Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Returning Missionaries, Active Shooters, & an Earthquake - Stress...What Stress?!

Oh, the Pains of Parenting!

The Calling of Church Missions

When my 19-year-old daughter told Lisa and me that she wanted to fulfill a church mission, we were not surprised in the least.

She had been talking about it since she was a little girl.

But the day we held her LIVE Facebook reveal for where the church was sending her...

 my heart dropped to the floor.

Guayaquil West Mission, Ecuador

It was all caught on camera. She announced the location with a joyful crack in her voice.

And I plainly said out loud, "I can't protect her that far away!"

It just came out. 100% pure, honest thoughts slipped right out of my mouth.

As a father, my main goal had always been keeping my kids safe. Sending my little girl (not so little anymore...) to a 3rd world country was not in my Dad's Safety Manual.

Our established family safe word would not work in this situation.

"You need to have faith," my wife would tell me. "It's what she wants."

Yeah, well, she also wanted to stay out until 2am running around with friends on a school night. And leave her purse sitting on the front seat of her car.


The full-time job of keeping her safe became war stories I began to share with other dads at church.

It turned into a series of stories called Wingman Moments and I was their Wingman.

I shared all these, now comical, events with brethren as a way to let younger fathers know what they were in store for and to get advice from seasoned fathers in the group.

But those stories are in the past.

I now had a beautiful young adult who was ready to go out into the world and share the Gospel.

Then Along Came the Coronavirus

I've been plugged into the homesteading community for over a decade. Very closely tied to that community is the survivalist and prepper community.

I could see the writing on the wall with Corona within days of the outbreak in China. I started considering what could happen in third-world Ecuador.

Here I am, the protective father, reliving my thoughts "I can't protect her down there."

I have no passport and no means of extracting her from her location, should the need arise.

My mom, God Bless her, went into Ross Perot mode without me even saying a word.

She was contacting all of her resources who she thought might have a chance to go on a rescue mission on their own.

Things escalated quickly in Ecuador and the church was suddenly in a feverish pace (no pun intended) to get ALL missionaries out of Ecuador.

I'll jump to the punch line to save you some details. The church finally came out with a statement for parents to buy their missionaries a return flight home ASAP and the church would reimburse us.

Finally, she is coming home.

Here's Where Fate Stepped In...Again

I was on my way back up north to my rental after having spent Spring Break doing the final cleaning and packing of our home near Twin Falls.

(I'm happy to report that the garage is finally in tip-top shape!)

The halfway mark on this road trip is right around McCall, Idaho. Known for its beauty, I enjoy passing through this town.

Just on the north side of McCall is a town called New Meadows. 

That's where the car jam started. 

I lined up in a short line of about eight cars. I was roughly number five in the line. In front, and alongside us, where about eight county Sheriff vehicles.

As I debated what might be going on, another Sheriff pulled up next to me. He jumped out of his SUV and headed to the rear hatch.

He popped open that hatch and reached in to withdraw a black rifle. Then darted off into the treeline.

Well now...

Perhaps I shouldn't be sitting here?

To skip over the mundane details, this was a live, active shooter scenario in real-time. Officers had already been fired upon.

A local citizen, wandering from car to car, appeared to be sharing information. Once he was within earshot of my van, I asked him what was going on.

"Someone is shooting at the police."

He had evacuated his home which was near the scene and walking away from the area. A few minutes later I received information that this "standoff" could keep the road closed until tomorrow morning.

My only recourse was to drive two hours back from where I came and go a different route (that was many hours longer than the original route.)

Rather than taking an alternative route and arriving at 330 in the morning, I went back home and slept in the comforts of my own bed.

The next morning, I checked the New Meadows Facebook page and the roads were "all clear" and safe for travel.

Off I went on my merry way. Again.

Deja Vu

Not ten miles south of McCall and I'm getting passed by Sheriff trucks...again with lights on.

Multiple vehicles, lights flashing.

I chuckle to myself...no way.

No way!

Would you believe, that just 30 minutes before I arrived at that exact same shooter spot, the police AGAIN closed that stretch of highway to look for the same shooter?


A quick chat with another stranded driver revealed he had a scanner. He was listening to the whole thing. "They're calling in the drones to look for him now," he said.

This time I knew better. I reversed gears and went back eight miles into McCall proper. This way I had a cell signal and could check the news.

It also put me squarely in the middle of a grocery store parking lot should I need anything during the extended wait.

It was at this moment that I started checking email, texts, and Facebook.

There it was.

A post from the church Mission President in Ecuador saying "Parents, check your emails for details on getting your missionaries home."

Frantically checking my emails, there were none to be seen from him. I called my wife, she had none either.

A quick post on this private Facebook group and another parent sent me the email.

In the email was the instruction on where to call in order to book a flight to get our daughter home. 

The phone lines to Eastern Airlines were backed up. I was caller #11 and told to expect a wait of 20 or more minutes.

I'm starting to get a little stressed.  (<== understatement of the year)

While waiting on hold, I start attempting to buy the airline ticket online using my cell phone.

It's asking me for details on her passport of which I have no idea. Luckily, Lisa had made a copy of the passport.

  • Eastern Airline's wait music playing on my phone speaker, 
  • Lisa texting me passport information, 
  • I'm trying to carefully enter flight information on my cell phone and not transpose a single digit without accidentally hanging up on the airlines call in case I get through
  • Facebook "friends" I've made in the roadblock are sending me updates
  • I forgot I had left the defrost on full blast to warm up my Arby's roast beef Sammy on the dashboard during all this so its 200 degrees in my van...

Fifteen sweat-drenched minutes later, I successfully purchased a one-way flight from Ecuador to Florida to the tune of $1366.

None of this, mind you, would have occurred had I not been turned around at that particular moment due to the unusual current events.

I would have been outside of cell phone range for about 90 minutes.

Would the tickets have been sold out?

Would have I even been checking my emails at that time?

I learned from a mentor early on in life to find silver linings in bad situations. Getting my daughter home from Ecuador thanks to my travel plans getting thwarted two days in a row is a fair trade to me, any day of the week.

She gets on her plane tomorrow at 2pm and starts her return journey. I can only imagine the stories she has to share with us upon her return.

Now, time to do a little research on this earthquake that just shook my little north Idaho rental...

Stress...what stress?

Friday, March 27, 2020

(MUST READ) Food Distribution Crisis - Insights From a Grocer’s Wife.

Are Your Food Preps Ready?

Part 7

Bugging in or bugging out - food is second only to water.

We are continuing with our migration to north Idaho. But I'm still watching the news daily.

This knowledge was so profound to me when I read it, I am compelled to repost it and share it with all of my blog family. 

Thank you to the author who has given carte blanche to "share this with whom you feel inspired to" during this current pandemic.

I added subtitles to break up the many paragraphs. I also split up some long sentences to make this more mobile-friendly. 

But I did not add any words. 

Food Logistics Nightmare

My husband is a fourth-generation grocer. He is also on the board of directors of a major food distribution co-op in the Western United States. 

We own and operate a small grocery chain spanning three western states. He grew up eating and breathing grocery and food trends from a very young age. 

We have been having a conversation about what is going on in the food industry, from his view as an industry insider. 

These are some logistics to consider which may lead to food shortages and social unrest, particularly in urban areas.

Consider this as an economist, a sociologist, and a psychologist...

Meals from restaurants topped those being made at home, reported the Grocery Industry in 2019. .

About a year ago America’s meals from restaurants topped those being made at home as reported within the grocery industry. 

This is expressed more in urban areas than rural. Urban areas are especially dependent on the restaurant industry for their meals. 

With restaurants closing down this food which is packaged and sold differently cannot be distributed to the grocery stores because of the warehouse, trucking, marketing as well as the packaging issues. 

These things cannot be shifted and changed overnight. This displacement of food distribution has been interrupted and will not quickly be rerouted to the grocery industry as the distribution channels are not in place for it.

Separate distribution channels currently exist for grocers and restauranteurs.

This creates a huge problem for food distribution if we had no hoarding going on at all or any other outside factors - even if these above issues could be addressed somehow immediately- the grocery industry would be completely overwhelmed to start doing double the volume nationwide and in urban areas perhaps triple the volume. 

There is no infrastructure put in place for this, not grocery space in the stores, freezer space in the stores, or refrigeration in stores. 

This would cause massive spoilage if these items could be brought in somehow for distribution. There are not enough grocery employees to handle the double volume. 

However as mentioned before the food channels with communication between restaurant supplies and grocers, the warehouses and packaging capabilities are the biggest obstacles impeding the immediate restructuring of America’s food distribution set up.

Stores Were Wiped Out Quickly

There is another consideration we are witnessing which is not readily understood. 

When this virus became a problem that we as a nation could see as an imminent threat, Utah, because of its culture of food storage and preparing for disaster events seemed to “get the memo” first. 

The week of March 8th grocery sales more than doubled in Utah, up 218%. Many states stayed the same with increases in some. Idaho seemed to “get the memo” about four days later. 

We were out of water and TP four days after Utah. Then we were out of food staples about four days later. Next was produce, following a pattern set by Utah four days earlier.

The problem for us in Idaho was this. The stores in Utah were emptied out then refilled twice by the warehouses before it hit Idaho. 

Many of these Utah stores have trucks delivering daily. So when it did hit Idaho, the warehouses had been severely taxed. 

The week of March 8, 2020, saw a 218% increase in grocery shopping in Utah.  

We had a hard time filling our store back up even one time. 

We missed three scheduled trucks that week alone. Then orders finally came they were first 50% of the order and have dropped to 20%. 

In normal circumstances, we receive 98% of our orders and no canceled trucks. 

The Aftermath

Now three weeks later, the warehouses in the Western United States have all been taxed. In turn, those warehouses have been taxing the food manufacturers. 

These food companies have emptied their facilities to fill the warehouses of the Western United States. 

The East Coast hasn’t seemed to “get the memo” yet. 

When they do what food will be left to fill their warehouses and grocery stores?

Food distribution and resources for the Eastern United States will be at great peril even if no hoarding there takes place. But of course, it will.

Additionally, the food culture of the East Coast and other urban areas is such that people keep very little food on hand. 

They often shop several times weekly for items, if they cook at home. 

They don’t have big freezers full of meat, home-canned vegetables in their storage rooms, gardens, or beans, wheat, and rice in buckets in their basements.

They are least prepared to handle the triple blow of empty warehouses, empty food manufacturer’s warehouses, and the pressure of suddenly most, if not all, food resources needing to come from the grocery stores. 

This, depending on what restrictions are put into place and when causing restaurant access to greatly be restricted or entirely be no longer be a viable option.

For these reasons, the food distribution of the Eastern United States and other urban areas is in great jeopardy. 

When this is understood by the masses social upheaval is likely to take place. 

This is likely to affect the United States as a whole and cause more food scarcity. 

Social upheaval is likely to additionally restrict the ability to bring in food resources.

**** End story.

Get Organized, Get Prepared

Wifey and I spent the past week reorganizing the garage. This meant going through every cardboard box, discarding what we didn't need, and placing in a new plastic tub. 

Each tub, neatly labeled and placed according to our garage map categories, tucked away for future access. 

Aside from the drudgery of the actual work, it was uplifting to see all the food and supplies that will come in handy should we lose access to our food markets or utilities. 

I actually wanted to try some of the Mountain House dried foods but the kids weren't too keen on the "experiment."

Next up is starting seeds indoors. We have the 6x5 egg flats to get us started.

We are also cleaning out our 55-gallon drums to fill with the garden hose. I emptied them Jan 2019 for the move to our home in town (which is still currently for sale.

My power sprayer from Amazon is going to come in handy for cleaning out the barrels. I will follow the recommended bleach-to-water ratio to keep bacteria at bay.

Last, I fired up the generator today. Ran smooth as silk. Topped it off with fluids so it's ready to go in an instant. 

Stay safe out there.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Prisoners Released Nationwide to Slow Spread of Corona!


Part 6

Jails Release Prisoners, Fearing Covid-19 Outbreak

As if things weren't bad enough?!

Local governments across America are releasing thousands of prisoners in an unprecedented effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in crowded jails and prisons.

Jails in CaliforniaNew York, Ohio, Texas, and at least a dozen other states are sending inmates home in hopes of slowing the outbreak inside the prisons.

Social distancing just took on a new purpose. 

I'm not necessarily going to distance myself for fear of contracting the coronavirus...now I'm distancing myself because the person nearby could be a newly released prisoner who wasn't released for good behavior or time served. 

At least it is low-level offenders, right?

But wait...

However, there appears to be no clear identification of what a "low-level" offender really is. Or at least, it varies from state to state. 

Try Googling it and see what you get.

In an attempt to define the low-level offenders being released across the country, here is what I've found so far.

The Council on Crime and Justine in Minneapolis did a study way back in 2004. The purpose of their study was to examine citations and arrests for seven community-identified low-level misdemeanor offenses in Minneapolis.

Given that Google is not showing my an definitive answers for a list of common low-level offenders, I'll go with what I have found.

This is just to list examples of low-level offenders in one location. 

List of low-level offenses in Minneapolis, at this time of this study, include individuals cited or arrested for the following:

  • Driving After Revocation, 
  • Driving After Cancellation, 
  • No Valid Drivers License, 
  • Disorderly Conduct, 
  • Loitering with Intent to Commit Prostitution, 
  • Loitering with Intent to Sell Narcotics, and
  • Lurking with Intent to Commit a Crime

Now review that list and ask yourself if the prisons (and your family) are better off with the release of these offenders?

I'll admit that some of these offenses concern less than others. But the last three concern me a great deal.

Remember, we're in the beginning stages

Have you seen this demographic yet that depicts the possibility of our timeline for the coronavirus in the United States?

According to this data, and the way our government is addressing the outbreak, things are going to get rougher in the weeks / months to come.

To stay informed but not inundated with fake news, I am only following a few news outlets:

  1. DrudgeReport
  2. ZeroHedge
After those, I'm following personal favorites like Survival Blog and Rural-Revolution.

Aside from those, I'm focusing on family and the continuum of routine and daily activities.

Now that we're at a level of self-quarantine, it gives us more time together to explore nature. Today, for example, we're going on a hike to Auger Falls. 

During times of quarantine, exercise and exposure to sunlight are crucial to help stave off malaise and depression.

Going Galt

As we continue to work on moving north, we still contend with:

  • selling a house during a pandemic
  • moving our belongings
  • finding a suitable rental at our destination
  • keep things as normal for our family as possible

In conclusion, I'll leave you with this:

Make sure you continue to stay active and don't neglect situational awareness. Continue to pray and study your scriptures with your family.

May God Bless you and your family

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bugging Out in the Middle of Covid-19

Going Galt Series - Steps to Getting Out of Dodge

Part 5

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!

Holy smokes folks! Did you make it through the past few weeks? I had half a blog post ready to go last week about bugging out to the Redoubt and the SHTF all of the sudden. I decided to skip that one and move on. 

I had to stop and reassess everything. 

Here I am, a proud prepper, and I'm ten hours north of all my supplies!

Now what?!

The family is still in south Idaho to finish the school year. The house is still up for sale too. They were doing their thing and I was doing my thing... and BAM!

Let's assess the stress factor list:

  • I'm 10 hours north of my family scouting out for a new homestead (doable)
  • Started a new job at the local hospital (semi-stressful)
  • Only know two people in the whole area up here (Hi Patrice and Don!)
  • House is on the market and I'm praying it sells soon (stressful)
  • The coronavirus hits (What the....!)
  • Family is 10 hours south during virus panic (getting more stressful)
  • Daughter #2 is four months into her 18-month church mission in ECUADOR. (OMG!)
  • Daughter #1's trip to Disneyland is canceled (thankfully) and she decided to head to Vegas?! (Seriously?!)
  • I'm smack dab in the middle of my doctorate program and the homework is nonstop (stressful)
  • And my van (only transportation up here) smells of antifreeze every time I drive it. (Ugh.)
Let's see...

Good LAWD! What else can happen....?

Time to Regroup

Okay, school for me has one more week after this one and we're done for the semester. Whew. I'm headed back south this weekend for Spring Break myself to spend a week with the family. 

We'll talk about our plans and our supplies. We have plenty of food storage and readiness supplies. But we no longer have our acreage which means no pigs or chickens. 

Boy, do I miss the chickens. 

Having those daily eggs was exactly what we need right now. Fresh scrambled eggs with cheese are my favorite breakfast food. 

I'm not really sure what to think about the house up for sale. At first, I figured the panic would have everyone occupied and not out looking at houses.

But sure enough, the realtor called a few days ago and requested a showing. Then the Fed lowered the rates to zero or near zero. I'm still waiting to see what that does to the mortgage interest rates.

Should be a good thing, I think.

The schools my kids go to have all shut down. Every class is online now. Technically, they could return with me after spring break and finish school up north. 

So we'll figure all of that out when I get back down there.

I had some fun with my house listing during the panic.

and then a few days later posted another one...

I figured there has to be someone out there who is looking to get out of the city and move someplace nice and quiet. So I kept putting it out there.

Still I wait...patiently. Praying.

Homestead Property

I have seen some really great stuff up north. My favorite so far is a 22-acre spread with a home and several outbuildings

it was pitched to me as a 3 bed / 1 bath. One bath is pretty tough with all my girls but I figured, even with two bathrooms I still don't get my fair share of time in mine so what the heck. At least with 22 acres, I could go outside...

The top picture shows a run of kennels that housed animals. With some fortification, I think it could handle pigs. Several barns and horse pens available. It was up on a mountain that had a great view and plenty of trees. 

State land right behind it. And the neighbors...oh yeah. They invited me in for dinner right there on the spot. Steak and potatoes. Are you kidding me?

They had me at HELLO.

It's top on my list but I'll keep looking to see if there is something with a little more space in the house. One of the three bedrooms in this house didn't have a closet. So technically, this was a 2-bed, 1-bath. But it was a good 2,000 sq ft overall. 

I could easily make that work. And kids move out eventually, right? They do move out, eventually, right?

There's always this place I found...it comes with some unusual fringe benefits...

New Surroundings

Most days I head back to my rental after work and dig into homework or plans for the move. Twice now I've been greeted by a few of these furry friends.

It is always fun when you are in a new town because there are always some unfamiliar things that probably seem normal to the locals. 

The grocery store has Raspberry Coca Cola and Georgia Peach Coca Cola. There's a ginger beer called Cock N Bull. And these interesting sanitary wipes...

Unfortunately, I took this picture before the crazies came out and bought all the toilet paper. Had I known what craziness was about to ensue, I would have bought a couple of packs of Bob's Butt Wipes for good measure. 

It's all gone now.

Yep. Some yahoo from Oregon came into town and scooped it all up. Not sure why the store didn't put a limit on it. They all have limits now but at the beginning of the tsunami, I guess they just weren't expecting it down at the local IGA. 

That was about three days ago. There's still no toilet paper in that store. 

Anyhow, I'm keeping with the plan and still moving forward. Definitely looking forward to getting the move over with and settling down. 

I don't know about ya'll but them other folks out there...are just a little too crazy for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Bugout to American Redoubt Timed Perfectly for CoronaVirus

Why the American Redoubt has been on my Radar for a Decade

Part 4

COVID-19 is Doubling Every 1.8 Days

In my half-century, I've seen a few health scares come and go: SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and now Covid-19. Add to that some serious recessions, 9/11,  and a handful of major natural disasters and it became clear to me that preparedness was no joking matter.

If I were single it might be a different story. I remember about 15 years ago, I was discussing disaster preparedness with a police-officer-turned-healthcare-worker friend of mine. I asked him what he would do in an SHTF scenario.

He was single at the time.

His answer: "Come to your house because you have stuff saved up."

He has since become very involved in prepping and has done an admirable job becoming prepared on his own. He is also now married and has a family that tends to add urgency to this kind of thing.

 I started my family in 1996 and it wasn't too long after that where I started thinking about becoming self-sufficient. It was a little more than a decade later, in 2010, that I started putting what I learned into practice and writing about it on this very blog.

Preppers are Tin-Foil-Hat Wearing Loonies

Remember the hype around 2009 that tracked and mocked the "Prepper Movement?" The Doomsday Prepper show went on the air and many people started to take notice. 

I got the same treatment as a kid when I was in Cub Scouts. The snotty kids in the Catholic school I attended made fun of Scouts and I didn't understand it then. 

But I do now. 

People mock what they don't understand. Things that are different from what they perceive as normal become fodder for ridicule.  Often times it stems from pure ignorance on the subject matter.

These same mockers are the people who have zero food storage and think they can visit their local Walmart when a disaster hits. 

The Bible actually talks about this in the story about the Sermon on the Mount. Out of the thousands of people that listened to the talk, some mocked and laughed... and some were perplexed. The rest believed. There will always be mockers and laughers and the perplexed. As explained by the late Jim Rohn (YouTube video link).

Regardless, I have always seen prepping as a sort of strategic game. Can I be prepared enough to get my family through a tough spot if it ever comes up?

Prepping Brings Peace of Mind

Once I secured several years of food preps and water filtration, I set my sights on skills. I don't need to review them, I've posted about most of them on this blog. 

But one strategic part of this "game" is location. That's where this post ties into my series on Getting Out of Dodge. 

When I lived near Phoenix, Arizona there was no chance of escaping many of the issues that could confront my family in an emergency. 

But systematically I have moved my family closer and closer to the center of the American Redoubt.

And the Covid-19 is a perfect example of why location matters. When it goes gangbusters, which is probably this month, we will see some large-scale problems. 

If I were still near Phoenix, supplies would be dried up. There already were limited water resources... it's the freekin' desert.  And the greatly overpopulated cities would be presenting numerous problems.

And point-of-fact, my mom is still living there. I have to figure out the trigger point that says it is time for her to drive to my location for caregiving. 

Now, and at my prior south Idaho location, the population is sparse. The town of 2600 (both locations are the same size) is a bit removed from large cities. 

My new location even has a local hospital which is very uncommon for such a small town. 

Why Am I Bringing All This Up?

Because regardless of how Covid-19 plays out, I have a much better chance of survival than most of the country. More importantly, so does my family. 

So stay vigilant my friends. Watch the news and always take it with a grain of salt. Keep your preps up and keep adding to them. 

Looks like we could be in for a bumpy ride. 

Covid-19 Data I am Tracking

SARS was the trial run. It originated in China around 2002. It swiftly spread to other Asian countries, with a few cases elsewhere. 

Isolation seemed to cease the advancement in 2003. Of the 8100-ish cases reported, there were 774 deaths. 

That's a 1 in 10 kill ratio. Or 0.1 which is 10% for you folks in Rio Linda, as Rush used to say.

BTW, the 2004 SARS outbreak was linked to a lab in China. Sound familiar? China is 0 for 2. 

Now we have the Covid-19 coming out of a lab in China. Efforts to contain it have failed.

The positive is that it doesn't appear to have that high of a death ratio but it has the potential to infect a much higher number of people. 

I found a study, and it looks pretty sound, that says Covid-19 has an average of 0.05% death rate. I say that because the WHO is only showing a 0.037% death rate on their website. 

No matter how you look at it, it isn't good.