The Elusive Alice Pack ….

I don’t know if it is just me or what.   I have been trying since January to acquire a couple of Alice Packs to use as bug out bags.  I try to use vendors that folks on the blogs have reviewed and recommended, and the fact that both were veteran owned and operated were a plus in my book.  Both my attempts have been frustrating to say the least.  With one, after waiting from 4 months and being promised several times that delivery was imminent, I finally cancelled the transaction and got a refund.  The other acknowledged my order, sent me confirmation, and then nothing.  No credit card charges, no further communication, nada. 

So like a good prepper, I have gone to plan B and have plan C ready as well.  The local surplus store has these available, and I will probably go there this weekend to purchase a couple.  The only reason I didn’t before was because of the really great deals for these packs online.  I know I will pay more, but at this point, I am ready to just get it purchased so I can move forward.  (Plan C by the way is E-Bay).  There are two reasons I am so obsessed with an Alice pack.  Using it and its capabilities for a bug out bag is secondary.  Primarily,  I like the external frame so I can strap other things to it and carry them.  For example, one of my backup water sources is a large pond/small lake that is a short walk from my house, but it entails going through some rugged terrain to be incognito.  The plan is to fill up one of my camping water jerry cans and strap it to my back for the return trip home.  It will be much easier to carry that way rather than trying to carry it by the handle, leaving my hands free for other contingencies as well.  

In the words of Colonel Hannibal Smith … “I love it when a backup plan comes together .”

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Surprised by what people buy before a storm ….

I had finished all my storm preps today and thought I would run to the local WallyWorld to pick up some veggies to snack on during the week.  Since Isaac is no longer the direct threat to us now as it appeared a day or so ago, I wasn’t expecting it to be too crowded.  I should have known something was up when this young guy (early 20’s) with a girl and a baby stopped me and asked me if I had heard something about a storm.  So my son and I told him that it looks like it will make landfall sometime Tuesday much further west of us, but we will get some of the effects, mostly rain and some wind, probably Monday night and for much of Tuesday.  He thanked me and they rushed off into the store.   My son asked me how someone could be so unaware when this has been plastered over all the local TV, radio, and newspapers, not to mention the 24/7 hype on the weather channel. 

The usual suspects were mostly gone, water, milk, bread, toilet paper, lanterns, lamp oil, and flashlights.  The big surprise was that all the Vienna sausages, corned beef hash, and salt were cleaned out.   Plenty of chili, chicken, tuna, etc., but no Vienna sausages.    The other thing, although it could have been just a coincidence, was all the tea kettles were gone as well. 

It was nice to be able to sit this one out and not have to be among the masses that were at the stores on Sunday.  I can always use more things such as food for the pantry, or batteries, but, I have enough on hand to see me through, and I can get back to more prepping after the storm passes and everyone calms down.  The thing I must be careful of is to not become overconfident just because I was able to weather this storm with calm.  When you relax, you make mistakes, and there are a lot of worse things out there that I am not really ready to handle.  Still, it was nice to know I didn’t have to worry about it this time. 

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Waiting on Isaac ….

It’s looking more and more like Isaac is going to come right over top of us and the only unknown is the intensity when it hits.  If it is a category 1 or below, we are planning to bug in.  Category 2, we are leaning towards leaving, and anything above, we are out of here Monday night.  Are we prepared?  I think I am better off than 95% of the folks around here and there are a few more things that I will put in place before the storm hits. 

The good:  I have plenty of water, food, medical supplies, batteries, candles, toilet paper, hygiene supplies, etc.  to weather an extended power outage and still be able to function. 
The bad:  With all the rain we have been having (and will have), my stash of firewood is wet.  It could be a problem if the propane runs out.  Also, I do not have an alternative solar power capability, so we will be running off limited battery power and will have no refrigeration. 
The ugly:  With the heat and humidity and no power, the family will have a really tough time, especially sleeping at night without air conditioning.  I have a generator and a room air conditioner that will provide some relief, but only as long as the fuel lasts.  If it can’t be trucked in and pumped out, we will be in a world of hurt. 

I have made my peace regarding where I am in my current preps and feel fairly confident I can weather this.  There are several things though that I need to do over the weekend to be ready though:  

  • I have a set of gutters on my sunroom that I will make sure are cleaned out.  It’s smaller than a standard size gutter and I swear three oak leaves will stop it up.  Anyway, I will definitely get it cleaned out over the weekend and I have new gutter guards to install to help it stay clear. 
  • Also over the weekend I will be squaring away anything that can be blown about. 
  • I will purchase a few more cases of bottled water, and fill up the seven 6-gallon jerry cans of water and set them inside.  I have other long term water storage that I can rely on if needed. 
  • We are eating up all the immediate perishables in the fridge and freezer and are prepared to eat from cans and our emergency pantry if the power is out for an extended period of time. 
  • I will set out most of my 5 gallon buckets to collect rainwater.  These will be used to flush the toilets if the power is out for a while. 
  • I will top off the cars with gas and make sure any empty gas cans are filled.  Same for the propane tanks.  I need to fill one and top off another. 

I’m sure there will be lessons learned from this experience, but for right now, if feels good to not be in panic mode.  We’ll see….

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Down, but not out!

Been really busy at work the past  few weeks, plus I strained my back, so it has kept me down but not out.  I gained a new appreciation for those who have physical limitations and was extremely nervous about a bug out situation occurring.  It made me reexamine by bug out/we ain’t coming back bags and what a person might reasonably carry, even if they are slightly injured.   I’ve not been able to get as much done as I wanted, but I did get a few things accomplished: 

Dehydrated another 2 pounds (2 pints) of mixed vegetables and added other items to the emergency pantry.  I’ve also been shoring up the medical supplies, especially focusing on antiseptic ointments and creams.  Also picking up a few more instant cold packs.  During the wife’s biweekly sojourn to the nail salon, I am left to my own devices after I drop her off.  I usually end up at the local army surplus store.  This time I  picked up a camouflaged boonie hat, a spool of military trip wire, 100 feet paracord, and another fire steel.

Took advantage of the time that I was mostly laid up and read Holding your Ground.

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Pucker factor high, but moving along…

 This has been a relatively productive week for prepping.  I have discovered several holes in my plan and am working hard to fill those in, all the while trying to get more done.  I don’t know about you guys, but this drought , the economy, and the general world situation really has me on edge.  Plus, major car repair and home upkeep expenses have prevented me from investing more heavily in prepping.  Needless to say, my pucker factor is almost off the charts. 

So I am practicing what I preach, taking a deep breath, letting it out slowly (has to be done 3 times).  Then I put a smile on my face and go slowly.  After reflecting on what I got done this week, I was pleasantly surprised. 

I discovered a major hole in my plan regarding burn care.  I have some things left over from when one of the kids suffered a burn, but as far as a good supply of items, I was severely lacking.  And this is one of those things whose chances increase during a shtf situation.  So this week I bought a few boxes of burn pads, burn gel, and gauze.  I also bought a few more instant cold packs (as ice may not be available).  These are all going in a special burn kit. 

I did take advantage of the sales at the local stores and added to the pantry, especially some things where I didn’t really have a good start.  I was able to pick up some lard and masa.  I was surprised by the expiration date on the lard, so I will probably be investing in more (and of course it is a dual use item). 

Read an article on the web regarding kudzu and all the uses for it.  I think the author called it the doomsday plant and in a really shtf situation, this plant can serve as major food resource and also cordage.  My area of north Florida is not inundated with it, but now I am keeping my eye out for local resources.  I have my eye on a book regarding the uses and recipes and I ordered some seeds.  I figure if we are in a worst case scenario, this will give us one more chance.  Besides, the Japanese use this all the time and don’t understand our efforts to eradicate it.

I made a selfish purchase this week and bought myself a Solio Bolt solar battery pack and charger.  I bought this primarily for my Ipod.  If I was stuck on a desert item and could have one electronic device, I would choose my Ipod.  I like to listen to music, especially at night.  The wife wants it as quiet as possible and I grew up going to sleep with the radio so,  I put on my earbuds and drift off.  I figure in a shtf situation, this will probably be one of the things that will allow me to de-stress and get some rest. 

I was busy this weekend with the dehydrator, and was able to create 4 more pints of dehydrated veggies.  I buy the 32 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables, dehydrate them, and these fit nicely into a pint canning jar.  The frozen veggies are already blanched, so all I have to do is spread them on the tray and let the machine do its job.  It takes about 11 hours to dehydrate each batch.  There are trade-offs with this method vs storing cans, and I do both.  But it seems to me, that I am getting more out of the dehydration. 

I was at the local Wal-mart this week and looking at their ammo.  Their supply situation doesn’t seem any better, and the prices are starting to go up.  If you don’t already have an ample supply, I would suggest you seriously consider getting some sooner rather than later. 

Other accomplishments this  week included more rechargeable D batteries (for lanterns), garlic tablets (anti-biotic properties), and 3 more pair of wool socks.

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Muddling through ….

In an earlier post I talked about my nervousness and what I would do this week to basically create a baseline of where I am.  So this week I accomplished everything I mentioned;  bought some extra rice and beans, picked up 2 more cases of bottled water and refreshed my other water stores, received my seeds, picked up a new solar charger and batteries from Harbor Freight, 2 bulk packages of toilet paper, couple box of .22 ammo, 4 solar landscape lights. 

Additionally, I put up 4 more pint jars of mixed vegetables.  I find 2 pounds of frozen mixed vegetables will dehydrate down into a 1 pint mason jar.   One of the bogo deals was for chef-boy-r-dee, and I picked up a whole case of them.   The timing for this couldn’t have been better. In addition, I picked up a couple of the yo-yo fishing reels and another small knife sharpener.  These will always come in handy. 

I don’t know if I have reached a new maturity level in the preparedness journey, but with this recent round of anxiety and world situation deterioration, my first instinct has not been to run out and get more ammunition.  I’ve done a good job of reaching my initial goals (see links in an earlier post), so I haven’t been spazzing about not having enough.  It has allowed me to focus on other things like increasing the capabilities to feed us long term.  

It was an interesting exercise in creating a baseline for the week and I kind of like taking this approach once in a while, especially where there are some immediate needs and gaps in my plan that need to be closed rather quickly, allowing me to at least muddle through if there was an shtf event. 

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A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Back in early March, I ordered a set (2) of items from a vendor that was mentioned and advertised on one of the blogs I frequent.  I’ve sent numerous emails and made several phone calls, talking to the owner on several occasions, and every time I was promised that my order would be shipped the next day.  There was always something about the supplier and not having surplus available so they were substituting brand new, or they were upgrading and adding many more add-ons.  Needless to say, after five months, my patience had run out.  I notified paypal and asked either for immediate shipment or a refund.  From the response from the vendor, you would have thought that I robbed him.  From where I sit, I ordered used surplus and that was all that I expected.  If he couldn’t deliver after five months, it wasn’t my problem.  He reluctantly refunded my money and had the gall to tell me that if I had just waited a couple of days before notifying paypal, I would have been happy with my purchase.  The way I look at it is if you couldn’t deliver after a couple of months, you should not have made commitments you couldn’t keep.  Anyway, I took the refund and went down to my local surplus store and picked up one of the item that I had ordered.  Did it cost me a little more that what one would have cost with the other guy, sure.  But, I now have at least one in hand and it satisfies an immediate need; once again proving the old adage, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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What if you only had ONE week before SHTF?

Looking at my calendar, I see that the London Olympics open in a week.  It got me to thinking that it is a pretty significant event on the world stage and with the world situation the way it is, it could provide an opportunity for something bad to happen.  So pretend you have this one week’s warning that some kind of shtf event is about to occur.  Are you ready?  What do you need to do to be about as ready as you can be? 

Actually, this is not a bad exercise to run through 3 or 4 times a year.  Kind of gives you a good checkpoint or baseline to work from. 

For me, I am squaring away and making sure my current position is solid as possible.  Am I ready, NO!  Can I be a little better off by this time next week.  Absolutely!  So what are the immediate things that will improve my situation in just one week:

  • Purchase a few extra beans, rice, flour, and other staples from the store this week. 
  • Hit the buy-one-get-one sales at the local stores. 
  • Refresh my water storage.  Maybe buy a few extra cases of bottled water.  (Some places have it on sale for $2.50/case this week.  $10 will go a long way). 
  • Purchase some emergency seeds off of eBay.
  • Postpone the purchase of a solar power system and purchase some extra rechargeable batteries and another solar charger.
  • Purchase a few of the solar landscape lights (to be used just to provide enough lumination at night to get around the house).
  • Pick up some more toilet paper. 
  • Buy some packages of frozen vegetables and run the dehydrator all weekend. 
  • Purchase a couple of boxes of .22 ammo

Actually, this is not much different than a typical week with the incremental improvements.  The only things out of the ordinary are the seeds and solar items.  Still, it looks like a big week ahead. 

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“Boy, you sure eat a lot of beans at your house” ….


“We sure do” is the response I gave the check-out lady at Wal-Mart.  We then got into a discussion about how many different ways she ate beans back during the WWII era, and she passed along a few tips with how to keep the gas down.  (She said just a pinch of baking soda will do it.  Not too much, or you will have a volcano on your hands).   With all the company and other distractions we’ve had, I hadn’t had a chance to keep up with my prepping efforts.  So I decided I would go shopping at lunch and pick up items for the emergency pantry.

 I was especially looking for flour and corn meal, since the price is expected to really sky-rocket because of the drought.  I half-way expected there to be limited amounts available, but I was really surprised.  There was plenty of corn meal, grits, cans of corn, etc.  So I guess it hasn’t really dawned on the rest of the masses yet.  What did surprise me was the increase in the price of beans.  The split green peas I had been buying for $.75 are now up to $1.29 and other dried beans had gone up as well. 

So after the beans, corn meal, flour, and other canned goods, I decided to go over to the sporting goods section, especially to see if there was anything good on clearance.  I always check out the ammo as well, and I was caught off guard by the limited amount they had.  I knew most of them weren’t as well stocked as before, but I was really not expected them to be totally out of .22 ammo.  As far as the other ammo, let’s just say that the other calibers they did have were not stacked more than two deep. 

I guess the surprises are not so much that these things are unexpected, it is just the pace at which they are happening.  Time seems to be growing short.

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A little more progress ….

We’ve had sporadic house guests for the past couple of weeks, and I have been working a lot on home improvement projects, so I have not been able to prepare posts like I normally do.  At first I didn’t think I made a lot of progress, but in retrospect, I did accomplish a few things this past couple of weeks.  

Accomplishments and Lessons Learned since my last post:

  • I am continuing to play with my dehydrator.  Nothing around here is going to waste.  Peaches or apples starting to go a little soft, dehydrate them.   On the weekends or when I have a day off, I usually buy a bag of mixed vegetables and dehydrate them. 
  • During one of my trips to the home improvement store, I picked up a Eastwing Sportsmen’s Hatchet.  I’ve had my eye on one of these for a long time, mostly because it is one piece of solid steel. 
  • I picked up some poison ivy while cleaning out some weeds and such from my back yard.  I decided not to go to the doctor right away, mainly to see what I could do to clear this up on my own if I contracted this during a shtf situation and didn’t have access to a doctor.  I don’t know if what I did myself, or if time by itself, or a combination of the two is what cleared this up.  The first 4 days, I hit it real hard with the calamine lotion and topical anti-histamines.  That really didn’t seem to help a whole lot, but I kept at it.  I also read an article regarding Fels Naptha soap.  This supposedly cuts the oils that cause the reaction.  For the next 4 days, I scrubbed the infected areas with the soap and continued to use the calamine lotion.  So after 8 days, it seemed to be going away.  Today is the 10th day, and I only have a few red splotches left.  So I am going to buy more bars of soap and increase the calamine supply for shtf.   Fels Naptha soap costs a little over $1 at wallyworld in the laundry section.  Apparently this stuff is a great stain remover as well which makes it a dual use item. 
  • Even though I successfully gardened most of the time I lived up north, I have learned some hard lessons with my first attempt here in north Florida.  I got my plants out a little late, so the heat has not been a big help.  I also learned a lot about how much the sun patterns change in my back yard.  Areas that received plenty of sun during the spring seemed to not get as much once we reached the summer solstice.  I’m already making changes for next year and for my fall crops.  
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