Monday, May 12, 2014

Poverty Prepping hits the road!

We're back in Montana after spending four months in southern Nevada doing volunteer work for the native plants program.  In two weeks we'll be hitting the road again, this time to meet some of you!

As many of you know, my husband and I have written several prepper-related books.  We're working on a new one; this one is about you guys!  Well, sort of.  It's a book of interviews with real people to let others see that preppers aren't just a bunch of scary nut cases.

We've already done the first three interviews while we were in Nevada and Arizona, and right after Memorial Day we will be heading out across the country to meet people.  Privacy will be totally respected and protected, and each person will have final approval of their section in the book.  Sounds about as trustworthy as National Geographic and the other prepper-related 'reality' shows?  Well, we're hoping that the fact that we ARE preppers who have already met some of you and corresponded with dozens more of you, will allow a certain level of trust.  We respect the TV producers' need to have drama or the unusual, in order to make money, but this isn't about $$$.  We'll spend more on this trip than we'll ever make on the book. 

Besides giving people a chance to see the 'real' or 'normal' side of prepping and preppers, it will be a highlight of our lives to be able to meet and talk with preppers in person.  It'll be awesome to be face to face with people who come to this blog, some of whom have read some of our books, and some that have written to me on email.

We have a basic list of interview questions, which I will post today on a separate post.  The questions are things like "How did you start prepping", and how long ago, are there any basic skill sets you think are important, what is your biggest weakness if the SHTF, etc.  You can give as much details about yourself as you want, or very little if you don't want.  You don't have to answer anything you don't want to.  Pick the questions you feel like answering, or come up with some of your own.  If you don't want to meet in person you could write up whatever you want, or answer some or all of the questions and email it to me. 

We're leaving NW Montana the last week of May, heading across to the upper Midwest (Minneapolis, the Green Bay area, and Racine, Wis. are on the first leg), down through Chicago and across northern Indiana to Ohio.  We have another interview scheduled in northern Indiana, and a bunch of them in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Then over to NY state and possibly up through New England.  Down the coast as far as North Carolina, then west across Kentucky and southern Illinois into Missouri.  Down to northern Texas, up to eastern Kansas, then back across the nation to NW Montana by whatever route fits.  This route has been made based on already-scheduled interviews.  We can add some to it, but it would be expensive to vary far from it.  Some people are having us come to their houses, others are driving to meet us along our route.

There is a gathering planned at Lehman's non-electric store in Kidron, Ohio, tentatively scheduled for June 7th, but it might be the following Saturday instead.  We will know at least a week ahead of time, so people will have time to plan. 

In November we'll cover the west coast, heading out across northern Idaho into Washington, and on down the coast through Oregon and California.  Some of our scheduled interviews in California are near Redding, Sacramento, and Ridgecrest. 

I'll be posting on here along the way, not every day but when I get a chance, so you can follow the journey. 

To give you an idea of what we're writing, here is a condensed version of the first two interviews:

Interview #1:
"We followed the pick-up truck as it drove away from the freeway along a two-lane highway. The area was hilly and speckled with the mid-sized evergreen trees that cover much of central Arizona. When most people picture Arizona they think of sand, cactus, and hot weather, but less than half of the state fits that description. Arizona has every type of climate somewhere in the state. The higher elevations, such as around Flagstaff in the north, have cold winters and snow. The lower elevations, primarily in the southern part of the state, have mild winters and very hot summers. The rest of the state is mainly mid-altitude and fits in between “too cold” and “too hot”.

The sun was still high in the sky when we turned onto a nondescript narrow, but paved, road much like many others we had passed since leaving the freeway. I lost track of how many roads we turned onto as we followed the winding back roads. I began to wonder how we would find our way back out to the highway again but I gave up memorizing the sequence of right turns and left turns. The pavement eventually gave way to gravel.

Finally we stopped at a driveway with a gate across it. Nothing stood out about that either. Nearly all the homes we had passed had a gate across the driveway. The homes were clearly visible from the gravel road, so there wasn't a high level of secrecy at least regarding homes and outbuildings. There were several homes scattered among the mid-height trees, which were also scattered and sparse. I wondered about the safety of a prepper among so many homes.

The properties were large enough that most houses were out of earshot, if not out of sight, from each other. It was a long drive to any place 'real', or even to the nearest store or gas station. We concluded that anyone who chose to live out there was probably pretty independent and prepper-minded, if for no other reason than a need to keep the pantry stocked and other supplies on hand. It was a lengthy and somewhat difficult drive back out to a store. The neighbors would be more likely to be the kind you could work with in a “shtf” situation than the average suburban and urban residents would be.

The prepper we were here to interview opened the gate, drove her truck through, waved us in, then closed the gate. We parked near the house. Nothing about the house said “A prepper lives here...those crazy freakish preppers!” Even entering the front door you're just thinking “What a cool vacation get-away place!” The cozy comforts of furniture and décor gave a feeling of quiet and relaxation."

Later during our visit...
"We asked why she started prepping. She said she'd always had a problem with authority and trust. She didn't believe others really were concerned about what was best for her, that the only one really looking out for her was herself. She didn't like the way things were going in the world, or how they were being handled. This evolved into food security concerns and environmental concerns. She could see how Monsanto and other corporations were working to control our food. She saw that we are good at making war and doing devastating things to other people and our planet, mostly just to gain power and unbelievable amounts of money. Religion was all about control and power as well.

One of the things she likes about prepping is the things she gets to buy and have. She gets fun “toys” and is always learning new things. She considers her bug-out house a prep and her dog is a prep, not just the food and things that are stored. The dog is a prep because, among other things, it can keep watch while she sleeps on the trail if she has to bug out. Dogs are great early-warning systems, in addition to being good company. But it isn’t just about the things she has, it’s also about learning to be flexible and adaptable no matter what the circumstances. She doesn’t feel dependent on her preparations like stored food. All of her “stuff” can disappear in a heartbeat, but no one can take away her knowledge and ability to survive."

Interview #2:
"I leaned into the car to set down the armload of gear I carried. We were about to embark on a kayak trip and only minutes away from leaving for the jump-off point. The morning was already warm and I wiped the back of my hand across my forehead as I stepped back from the car and started to turn. A voice called my name from the bushes south of camp and a man came striding out.

Our dog stood by my legs slowly wagging her tail, so apparently she didn't detect a threat, but I turned and called my husband's name toward the direction of the camper, then greeted the man. Moments later the three of us were settled in lawn chairs and he told us his story. Five hours later we were still hanging on the edge of our seats.

“Bill” had been in the military and then worked for the government. He didn't reveal which branch of the military or what he did for the government. He said he was in the lab when dragonfly camera technology was cutting edge, about twenty years ago, and speculated with wonder in his voice about what sort of cutting edge technology is in the lab now days. The public only found out about the dragonfly cameras a few years ago, so he figured whatever they had now behind those closed doors would make science fiction look like child's play.

Concern about the direction the country was going in made him think about the future. He bought land in NW Utah, “behind the lake”, he said. It was an eight-acre parcel and had an old house on it. Bill bought solar panels and a wind turbine, and put in gardens and fruit trees. He had food storage stashed there, as well as other supplies and hand tools. So far it sounded pretty classic. I wondered about the past tense of his story. “Then there was the accident...” he said. I leaned forward and set my glass of lemonade on the tray next to my chair.

In the book you'll read what happened, but here was the result: Bill suffered a brain injury so bad that it took a few years to learn how to talk and feed himself again. He'd stare at a weird-looking bottle on the counter and try to remember the word “Ketchup”. He'd stand in the kitchen of his home and know that it was his house but he couldn't remember how to find his bedroom or the bathroom. He'd look at his wife and he knew it was his wife but he couldn't remember her name.

They had to sell their prepper homestead: The property he owns now is set up with good gardens and fruit trees. The weakness is water and firewood. He has two wells, one of which is over 400' deep and he was trying to figure out how to get water out of it if the SHTF. He was going to research solar-powered water pumps but wasn't sure they'd pump from that deep. The other well is a shallower well but it hadn't been tested for safety for drinking, and the property is in an agricultural area. Chemicals used by farmers could be in the water. The property has another weakness that is even more threatening than the water/wells. There are no trees and it's in a cold climate.

One of the biggest threats he sees today is the people themselves. “We're too polarized. Everyone is divided on just about every issue. There is no trust. The nation is a powder keg, and at some point someone is going to fire the first shot. And they have no idea how bad it's going to get. It's like a game to them.”

As suddenly as he had arrived he stood and said good-bye and walked off through the bushes. His calm, slow voice still sounded in my head. “I'm not sure there is anywhere that is better than any other place. They can see and hear everything.”

Check back later for another post with our questionnaire, which is really just a guideline in case my brain stalls and I forget what to ask people!  :)

Please leave comments below or email them to:

Susan (and my husband, Steven)

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