How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 25

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 22, 2017

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I have complaints from quite a few Diners about "abandoning" the "How I Survived Collapse" novel, which I didn't really do.  It's just that there has been so much else going on in the Global World of Doom along with my own personal life that squeezing in time to write more chapters has been difficult and put on the back burner.  However, this week we have a BREAK from the non-stop Hurricane Train and Strafing Run of Mother Nature (at least until Super Typhoon Lan makes landfall in Tokyo on Monday morning), and Spain hasn't yet broken out into complete Civil War.  So this is a pretty good slow week in collapse to get up a new chapter of HISC.  In this one, Kenny & Karen go for a picnic. 🙂


It was a beautiful spring morning as Kenny and Karen began their ride on the two powerful American Quarterhorses Quickdraw and Mr. Ed, with the big Siberian Husky Huckleberry leading the way.  Damp branches squished under the hooves of the horses, and there was the fresh smell of new Pine Needles growing in the air.

The trail along the creek bed was fairly wide, with enough room for the horses to travel side by side, so Kenny and Karen had a nice chance to share their lives and experiences, and gain a deeper sense of bonding.  Occassionally at locations where the river bank became steep the horses would have to go single file with Mr. Ed and Karen leading the way as they negotiated wading through the more shallow parts of the stream bed, which occassionally was fairly rapidly moving in some narrow sections.  Overall though, it was not a major river even during this high water period and the horses had no problem negotiating the stream, moving gingerly along the edge of the creek an gaining good footing with each step.  It was pretty slow going all the way though, so it took well over an hour for them to make it to the spot Karen had picked out for the Picnic.

The conversation along the trail quickly centered around prepping and the future of Industrial Civilization.

"I have to say Kenny, you have made some choices and decisions I really could not have imagined making before I went to college.  I really had no idea about any of this stuff at the time, although mom did always say Karl was a kind of eccentric Doomer.  I didn't know he was my dad then though, and I didn't pay much attention to it.", Karen recalled.

"It was sort of accidental, my Karma I guess." Kenny mused.  "I just got hooked on surfing the internet, and then I ran into the Doomstead Diner.  Then I kept linking to more and more sites and I realized there was no way that this civilization could continue onward the way it was going.  So instead of focusing on going to college, I decided to focus on preparing for the world to come."

"Well, you certainly saved a lot of money that way!" Karen joked.  "I'll be paying my college loans out of my Tips at Quinn's until the Sun Goes Red Giant!"

Kenny laughed.  "Probably not that long.  The monetary system will crash and nobody will be paying off any of those loans at all.  No working money to do it with.  Of course, that will be a major clusterfuck all around, so you can't really look forward to this outcome that much, even if it does get you out from under the debt."

"How did you decide to do the Stealth Van living thing as an option?  You seem to have enough money from your landscaping business to afford a regular apartment?"

"It made CFS, or 'Common Fucking Sense' as RE likes to call it.  I really don't need an apartment, it's a waste of what money I do earn.  Why should I pay money to some Rentier who profits off me just because he has a title to a property?  I should pay some scumbag landlord part of my daily wages just because he "owns" a piece of land and a building on it?  It's also flexible and let's me set up shop just about anywhere, at least as long as I can get gas for it anyhow.  I considered the idea of fixing up an old sailboat and doing the Seasteading thing instead, but of course here in Montana there's not a big shoreline around. lol.  Besides, I already had my Landscaping business going, so I didn't think making a move closer to the ocean was a great choice.  You have to play the cards you are dealt, and this seemed like the best choice for me at the end of High School."

Karen nodded her head.  "Yea, I guess it does make 'CFS'.  Still, don't you find living in a Van rather cramped?"

"Not at all.  I only do 3 things inside the van.  Drive it, sleep in it and work at the computer on my desk.  I would have to drive anyway for work, when I'm asleep I am unaware of how big it is and when I am on the computer it's just me, the keyboard and the screen.  All the rest of the time I am outside doing something, or maybe in a public space like the library or the gym or the mall.  The only minor hassle is toilet and shower facilities, but there are plenty of public ones available.  For what I need for living space, I just can't see spending $1000/mo on rent.", Kenny replied.

"Doesn't it get cold in the winter?", Karen asked.

"Hell no! It's a small space, easy to heat.  A couple of kerosene lanterns burning is usually quite enough as long as temperatures are above freezing, if it gets really cold I have a 23,500 BTU Kero Heat Indoor Safe heater that will cook you even if the outside temps are 30 below.  I only had to use it a couple of times last winter, and only for short periods of time.  It has its own carbon monoxide detector and auto-shutoff, and I have a separate one besides to monitor while working at the computer.  I never have it on while I am sleeping.  If it is really cold, besides my Western Tamarak Mountain Sleeping Bag good to 30 below, I have a 12V DC electric heating pad to stuff inside the bag.  This also will cook you if you set it too high.  It doesn't burn that much juice, my two 120 Amp Hour VMax Deep Cycle Marine batteries easily can handle to load for several nights without a recharge.  I only had to use that system once last winter too."

"What about all the rules and laws against living in a vehicle around here?  Don't the police give you hassles?", Karen inquired.

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, that part can be tricky, especially in town.  Outside of town around here, not a real problem at least as long as you don't stay in a location more than a couple of nights.  In town, you definitely need to change locations every night, but that isn't hard to do.  I scope out new locations all the time, and I have a dozen really good ones, and another dozen for variety which are not so good because they lack amenities like a 24/7 bathroom.  I can always use the truckstops though, both the TA and the Flying J love getting your bizness for the night.  Of course, the showers in those places cost you $6 and the Buffets aren't that great, but they don't give you any grief for parking overnight.  That's how Truckers live.  Anyhow, I'm just about never at the same location twice in a month, and so far I stayed under the Gestapo Radar for over a year."

The two horses plodded along the trail a bit further, and then the creek opened up with a large pool of water held back by a beaver dam.

"OK!  We're here!" Karen declared.

"Wow, this is a really nice spot Karen!  I bet we could improve on the beaver dam also and set up a water wheel for doing mechanical tasks too!", Kenny said enthusiatically, his Prepper brain always at work.

Karen laughed. "I figured you would say something like that.  I thought of it myself actually.  Dam engineering was my main interest in my Civil Engineering studies.  I actually have design already for one to drop in here at this location, I have it in 3D done in Sketchup on my Lenovo 8" tablet if you would like to see it.  I pulled the terrain features off of Google Earth, so it's pretty realistic looking.  Maybe you have some suggestions for improvement?  I never considered doing mechanical power transmission, just electric.", Karen offered as they unpacked the lunch from the saddlebags on Mr. Ed and Quick Draw, along with a big red & white checked tablecloth to set the feast out onto and hopefully keep the ants at bay for the duration of the meal.

"Sure, I'd love to have a look at it!" Kenny enthused, as he got the Southwest Black Bean Progresso Soup for a starter course on the Jet Boil butane camping stove.  Karen pulled out her tablet from the saddlebag and the two Kollapsniks spread out the big 10' X16' Camo Tarp Karen had packed as a picnic blanket, along with a couple of aluminum mess kits and Hobo Knives to eat with.  Cutting up a head of Romaine Lettuce and another of Raddichio and several Roma Tomatoes, she added some crumbled Feta Cheese and Kalamatta Olives imported from Greece, then sprinkling with a Greek Salad dressing picked up off the shelves at Whole Foods for a delicious and crisp Greek Salad.  She had already prepared the sandwiches the night before, smoked chicken and bacon from Karl's smoker and hen house and Swiss Cheese imported from France, along with a thin slice of Red Onion and fresh slices of Avocado along with a light slathering of homemade Mayonaisse on the crusty loaf of French Bread, split into two halves.

As they dipped their spoons into the Black Bean Soup, Kenny looked closely at Karen's schematics for a more substantial dam on the river to support a nicro-hydro electric generating system.  It was quite robust, but they would have to haul in quite a bit of Portland Cement, Sand and Rebar, along with diverting the river to get the foundation in.  It was a MAJOR project, and if they were to do it before SHTF Day, they would need a lot of permits, and also Kenny wasn't sure Karl owned the land this far from his Doomstead.

"This is a HUGE project Karen!", Kenny exclaimed.  "Does Karl own this land on both sides of the creek?  No way we could do this unless he owns all of it, and we would still need to get permits for it I am pretty sure.  It also would draw attention to us as Doomsteaders.  Everybody in the planning office for the county would know about it, not to mention the equipment rental people and additional help we would need for building it.  You're going to need a pretty serious size work crew to construct this thing, 4 or 5 people will not be able to get it done."

"I think Dad owns the whole valley, except for the cabins he sold off nearby.  I didn't consider the problem of all the people who would find out about the Doomstead if we did it though…", Karen replied as she forked up a Kalamatta Olive, Roma tomato slice and some Feta Cheese.  "I also didn't really think about all the Heavy Equipment and additional manpower we would need for building it here.  These are problems we didn't consider in Civil Engineering school!" she said with a laugh.

"That's one of the problems with being immersed in techno-industrial civilization, you take for granted everything you need for building something will be available, the only constraint is how much money you have available.  In our circumstances, we don't have much money constraint because Karl has so much of the toilet paper, but we have other constraints we have to consider with any project we undertake.  I think we will need to redesign this one from scratch on a smaller scale, and move the location a little upstream where I think we can get a better drop on the water, although there will be less of it and not so much pressure.  That spot up there looks like it might work." Kenny said, pointing to a spot about 100 yards upstream from the bank of the creek they were picnicing on.

"That's not going to put out much power Kenny", Karen mused.

"I't doesn't need to put out all that much Karen.", Kenny replied.  I just wanna see if I can gear it up to do some simple tasks like trun a saw blade to do some rip cutting or a lathe or turn a sewing machine.or small loom for weaving.  I figure to use some scrap Marine Propellers for the turbines."

"Well, that could work…", Karen replied quickly.  "Power transmission would be pretty difficult to the shore though where you would run the machines. It's a pretty long stretch to the shore where you could set up your machines.", she said, her engineer brain beginning to hum.

Kenny pondered on that, it would be a long way to run a drive shaft to the shore.  "Well, maybe we could build out a platform to closer to where the turbines are."  Kenny suggested.

"Yea, that's possible." Karen agreed.  "However, damn good chance the platform gets washed downstream during the spring runoff and flooding, she advised.

Kenny refused to be defeated in the idea.  "We'll just have to make it temporary then, like with the funicular railway and cable car system.  Set it up when we need it, take it down when we're not using it.", Kenny said firmly.

Karen laughed. "You don't quit easily Kenny!" she exclaimed.  "This would be a lot bigger set-up/take-down job though.  That would take a LOT of wood to build that platform."

Kenny and Karen continued batting ideas back and forth as they finished the bottle of Château Rayas 1995 she had pulled from Karl's Wine Cellar, getting a nice buzz on.  Kenny pulled out a spliff from the stash he had picked up from Kareem for a little taste of weed before heading back to Karl's place on Quick Draw and Mr. Ed.

"We're not going to have time to go on a float down the Clark's Fork River now Kenny, we spent way too much time going over plans for the dam.", Karen remarked as the horses and Huckleberry negotiated a slow walk back to Karl's Doomstead.  "We could drive out to the launch site though and camp overnight, and take off early in the morning for a real nice run.  The water isn't running that fast right now, but it still should be pretty good.", she offered.

Kenny had no plans made for Sunday, and there was no fast excuse he could come up with to beg off on overnighting with Karen at a camping spot by the Clark's Fork River.  Besides, he didn't WANT to beg off!  Even though he currently had a new relationship going with Kirsten and was still having the occasional tryst with the housewives he cut lawns for, at the ripe old age of 20 years old his mind was RULED by the sausage hiding behind his zipper.  Karen was a HOT TICKET!

"Sure!  That sounds great Karen!", Kenny replied.



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