Retirement Home & BugOut Location (RHBOL) Part 4 – Initial Supplies

Time to hide some initial stuff at the property. Yup, the time has finally come. But, rather than calling it “hiding stuff” let’s refer to it as caching supplies, that sounds a whole lot better…and far more accurate. Here’s the trick…how you hide it predicts how useful your gear will be when it comes time to actually use it again.

We bought our retirement property that can also serve as a very suitable BOL (BugOut Location). Hence we call it our RHBOL.

However, a problem exists in that the property is a five-hour drive away from our current home. If the time ever comes that we need to actually bugout to it…will we be able to have the right supplies there? How about any supplies? And exactly what would be considered the right supplies to have waiting on us?

Prepare for What –

Naturally, following my Seven Survival Priorities you want the right supplies to help mitigate those top seven threat/risks. Let me review what those risks are for just a minute –

  1. Threat of violence
  2. Threat of injury or sickness
  3. Lack of or poor communications
  4. Lack of or poor organization
  5. Dehydration
  6. Hyper/Hypothermia
  7. Starvation

If you haven’t read my “Proper Preparedness Principles” article it would be worth your time and help you better understand this article.

< click here to read Proper Preparedness Principles >

OK, so we have our priorities in proper perspective and proper order. Doing that simple exercise of prioritization can give us a clear, practical, and logical way to decide what to store. But, knowing how to store it is the focus of this article. Well, that may not be entirely true, I will go into detail on what I stored which is very useful and helpful as well. Now remember, my situation is different than yours, you may want to vary the list to meet your specific needs. But the Seven Survival Priorities remain constant, how you meet those threats/risks is up to you. I will share how I am doing it, I hope it gives you some ideas.

Top Priority –

The #1 threat or risk in any emergency, disaster, or grid-down is the threat of violence. It can strike anyone, anytime, and without warning. You or your family could end up badly injured or dead as a result…and in a split second. So we must mitigate this risk first or the other preparations might be for naught.

How did I do this? A 5.56 carbine for my wife and I. No, not a shared carbine, we will each have one. And that brings me to the next point. However, before that I want to lay out the worst case scenario…complete grid-down and virtual martial law. What I am getting at is the possibility that we can minimally move around (i.e. travel) and with almost no supplies to speak of and absolutely no weapons. Meaning, if you are found with a weapon you get incarcerated on the spot (or worse), so we have to leave weapons behind as we travel to the property.

What In –

Since I am assuming that both my wife and I would be arriving at the property, the items that get cached at the property are “times two”, one for her, the other for me. That means two storage containers. And since it is never wise to “put all your eggs in one basket” not only are there two storage containers, there are two separate locations for these containers. That is redundancy…and redundancy is a good thing. Bad guys might find one location, maybe even by pure chance, but you don’t want to lose all your cached items by having them all in the same location. Think Pearl Harbor during WWII…all the ships were docked together and they were easy pickings for the Japs.

Before I get into the list of items that are being cached let’s talk about the storage container itself. I did a lot of MonVault - ground cahcing storing hidingresearch a few years back and found one specialized storage container that met all my requirements. Actually, it exceeded my requirements and truly shined as the right option for this task. It is called a MonoVault.

The MonoVault is essentially a long sturdy plastic tube with a screw-on lid with a gasket. Then there is a cover that goes over the lid that overlaps about 4” of the tube itself. The thickness of the plastic is plenty sufficient, probably thicker than it needs to be, so it will hold up well. The gasket ensures that water will not enter the tube. Actually, from my testing I believe the tube to be completely airtight as well. The cap cover the top of the tube, including over the lid/gasket, helps ensure that any water migrating down will move over and past the lid…a shedding affect, kinda like a tight fitting umbrella.

For the two that I used, the MonoVault’s exterior measurements are 30.5” tall. MonVault - ground cahcing storing hidingThe interior measurements are 28.5” tall by 8.75” diameter. I wasn’t real sure that this was going to be large enough for the mission…I was wrong. This thing is plenty large enough for everything I wanted to store in it and then some. So, here is what I wanted to store in the MonoVault –

All of that went into the MonoVault with ease. But, I did prep some of the gear first and I want, actually need, to share that with you because it is so important. Yes, the MonoVault is billed as waterproof. But, I never take anything for granted. And yes, our place is in Arizona which is known for being very dry compared to other most other areas of the country. But…there is still that residual moisture that might migrate into the storage vault and I don’t want that to ruin my day…or either of my weapons in the vaults.

Weapons Preparation –

Preparing each weapon was not complicated nor difficult but should be done…in my opinion. First thing I did was strip the carbine down, pulled the bolt carrier group out, etc. I used a bore snake and soaked it very liberally with EWL2000. < click here to read more about EWL2000 > I ran that snake a couple of times making sure the barrel was spotless and well coated with EWL2000. I made that all the other internals of the weapon were spotless and well coated with EWL2000. Notice I have said “coated” not saturated, not dripping, just coated.

I reassembled the carbine but left the upper and lower detached. I placed both in a ProTecht gun storage bag, sealed the bag with masking tape, then placed the bag in the MonoVault. I did the same with the pistol.

As far as the ammo is concerned I placed them in separate Ziploc bags, double bagged actually. In each bag with the ammo I placed a silica absorbent for any stray moisture that might enter the double bag.  Prior to putting the ammo in the bag I rubbed the ammo with a silicone cloth…no oil on the cloth. That placed a micro-thin coat of silicone on each round of ammo. Doing so will inhibit corrosion but absolutely not interfere with feeding in your weapon.

For the Gerber Strong Arm and Spyderco knives I essentially did the same process as I did for the ammo. I wiped the knives down with the silicone cloth, bagged the knife, dropped in silica moisture absorbent, and then bagged it again. All the weaponry went into the vault.

I put in all the remaining “hardware” in the vault first. Then came the tactical vest. < read more about tactical vest here > Then I topped off the MonoVault with the BOK & IFAK. < read more about IFAKs here >

When it came to sealing the unit I did not add anything to the gasket, threads, or apply anything after-the-fact. The instructions didn’t say too and I was trusting the manufacturer to be accurate. The manufacturer wouldn’t last a year if this product didn’t work. So I figured I would do as they instructed.

I had fully prepared both MonoVault’s contents, placed them in the MonoVault, and then it was time to bury the whole thing for safe keeping. Boy, now it got interesting.


First off…there is virtually no way to truly hide the MonoVault from all attempts to find it. Ground penetrating radar can easily find it or anything else you try to hide. A metal detector wouldn’t struggle too much to find it. But you have to ask yourself the question, “Who are you hiding this stuff from?” Actually, you can ask, “Are you really hiding it, or just storing it in the ground to keep it safe by keeping it out of sight?”

If you think you are going to hide this from any of the government alphabet agencies think again. They have sufficient technology that they could find it regardless of your best efforts. But, are they going to be looking for it? Would they have a reason to look for it? We aren’t going to go too far down that rabbit hole. We will just assume you want to conceal your stuff from everyone.  If someone has the Star Wars gear to find it and they are looking on your property…well, you have much bigger problems to worry about.

OK, let’s get something out of the way right off…you are going to disturb the area around the hiding spot. There is no getting around it. But, there are some things you can do to offset that. And, more than likely a trained eye could see where you tried to hide the area you disturbed. So you might as well get it into your head now that you can only make a best effort, and that just might be good enough.

In my experience there are two basic philosophies of trying to hide your cache; 1) deep cover, 2) in plain sight.

I refer to deep cover as a place that you wouldn’t come across unless you were specifically looking for it. Such as 1.5 miles off a trail in the middle of the Carson National Forest, in a rock slide, under a cliff. No one would ever likely be walking in the exact spot so no one would ever discover your hiding place. However, the drawback is trying to remember exactly where you buried it. And then the amount of time and effort required to get to it, let alone dig it up. Then there is the drawback of trying to tell someone else where the spot is. So while this concept -deep cover- can be very effective, it can also be burdensome in the best of cases. Although…it might be worth it.

The alternative is hiding in plain sight. This essentially means you hide it in an area where a person could see or find it IF they knew what they were looking for AND they could see past your camouflage. In other words the average person could walk right over it, or past it, and never know what was there. Hidden in plain sight.

I am not going to get into all of the details of exactly what I mean and how it works…I will just show you my examples and you can take it from there. You are smart people, you will get what I am talking about, and you will be able to figure out what will work best for you.

Example #1 –

I want to have fairly easy access to the spot where I have hidden my first MonoVault cache. But, the other side to it has a couple considerations as well. I don’t want people to easily observe me burying it, or digging it back up. So, I picked a spot that wasn’t in anyone’s line of sight from any direction, especially a road.

The ground where I am digging the hole has some topsoil but not much. Topsoil is fairly easy to dig through with little effort. But I quickly hit hard packed sand and small gravel, but not as bad it might sound. At first I tried a pick but that proved to be unworkable so I broke out my pry bar. Nice thing about my pry bar…a nice sharp tip that is about 2” wide. That worked very nicely to break up the subsoil without much more effort than picking up the bar to a height of about 2’ and letting it drop. I found out pretty fast that after it hit, it penetrated the subsoil just enough to let me twist the pry bad about 90 – 180 degrees. That action broke up the subsoil even more. I would do about 5 – 6 of these drops and then shovel out the hole.

Why not a post hole digger? I tried that. However, the sand and gravel would fall out of the tool before I could get the soil out of the hole. Fortunately the hole had to be large enough for the MonoVault so it was large enough for me to use a shovel.

Note: When you bring the dirt out of the hole on the shovel, place the dirt in a mound maybe 3 – 4’ away from the hole. You don’t want it right on top of the area immediately surrounding the hole. The area will look too disturbed when you are all done. Better yet, place the removed soil on a sheet of plywood or heavy tarp. The soil you are digging up is different than the soil on the ground’s surface around the hole. So you want all of the soil you dig up to go back in the hole or moved to another location.

Remember the outside of the diameter of the MonoVault is about 10”, your hole must be a larger diameter than that. I did about a 12” diameter hole and shoveling out the loosened soil was pretty easy, even at the greater depths. I also used the shovel handle to gauge the depth of the hole compared to the height of the MonoVault. I wanted about 4” of soil covering the MonoVault. Can you have more topsoil covering it? Sure you can, just remember though…you must then dig more to retrieve the container when time may be of the essence.

I got to the needed depth and simply set the MonoVault into the hole. I then centered it and started pushing dirt into the hole keeping the MonoVault upright. As I was filling the hole I would occasionally use the shovel blade to help pack the dirt about the container. Once I had enough soil to cover the container I packed the dirt around the sides of the container then replaced the soil to bring it level with the surface of the ground once again. Resist the urge to “mound” the dirt thinking it will settle.

So now I have the container in the ground, the soil packed around the container and about 4” of soil covering the top of the container but not mounded. Now comes the artistic part of the process. The trick is to return the soil that you just disturbed to a “natural looking state” which is impossible. You can try all you want, you can think you are the sharpest operator out there…but truth be told…you can’t get it to look the same as it did in its natural state. So, don’t try.

Any dirt from the hole that you have left over in your pile needs to be moved away from the area and spread out far and wide. It will be easier if you used a tarp or plywood. When away from the area take a shovelful and vigorously sling it sideways parallel to the ground. Do this well away from the hole and not all of it in the same place. Don’t sling it on leaves, or anything else that is naturally occurring on the surface.

Maybe create a “false” hide to distract people if they are looking. But don’t get too cute…you are the smartest tool in the box.

Back at the hole use a piece of bush to lightly brush away any footprints, tracks, etc. Now comes the interesting part. Does the hole area now look exactly like the surrounding area? Probably not. If is just a matter of the dirt drying out to blend in then you are good to go. But, remember I talked about hiding it in plain sight.

What I did on this hole was find some metal trash to put over the hole. That way if someone happens to be using a metal detector they will for sure pick up the container because of all the metal of the ammo, guns, knife, etc. What I want to do is throw them a little bit of a distraction…the metal trash. It won’t fool a seasoned professional, but maybe it will fool the amateur next door neighbor, or someone in a big hurry. So I’ve made my cache locations look just like any other area of trash.

Example #2 –

I walked away about 100’ and found another suitable location. I dug that hole the same as the first hole. Then came time to “hide it” and that is where I did it slightly different.

Once the hole was filled, the excess dirt flung away, the tracks brushed, I was ready to finish of the camouflage. This time I put some metal over it, not much, not as much as the first hole. But, I piled up a little more of the naturally occurring trash over the hole and surrounding area. Once again, the hole appears to be just another lump of trash in a trashy abandoned mobile home location of an abandoned piece of property.

Example #3 –

This is not a MonoVault and I am not hiding weapons this time. For the box itself I used a military surplus ammo box. It is plenty big enough, sturdy enough, and a tight rubber gasket on it. Yes, it is metal and yes, it will rust. But, by the time it would rust out enough to ruin the contents not only would I be long dead, so would my kids. This box will last sufficiently long enough for its intended purpose.

This ammo container can also be buried either standing up or laying down flat. I thought I would do an example of a flat lay. However, as always, finding the right area was a priority. I wanted this location to be more of the “deep cover” site that people wouldn’t be walking by or have any other reason to be there. I chose a location under some mature PJ trees that you have to make your way into to ever find it. By default I figured that this would deter any metal detector person and even ground penetrating radar folks since it would inconvenient for them to even get to the ground where the goodies were stashed.

I chose a location that had a slight uphill slope to it. I wanted to give any water a natural runoff effect to help protect the container from water impingement. Then to add a little extra protection I used a contractor grade plastic bag to cover the top of the container. The bag went well down the sides to help shed water. I purposely didn’t tape it to the box. I didn’t want any water to be held between the bag and the metal box if water somehow got inside the bag, I wanted it to be able to flow out and past the box.

Once again, when digging out the hole, place the removed dirt in an area well away from the hole. If you notice the ground here has a natural cover of tree droppings. If you pile up dirt on top of those it will stick out like a sore thumb.

After the hole was large enough I placed the container in the hole. I placed dirt around the sides first, tamped it down and then proceeds to cover the box with dirt covering the entire hole.

And again, I brushed away any tracks. Be careful to not sweep too hard, don’t leave “tracks” from the bush you are using to brush away the tracks. Tracks are tracks and if they are unnatural looking the eye can pick it up pretty easily. Take your time, work gently, make it look natural.

Once I swept the area free from tracks it was still obvious that the ground was disturbed. That can only be remedied one way…return the natural ground cover to where it was removed. I retrieved the ground cover from other tree areas well away from my tree. I would then fling it over the ground parallel to the ground. The trick is to not just dump the ground cover or get it too thick…just work slowly and let it cover the ground evenly a little at a time.

Now that the liter ground cover was in place you could still see that the area was disturbed and it really didn’t look like most of the other area under the other trees. The solution? I went and collected the right kind of limbs, twigs, etc. and spread them around.

Here’s a thought…don’t look at your area close up. At first walk away 50’ and then look over your area. Does it look natural? No, then use some more ground cover material. Don’t go overboard and make it look more covered than the other areas. Once you are satisfied with the 50’ look, then go to 100’ and then 150’. At 150’ you really shouldn’t be able to tell anything took place at your hide location. And that should be true even immediately after your camouflage session.

Given time, the area will continue to look more and more natural because the ground cover you used will age and blend in with the surroundings.

Food For Thought –

Let’s war game this for a minute. Let’s say that it was a total grid-down, the SHTF, and we did make it to the property and we did bring our supplies with us, including weapons, etc. What value are the caches now?

I say they are extremely valuable…in the ground. Yup, leave them in the ground. Why? Oh, a whole host of reasons why. Let’s try –

  1. One of your existing weapons becomes non-functional. You can tap the cache for a replacement.
  2. You have more folks show up that need supplies and weapons. You can tap the cache to outfit them.
  3. And another…for whatever reasons someone, or some government agency, does a gun confiscation. Yup, you can turn over your guns without them killing you. Then go dig up the cached weapons and supplies and be good to go.
  4. And another…times get horrible and you are forced to flee with nothing. You can later sneak back and retrieve the cached supplies.

And the whole time the supplies, especially the weapons, are safely stored in the ground just waiting for the time when you might need them. Yes, I am saying leave them in the ground…one of the best gun safes you have.

 

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Comey fired, Trump in danger.

A bold stroke for President Trump! One that I highly respect, appreciate, and thank him for. Obviously I am talking about the firing of James Comey. Also, a move that Trump should be more than just a little concerned about.

For a very long time I have been sharing information on just how despicable a man James Comey, former FBI Director, is. He is a man that is all about power…extreme power. He is a man that is close to the center of leadership of the ruling elites in America. He was a key player when I wrote on March 6th of this year that Comey was coordinating America’s secret police (FBI, CIA, NSA) for their part in the overthrow of Trump. Yes, the literal overthrow. Trump has struck back and struck hard and to the very core of those involved. But, it wasn’t only a bold move, it was a dangerous move.

The ruling elite in this country have plans…a totalitarian state wherein people are finally and completely subjugated to the Federal government. That process has been going on for some time and has been highly effective…they are winning. That being the case, those behind the curtain are not going to stand ideally by and watch as their plans are thwarted and a key player of theirs is disemboweled from power. They will strike back. The question is, “How?”

We’ve already seen the main players stand up for Comey. Senator Chuck Schumer almost immediately came to the defense of Comey and implied that Trump was making a move to cover-up a Russia-Trump alliance. Of course Schumer would…as I said back in the March article, Schumer is coordinating the Congressional Democrats in that same coup against Trump. Comey and Schumer are part of that coordinated effort. Watch for who else defends Comey and attacks Trump.

Just how dangerous is this for Trump? I have a feeling this isn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back. But, this will embolden those ruling class, the elites that are determined to subdue America, depose the Constitution, and overthrow our Republic. They will not give up…and unfortunately they will win.

Comey was the ultimate Director of the FBI, in every way a mirror image of the infamous J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI has a dark and disreputable past reaching all the way back to their founding. The FBI has been influencing, interfering with, and adversely impacting our political system since day one. The FBI is the ultimate secret police, a powerful institution that almost no one can even dream of touching let alone dismembering to save the Republic. But, Trump has put the political class, the ruling elites, and their leadership on notice that he will not go down without a fight. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Trump is going to get…and he can’t win it.

Pray for our country, pray for our Constitution, and pray for our President. We need it now more than ever.

 

 

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Initiative ’17 – Part #1: Complacency vs. Tunnel Vision

Initiative ’17 –

Of course like anyone with an exaggerated view of who they are, I had to come up with a catchy name for the project I am going to share with you. I wanted to make it sound cool, meaningful, and something that would stick in your mind. I hope that Initiative ’17 is just that.

Opening –

I had to consider where to start Initiative ’17. I could be like every other prepper website and start talking about food storage, the top 10 ways to dry venison, how to feed a family of 12 from a 5-gallon bucket garden, what is the best…AR-15 or AK-47, or a thousand other topics. But, I didn’t like any of those options. I wanted something better, something that was directly related to making a real impact in lives. So I felt “mentality” was the best place to start.

As I gathered my initial thoughts I quickly realized that I was outlining two distinct areas; 1) balance in your life right now, 2) balance in a post-event situation. And that is exactly what I wanted to accomplish…an impact now that is useful and an impact when survival may be your #1 priority.

Having a proper mindset during emergencies, disasters, and grid-down can be a tough thing to do. We all want to be able to focus our attention, skills, knowledge, and training into fixing problems and saving the day. But, are we too focused on a single problem or a single task to the point of tunnel vision (i.e. exclusion of everything else)?

At the other end of the spectrum we have complacency. Have we seen this all before, “this looks like and matches what happened two years ago”, “this mimics a training scenario we went through last year”, or “this is just another power outage.” So with a complacent mindset we just simply go through the motions or attacking the apparent problem and ignore the important aspects of what is actually happening around us.

All of that leads to proposing the solution to the “complacency vs. tunnel vision” contradiction. But first, we have to truly understand what we are in-fact talking about regarding complacency and tunnel vision.

Complacency –

There are multiple definitions of complacency, none of which are particularly complete for this application. For this conversation let’s go with, “state of satisfaction while being unaware of actual dangers.” Applying that to our prepper situation is relatively easy…we’re just fine with not understanding the dangers involved in what is actually happening around us. Notice I use the term “not understanding.” I am not referring to a person ignoring what they do see around them, which would imply a sense of willfulness (albeit stupidity). The difference is “awareness.” Complacency means you are not aware of the dangers vs. ignoring the dangers you do perceive.

Actual complacency is not seeing the dangers rising up around you. And it matters not why you don’t see them, they are just as dangerous, and just as potentially fatal.

Seeing the dangers and choosing to ignore them, willfully not taking action, is just plain stupidity. When it comes to stupidity I lose patience with people and for the most part I feel they get what they deserve. Unfortunately, those same people all too often spread the hazardous fallout to those around them…innocents. At that point they are guilty of malevolence as well as incompetence.

So exactly how can you spot complacency? Ah, that can be tougher than it might seem at first glance. Confidence, swagger, and self-assurance can all be danger signs of complacency. But, those same attributes can also be a manifestation of a good leader. So how can you tell the difference? Humility.

Humility is the ability and willingness to be taught. So a good leader can possess those same three attributes that I just mentioned but they will also be open to external input from the situation and/or from people around them. And no, the people around them giving that input don’t necessarily have to be experts to gain the required audience with said leader. Actually, some of the best leaders I’ve ever known were able to seek out and listen to the youngest, newest, least experienced folks in their organization and at times learn from them.

So what about the more experienced and well trained people providing input to a leader as well? There shouldn’t be any barrier to that either; the leader must be accessible both physically and emotionally. However, I’ve seen the absolute worst case scenario – a crowd of experts all agreeing with one another…and with their leader. Yeah, commonly referred to as “group think.” Here you usually have a strong leader, maybe even a competent leader. Then that leader has folks around them and who the leader depends on to know what is happening. However, those that should be working diligently finding flaws in the leader’s plan and thinking, will agree with –or at least not object to– whatever the leader is proposing. Those advisors will then intentionally or unintentionally form a group opinion that agrees with the leader’s proposal.

Any plan that has an initial unanimous voice is probably not a plan that has been well thought out, and that plan will normally have a low probability of success.

Overcoming Complacency –

Without continuing to bore you to tears…how do you avoid complacency and group think? Free yourself from bias. And I am talking about bias in all its forms. And how do you best relieve yourself of bias? Situational Awareness (SA).

SA is best explained as… the acquisition of, the processing of, a state of, and taking action on that knowledge. That knowledge comes from the environment around you…and your awareness of it.

< click here to learn more about Situational Awareness >

Tunnel Vision –

Once again I could spend 5000 words on defining tunnel vision, but to save you that pain let’s go with, “an extreme narrowness of view resulting in a focus on a single objective.”

Wow! You say that sounds great…we can focus on doing one thing and doing it well. However, it never works out that way. Why? Because the environment that we work in, or will find ourselves in during an emergency, disaster or grid-dwon, is commonly dynamic and hugely multi-faceted. By limiting our vision of all the activity taking place in our setting we lose perspective, we lose awareness…we become ignorant. And, that ignorance is a void.  Aristotle once said “nature abhors a vacuum.” The same can be applied to this situation…if we too highly focus on a single objective we leave a vacuum in the entire area outside of our immediate focus. Since nature will find a way to fill that vacuum, failure will creep in, normally before we ever realize it.

As I mentioned, the environment in which we will operate will be dynamic and complex. By narrowly focusing our actions we intentionally or unintentionally disregard all other areas. And those other areas are not benign. Example: we are so highly focused on acquiring water that we ignore the threat of violence. And as we overly focus on acquiring water, the pressing threat of violence is ignored…much to our detriment. But once again, we don’t operate in this environment as a single entity. Therefore, those that become the victims of our exclusionary vision may be our closest loved ones or fellow preppers.

Overcoming Tunnel Vision –

As it applies to our disaster-free current environment, how do we avoid tunnel vision? Balance.

Among the various definitions of balance is, “a means of judging or deciding.” Kind of like a cheat sheet if you will. A guide to assist us in making both judgements of the situation and deciding on how to act in response. Who could object to that!

In our situation we can view it in two ways; pre-event and post-event. Event being the initial second that some action has occurred.

Pre-event balance can be best described with a visual aid…

Post-event balance is similar, a visual aid is the best method to convey the concept…

Summary –

If you are complacent you will not be able to make informed and timely decisions. If you have tunnel vision you will not be able to know what is happening around you. That lack of knowledge from either situation will preclude you from being able to make timely and intelligent decisions. Both complacency and tunnel vision can kill you…or those around you.

If you can maintain reasonably decent Situational Awareness you have a great chance of understanding your environment and making decisions that will go a long ways towards survival, if not actual thriving. If you can balance your judgements and decisions both pre- and post-event then your actions will most likely be appropriate for the situation and you will be less likely to miss important activity around you. But, for that balance to be correct for any given situation, then the tool(s) you use as the basis of judgments and decisions must be high-quality. No, the tool(s) need not be perfect…Just good enough.

Just like you, you don’t need to be perfect during an emergency, disaster, or grid-down event…just good enough. You have to avoid complacency and you have to avoid tunnel vision.

Can you?

Please share with me topics you would like me to cover during Initiative ’17 –

 

Supporting Learning Opportunities –

 

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Frequently Asked Questions – 5/7/2017

In your last SitRep you didn’t cover all the pertinent economic issues. Why?

Because many economic issues are common knowledge and regularly discussed in the media. I don’t want to write about what everyone else does. I want to cover those issues that I think are important and mostly overlooked. You can get that other info all over the place, I want to concentrate on areas that are less noted.

So what do you think about the new Healthcare Law?

I assume you are talking about TrumpCare. Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem. Get the government out of healthcare. Let individuals take care of their own healthcare. Individual states can get involved with insurance if they want to. Of course, those that are too poor should be taken care of…that is what charities are for. End of story.

Now, remember that Trump is a big socialized medicine, universal healthcare fan. The new proposal is just another flavor of socialized healthcare. Another step deeper into socialism.

It is obvious that you don’t like Trump, but do you think he is a good President?

Nope. He is mostly governing by executive orders and actions. You can think what you will, for me…that kind of governing is a sign of a dictator NOT a President. He also acts very clownish and is a poor speaker. On top of that he either suffers from sticking his foot in his mouth, or worst case, he is VERY dangerous. Specifically in this case, I am talking about him in regards to his reference to Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was the scum of the earth. He was a white ultra-nationalist, racist, bigot, slave owner, slavery advocate, and mass murdered on the scale of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. He actually used biological warfare against Native Americans in hopes of wiping them off the face of the earth. And this is a man that Trump speaks highly of???? You gotta ask yourself some tough questions about now.

What do you think about the retail market?

Well it depends if you are talking about brick and mortar stores or online retailers. Online retailers (i.e. Amazon) are killing it, Amazon is doing remarkable well. Transitional brick and mortar stores are dying…just like the video store concept died.

And then there is the grocery retailers. The traditional grocery stores are the next to suffer. In large cities you are going to see increased competition…big time! And you are going to see the online grocery stores gaining market share.

And don’t forget…GDP and consumer spending are horrible right now. So none of this bodes well for retail.

 

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Retirement Home & BugOut Location (RHBOL) Part 3

Well, I’ve run my mouth a bunch but not really provided any concise hardcore information on a “plan” or steps that I am taking, or will take, to turn this property into a retirement home and/or a bugout location. So that is about to change.

What was the bottom line on our thinking regarding this property?

  1. Did we need the property as a Bug Out Location (BOL)? Maybe. I don’t know for sure that the SHTF will bad enough that we will need a BOL. And, I am not 100% sure that if SHTF that we would be able to travel the 325 miles to reach our property.
  2. Did we need the property as a Bug Out Location (BOL)? Maybe. I don’t know for sure that the TEOTWAWKI will bad enough that we will need a BOL. And, I am not 100% sure that TEOTWAWKI  will occur in our lifetime. And if TEOTWAWKI happens in our lifetime I am really nor convinced that we would be able to travel the 325 miles to reach our property.
  3. Do we need the property as a retirement home? Yes. I know for sure that I simply can’t retire and put up with living in the large city that we do. Well, maybe it is only a moderate sized city, 100k people, but it is too big, too crowded, too much crime, too much gang activity, and just not the place I want to live out my years. But, is the property rally a “need”??? Yeah, I am going to say it is.
  4. Do we want the property as a great place to go on holidays and enjoy the fresh air, solitude, and awesomeness of the area? Absolutely 100% yes!

So it turns out that our priorities for buying the property are now different and more clear than when we started looking. Those priorities are now:

  • Vacation home
  • Retirement home
  • BOL

Does that make a difference in picking a location? Maybe. But, the whole exercise of figuring out what we really wanted helped clarify what infrastructure we needed, and what services were needed nearby. I would suggest you do the same before running out and simply looking for, or buying, a piece of property in the country.

So what are the lessons we learned so far?

  1. Clearly identify what you want to use the property for and in what priority order. For us it was
    • Vacation home
    • Retirement home
    • BOL
  2. Know what you maximum budget is.
  3. Know how you are going to pay for it. For us it was:
    • Taking out a loan against a 401k
    • Taking a withdrawal from an IRA and paying the early withdrawal penalty as well as the taxes.
    • How fast can you get the money you need to pay for the purchase.
    • Seriously, don’t starting looking for property till you have a budget and know where the money is coming from.
  4. Based on #1 above, identify what features of the property are the most important to you. For us it was:
    • Price – We didn’t want to have a payment hanging over our head. It is bad enough that you will always be a renter and never actually own your property (property taxes), you don’t want the bank to own the property too. Simply put, you must be able to afford what you are buying. We didn’t want it to become a financial burden and hence, a point of contention or frustration in our marriage.
    • Location – We had some conflicting priorities at first, but once we got #1 figured out it really helped us with this issue. For us it was:
      • We wanted to be away from even a moderate sized city, at least 150 miles from any major city. We wanted a small town of about 10k – 12k people maximum.
      • We wanted access to pretty decent medical facilities.
      • We needed access to stores that could provide: building materials, food, etc.
      • We wanted to be relatively close to recreational facilities such as golf course.
      • We wanted to be in an area where our church would be available and sizable. We are Latter-Day Saints and church life is important to us.
    • Water – After going through many ways of looking at this we had to place the availability of water as actually the #1 priority in regards to the actual land itself. Since wells are expensive, I tried to work out a rain catchment system to supply our water. However, in arid areas you are gambling. Gambling with such a priority turned out to be unacceptable for us. So that meant we wanted to have a well on it already or be able to put a well in at minimal costs. But, a rain catchment system will be installed as a backup to the well and used primarily for the garden and wildlife water guzzlers.
    • Topography – We do not like flat boring landscape, we like views. We wanted property that had some character, some personality…hence, topography. We did consider this as a fairly high priority in case we did have to use in a SHTF scenario. We needed to be able to defend the place and to be fairly concealed to the average passerby.
    • We also wanted trees. They didn’t have to be towering pines but we wanted trees. Tress could provide us with shade, enjoyment, and firewood.
    • Accessibility – We wanted the following:
      • Less than a full day’s drive from our current home. About six hour drive maximum.
      • Accessible enough to be fairly easy in and out with a 4-wheel drive truck, but car access was not desirable.
      • Less than a 30 minute drive to the nearest town.
  5. Identify if you want a place that you could enjoy right now with minimal expense or work to do so.
  6. Know if you want an existing house or not. Do you want to build a house. For us we knew that our budget would preclude any piece of property having a livable. Besides, we want to build.
  7. Security – Know the area and what crime is taking place. Moving into a crime infested rural area is NOT a good idea. In many rural areas of the country right now meth cooking and use make property crime intolerable.
  8. Knowledge – We spent hours and hours and hours online pouring over different areas of the southwest that might that might be compatible with our wants and needs. I am telling you that we viewed hundreds and hundreds of listings via multiple different realty websites. While they did help us to know more about areas and what was available it didn’t help us to track down the property we eventually purchased. What was the most help was a realtor agent that we liked and who worked hard to find us the right property. He was not out to “sell us” some piece of property, he was dedicated to helping us find our new home that fit our needs and wants. He was worth every single penny of his commission and more!
  9. Having some security compound with guard towers, underground bunkers, machinegun nests, etc. was not important to us. Yes, I exaggerated a little bit making the point that some ultimate BOL that was a secure dream location became less of a priority than we first imagined. We ended up with a dose of reality vs. the ultimate prepper redoubt.
  10. My wife and I grew closer together as a result of this entire endeavor. I won’t tell you the journey wasn’t without a few, ahhhhh…interestingly passionate discussions. But, overall we really did grow closer together.

I hoped this information helped. In the next article I am going to go into what we did first on the property after we purchased it.

 

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SitRep – 5/3/2017

Dang…I just can’t keep my mouth shut. And, based on what I am seeing you might be interested in what I have to say…especially at the very end where I layout a new initiative.

Economy –

The economy still sucks! The pension plan problem continues to worsen, benefits are being reduced, taxes are being raised, and there is even some talk about special real-estate assessments to make up the pension fund shortfall in some areas. You probably heard of the Canadian housing bubble about to burst…some media outlets are talking about it potentially being worse than the US housing crisis in 2007 – 2008. Then there is the first quarter 2017 GDP, .7%. Less than one percent!!!  That is horrible…truly horrible.

You would think that with the election of Trump that the GDP would have picked up, but it hasn’t. Here is the weird part…consumer confidence picked way up…but not consumer or business spending in any marked fashion. So what is going on with that?

Here are some huge indicators that the economy could stagnate or retreat:

  • ObamaCare wasn’t repealed and TrumpCare was defeated. If TrumpCare is passed it is still a huge federal government entitlement program that will cost the government trillions of dollars that it doesn’t have.
  • The tax reform plan is stalled. There is already considerable talk that many of the reforms are dead as of now.
  • The current Continuing Resolution to continue to fund the government is a massive amount of money, well over a trillion dollars. That’s over $1,000,000,000,000 for less than 5 months of government spending. And on top of that, Trump increased the amount by $26,000,000,000 for defense and welfare programs while not cutting any spending, not defunding abortions, not funding the wall, etc.
  • Unemployment numbers are not really good. Actually since Jan 20, over 500,000 people left the workforce. And, Canadian unemployment is actually worsening as well. Yeah, tie that back to the news about the Canadian housing market about to burst.

So bottom line…the economy is still in bad shape…other than the stock market. But hey, it’s done well for about 8 years now, mostly under Obama. You gotta ask yourself why with Obama and with Trump.

Violence –

Street violence is increasing, especially on college campuses, especially in reaction to Conservative appearances. Why is it important about “college campuses”? Because all revolutions in modern history have roots on college campuses.

Trump Presidency –

Love him? Hate him? Really, it doesn’t matter a bit.

Trump has signed over 43 Executive Orders, actions, and memoranda in his first 100 days! Think about that for a minute. Now, does that make you happy? How about it that had been Obama? A President that signs that many orders that quickly should scare the ever loving crap out of you…regardless of your party affiliation. That shows a man who would rather dictate than use the Constitutional legislative process. That should be of grave concern…regardless of your political beliefs.

Misc –

Fox News, love them or hate them, has been the only large scale media voice for conservatives…and they are dying. With the change in leadership at the ownership level, the decisions have been made to move them left of center politically. While it won’t happen today or tomorrow, the change is taking place and conservatives have all but lost that media voice.

The Heritage Foundation has been a bastion of Conservatism and to a lesser degree Libertarianism.  But, that institution is undergoing a transition. Jim Demint, awesome freedom/rights advocate, is in serious trouble over there. There is a battle going on for the leadership of Heritage, and Demint is losing. If the rumors prove true, Steven Bannon (alt-right leader & Trump advisor) is poise to replace Demint…or one of Bannon’s puppets. This would be a terrible blow for conservatives, especially Tea Party Conservatives.

College campuses are shutting down conservatives and any allowance of their presence.

There is open discussion now among some left-wing politicians that the First Amendment needs to be changed to no longer allow “hate speech.” Which means…you can’t say stuff that the government doesn’t want you to. Here is the really scary part…there are some Trump folks who are advocating to impact the First Amendment to allow the President to sue critics under liable laws.

War –

It seems that the Trump administration is dead set on attacking North Korea…potentially in a more conventional strike and with ground troops. While everyone that is sane doesn’t want the DoughBoy of NK to use nukes against the US, the question has to be asked…”Why is Trump going after him now and why is Trump so intent on war?” Then a follow-up question…”What will Russia & China do if we strike NK?” But, the most important question…”What will NK do if we strike them?” I can tell you the answer to that one…it will be ugly, very ugly for South Korea. So, that naturally begs the question…”Has anyone bothered to talk with SK about this…and let it be their decision since it will be their people being slaughtered by any NK retaliation?”

And, is it really such a good idea to go after NK when they can’t even successfully launch a medium range missile? Remember, Hawaii is over 4600 miles from NK, and mainland US (Los Angeles) is  over 5800 miles. Is NK enough of an imminent threat to the USA to be openly talking war with them? I gotta wonder if that same war-mongering feeling exists among the people of South Korea. But, we keep flying all kinds of aircraft into NK airspace taunting them…just daring them to take a shot at us. What a great excuse/reason for us to go after them!

So we bombed the crap of a Syrian airbase…barely impacting their air capability. So what do they do? They move their airforce in with their close ally Russia. So, what is our next play now that we just made them even closer allies with a enemy of the US?

Just ask yourself this one simple question…Why is the US being so war-like right now and who benefits from it?

Summary –

We are in absolutely no better condition, big picture, as a country under Trump than we were with Obama. Actually, in many aspects we are in far worse condition under Trump. He has us so close to a war, a major war, that we could find ourselves in a nuclear exchange without much more political movement.

But, this isn’t about Trump, his success or failure, it is about preparedness…and you!

Many times I’ve been asked, “What can I do right now to be better prepared for what is coming?”

All too often I’ve fallen back on my basics, prepare to mitigate; violence, injury/sickness, improve communications capability, learn organization, improve water capability, improve your food storage, and ensure you have appropriate shelter. But that is no longer enough!!

Starting within 10 days I will be posting articles wherein I outline exactly step-by-step actions to take. Those actions will be designed specially to deal with where we are today…and the crap that is piling up.

Now, let me be perfectly clear about a point…I love life, I think life is great, and I want you to enjoy life and not be filled with a “doom & gloom” view or approach to life. When I refer to life being great I am referring to it on an individual level, micro-level if you will. What I am referring to when I speak of the “crap” we are in I am speaking on a national and world level, macro-level. I am not, or at least I don’t want to be, a purveyor of gloom…and certainly not doom. Life is meant to be enjoyed…and that means at the micro-level. The world right now, including the USA, is in big trouble and getting worse. We must be prepared for it!

Additional –

I am including a “Q&A” form on this SitRep and on the articles that I will be posting that I referred to above. If you have specifics that you want me to address please use the form and let me know. I am here for you…period. I want to cover those things that are important to you, not just what I think is important.

 

 

 

 

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Retirement Home & BugOut Location (RHBOL) Part 2

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

< click here to read the first article >

So, we got back home settling back into our normal daily lives 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, while we should have been happy and excited, we started to worry just a bit. Yeah, we hadn’t really worked out all of the details on paying for newly found 40a slice of paradise. We had some ideas and options, 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 option. We didn’t want a conventional mortgage but we might be looking at that if push came to shove. He talked to a couple of lenders for us 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 that much only from the road.

Two days later he called back, the price was very acceptable to us and we told him to make a full-price offer. He said he would and call us back when he heard their answer. Now dear wife and I had to finalize how we were going to pay for it. Making a long story short, the purchase price was going to come out of our IRA/401(k) accounts. Yup, we would take the 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 early withdrawal 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…and it was pretty crushing.

The owners, a trust, had put a very attractive price on the land. A price we were completely willing to pay. When our agent called us the next day he told us that they rejected our offer immediately and didn’t put forward a counter offer. The owners 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, they wanted more people to see it and get multiple offers to maximize how much they could get.

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. I mean we were really, really disappointed. I was beside myself, I thought this was really “our property.”

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. Not just turned down our full price offer…they didn’t even come back to us and tell us what they would sell it for. 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. But, I still had the deep-seated feeling that we had just missed out on “our property” and would not find anything else.

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 he knew in his heart 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 that could possibly happen.

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…a 6” 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 sellers 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 camping spot, got out and had a prayer to give thanks for the incredible blessing that had just been entrusted to us. We were home…our home…and it felt absolutely amazing. I still tear up thinking about that trip.

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.

But, true to form 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 already 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 nothing more than 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, retiring together, what the cabin would look like, and how lucky and blessed we were. Then the next blessing dawned on us as we sat there…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 and we were physically tired as well as emotionally spent. 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 gazing at one of God’s true miracles.

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 an 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 such a 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 border 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 when I was 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 (us) didn’t want cattle to graze on the property we had to fence the property to keep the cattle out. We have 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. Leaving the two-track open would eventually give an argument to have it open all of the time. We had to reestablish our property line and rights.
  • 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 😉
  • Although there are no larger trees, 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…trailer if the truth be told. 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. Way too close to the road, too visible.

After an amazing and wonderful day came another great night with a big campfire watching the stars come out. I can’t begin to tell you how marvelous a star filled sky is when you are out away from a city, or even a town. It truly soothes 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 loose schedule of events starting with church. We got up fairly early, enjoyed a Mountain House bacon and egg breakfast, cleaned up a little and headed into town for church. We were amazed…less than twenty minutes after leaving the property we were pulling into the church parking lot. Second surprise…the parking lot was almost full! As we were walking into the building people were smiling, greeting us, shaking our hands, and generally being small-town friendly. And most of the vehicles in the parking lot were trucks and had mud on them. Sweet!

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 start moving our stuff that will eventually be permanently stored there. But, there is no secure storage on the property itself. Problem solved…rental storage building. We rented a 10’ x 15’ storage room at a storage business about 12 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 working daily life was beckoning to us, it was time to go. We hated to leave!

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