Escape from Tucson: Day 2 (Thursday – noon)
I finally have time to write a little about what is going on. I thought I would be tired since I haven’t really slept for the last thirty-six hours. I thought I would be dead tired but I am still too keyed up, too worked up about what has happened in those thirty-six hours. For one…I am now a killer. I thought my life was sketchy before…that is nothing compared to being a killer. But, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
My number one priority is getting home to, and taking care of, my wife. Nothing else matters…nothing…period! I will fight when I have to but I must survive, she is depending on me. I can remember her saying as she walked me to the truck four days ago, “Stay safe, learn a lot, and make darn sure you come home.” We had been talking about different “what-ifs” the evening before, she was reminding me of my promise and my obligation.
OK, I am rambling and jumping all around, I better stop and back-up to Monday and explain why I was in Tucson and why I am not home, but more importantly what happened in between. I have to get moving pretty soon but I want to take a little time each day to record what is going on. I think it is important for people to understand what disaster really looks like.
So, Monday morning I headed to work just like I always would accept this time I had my suitcase packed for my trip to Tucson. I had training to take, Supply Unit Leader in the Incident Command System. I am getting too old, I am 61 now, and I decided to get out of the Operations Section. Wait, I am the Assistant Fire Chief for a six-county area of BLM land. I am responsible for wildfire suppression in that area on federal lands, about six million acres. Yeah, I work for the federal government…I imagine that is something that puts a mark on my head now.
So I was in Tucson for training, four and half days of it. I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express on Wetmore. Yeah – thanks taxpayers! Monday afternoon I drove to Tucson in the afternoon, Tuesday was the first day of class. It was a really good class by the way. Tuesday night at some point I barely woke up and heard what I thought was thunder, I could also see a little lightning. I just figured the monsoon season was coming a little early to Tucson this year. Boy, was I wrong! I didn’t pay any attention to it and just rolled over and went back to sleep. I should have gotten up.
I did wake up at some point, I was a little warm and just restless. I don’t sleep well away from home, even at fancy hotels. I wondered why I was warn because I turn down the thermostat to sixty-five degrees to sleep better. I love it cold at night! I was going to make a trip to the bathroom, turn the temperature down a bit more, and try to go back to sleep at least until six am.
On the way stumbling back to bed I noticed that I couldn’t see the time on the bedside LED clock. Then I realized that is wasn’t lit. I could see through the curtains that it was starting to get light outside, but the street light that had bothered me last night was out. I gotta tell you…I started getting a real creepy feeling about then.
I walked over to the window, pulled back the curtains, and there wasn’t a single light on anywhere. Although early in the morning, there should have been some cars out with people heading to work. Nope, not this morning. Inside, deep inside, I knew what was going on. Or rather, I knew what had happened. It had really happened! Who would have really thought it would?
I knew I had to get it into gear, get moving, but first I had to put a plan in place. Before I could really make a plan I had to figure out my objectives. May sound boring or trite, but that is just the way success looks. How you can make a plan if you don’t know what you want to accomplish! My objectives were pretty simple:
1. Get home to Lisa.
2. Stay alive.
3. Fight only when needed.
4. Get out of Tucson before all hell broke loose.
5. Stay away from people, avoid all contact.
6. Keep a water source no more than a day away.
Yeah, I know, it sounds like survival stuff because it is. The SHTF for real and I was living it. A sixty-one year old, slightly overweight, bald, weaponless, senior citizen. Man, saying it that way makes me sound like and “easy pickings” victim.
Ah, no…not this guy, not now, not ever. I had to get home.
I took stock of what I had, it wasn’t hard, and I didn’t have much. I had six bottles of water in my room’s fridge along with the leftovers from Boston Market from last night. On the desk I had a handful of granola bars, two apples, one Rice Crispy Treat, and two Pepsis (one in the fridge, another sitting on my bed). I also had my Get Home Bag (GHB) with some basic survival equipment in it. In the bag’s zippered top flap compartment I had:
• Gerber Paracord Knife
• Can of Fox 5.3 pepper spray in a flashbang pouch
• LED Lenser V2 tactical flash light
• Baggie with 9 AAA batteries inside of a padded bubble-wrap envelop, wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil.
• One whistle
• One sealed container of ProForce Safety waterproof matches
• One Bic lighter
• One Wardog knife sharpener
In the outside zippered compartment I gad:
• One 6” Israeli bandage
• One QuickClot Sport Silver packet
• One roll of 4.5” x 4 yard stretch gauze
• One cleansing towelette
• One package of Moleskin
• One Greber flashlight that has four color lenses that rotate that uses one AA battery.
In the left-hand side zippered compartment I had:
• One small container of hand sanitizer
• Two HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers
• One 3” x 5” signal mirror
• A bunch of toilet paper in a Ziplock baggie
• One flint and steel fire starter
• One Army P-51 can opener
• And a survival guide
In the right-hand side zippered compartment I had:
• Two Maxpedition poly-carabiners
• One Celstron 10 x 25 monocular
• One khaki colored boonie hat
In the main compartment I had:
• My CRKT Hissatsu knife – a 7” blade that is as deadly as it looks
• One 3” ESEE (ESEE-3) survival knife
• One Gerber Guardian 3.25” boot knife
• One Petzel Tactika headlamp ( not the new crap, the old one)
• One NDUR life straw personal water filter
• One stainless steel canteen cup
• One set of AquaTab water purification tablets
• One Bic lighter
• One Sunto compass
• One stainless steel water bottle
• Three packets of Mountain House freeze dried food (two Granola with milk & blueberries and one Lasagna with meat sauce)
• One poncho, Marine digital woodland cammo pattern
• $500 in small bills and quarters
• And Best of all…a three liter CamelBak bladder
Just to make sure I remembered my priorities I sat down and wrote out what was going to be my biggest threats:
2. Injury or sickness
3. Lack of Communications
4. No organization to depend on
The world had crashed in on me. I realized at that point that the world had fallen apart, gotten dangerous, and I had to make it home…over 300 miles away! I had to get back to Lisa, she would need me, and it was my responsibility to take care of my wife. But, 300 miles is a very long way to walk…walk in inhospitable southwestern desert, in May, after TEOTWAWKI. I remember it seemed just like something else I had to do, an expectation, nothing unusual or impossible. Just what I had to do.
One thing I was very grateful for…ahtrimble.com!! I had been a dedicated visitor to that website for almost two years since it opened its doors. That website provided a huge amount of survival and emergency preparedness information. Now, it was all going to be put to the test. AH was going to be my new best friend, or someone I would curse till I am dead.
You might be wondering why I had all the knives. First of all, I still had my little Gerber pocket knife that I carried in my left hand pocket. And my Spyderco Paramilitary knife that I wore clipped in my right hand pocket. I drove my federal government truck to the training, and we are not allowed to have firearms in government vehicles. Hence, no firearm for me! You gotta wonder…what part of “Congress shall make no law…” of the Second Amendment that they don’t understand. So I am limited to knives.
The CRKT is my fighting knife. If I have to go up against someone that is the knife I want in my hand. The ESEE-3 is a fantastic survival knife whether knife for camping or the end of the world. The Gerber Guardian is my “hide-away” that I will keep in my boot in case of last-chance, life-or-death, need. I was hoping that along the way I might come across a firearm. For now, I have my knives. I really hope I don’t have to fight someone with my knife, Hissatsu or not, I will probably get hurt.
OK, I just got really tired, I need to close my eyes a little bit. I will write more when I can but I gotta get some sleep, I will be walking all night…and the next night…and the night after that. I will be walking over 300 miles to get home. Probably take me three to four weeks if I am lucky, if I make it at all.
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So tell me… does our 61 year old hero of your Escape from Tuscon novel live on Wagon Mound Street? It’s been kinda fun following your path to get home on Google maps. Well done!
Sorry, Escape from Tucson…….not Tuscon……