I would like to put forth an idea that works for me and my family. Following my retirement, I took up my passion and have been guiding fly-fishermen for over twenty years in Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, and the Western States. My previous job had taken me to Africa, Australia, Europe, South and Central America…some forty-six countries in all. I was in the oil exploration business, and virtually all my work was in deserts, mountains, marshes, savannas, jungles, and other inhospitable terrain.
I have lived in man-camps, tents, trailers, on board barges and ships, cabins, yurts, skid mounted “dog houses,” often sleeping in airplanes, helicopters, land rovers and trucks. I have been in every climate offered to mankind from Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic to the “Empty Quarter” in the Arab Emirates. I have camped above 9000 feet of elevation for months and then worked the swamps of Louisiana from a “Quarters Boat.”
But, in the 1960s I was introduced to the finest, wilderness-portable, life sustaining, warm and comfortable camp ever devised by man…the sheep wagon. I bought one and have been using one ever since. I also build them, for use in my Fly-Fishing Guide business.
My sheep wagons, or range camps, sleep four; they are 18 feet in length and are heated by a wood stove and/or propane heater. A solar panel keeps two deep cycle batteries fully charged to run my lights, radio, computer, and satellite phone. Storage space is ample for months of food and other supplies. A water filtration system provides safe drinking water. An attached outdoor shower and toilet provide hygiene requirements. The Camps are thickly insulated and comfortable in both hot and cold climates.
My sheep wagon can travel 70 mph on the highway, and then take to a logging road without missing a beat. The road clearance of this ranch-bred camp allows it to go any place a 4-wheel drive truck can go. They have been around since the 1870s so one might say the bugs have been worked out. The interiors are much like a cabin onboard a sailing ship. The sheep herders lived in them year-round.
We spend four to five months a year camping with our fly fishing clients in places like Kodiak Island (oh yes, they are bear proof), Teslin Yukon, The Forestry Trunk Roads in Canada, the rivers near Bella Coola, BC, or the Wind River Mountains. Then in the Fall and Winter when it’s hunting season you can find us in West Texas, Southern Utah, Wyoming and Colorado; Camping month after month in our sheep wagons; a retreat on wheels; ready to go at a moments notice, kept fully stocked, capable of traveling any road or rutted trail. This is my retreat and one Camp can sustain four of us for months, of if properly provisioned with a food cache it could house us for years. It has worked for sheep herders for over a hundred years. I think it is the answer for those who must leave the city, travel a great distance and then have shelter and sustenance in a time of upheaval.
A sheep wagon or Range Camp, pre-positioned and pre-provisioned, can be located a safe distance from the Golden Horde’s immediate area of influence. For instance when the city of Houston was last trying to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Rita in 2005 and mass gridlock stranded hundreds of thousands on the roadways (some of them dying), my family and I drove south, toward the storm. Everybody was going the other way. When we were about fifty miles south of the city and still some twenty miles inland we turned in a westerly direction on farm-to-market roads and drove another hundred miles before turning northwest toward the Texas Hill Country. There was little traffic along our route and the country gas stations all had fuel; we topped off at every opportunity.
Arriving on our “Deer Lease” in the Hill Country our Range Camp was there to greet us, loaded with needed provisions.
Though Hurricane Rita would cause over $11 Billion in damage, it cost my family virtually nothing as we enjoyed a couple of extra days at our retreat waiting for the chaos in Houston to subside.
There are several manufacturers of range camps / sheep wagons and a Google search will provide any needed information. Your readers should know about this versatile, mobile, retreat, it just might save their family from an otherwise bad experience. – D.W.