ozark trail walmart 150 lumenwas spending $12.97. Especially when I saw the headlamp package contained batteries…Duracell batteries!

I got home and started packing later that night. It came time to pack the headlamps in our respective gadget bags. I opened up the retail packaging and was again pleased to see the Duracell batteries. Duracell batteries…the best alkaline batteries made…period.

OK, so I am putting the batteries in the headlamp and I am actually impressed with the housing. Seems plenty durable enough. I hate the shiny sheen to the plastic but the housing is decent enough. There isn’t any rubber gasket sealing the battery compartment, but there is a respectable “lip” and the compartment closed pretty dang ozark trail 150 lumen headlamp - walmartsecurely. I have no idea if it will hold up underwater -I doubt it- but it appears that it would handle rain just fine.

I turned the unit on and there were two settings for the white light; high, low. The high was plenty bright enough to see a large area clearly. The low setting still provide a whole lot of light but in a much smaller area. But…where was that all elusive red light setting. I gave up and read the directions. Pressing and holding the “on” button for 2 seconds turned on the red light. That’s it…just press the same “on” button…just hold it for 2 seconds. I liked that.

We used them every night during a four-night stay. They worked every single time, they were easy to use, the headband in strong, comfortable, and nicely adjustable. A great little piece of equipment…VERY nice when you consider it only costs $12.97.

I say buy this headlamp!!

Buy It !


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Bug Out Location or Retirement Home???

bug out location or retirement homeSo there I was…

About eight years ago I really started thinking seriously about acquiring a BOL (Bug Out Location) for my wife and a small group of friends. I felt like the time was approaching that a BOL would be the smart thing to do. I had written about it back in 2009 – 2010 in the My Journal book series. Back then I wanted to have a BOL and there was a sense of urgency to it. Within a couple of years that changed…the sense of urgency went up. But, I had a dilemma…cost.

If you have ever bought, or shopped for, land you know it can get expensive quickly. As the saying goes, “I had Champagne taste on a beer budget.” Where did the Champagne taste come from? Reading too many articles by so-called experts on bugout locations. Even worse were the articles written for surviving serious TEOTWAWKI.

I digested all the advice from having three separate water supplies, to natural defensive position of a hilltop, to a specific minimum number of miles away from big cites and Interstates. Then there was advice on the particular demographics you wanted for the area as well as political make-up of the county. There was advice on elevation, location in proximity to nuclear facilities, and climate considerations. All of this advice went on and on and on. My  search was on!

The first place I started was naturally online research. I began looking at different areas for available land. I had spent time in most western states as a wildland firefighter so I had somewhat of an idea of different areas. Yes, that means anything east of Texas was completely out of the question. I was pretty drawn to Idaho. Unfortunately Colorado was completely out of the question. Beautiful as it may be, it is overrun by whackjob liberals that were restricting guns and all sorts of other freedoms and rights. I wanted no part of that. Kalifornia was out of the question from the very beginning. It is, without any question or debate, a socialist state unto itself. I want no part of a totalitarian state run by socialist extremists.

I like Oregon quite a bit, but it falls just slightly short of Kalifornia. Yes, I know that eastern Oregon is pretty normal, but it is attached to western Oregon that is contaminated with liberals and enviro-nazis. Oregon, another non-starter from the very beginning. State of Washington…similar to Oregon but run by hippies that are liberal and environmental idiots. Finally, I had personally (wife excluded) ruled out New Mexico for a number of reasons; 1) overrun with illegals, 2) a long unprotected and very dangerous border with Mexico, 3) significant gang presence, 4) very large meth use and production presence, 5) very bad “vibe” to the state from a SHTF perspective.

So, I was doing my searching for properties and I was seeing wonderful properties for sale…about 90% of which were far, far outside of any budget capabilities on my part. So, I figured I better figure out what was important to me and what wasn’t. But, I screwed that up and wandered around for about a year before I figured that I better “get real” in what to look for. And, about that time my dear wife chimes in and talks about not wanting to be too far from home so we can use the place before retirement and before SHTF events. Now we were down to a very narrow selection of states and she was convinced that we could find something in New Mexico. Yeah, she didn’t get my memo on that option.

We started seeing a whole lot of land in Arizona available…and it was reasonably priced. Or so we thought. About three years ago we did a multi-day trip there to look around. We had lined up an agent and had about six properties on our short list. I doubt that we could have been more disappointed with the land options or our agent. It was pretty much a waste of time. However, it was an excellent eye-opening experience. Remember, that was three years ago.

Somewhere shortly after that I started thinking more realistic. It was while I was refining my “threats and risk” matrix where I rank all real threats and risks in terms of severity and probability that I really got serious. To make a long story short –

  1. We know we have a 100% chance of retirement and when it will likely happen.
  2. We know a grid-down event will happen but we have no idea on the timing.
  3. We don’t know for sure if we will ever have a SHTF Zombie Apocalypse event, let alone in our lifetime.

What all that means is we need to look at this more for retirement that SHTF BOL. And if we do it right, the SHTF requirements should be all, or mostly, covered as we buy for retirement.

Now let me explain just a little something for you…WE AIN’T YOUR AVERAGE RETIREMENT COUPLE.

We want to live out of town, way out of town. We don’t want a neighbor around us. For the right picture of that…I want to pee off the deck and not worry about anyone seeing me. We also want to be close enough to a…wait a second…maybe I better hold off on this and turn it into a list at the appropriate time.

Back to the debacle of a trip three years ago, I came back depressed. What I thought we were looking for turned out to be a complete bust on so many levels it just made me almost want to give up looking. Over the next couple of years my wife and I kept searching online and refining what we really wanted…what we really, really wanted. So let me outline that for you now –

  1. Away from town, no more than about a 30 – 45 minute drive.
  2. “Town” would be 20,000 people or less but had to have a decent hospital and sufficient stores, restaurants, etc.
  3. We wanted to be decently close to other members of our church. That life is important to us and we wanted to be close to a “fold” of religiously like-minded people.
  4. We wanted to be within 30 – 45 minutes of a golf course. Yes, we like playing golf. No, I didn’t say I was any good at it, I said I like playing it.
  5. We didn’t care about having any electric to the property. We want to go solar.
  6. We wanted water, meaning a well. But, that was running the price of land up by $10k – $20k per parcel. We figured out how to do rain catchment, but that would be a seriously tough way to go.
  7. We wanted enough trees and other greenery to make sure we knew we weren’t living in any desert.
  8. Some nice topography would bee cool, maybe some mountains.
  9. We didn’t want to have a mortgage on it after we retired.

Does that sound like some post-apocalyptic self-defense compound? Nope! At least not to us. It sounded exactly like the place we wanted to retire to, and maybe enjoy it a bunch until then. So the search continued with our new and improved list of “needs & wants.”

Let me digress for just a minute. Back when we went to Arizona several years ago we stayed in a town called Show Low. No special reason, it was the closest available hotel room. We didn’t get to look around Show Low much due to appointments to see land, etc. but it had a great “feel” to it.

As we looked online night after night for a year we realized that we kept gravitating towards the Show Low area. But, the land there is very expensive…like $50k for a ¼ acre building lot. That is nothing like what we were looking for or able to afford. However, the Show Low area had a certain draw to it. And, a great thing happened during this same time-frame…my dear wife came to the same conclusion about New Mexico that I had. New Mexico became a non-starter.

Finally about six months ago we narrowed it down to the Show Low area; and then we confirmed that with prayer. Now we just had to find the right piece of property in that basic surrounding location. No, that wasn’t an easy task at all. I am telling you we looked at hundreds and hundreds of reality listings online. Some we ruled out, some we considered, some we felt had some real merit to them. It was time for another road trip!

The dogs were going with us, we hit the road on a family trip. During our searching we hooked up with this realtor that seemed to be a decent guy, appeared to be knowledgeable of the area, and wasn’t an obnoxious car salesman kind of agent. We decided to work with him and he lined up about four properties that we expressed interest in or that he thought we might be interested in. That list grew to six by the time we showed up in Show Low in June.

We spent the first day very frustrated and disappointed. One property after another was crossed off the list. Too far out, too ugly, roads way to rough, etc. We were getting very, very disappointed again…and that was just the first day. Late the first afternoon we had a “come to Jesus meeting” with our agent and explained to him our revised-revised list of needs and wants. He promised to work on finding more properties that night. We went to the best BBQ place in the entire universe, plus toured Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside area for a couple hours. We knew this was where we wanted to be.

The following morning started real early, we were off to look at more properties. And, we suffered more disappointments. We finally gave the agent an even more refined list of “musts” that included no 4wd roads that took an hour to drive on while getting to the property. He was still positive and encouraging, “I have just the place for you!”

He described a 10a parcel, only about 30 minutes off a paved road, with a well, fenced, and trees. OK, trees in this area where we were looking, and can afford, are Pinon and Juniper trees, and maybe as tall as twenty feet or so. We headed off in that direction following his Chevy four-wheel drive pick-up. Yeah, he didn’t even have a Ford…go figure!

We drove into this junkyard of a property. The manufactured home that was bragged about in the listing was a condemned haven for every disease known to mankind. The numerous outbuildings turned out to be falling apart, barely standing cobbled together shacks. But, it did come with a car and an ambulance. Both of which where at least twenty-five years old and probably hadn’t had wheels on them for the last fifteen years. But, the well was there and the property had a view. The price was $30k which I thought was high but it had a well. And, I have to admit, the property had potential once the Bubonic Plague generator (manufactured home) was removed.

We were trying to talk ourselves into it and then we heard the banging. I thought to myself that someone might be imprisoned in one of the buildings and this was about to turn into some nightmare in the country horror flick. So what did I do? Of course…I went looking for the sound and found a neighbor’s metal building about 100 yards away with a guy trying to fix some kind of trailer.

I talked about it with my wife and the agent, the agent decided to go talk to him for a minute. And, that is when life started to change for the better and we didn’t even know it at the time.

About twenty minutes later our agent was back and he was excited about some additional information he found out about the parcel. Our agent shared that that the neighbor mentioned in passing that he thought that the same people selling this 10a parcel might be listing the adjoining 40a parcel sometime in the near future. My ears perked right up. According to the pricing on the 10a that means the 40a would be way expensive and I said as much. But our agent stopped me and told me they might be asking the same price for the 40a as they were for the 10a and the 40a also had a well on it. He said he would follow-up on it in the coming couple of weeks. We were encouraged but I would be lying if I told you we were excited.

We looked at one more property that day and then called it quits. We had to leave the next morning and we wanted to get a little exercise in with the dogs and get to bed early. We wanted to leave early the next morning. And, I gotta tell you…we were leaving having pretty much given up on the whole thing. I said “pretty much”, there was a little flicker inside of me that kept telling me to hang on. But nothing more than a faint flicker.

In the next article I will go into more about our BOL/RH buying experience. Yeah, I just coined a new acronym…BOL/RH (Bug Out Location & Retirement Home).



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