Getting Home, by D.K. Vet

Now, I feel relatively secure in my prepping, having been at it for several years. Food, check. Arms and ammo, check. Water, tent, first aid supplies, heating sources, et cetera, check, check, check. All is well and good, as long as I am home or near home and can shelter in place or pack up and move out of Dodge. However, there are several times every year when I am away from home and not just in the next county. We spend time in Florida and go to vet conferences in other states. When we’re somewhere else, we are totally dependent upon what’s locally available. We all know local sources can be depleted in a matter of hours.

I carry concealed every day, even at home, but you can’t do that on a plane anymore, unlike the ‘60s and ‘70s. Yes, I can pack and declare a pistol or rifle when I go to a state with reciprocity, and maybe I should always do that when I can, especially if it’s for an extended time. My insecurity grows the farther I get from home. Many knowledgeable sources believe that when the SHTF, it will happen quickly, whether it’s an economic crash, an electromagnetic pulse, grid collapse, or failure of civility. What if I’m away from home? It’s a 17-hour drive from Florida to home, nearly non-stop. If I’m in Arizona, that’s more of a three-day trip by car, providing the roads are clear, there are no roadblocks, and an EMP hasn’t knocked out transportation.

So, what is there to do? Should I stay home until our country has been reset to original intent Constitution rule? Well, that will require a Second Revolution (2R), because as corrupt as things are in Washington, a hundred more elections won’t change a thing. As Einstein defined “insanity,” that’s doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Like voting R/D/R/D/R/D and thinking that someone eventually will reduce the size of our federal government, eliminate earmarks, eliminate the Federal Reserve, or vote for term limits. Ha. The series “House of Cards” is far closer to fact than to fiction.

When I travel, I make sure we have plenty of cash. How much? Well, ten Franklins is good. Consider the possibility that you have a rental car in Las Vegas and you have to get home to Illinois. You see on TV that there is a general trucker’s strike and rioting is beginning in the cities because the grocery store shelves have gone bare. The very first thing to do would be to get to a gas station, buy as many 5-gallon gas cans as will fit in the trunk, and load the car and them all up with gas. Get some road maps, if you don’t already have them, because you will want to avoid the bigger cities on the way home. Even little crossroad towns might give you trouble. To get an idea of what it would be like to travel 250 miles on foot to get home, read Going Home by A. American.

When renting a car, even for a short stay, consider getting an SUV or 4-wheel drive vehicle that would be more road-worthy than an economy car. It may be a trade-off of durability for gas economy, but you want something that is less likely to break down on a back road. The more ground clearance your vehicle has, the better also. Get green, tan, or some other “earth color” if you can pick one. Think blending in instead of standing out, like silver or red would.

How can you arm yourself if you don’t have a gun? Is there a sporting goods store nearby? Even a Walmart? Buy a gun and a couple boxes of bullets, if you can (being a non-resident), or at least get a couple of fixed-blade knives, a hatchet, or a knife that you can fashion into a short spear. Compound bows and crossbows work, too. Got money left? Get gallons of water and pop-lid canned goods, like beef stew or anything you can eat cold or hot out of the can. Get a couple of spoons and a few butane lighters while you’re at the store, if there’s anything left. Remember the saying about “nine meals to anarchy?” Don’t put this off, if it looks like things are going bad quickly. Too late will be tough scheisse.

One thing you can still pack in your checked luggage is a good knife or two, or even a tactical hatchet. Edged weapons are still okay, and do not need to be declared. I just traveled with two pistols and had to declare them in my checked bag. The bag, guns, and I were escorted over to an inspection area, where the gun cases were swabbed for explosives (for other than gun powder, apparently). They must be looking for bombs using gun cases as concealment. They never even looked at the guns; I just had to lock the cases.

Other considerations regarding an emergency road trip home would include a can or two of “fix-a-flat,” or even the inexpensive battery-powered air pump at an auto parts store. Some new cars today have a mini air pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter as part of the inflatable spare tire kit. A multi-tool would be handy, as would a roll of duct tape, some baling-type wire, and several flashlights. You don’t need shelter if you sleep in the car, but you will be better off rotating drivers and pressing on home. Consider a small backpack or two in case the car breaks down totally and you have to proceed on foot. Did you pack good road shoes? All-weather jackets with hoods could keep you alive if you’re hoofing it. Grab some big, 55-gallon heavy trash bags if you see them. They make great rain covers and ground cover, too, to curl up on.

By all means, use your credit cards while you can, but it is likely that the system behind them will soon shut down and you will have to fall back on your cash. As you can see, $100 won’t last long when you’re preparing to drive home. Silver one-ounce coins are heavy, but it wouldn’t hurt to pack a few of those, too, in case paper money quickly becomes worthless. That’s why you need to buy what you can with fiat currency ASAP.

Take stock of everything in your rental car. Check the glove box, trunk, and compartments for a spare tire, jack, inflator (if it’s a doughnut), and any safety items. Some have a first aid kit, too. Likewise, take stock of everything in your luggage, carry-on, and on your person(s). Nail trimmers, ball-point? pens, eye drops, and lip moisturizer sticks will all be useful. I’ve flown for many years, even internationally, with an Exotac® fire starter, a magnet-base mini red lens flashlight, and a Swiss-Tech® Utili-Key on my key chain without confiscation. Also have a little key chain stainless container full of aspirin. Seven keys kind of masks things, too.

Before checking out of your hotel room, grab all the small shampoos, soaps, and even the little sewing kit. If your trip home is long, you will probably want to freshen up a few times on the way. You might just take a couple of the wash cloths and towels, too. If there is someone at the desk, you can pay them for the towels on the way out.

With one person driving, the other should be constantly scanning ahead, and a decent pair of binoculars are easy to pack on a vacation or trip. Your navigator should be watching for road blocks or people gathered by the road. Avoid them at all costs, because they are not there to help you on your way. Every person you meet is a potential enemy who will swiftly kill you for what you have, or worse. Be constantly on guard, and do not stop within sight of other people.

Regarding Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s classification of sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves, I have an acquaintance who said he was a sheepdog but could become a wolf if that’s what was needed to keep his family alive. That’s disconcerting, to say the least. I wouldn’t necessarily want him in my group, but you have to understand that it is very likely in a “failure of civility” situation; everyone will become a predator in some way, and everyone will also become prey. You may not be able to discern wolves from sheep until it is too late, because they will all be wearing sheep’s clothing, and there is no animal more deceptive than man. So consider everyone a potential enemy.

All bridges will become potential choke points for people to ambush you or hold you up for ransom or take whatever you have that they want. Crossroads with woods or buildings nearby can also be ambush points to watch out for. You can be reasonably sure if these points are controlled by our military that it may be safe to approach and pass through. However, if government contingency plans are activated, they could also confiscate your weapons, transportation, food, and fuel, before shuttling you off to a FEMA camp. It’s better to stand off, unseen, and observe what is going on there for a while. Let somebody else approach them and be the goat. Highway overpasses can also harbor bandits, and it would be good to observe from a distance before approaching.

If it looks like you will be trekking home, see if you can find a bicycle (or two) with sturdy tires. Your gluteus maximus will toughen up after the first few days, but you’ll cover many more miles faster this way. Average walking speed is three to four miles per hour, but a bicycle can put you up to 10 to 15 mph. Tough touring tires will get you over 4,000 miles (not the skinny 10-speed tires, which may go 1-3k). You’re not trying to impress anyone with a high-tech racing bike, so look for sturdiness and heavier tires. Think about fixing flats, too, and get a small patch kit with tire changing spoons.

When I fly, I dress for potential survival travel. I wear a long-sleeve 5.11® shirt and pants, and have on Thorlo® over-the-calf anti-fatigue socks. Underwear is reflected by the weather, remembering the adage that in cold weather, “cotton kills.” Wicking polypropylene would be the all-weather choice. I always wear waterproof boots covering above the ankle, usually Vasque® lightweight hiking boots. Consider the possibility of a crash landing in which you are lucky enough to survive but have to walk to civilization. I see people on the plane in shorts and wearing flip-flops, but I feel fine the way I’m dressed.

A hat– baseball cap or lightweight stocking cap– that you can stow somewhere in your 7-pocket pants could be a lifesaver as well. Since most of your body heat is lost through the top of your head, in cold weather you want to conserve this. Columbia® makes a light cap with reflective “Omni-Shield®” lining that really keeps your head warm. Any cap with a brim, or a soft, foldable boonie hat would be fine for warmer weather. Above all, you want to avoid getting sunburned, even in the winter.

You can make it home in days, if in a car with no problems along the way. On a bicycle it will be weeks, for sure. On foot, depending on the distance, it could take months. Consider the pioneers crossing the western plains, walking alongside their covered wagons. The 2,000-mile Oregon Trail took 160 to 170 days to travel. The pioneers had to worry about Indians and bandits, but they were all armed and ready for the unexpected. Things won’t be much different today in that respect, but you may not have the security of firearms. Avoiding trouble by avoiding people will be imperative.

If there are friends or family that live between you and home, and the phones are working, contact them with your plans. It may be worthwhile to go a little out of your way to hole up with them for a few days before proceeding. If they live in a city, find out what the conditions are there; it may be more dangerous than it’s worth. Get accurate directions to their location.

The time of the year is certainly important, too. I wouldn’t try walking home when the temperatures get below freezing at night. Going from north to south might not be as bad in the winter, but going the other direction and you are at the mercy of the weather and it will add tremendously to your problems. Keeping yourself dry is very important, because you can become hypothermic in even moderate temperatures. Your body will cool down to the ambient temperature quickly if you are undernourished, stressed, and improperly dressed. Wet clothing facilitates loss of body heat.

I’m glad my odds are good that when the world collapses, I will be at home and able to take advantage of my “stuff.” Millions of Americans today are oblivious to anything taking place beyond their TV screens, hand-held games, or cell phones. Good luck to them. Sorry, but I’m too old to carry you. I have enough on my hands just saving myself and my family. There will be a tremendous winnowing of the chaff. Remember the Marines’ gung-ho motto, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.”

Oh, and last but not least, always have a small New Testament or Bible along in your travels. Borrow the Gideon’s from that hotel room, if you have to. It can help you through many trials and tribulations. Prayers go up; blessings come down. Getting home safely is the objective.