Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from David Paul Smith.
Prepping is an attitude of being prepared. Very few athletes would consider showing up to a major sporting event without training and preparing for it. Few students would show up to take a test without doing any preparations for it. Few adults would show up to work without being prepared to work or conduct business. Through advancements in technology, which has made our everyday lives a lot more easy and a combination of propaganda that the government can take care of us, the natural tendency of humans is to want an easy life. It’s cool if someone else will take over the responsibility for us so we don’t have to think about it. We find ourselves in a time where most of our ancestors would both envy our way of life and consider us total fools for so easily giving up our ability and right of self-preservation to an idea that some government will take care of us and everything will be OK.
I grew up in the San Francisco East Bay in what was a little town called Fremont, California. My parents were from the mid west. My mom was from the Front Range of Colorado and my dad moved around a lot from Chicago, to El Reno, and then Denver before enlisting in the Navy in 1942. My parents believed in keeping a 40 day supply of canned goods on hand for emergencies (which they constantly rotated) and a twenty day supply of water (which was also rotated). Anytime the power went off we had to grab all our empty containers and begin filling them with water as well as the tub. My dad would give us ten minutes to figure out if it was a nearby transformer or something to indicate that the outage was very local before manning the water buckets. If we complained my dad would laugh and say so what are you going to do, watch a blank TV screen?
My dad always kept the cars with the tanks near full. He wanted to have enough fuel to get to Nevada or Oregon where he had friends in case things went bad in California. My dad had studied history and knew shortages can happen and a lot of things short of Nuclear War could disrupt our lives. Most of our neighbors were Mormons and made our levels of emergency preparations seem insignificant. But there were many others who lived like most do today. Without any preparations or reserves other than the store down the street in case something goes wrong.
I’m part of the generation of Duck and Cover. What a joke. We knew that the San Francisco Metro Area would be a primary target for multiple Nuclear Strikes and just one twenty Megaton bomb dropped a half mile above Treasure Island would vaporize our home and us. I remember in the Summer of 1964 while we visited Colorado Springs my dad was part of a group that got to visit NORAD. My dad was actually in the Vice President’s chair as the mountain was closed and we came very close to a launch when planes violated our Air Space.
Many have become complacent through the years. We have been brainwashed that the government has the answers and will take care of us instead of us taking the responsibility to take care of ourselves.
Being prepared is an attitude. A couple of months back I had just dropped my trailer at a major company’s distribution center and alarms in the warehouse started going off as I was waiting in line to exit the guard gate. I next noticed that employees were exiting the warehouse. I also noticed that it appeared that no one was being permitted to leave the facility.
I quickly got back into my sleeper and transferred one of my handguns into my bag of chocolate covered raisins and the second gun into my chocolate covered almond bag and placed them along with my computer into my pack that looks like a backpack computer bag. I then transferred as much as my other bug out gear from my standard bug out bag to my less threatening bag that looks like it’s a bag that can hold your laptop that you can take with you backpacking. I had my back up cloths on top. I then grabbed an empty Walmart plastic shopping bag and threw a couple of bottles of water and some snacks in it and then my android tablet.
Finally a security guard came by my truck and told me I had to evacuate out to the street with everyone else. I asked him at the time what the problem was and he did not have a clue but assured me that they had the situation under control. I laughed at him and said if they had the situation under control why were they evacuating a busy distribution center instead of everyone working on serving their customers? Apparently that thought did not cross his mind till I mentioned it. He did not appreciate being told that they really did not have anything under control.
After an hour of waiting on the street we finally found out that someone had left a bomb threat on a bathroom mirror somewhere inside the distribution center that no outside drivers are permitted to enter. After two and a half hours a Red Cross truck showed up and handed out one bottle of water to everyone in the group that I was with on the street. I would discover a couple of months later that most of the employees had been evacuated to safe zones behind the building which no one was permitted to go to without traveling too close to the building. Those groups got no Red Cross support. I also found out that this was the third bomb threat and evacuation that they had experienced in ten days.
There were several things obvious about this: First, the company and the police were not in control of the situation. They had too many incompetent people running their emergency services. If they had to evacuate anyone from the back areas where two-thirds of the employees were placed, they would have to cut chain link fences with barbed wire on top and travel over a field to another company’s distribution center and cut fences there before they could get any help. I also noticed that everyone else considered the only emergency piece of equipment they needed for their survival was their cell phone. One person did comment on how smart I was to have my computer and munchies with me. I actually enjoyed the nice sunny afternoon day. I found there was too much glare to use my tablet to read with but the real purpose of the tablet was to make it appear that I was just too much of a tech junkie who needed to keep his toys with him. Remember, people see what they want to see.
While many saw the two cops on the one side of the building and the fire truck it just reminded me how totally unprepared everyone was. If a fire had broken out or the warehouse blew up two-thirds of the employees that were in the back were totally cut off and screwed. If a crazed gunman decided to attack most would have made great targets because the cops would have been targeted first and from then on it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel. Only myself and whomever else had the presence of mind would have been prepared to respond to any situation.
Prepping is a lifestyle, not an act
I’ve always had a Prepper attitude with things I do. My wife had a good job offer in 2002 and we moved to Central Florida. As we were moving the person who made the offer died and so did the job offer. When it came time to find a place to live I chose an apartment complex that was well-built, huge and had a small sheriff’s department substation in the back of the complex. The complex was on a primary power grid. The kind that gets power first like the Hospitals, Fire Department, and Police Department. Two years later the eyes of three hurricanes went over our complex. We personally suffered no damage, the complex lost a few trees, and we lost power for just twelve hours.
I know some will question my wisdom of moving to an apartment complex. I grew up where one side of my family were builders. Their advice was never to move to a new area and buy immediately. Rent for a good year no matter how good the deal looks. Their reason is that in that year’s time you will discover where the low-lying places are that flood, where the drug dealers and or other undesirables are, and other items that affect your physical and financial security. It’s easier to leave an apartment than it is to sell a house and get out.
I would have liked to do more camping. My wife thought camping was a Motel 6 with a hot tub. So I relaxed and kept some of my prepping stuff under the radar. But you know it’s bad when your step daughter asks you seriously “Why are we roughing it?” At the time we were staying in the Boca Raton Hilton for the 2007 Spring Break (my thoughts for her at the time was Honey, I hope you marry very, very well).
I’ve had many careers through the years. Some in outdoor advertising, mortgages, securities, insurance, and investment banking. I was a consultant to a couple of investment bankers in the early 1990’s and I actually got to see a lot of the technology that we are now using when it was at the development stage. I was actually supposed to be at the World Trade Centers on 911 becoming the Vice President of a new Venture Capital Investment Company. Fate kept me from being there and I took a hint that it’s time to do something different with my life.
As a little kid I had always wanted to drive a truck. So I became a truck driver. Local work in 2010 died where I lived so I became an over the road truck driver. I like to ask people who are standing in line, behind a counter, including the cops if they had a plan to get home if the unspeakable disaster happens and we have an EMP from a solar event or a terrorist attack. Of those I talk with about 40 percent have heard of an EMP, 10 percent actually have some kind of plan although 50 percent of the plan starts with well I’d steal a horse from _____.
I have had several officers assure me that while they have never heard of it that their boss surely has a contingency plan locked away in his safe that he can pull out and implement. I ask them the follow-up question; “so let’s say for the sake of argument, what are your standard operating orders or procedure in case an EMP hits and takes out all of your electronics, communications, and transportation? How are you supposed to report in and find out what you’re supposed to do? How will you get back to your job site or home? You just told me you’re over 40 miles to both? That usually leaves them certain that their boss has it covered.
I only found one law enforcement person who had some EMP preparations. His vehicle was supposed to be shielded from an EMP. I said great. You understand the civilian supply chain that you rely on for your food, fuel, and other supplies are not protected as he was fueling his vehicle at a Love’s Travel Center. How do you plan to get fuel when the pumps stop working and the trucks stop delivering supplies? Again, we’ll think of something when the time comes.
Over the years as I ask these questions I keep wondering “How will I get home and or to my bug out location? I’m often over 2,000 miles from both. The cold hard truth is that if we have a major currency collapse or EMP, or some other natural disaster I may never get to either location. I admit I am in the process of trying to relocate and finding employment nearer my Bug Out location. But that is still a good six months to a year out. You always have to consider what if the worst happens now.
Read More: What is your SHTF Plan?
As I’ve been asking those what are they going to do if the SHTF to get home, I keep thinking about my own situation. I’m often over 2,000 miles from my home and or bug out location. One of the great difficulties in prepping is being able to have a plan if things do happen to go wrong and a SHTF situation while I’m on the road a very long way from home. I run the lower 48 states. It adds the challenges of not knowing where I will be, how far away from my meeting place, or bug out location (yes, it’s in Northern Idaho with all the other serious Preppers), the season which adds challenges of not knowing if I need to prepare for desert heat, freezing cold, etc. We all know the chances of survival go down greatly the further away you are from your bug out location when things go bad. Imagine my problem. I can easily be 2,500 miles away plus!
Building the Bug Out Bike – A better get home plan
I can keep some things on my rig with me. I have spent a long time working with a good friend who is a genus when it comes to survival and mechanical issues. I gave him the job of building a special bike rig for me with the following specifications: A 10 speed folding bike with a trailer that can carry up to 500 lbs. Tires are to be solid or special built so I don’t have to worry about flats. The bike must be reliable. The trailer I need to be able to pull with a bike and if the bike fails I want the trailer to be able to function as a cart (I have studied history and a lot of people have moved great distances by moving their stuff on a cart. I figure if the bike breaks down I could still move a lot of stuff by cart.). I also had to be able to fold both the bike and trailer and be able to place it into my truck for storage.
The reason I had to have him build me the rig is the fact that no such creature existed at the time we started this project. We ended up completing the project right around $600.00—not counting his considerable engineering skills. The bike we obtained on sale from a bike store for $325 including tax and license. The tires have been fixed so they won’t lose air or go flat. The trailer has solid rubber tires and of a standard size that can easily be replaced in case they wear out. We purchased a trailer that was rated for 500 lbs and after a number of modifications we had no problem loading it and riding it on several surfaces and hills with 650 lbs!
Believe it or not, the real challenge for this project was the hitch, or the system to connect the bike to the trailer. Again, there is nothing out there that will work. He actually designed a very special hitch that permits me to tow the trailer with any other bike and or motorcycle built. It also handles the stresses of the weight of the trailer.
I’m not a light person. I’m 300 lbs. My friend actually designed the rig so I could adjust the weight on the rear wheel to take weight off the rear wheel and shift it to the trailer. This great idea caused my friend to have one of those “I feel so stupid moments when he did a test loading of the trailer transferring a lot of weight to the trailer and made the mistake of having placed a piece of wood at the very back of the trailer. The second he pushed away to start peddling the seat slammed up into his balls. He was not a happy camper.
After I finished laughing I remember what he said and felt it could also be used as a good “safety” thing to prevent someone from stealing my rig. There are also some other unusual things that most don’t consider about controlling such a rig. He ran a test with it without using a couple pins that limit the turning abilities of the trailer. At one point he found himself heading down hill and the trailer was coming around to take him out. He had no clue that truck drivers deal with these issues all of the time.
We ran multiple tests with the equipment. We discovered that it preformed best when we loaded the trailer to shift 100 lbs off the rear wheel from the bike. I was actually surprised that the bike could be loaded with so much equipment and weight and still permit me to ride it uphill and on several surfaces. Of course as a truck driver I also know that going downhill is often more dangerous where you can lose control. We did several tests and that also looks good.
I now have a means to carry two different water purification systems, communications systems, camping equipment, weapons, tent, the list goes on and includes a one year food supply. We all know that my best option is to get away from major population centers and try to find a farm, or another Prepper who needs some of my abilities to increase our mutual need for survival.
You must understand, like most everyone else, I hate the thought of a major disaster. I love our modern age of advanced electronics. I also realize that enemies strike at your weakest spot when you’re most unprepared. I pray we don’t have any disasters. But if we do please be prepared.