Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Suburbs have become the heirs to their cities’ problems. They have pollution, high taxes, crime. People thought they would escape all those things in the suburbs. But like the people in Boccaccio’s Decameron, they ran away from the plague and took it with them.”
– Charles Haar

Note from JWR:

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that readership is up! The bad news is that because of the steadily increasing SurvivalBlog site traffic, I’ve had to upgrade our web hosting account with to one of our ISP’s “Gold” accounts–which is nearly twice as expensive as our old account. (Was $143, now $311.) Even though I’ve tried to minimize the number and size of graphics, users are downloading more than 12 gigabytes per month. (They are small files, but there are lots of blog readers!) The recent increase in advertising revenue helps, but the support of individual readers is greatly appreciated! Thusfar, only five readers out of 58,000+ unique visitors have made a bandwidth fund contribution. 🙁 If you are not patronizing our advertisers, then a bandwidth contribution or perhaps a SurvivalBlog T-shirt order would be appreciated.

Today, I’m covering yet another region in Oregon in my detailed retreat locale analysis series.

Recommended Region: The Wallowa Region (Wallowa County, Northeast Oregon)

The Wallowa Valley is in far north-eastern Oregon, in Wallowa County. The towns dotted along the valley (see map) include Wallowa, Lostine, Enterprise, and Joseph.

The following population statistics are courtesy of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce:

Wallowa County: 7,150
Enterprise: 2,020
Joseph: 1,085
Lostine: 230
Wallowa: 760
Imnaha: 100

The median income in Wallowa is $28,603, versus the national average of $41,994.
(Source: 2000 U.S. Census )

The mountains ringing the Wallowa Valley get the lion’s share of the precipitation, while the valley floor itself is fairly dry. The average precipitation for the entire county: 18.85 inches, Enterprise: 13.26 inches, City of Wallowa: 22.44 inches.

Growing season ranges from only 80 days in Enterprise to 120 days in the Imnaha River Valley.

Advantages: Some of the towns in the Wallowa Valley have 100% gravity fed municipal water systems. Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in the nearby mountains. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest makes a “big back yard” that stretches all the way into Idaho. More plentiful water than in many other parts of eastern Oregon. Livestock production includes cattle and sheep. Several lumber mills. Unlike the nearby Grande Ronde Valley, which has a major interstate freeway (I-84) passing through it, the Wallowa Valley is transited by a much smaller highway, so it is will not be as likely a refugee line of drift. Real estate is still reasonably priced.

Disadvantages: Short growing season compared to western Oregon. (But that is the price you pay for isolation and low population density.) Downwind from Seattle if the winds are atypical. Marginal agricultural diversity. (Not as diverse as the nearby Grande Ronde Valley.) The main crops are barley, wheat, grass hay, and alfalfa.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Letter Re: A Sense of Scale

Mr. Rawles:
Great site, I look at it every day that I am near a computer and learn something every time. One minor thing that I noticed the other day was your mention of some ranches in Eastern Oregon being several sections. You did say that a section is 640 acres but some readers might not understand the scale of things. Tell them that a section is one mile by one mile [square]. They may not have a feel for an acre but a box with a four mile perimeter is something all your readers will understand.

Note from JWR:

Today I’m covering yet another region in Oregon in my detailed retreat locale analysis series. I’ll be moving on to my recommendations in Washington later this week.

Recommended Region: The Illinois River Valley/Cave Junction Area (Josephine and Jackson Counties Southwest Oregon)(SAs: Retreat Selection, Relocation, Demographics, Oregon)

Note: Cave Junction is the home to both The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and WorldNetDaily , so it must have something going for it!
Statistics (for Grants Pass):
Average high temperature in August: 88.7.
Average low temperature in January: 31.1.
Growing season: 140 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.2”.
Median residential home price (Grants Pass): $180,000.
Advantages: Because southwest Oregon is normally upwind of every nuclear target in the United States, it would receive more residual fallout from nuclear strikes in Russia and China than from any strikes in the U.S.! If you are mainly thinking in terms of nuclear risk then this is the place to be!
See: http://www.cavejunction.com/cavejunction/areainfo.shtml, and http://www.oism.org.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California’ s Golden Horde. All of Oregon suffers from the creeping Nanny State mentality that emanates from Salem.
This region might be a good one to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California.

“Doug Carlton” on Survival Retreats in the East and Surviving on a Budget

I wanted to address a couple of things some of your readers have brought up recently. There’s been a lot of well thought out letters on retreat sites that aren’t in the west. That’s great, I live on the east coast myself. I want to hear more about other locales, as I’m sure Jim does as well. If your state isn’t on his list of retreat locations, don’t take offense. As long as you’re applying some of the same logic, ideas, and planning to your retreat location then you’re doing far better than most survivalists, let alone sheeple. Jim also makes the distinction that
there’s plenty of bad places to be in the West as well. Think about it, is living in Los Angeles better than living in the hills of West Virginia just because it’s out west? Heck no, and you won’t hear Jim saying that either. It’s all about personal responsibility. It’s your life, your plan, and you have to make choices. You are the only one that can decide your requirements. Likewise, you are the only one that can decide which path to take when requirements, reality, and resources conflict. I live in Virginia. I’ll be the first to admit that where I live isn’t exactly the 100% best location as a survivalist. I have a fairly nice urban set-up here, but I make no bones about the fact that it’s untenable in some scenarios. It’s where I choose to live for a variety of reasons. Those are my requirements and my choices.

Speaking of requirements competing for resources, David brings up a great point about money. During the timeframe that Jim actually started writing “Patriots” all of us that were in “The Group” were pretty darn poor. Most of us were college students, or recently graduated, so we weren’t exactly “rolling in the dough” at the time. I can remember searching the seats of my 1965 Barracuda for quarters to buy a burrito. My character in the book is a pretty close approximation of what most of us had in terms of guns, gear, food, etc at the time. Now I have a job and have a bigger budget for survival stuff. Anyway, even though I find it easier to buy this or that, it’s also easier to screw up and buy the wrong this or that. When I was dirt poor, I probably was a little more careful exactly how that money was spent. No, I wouldn’t want to trade back into those days financially, but the point is there is always a way to maximize the situation that you are in.

Money is an important resource, but it’s only one of several. Just work your preparations into your budget. It doesn’t have to be big dollars. Five or Ten dollars a week will buy a lot of medical supplies at the local drug store in a couple months. A few dollars extra buying a couple of cans/packages of food at the grocery store over what you need will add up
fast. “Overbuying” logistics can be done in very small amounts so you don’t really feel the increase. Just a couple bucks a week will do the job well. It also makes rotation easier, as it’s stuff you use daily anyway. Since you use it daily, you are also more accustomed to that food as part of your diet, so when a problem comes, you aren’t all of a sudden having a change
of diet adding to your stress. Thrift shops can be outstanding places to get gear, as can be various Internet boards. Networking with others will help things out. Even if it’s just over the net, we as survivalists can help each other out in trading to level out various things we need. Maximize your training. It doesn’t cost much to actually get into and stay in shape. That has huge benefits beyond anything you can buy. Taking a hike with your map and compass doesn’t have to be a big affair. Even the most urban areas have some sort of park system worthy of exploring and getting some good out of it. Go camping for a couple of days, and practice the things you’ve read about in books or on the net. You’ll get a big surprise how well (or not) all those things you’ve read about and think you know really work. There are an endless list of things you can do for training that are free, or low cost. You are better off with training than with gear anyway.

I have to agree with Jim, if there’s one priority where money should go, it’s food. The easiest way to tell someone that’s truly prepared from a poseur is to ask, “How much food do you have stored?” rather than any question about guns.- “Doug Carlton”

Letter Re: Armored Window Shutters, Ayn Rand, U.S. Military Organizational Structure

Dear Mr. Rawles,
My copy of your book [Patriots] has been read by so many people that the binding is falling apart. I’ve read it three times myself.
Are there photo examples of the retreat doors and shutters?

Sorry, I cannot post pictures, due to OPSEC. I did my best to describe the shutter and door ballistic upgrades in detail in the novel. (In narrative form.) If you want to construct something similar, just be sure to take the weight into account when sizing the hinges, and remember that the hinges need to be attached to some substantial framing or masonry. And, of course think safety first when handling objects that heavy. If dropped, even just a single 1/4″ plate could take off someone’s kneecap or toes.

You mention Ayn Rand in the book. I’ve held off reading her material since she was an atheist. Is there benefit to some of her works?

Even though she wasn’t a Christian, her observations on both human nature and the nature of government were quite accurate. I do recommend her writings. (I subscribe to the Conservative/Christian/Libertarian school of thought.)

I have two kids in the military, yet I don’t know the break-down of troop unit sizes. (i.e.: fire team, rifle team, squad, platoon, company, etc.–from smallest to biggest)

To understand the basic U.S. Army structure, see This Concise Overview that was put together by GlobalSecurity.Org. But keep in mind that the entire Army is presently reorganizing into semi-autonomous Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

Love the blog!
Thanks for any help. – “Grandpa R.”

Letter Re: Survival Retreats in the East

I’m in the process of locating/purchasing a retreat home. My family (wife and four kids) and I live in [deleted for OPSEC] Florida and are looking for a place in the mountains. I’ve followed a lot of the guidance online for research, but I find the information between sites differ. If you have time, could you review the assumptions I’m using and add/subtract if needed? To help give some background, I’m a 40 year old USAF retiree with a background in disaster prep, manpower, deployment planning, and beddown/field feeding (I was a Services planner). I’ve got a master’s in mental health and am working as a director of social services at a large nursing home/assisted living facility. So, I do have the basics of what to do when I get there but need to find the right place. I have kits and BoBs for every contingency, but know that in a TEOTWAWKI situation it’s critical to get out of this state and off of the I-95/I -75 corridors.
Currently, we are looking at places in Graham County, North Carolina based on the elevation (2599-5500 ft), area population (27 per sq mile), and proximity to my home (11 hrs by vehicle, best case scenario). It’s a further distance than I want, but the safety of the mountains is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, teh South Carolina mountains have too many nuclear plants nearby and Georgia’s mountain are only accessible to us through Atlanta (no way). I know you are opposed to east coast locations, but do you know anyone that has scoped out this side of the United States?
Here is some of my criteria:
Inland: 60 miles from coast
Elevation: above 2000 ft
Remote: no city of 3,000 or more within 50 miles
House 5-10 mi out of town
5-10 acres of land
Hill and flatland
CBS or rock home preferred
Streams, pond on property

JWR Replies: From your list of requirements, I think that Eastern Tennessee might appeal to you. Stay tuned. I’ve been promised an article about that region from a local resident. I hope to post that piece sometime in the next two weeks. I’d also appreciate seeing comments from readers on the retreat potential either of the Carolinas.

Recommended Region: Klamath Falls Region (Klamath County, South Central Oregon)

This region is blessed with plentiful water (the largest lake in the region) fertile soil (lake beds left behind by receding ancient lakes), and geothermal energy in some areas. Like the Rogue River region, the Klamath Falls region might be a good area to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California. In a grid-up scenario it would be a great place for a retreat. However, in a grid down scenario where a mass out-migration from California could be expected, it might be marginal. because of the high elevation, you should build some large greenhouses! Buying land in a geothermal active locale be ideal. That way both your home and greenhouse could be geothermally heated. But keep in mind that it takes electricity to operate geothermal hot water circulating pumps. So in the event of a grid down situation, you will need a fully-capable photovoltaic power system.
Klamath Falls region crops: Hay, wheat, barley, oats, onions, potatoes, and sugar beets. Very nutritious blue-green algae is also skim-harvested from Klamath Lake.
Statistics (for Klamath Falls):
Average high temperature in August: 83.
Average low temperature in January: 19.9.
Growing season (Lakeview): 100 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.6”.
Advantages: Plentiful water. Removed from the Interstate-5 corridor–which would be the likely Golden Horde route. Less snow than other parts of Oregon at similar elevation. Many homes in and near Klamath Falls have geothermal heating! Downwind from Portland only on rare occasions.
Disadvantages: Shorter growing season an less crop diversity than lower elevations in the region (such as the Umpqua Valley.) Proximity to 35+ million Californians.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)


Still No Body Armor Reimbursement for Deployed Troops (SAs: Supporting Our Troops, Field Gear, Body Armor)

The Associated Press just reported that nearly a year after Congress required the Defense Department to reimburse soldiers who purchased their own Kevlar body armor to protect themselves during Iraq deployments, the Pentagon still hasn’t figured out how to do so. This is not surprising since last year DoD officials criticized the plan as “an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DoD with an open-ended financial burden.” Methinks it is a sad state of affairs when we send our troops in harm’s way with insufficient equipment. Regardless of your opinion about the Iraq war, I think that we can all agree that we need to provide the best gear possible to insure the safe return of our service members. It is also important to send them letters and gifts for encouragement.

Two Letters Re: Missouri’s Retreat Potential

Dear James,
Missouri has more to offer for retreat potential than almost any other state in your top 19! It has a much longer growing season than Montana or Idaho. Most rural areas have an abundance of excellent soil, good rains, abundant woods, pastures and gun friendly small towns. Missouri is one of the few states with a concealed carry law. [JWR adds: Actually, 34 states now have “shall issue” CCW permit laws on the books.] Hunting potential is good, since wild game is plentiful.

If you avoid the metropolitan areas of St. Louis on the far east of the state and Kansas City on the far west of the state, you have the entire state in the middle for retreat potential. Some might consider the booming area of Columbia, smack dab between St. Louis and Kansas City, to be an area to be avoided also. That however leaves an incredibly large area with few interstate highways, but abundant county highways that crisscross the state in a maze. (OBTW, Texas has the same “Farm to Market” roads. So why was everyone parked on the interstates when Hurricane Rita was approaching?)

There are few transplanted yuppies in the rural areas (we would be considered transplanted yuppies I suppose), which means most of your neighbors have lived in the area most of their lives, but the southwestern area of Missouri near Springfield is more populated with transplants who are heading for the good life to retire. Small holders who grow a good deal of their own food, raise chickens, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits are quite abundant south of I-70. Missouri is small-agriculture friendly. Once you get away from the counties surrounding the two major cities, most of the counties have NO ZONING. That means we can put up a windmill, build two more houses on our property (sewage has to comply with houses but it is VERY minimal), raise a diverse range of animals, slap up a fence …all without the permission of some zoning and planning commission.

Drawbacks: If you ask for almost anything organic, folks will stare at you like you have two heads. You are more likely to find Wonder White bread at the store than whole wheat anything. You had better like American cheese if you live in a truly small town or be prepared to drive quite a ways. Having a Super Wal-Mart within a half hour drive for us makes living here much more tolerable as otherwise we would have to drive to one of the three metro areas to get almost anything beyond the absolute basics.

More plusses: Most families here are religious even though only about half attend church. Schools are touch and go but the home schooling laws are very favorable. The abundance of ground water , aquifers, springs, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes make this an excellent state for becoming free of government water. Most areas are windy enough to warrant windmill power and of course we have plenty of sunny days for solar electric cells. The terrain is varied and runs the gamut from perfectly flat farm fields that mimic Nebraska, to windy curvy woodsy counties that mimic the lower Appalachian region. Our area is a lovely mix of flat farm fields interspersed between woods packed with deer and wild turkey.
We have lived in several states around the country and in each we searched for homestead property without success. Many small holder farms can be purchased here—but you may need to purchase through an auction rather than a real estate listing. Most small holders in the north half of the state are sold after an elderly person passes away and the family wants their money fast. Keep your financing prearranged with a local bank and get your bidding ticket! You just found Shangri-la. – Missouri Goat Lady


Mr. Rawles,
Great Blog site, I look at it daily. Katrina should be a wake-up for all the sheeple, but unfortunately many will still think that it is “something that will never happen here.”
A little background on myself, I am a physician in mid Missouri, have spend over eight years on active duty military, and have been preparing for the “crunch” little by little. Moving every 2-3 years with the military made it hard to accumulate to much gear, but we have settled down in mid-Missouri now. Although not ideal, we settled close to family.
Missouri has several advantages including mild weather, good crop variety, and population is mainly clustered around St Louis on the East, Kansas City on the west, and Springfield in the southwest. Columbia is in mid-Missouri and it just topped 100,000 pop mark. The Minuteman missile sites were decommissioned with the last SALT/START talks. Disadvantages include rising land prices, Whiteman AFB (home of the B2 [strategic nuclear bomber]), and Callaway Nuclear Power Plant here in mid-Missouri. Other than the population centers, MO is fairly conservative, Concealed Carry passed recently (to the dismay of the socialists in STL). Interstate 70 bisects MO in half and connects STL and KC, and is a vital route of the country. The advantage is that with 1 out of 4 semis carrying some type of food stuffs, is outweighed by the fact that the “hordes” will most likely travel these main arteries. Tactically, there are many bridges in Missouri that can be brought down or blocked. The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are just two of the largest waterways. There are several prisons in Missouri and it is definitely something to look at when/if TSHTF, since these will probably add to the refugee crisis, except they will be the worse element. I would hope in a grid down situation that prison doors default to lock down but who knows. I saw in New Orleans that prisoners were evacuated from the city before most of the population.

Those close to STL and south of it need to be aware of the New Madrid Fault zone that extends down through Illinois, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Some predict a major quake in the next 5 to 10 years, and most experts say the most structures would not withstand much, especially in the city of St. Louis. Hope this helps your view on Missouri. If I can be of any help on specifics to Missouri please let me know, also please feel free to run any medical type questions my way. I am watching your blog closely for the “ultimate” area to set up. I have been considering moving closer to the Rockies.

Here are some good links you may want to add Virtual Naval Hospital Emergency War Surgery www.vnh.org/EWSurg/EWSTOC.html and The Borden Institute http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil

Also do you know if ‘surplus’ mil vehicles are any more EMP proof that regular ones? I have been looking at a surplus CUCV 4×4 diesel truck. Mike W., MD

JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing your insight. The CUCV is a good choice, and they are still available at bargain prices. One good source for milsurp vehicles in your general region is Dave Uhrig’s Military Vehicle Sales and Appraisal. For versatility, I prefer the pickup style models. I have read that CUCVs are essentially EMP proof because they have traditional glow plug (not chip controlled) and traditional fuel pumps.

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party’s ranking (in Boston’s Gun Bible) for Missouri on firearms freedom is only 51%.

Another Letter from Iraq

Hi Sir,
Just wanted to drop you a brief line about a couple of things you might find interesting.

Iraq has been a surprise to me. Accommodations are nicer than expected, with running water indoors for showers and urinals (gravity fed from tanks 😉 electricity (albeit 220 VAC rather than 110 VAC ) etc.
However, I’m terribly disappointed in the way we fight. It’s been, for lack of a better term, garrisonized. “Higher” cares more about whether you have holes in your cammies than if you can fight, they expend more manpower building walkways with sandbags than reinforcing the buildings, and worst of all they’re stingy with the ammo. I’ve got empty mags, empty grenade pouches, and we carry 1/3 of what we should for the M240 [MMG] on top of the truck. I truly don’t understand. Do we not rate ammo? It’s a war, isn’t it?

After some reflection I’d have to say it’s really not. It’s not even a “police action” in the Vietnam/Korea sense. It’s an armed humanitarian effort. We’re like Triple Canopy or Blackwater on an international scale. It’s frustrating, but jarheads are nothing if not adaptable.

IEDs have been getting fewer but bigger. All our trucks are armored to some degree, and the old “a couple 155s” style IED doesn’t cut it. My company hasn’t been hit much yet, but the Army and one of the line co’s have been nailed pretty good. The Army even had a Bradley get mobility killed the other day. Not easy, those things are tough.

I’m looking forward to Ramadan and the elections. We’re hoping it’ll spur the bad guys to come out in force instead of sniping, IEDs, and hit and run attacks they prefer now. I’m getting tired of raiding houses and ending up holding a bunch of women and kids at gunpoint.

Have to cut this short, my section about to go on QRF and I’ve gotta get back to the hootch. Stay low and watch six. – John in Iraq

Letter Re: Preparedness on a Budget and Surviving in the Suburbs

I love the site. I also just picked up Patriots for $19 at a local gun show. I love it and am learning just how much I haven’t thought about. That leads into my big question; how do you prepare thoroughly on a budget? I make less in one year than some of the characters in your book SPENT on supplies in a year. What can I do to be ready making $20,000 or less a year? Also, I can’t leave Ohio because both my parents are getting older, any ideas on a retreat or on securing a house in the outer burbs? Thanks for any help you can give. – David

JWR Replies: I recommend that you cut out unnecessary expenses and set your budget priorities. Food first! By only setting aside about $2,000 per year, you can store a LOT of food, fuel; and other necessities, in short order. To get the most for your money, buy in bulk from suppliers like Ready Made Resources and Walton Seed. Team up with like-minded friends for major purchases that can be shared. (Commo gear, rototiller, chain saws, and so forth.) Take heart in the fact that even if you are only able to make modest preparations with a deep larder you will be the equivalent of a wealthy man, post-TEOTWAWKI.

The suburbs will be probably quite survivable in a grid up situation. But in the event of a grid down TEOTWAWKI, you need to be ready to beat feet. You will need a rural retreat destination to share with relatives or friends that you can trust. I keep harping on this but it is crucial: You need to pre-position the vast majority of your “beans bullets and band-aids” at your retreat, because you may have only one trip out of town before the roads are blocked or become unsafe to drive.