Letter Re: Last Minute G.O.O.D. Versus Well-Considered Early Relocation

James –
We think along similar lines, as my wife and I relocated to Central Idaho in 1995, raising and homeschooling our four children here. We’re electrically functioning off the grid, engage in animal husbandry, grow what vegetables we can, and stock up on essentials we cannot produce and always meticulously rotate the stock. And we hunt, big time.

I read the entry on your site today about the fellow who intends to travel ore than a thousand miles in a blink of an eye, and use this blur to make a life-changing decision based on distorted glances at sixty miles an hour. Though I agree with essentially every bit of advice regarding location considerations, and in particular what to avoid, perhaps you should suggest to this fellow to split his trip into two or three, perhaps even four excursions so he can really evaluate what he is looking at.

I’ve lived in the west my entire life, a witness to the destruction of Colorado as we finally fled the far reaches of the West Slope for here. Knowing that one simple mistake in terms of selecting a location can be fatal in and unto itself, we began looking in 1993 and through 1994 before making our selection. Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Distance from population centers was number two on our criteria list, but as you well know, the number one priority must be water.

People in the cities haven’t really a clue as to its relative scarcity. Turn on the tap. Our criteria was “live, year-around creek” on the prospective dirt, or it was scrubbed from the list. At 8.37 pounds per gallon, you can’t realistically haul enough any distance for survival if survival means growing food if TEOTWAWKI actually occurs. Maybe not enough to use just to satiate thirst if you are too far from the source.

Let’s face it. If people have to actually “Bug Out”, the “End” is happening, right there and then. Think: water, water, water, and location, location, location.

I wrote a piece about “relocation” a few years back for a Peak Oil web site that generated several thousand comments, the vast majority of them were positive. The negatives were from the Gold’s Gym-type jerks who thought I was trying to come off as some kind of tough guy, which I wasn’t. “Realism” offends people. You cut one cord short on firewood before winter and the snows get hip-deep, you are dead. Sometimes you have “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” with large critters equipped with teeth and claws. I killed a damned lion at six feet inside my barn who was upset that I was upset that he had killed my milk goats. A bear at thirty feet on top of one of our sheep who was none too happy with me either. The wolves are here constantly, and that’s just a time bomb waiting to go off. We’ve had jerks from cities show up on the place acting, and to be kind here, just a little “weird”. Occasionally and unfortunately what followed were “in your face” armed confrontations, required to convince them getting the hell out of here was a damn good idea.

Which leads to another situation that is always notably absent from writings about “Getting out of Dodge”. Why isn’t it mentioned that people are already “out there”, and even if a person chooses to relocate before the fan is blowing manure that it takes a couple of years before the indigenous outlanders accept your presence. These pre-existing folks, as you well know, traded off the easy living the cities offer for a harder lifestyle that almost guarantees austere living. The F.N.G. is a newcomer, and no one knows whether her/she is a curse or a blessing. The number of drug-laden scum that has floated in and out of here over the years is pretty amazing, let alone the flood of retirees who ain’ t worth knowing. A third of them want sidewalks along Forest Service Roads.

And then when things go south, some guy, regardless of what color collar he wore to work, abandons his 52″ widescreen HDTV, his Budweiser and the N.F.L. Package, throws his “Git-R-Done” stuff in the 4-Runner. Off he goes, carrying just enough with him to guarantee that where he ends up, thieving and murdering is going to be happening. Why? Because he’s in a panic regardless of how “cool” he thinks he is. In truth, if you don’t already live “out there”, you aren’t prepared. City folk are waiting to run, and they are running to nowhere. For that matter, half the people who are already “out there” aren’t really prepared. But City Folks simply cannot take with them what is needed long-term to survive, and even short-term if winter is upon them. So, he is going to become a thief and a murderer. Where he’s headed he doesn’t own dirt, has no roof over his head, and he hasn’t got the food to last a month. The most moral man in the world will become the worst of sinners when facing starvation. Add a man with his woman and a passel of kids, and you’ve got a desperate man. “Honey, I starved the kids!” I don’t think so.

So, what do you think folks around here are thinking anyway? Putting out the “Welcome Wagon” for an exodus of people who refused to sacrifice ahead of time? Those who have been living easy and going to Applebees every Friday night? The wife blowing money at the mall every Saturday with the rest of the “girls”? People who thought, “I’ll stay here doing the 9-5 because the woman insists, and then we’ll go if we have to.” Here’s another good one: “We didn’t want to move and have to change schools. The kids really liked it there.”

The foregoing mean that the “Old Lady” and the “kids” have been dictating his life anyway, right? You ever seen these women go through “Mall Withdrawal”? Good God, it’s a terrible sight to behold even under good conditions! At least when things are “normal” they can head over the pass for a methadone-like “Mall-Fix” up in Missoula or head to Idaho Falls. Shoot, you go and “Cold Turkey” a mall-dependent woman and h**l doesn’t even begin to describe the price that must be paid! It’s viral too, I swear.

Seriously though, is there some assumption that such “exodus scenarios” aren’t discussed by the locals down at the cafe’s in Salmon, Challis, and Elk, Bend, and North Fork over morning coffee, as well as at the Sheriffs Departments around here? My understanding is that the roads in and out of here are to be closed, which is fine by me. There isn’t much bounty here to begin with, and adding a bunch of instant vagabonds will simply be making meager pickings that much slimmer.

Fools rushing for the hills. There’s a steep learning curve and most aren’t going to make it. Best regards, and keep up the good work – John M.