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Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 4

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 6, 2017

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I was going to do all 7 Days of the Last Great Frontier Boondocking Adventure in detail for every day, but I think after 3 days the techniques have been pretty well elucidated.  So I will tidy up this series with a recap of the last 4 days of the adventure.

Day 4– I determined not to spend ANY money, either on food or a campsite.  My choice for this day/night was the Mickey D's which is right across the street from the Wasilla Lake Park.  It was another beautiful day on the Last Great Frontier, and I spent most of it in the Park, scarfing up one of the nicer Picnic Tables for my Outdoor Diner Office and Command & Control Center.  My food for the afternoon was the last 1/3rd of the Subway Spicy Italian Hero I bought at the beginning of the week.  It was a little soggy by this point, you really should try to finish one of these in 2-3 days, not 4.  But it still tasted OK and didn't give me Tomane poisoning.

The park has a bare bones Toilet with no sink, just the Throne.  I used it once during the day.  Otherwise, the afternoon was spent surfing doom on the net, arguing on the Diner and writing for the most part.  Shooting a few pics as well.

One interesting thing was in the middle of the day a Food Truck providing FREE meals for kids showed up.  These charitable sources of food are a BIG help if you are Homeless living in a vehicle with a family to feed.  You can cut a lot out of your daily food budget on the SNAP Card if you use them.  Besides such food trucks, there are also Food Pantries around run by charitable organizations, where usually they give you 1 Food Box a week with size dependent on family size.  I volunteered at one of these in my neighborhood for a while, and the Single person food box was more than I could eat in a week by itself, forget using the SNAP Card if I was low enough income to qualify for one of those.  Choices of foods are not that great, but neither are the choices in the grocery store either for the most part.  If you really wanted to, you could actually hit more than one of these places in a week if you are mobile in a Stealth Van, simply by going to different towns in the area.  Don't do that though to scarf up more free food than you really need this way, leave the stuff for other people who need it more than you.

If you do supplement your weekly food supply this way, then what you do with your SNAP Card is buy long lasting foods like Rice, Dried Beans and Beef Jerky that store well with no refrigeration and keep them in your Storage Unit for hard times when the Food Pantries are out of Food and the Repugnants in CONgress cut or cancel the SNAP Card program.  You should always try to have at least 2-3 months of stored food of some type for temporary disruptions of JIT delivery in your neighborhood.

As dusk fell I headed over to the Alaska Club for a quick sauna & steam and exercised my legs on a couple of the machines.  Then I drove back to the Mickey D's to park for the night.  This McDonalds is 24/7, so there is always somebody parked in the lot and you don't stick out or get noticed unless you do it too often.  My storyline if I ever did get my door knocked on by the Gestapo or Mickey D's employees is that I was just tired after a long drive and catching a nap prior to going in for a McMuffin.  However, as of yet no knocks on the door.

The Mickey D's is great overnight parking because you get FREE Wi-Fi, which you can pick up from the parking lot.  You can increase the sensitivity if you get a USB Antenna for Wi-Fi, but I haven't found this necessary as of yet.  If you do buy one, they are only around $50.  You also of course can use their bathroom overnight if you get the Call of Nature.  Also great for this are 24/7 Convenience Stores & 24/7 Walmarts.  In Convenience Stores though they tend to notice you if you park in the lot too long because the lots are small, so are not good for overnighting.  Small lots are not good Boondocking locations.  You want to look for a Convenience Store that is next to some kind of strip mall to actually park in for the night.  Also scope out the lot you will park in beforehand to see how many carz stay there overnight, the more the better.

Once parked and on the Wi-Fi, I watched a few Music Videos since I wasn't worried about bandwidth, then hit the bunk for a good night's sleep.  Another day of Boondocking tomorrow.

Day 5–  I got up pretty early around 6AM and went into Mickey Ds to wash my face and wake up some, and then bought an Egg McMuffin for $3, not so much because I was hungry or wanted to eat one of these disgusting pieces of shit, more just as gratitude to the McDonald's Corporation for giving me a place to sleep overnight.  I determined to again do another FREE night of parking, this time 1/2 done at the local Hospital/Medical Center and the other half done at a Commuter Parking lot right nearby it.  The hospital has great services, it is open all night, super clean bathrooms and FREE Wi-Fi.  I could stay there all night, but I don't want to push my luck with the hospital and get noticed.  It's too good a parking spot to risk if I don't have to, and I don't.  I don't usually sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch anyhow, so moving parking spots in the middle of the night really isn't too much of a pain in the ass.  Security DOES patrol these parking lots, and staying under the radar is important for Stealth Boondocking.

As opposed to the Hospital, the Commuter Parking lot is as bare bones as you get.  No toilets, no picnic tables, no fire ring and you can't even set up your own stuff in the lot.  It's just park and sleep for the most part in such a lot.  At 2AM though when you arrive, there really isn't much to do anyhow besides sleep, and then you leave by 6AM.  If you do get the Call of Nature during this period, you excrete your waste into the bucket inside the Van without getting out.  I did not have such a call at this time on this night.

Day 6– Leaving the parking lot in the early morning of Day 6, I drove over to another FREE parking spot by the river to make breakfast, again a FREE spot.  Same big breakfast as before, 2 large Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Sausage and Homefries.  While consuming this meal and surfing the net over the 4G network, I decide what I will do with the day.  One task I haven't yet done is go to the Laundromat to do some wash.  I don't really have much wash to do at this point, just some underwear and socks mainly and normally for me when OTR wash day only came every 2 weeks or so.  However, this is a task you have to schedule in when you live OTR, so I felt I should do it at least once during the week.

The Laundromat I choose is in the same general strip mall parking lot that Kahladi Brothers Coffee and Safeway are in, both of which have FREE Wi-Fi.  The laundromat itself also has grid connected electric outlets as well of course, so I can drop a Batt onto one of them for charging while my wash is running.  I still do not really need to do this though, I have been driving around enough to keep everything charged up enough off the van alternator.  I go to another park to hang out for a while, then go over to Lowe's and Home Depot to do some window shopping for preps scooting around on one of their electric shopping carts for Cripples.  I love the hardware stores more than Walmart nowadays for Prep Window shopping.  I don't buy anything though, I just make notes on prices in my head for future purchases while the FRNs still work and the shelves are still stocked.

I have been on an Austerity Budget for the last day and decide to SPLURGE for dinner, and go over to my favorite Asian Cuisine restaraunt in the neighborhood, ordering a small Miso Soup (cheapest thing on the menu at $3) and a Scallops Batayaki appetizer at $10.  I am able to finish the Miso Soup, but only eat half the scallops, the other half go in the cooler for breakfast tomorrow.  I reloaded the cooler with new ice from Safeway earlier in the day.

For tonight's Boondocking, it's back to the FREE spot by the river and I entertain myself for the evening designing and drawing plans for a Geodesic Gazebo to add living space to SaVANnah for longer stays in bucolic locations OTR like the Grand Canyon or Lolo National Forest, site of my Pi-Fi Collapse Novel, How I Survived Collapse.  I make a few posts to the Diner and get back into a long running argument with one of the Diners who lives in the Tropical Rain Forest over whether you should kill or let live Pythons that are crawling about your property.  This remains a disputed question. lol.

Day 7–  This will be my Final Day Boondocking for this trial run.  I am going to finish off IN SPLENDOR, buying a For Pay campsite with electricity, water & sewer at a private campground for $40.  This is a HUGE expenditure and totally unnecessary, but I am doing it just to get some pics of how the "other half" of the Van Dwelling community lives, the RICH ones.  This is relative of course, they may not be rich compared to others of their age group, and they are usually Baby Boomers.  They are the ones who own the Big Ass Diesel Pushers that are the size of Tour Buses or monster 5th Wheel arrangements pulled by monster pickup trucks.  Or in some cases, they actually yank around Tiny Homes.  I have seen rigs being pulled by full blown Kenworths and Freightliners. lol.

I am a dwarf in this crowd of behemoths, and I don't need the sewer hookup at all since SaVANnah doesn't have a plumbing system.  The running water also unnecessary, and in this case the electricity unnecessary also since my batts are all topped off.  If I was actually OTR right now, I NEVER would have bought this campsite.  Total waste of money.  However, I will count it in to my expenses for this week anyway.

When you do buy such a campsite, besides all the hookups you do get other ammenties also.  There is a laundromat on site, so I could have used this laundry instead of the one I used the day before.  There are showers also, and down in the lower 48 such places will have Pools also for the kids to swim in, just like any fairly decent Bates Motel.  Ice making machine to fill your cooler too.  So you do get some value back for this expenditure, but for me it's all a waste of money.

I can never see pulling around a rig this size if you don't have at least 4 people in it.  They seriously limit places you can go because of the turning radius to begin with.  They also hit about ZERO on the stealth scale, and they are whopping good targets for thieves.  Why don't you advertize a little bigger how RICH you are?  Not to mention of course the fuel consumption of such a large rig.  The smaller the rig you can get away with for full-time living, the better. brings us round to the BIGGEST controversy this debate engendered on the Diner, which is whether or not you can live the Gypsy lifestyle with KIDS in tow.  Just about everyone agreed it is possible to Van Dwell as a Single Male, and perhaps even as a couple with the gender partner of your choice.  However, opinions were expressed it was IMPOSSIBLE to live this way if you have children, and/or nobody would do it unless absolutely forced to.  Are these postulates true?  IMHO, no they are not true. of all, Yachties choose this lifestyle on a reasonably regular basis, just they do it over water rather than over land.  A rig arrangement on land is really just a a land yacht.  If you have a family on a Yacht, you're NOT going to be able to get away with a 30 footer.  You're going to need something in the 45' range.  Similarly, on land you are NOT going to be able to bring kids along with just a Van or Pickup Truck/Camper, you're going to need a Trailer for that.

Increasing the size of your rig increases the cost, but of course raising kids always increases cost.  In this case, it still increases costs less than scaling up in McMansion size as you go along that trail.  It also decreases your ability to do Stealth, if you drop in at Mickey D's in the middle of the night with your 4 year old who needs to use the toilet, the staff will probably notice this and call the local Gestapo.  So you're going to have to stick to the FREE Public Use sites for the most part to stay under the radar.

You do have an advantage when working with a Partner, one of you can leave the Boondocking site and get some Gig Work for the day to cover your costs, which you are keeping rock bottom cheap.  You're living even cheaper than the folks who live in Trailer Parks do at this point.  Which of course means you are even below the level of "Trailer Trash" on the economic scale, and most people find being so identified as a mark of failure in their lives.  But is it really?  Again, IMHO, no it is not.

First of all, you are going to be spending a LOT more time out of doors experiencing the Nature we still have left.  Next, you are tons more FREE & MOBILE, to go wherever there is work you can find to support your lifestyle.  In contrast to living with other relatives, you have more independence and freedom from dealing with them.  You are making so little money that you have no TAXES to pay into the Military-Industrial-Complex. So you are making trade-offs here for sure, but it's not impossible and is just a matter of your priorities and whether you can put together enough money to get into a decent size rig for the number of people you are pulling OTR.

I lived a long time OTR, so this type of living is second nature to me, for most people it is not.  Certainly not impossible though, Gypsies have been doing it for centuries.  On land, today, it's going to require you to have enough MONEY to buy the gas to move the rig down the road from place to place.  This however is not a huge amount of money.  My final costs for the week of Boondocking came to $242.  My fuel cost came to $34.  I spent a lot more money than I had to on Premium Campsites, Premium Food and Restaraunts.  Even so, on a wage of just $10/hr, I could have afforded this week working just 25 hours serving up Frappucinos at Starbucks.  The cost for having kids along would not have been much greater, since I could get all the food for them for FREE from the SNAP Card and the Food Pantries.  All the For Pay campsites would have cost exactly the same.  I would just have a larger fuel cost pulling a trailer, perhaps 20-30% more the most depending on the length, weight and type of trailer.  So most this brings up the fuel cost is from $34 to maybe $50/week.

I don't want to try and make the case this form of living is for everyone.  It's not.  You have to have a Nomadic Soul to be happy with it, and you have to be comfortable living in small spaces, although you can creatively increase your living space, which I will be doing on I Spy Doom videos building a Geodesic Gazebo as an Add-On room for SaVANnah when parked for longer periods of Boondocking a given location. You also have to be an unconventional thinker, and not bought into the Matrix Meme of a Double Wide Trailer as your Dream Home.  Most people will buy into this, and become trapped by it.  That is sad, but you cannot help people who are trapped in this mindset.

Next up on the Boondocking Level is the trip down to the Lower 48 for THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼, which I will view from the PATH OF TOTALITY in Idaho in a Rental Stealth Van.  COMING SOON TO A LAPTOP NEAR YOU ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER.

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 3

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 30, 2017

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The early part of Day 3 of Boondocking wasn't a whole heck of a lot different than Days 1 & 2, another early trip to the Alaska Club followed by a trip to the Library to do some reading and surf the Doom-o-sphere on their FREE Wi-Fi.  I did dispense with the trip over to Kalahdi Brothers Coffee for one of their expensive Coffee Drinks to save a little money.  I have been spending pretty profligately here over the last couple of days.  I also am planning on spending $15 today on a For Pay campsite, which I really do not have to do but I wanna make some Videos for the I Spy Doom series and this location is a real good spot for making those vids. I ate a real big breakfast for me of Sausage, Eggs and Homefries, so I am not at all hungry when the afternoon rolls around and really probably could go the whole rest of the day on just that meal, so the remaining 2/3rds of my Subway Spicy Italian Hoagie remains in the cooler for tomorrow.  However, on the drive over to the campground, I go by Matanuska Meats, where not only do they have a fabulous selection of commercially produced meats, they also will prepare any game meat you hunt down as well.  They'll do all the sausages and cut up into nice steaks and roasts as well.  Of course, you pay a price for that and by the time you add in the cost for the hunting trip, it's going to be quite a bit more expensive than just buying a commercial industrially farmed steak, even an organically raised one.  However, you generally can't buy Moose or Caribou off the shelf. Having professionals prepare the meat is far better than doing it yourself, both for the work load involved and the fact they do a far better job and have all the right equipment.

There are some REALLY SUCCULENT looking Aged T-Bone Steaks in the refrigerated display case, and while I KNOW I can't possibly finish one of them, since I am going to a for pay campsite I can do some open fire grilling at, I just HAVE to buy one to have for dinner.  So I go ahead and spend $13 on one of these gorgeous pieces of meat.  That and buying the campsite was all I spent for the day plus the fixed rent cost of $8.50, so all totalled up this was a $36.50 day.  I swear to myself that tomorrow I will not spend so much money!  However, even spending that much, if I had a job at Starbucks as a Barrista and was making just $10/hour, I could have paid for this day with just 4 hours of work serving up the Frappucinos and Espressos.

I arrive at the campsite and drop in at the office to pay for my site and get my parking ticket for the night to drop in my windshield.  I'm not Boondocking now, I have paid RENT for my little patch of the earth for the next 24 hours!  It is MINE, to do with as I please, as long as I obey the park rules anyhow.  Which overall are not too onerous for me, as I don't throw big parties with lots of loud music and I don't leave garbage all over the place.  The only rule which is an issue is NO ALCOHOL, so drinking beer in public in view of others is not such a good idea, although many if not most of the campers do it.  What fun is it to sit around a campfire and shoot the shit with your friends if you can't enjoy a nice Lager or IPA while you do it?  The rule is mostly not enforced, only if you get a real rowdy party going would they probably come down on you for it.  Despite that, I stay pretty stealth with this and mostly drink the occassional beer inside SaVANnah where nobody can see me doing this horrible thing.  I collect the empty cans inside SaVANnah and will dispose of them tomorrow at some dumpster not on this property. Once parked, there is a decent amount of action ongoing with kids from other campsites running around and biking the trails, especially for mid-week.  This place is kind of a Paradise for kids, it's quite safe and there are tons of places for them to go exploring and they can even go swim in the river, although you should never let them do that without supervision.  Virtually none of the people here with kids are full time Van Dwellers of course, most of them just do it for a week or two at a time over the summer on vacations.  Some teachers who have the whole summer off will live the life for the whole 2-3 months though.  They go from one park to another, down to Kenai to fish for salmon and so forth.  Up here on the Last Great Frontier it gets a good deal more difficult to live this way around September or so when many places shut down, but it's not impossible.  In any event, when this time of year rolls around, it's time to drive the Al-Can and head for the Florida Keys!  Don't winter in Alaska if you don't have to!  Snowbird it!

If you do have to winter over in Alaska though, it's certainly possible to do it even in your Stealth Van.  Here it depends on your budget mainly in terms of how to do it. As long as you have access to electricity, you can withstand about anything an Alaska winter can throw at you inside a Stealth Van, including temps as low as 30F Below Zero.  This because the volume you need to heat is so small and a typical Space Heater will do the job of warming it up in a jiffy!  Such space heaters come in at the whopping cost of around $50-100.

To be getting electricity completely legal though, you're going to have to buy a campsite that stays open through the winter and pay their monthly fee for the worst months of this, Dec-Feb.  Before and after this you can always get away with other forms of heating not requiring electricity.  You could in fact use other forms of heating even in the worst months, but it would be a bit of a pain in the ass.  I certainly have never tried it, but I think I could make it through as long as I had enough kerosene (maybe 15 gallons, according to my friend Van Dweller who has lived this way for 50 years and spent a few of them in Alaska) or enough wood to burn.  So in your Storage Unit, good idea to keep 15 gallons of Kero in there for the winter that comes when the Lights Go Out and nobody has electricity at all.  You will at least get one more winter to watch the SUN☼ rise before you freeze to death in your Stealth Van.

The thing about buying one of these campsites that both stays open AND provides electricity is you will have to pay around $200/week for it.  For this price, I can rent an off-season Cabin rental for the same price!  So on my budget, I would simply add in the cost of buying a cabin for Dec-Feb and living in splendor and comfort for those three months while the Winter Winds whistle outside the cabin door and I have the wood burning stove fired up with plenty of Wood Pellets purchased at Home Depot.  At least until TSHTF of course.  So this does drop $2500 or so onto my yearly rent bill doing this every year.

Snowbirding it and driving SaVANnah down to the Florida Keys or the Baja Peninsula to over-winter, I would likely spend a similar amount of energy.  Instead of the kero or electricity to heat the van, I would need to buy gas to move it across the Al-Can and then down to southern latitudes.  I think it would be slightly cheaper to do it this way, depends on the relative prices for the energy and the rent.  Going south, you could Boondock a lot more and thus avoid paying rent.  No way to calculate this unless you actually did it over a couple of seasons at least, which I have no intention of doing.  That experiment would take at least 4 years to run, spending 2 up here through the winter and then 2 more Snowbirding to the lower 48.  I would need to keep meticulous records of all expenses to make a comparison.  I'm not going to do that.

Back to present day circumstances however, after picking up the Steak at Matanuska Meats I head over to the campgrounds and set up camp, very Spartan this time as the weather is very good with no chance of rain so even the Big Brolly does not get deployed.  The Outdoor Office and Command Center for the Diner is set up on the Picnic Table inside of 5 minutes, complete with electricity for the day.  Nothing else really needs to be done in terms of setup besides getting ready to COOK!

I have my choices on ways to cook my Juicy and Thick T-Bone steak.  I could sautee it with some garlic, mushrooms, peppers and onions in a pan over my propane stove right on the picnic table while Admining the Diner, but that would be a waste of a great cut of meat like this!  There is NO SUBSTITUTE for grilling meat over an open fire!  Here also I have choices.  The EZ choice is to just use Propane in my portable propane Coleman Grill or a little less EZ Charcoal Briquets in my Cast Iron Lodge Logic Hibachi.  For this occassion though, I choose the toughest of the choices possible, I am going to cook my steak over an Open fire on the Camp Fire Ring with WOOD!

Now, I am not suited to going out into the woods to collect a bunch of wood for this and split it anymore, so instead I go up to the office and get a pile of firewood for FREE sufficient to make a decent Bonfire, which will last for hours to do a lot of heating and cooking tasks.  Normally said pile of wood would cost you around $5, but I know the camp host and for odd shaped pieces he gives them away free.  My objective is not to make it huge however, just to make it right for cooking on.  This means first getting the fire lit and going, then letting it burn down until you have a pile of hot coals burning about the right temp to cook your steak how you like it.  I like mine "Pittsburgh Rare", which means burned on the outside and still Mooing on the inside.

Prior to getting the fire going, I do a dry rub on the steak of a few spices I have in the larder, including Garlic Powder, Coriander and McCormick "Old Monterrey" spicing, and sprinkle on some fresh ground pepper and sea salt as well and let it sit and absorb them for an hour before cooking.  Once that is done and I have checked for new comments on the Diner, it's time to MAKE A FIRE! Now, on a lot of Prepper Websites they make a real big deal out of making a fire from primitive means, going down as far as spinning a fire drill between your hands.  I never mastered that one.  Then there are bow drills, fire pistons and flint and steel too!  Or if you have a sunny day you could use a Magnifying Glass.  There are any number of ways to make a fire.  I don't bog down in this sort of shit.  For my forseeable future, I will have the essentials of fire making available, a Bic Lighter and some Lighter Fluid, Kerosene or Gasoline.  Amazing how fast you can get a nice Bonfire going with a Bic & Kero! lol. "Tinder?  We don't NEED no fucking Tinder!" Try not to torch yourself or start a forest fire though when you do it.  Lighter Fluid is safer than Kero or Gas, it has a lower vapor pressure and doesn't light up as fast.  I will have upcoming I Spy Doom videos on making a fire and outdoor grilling.

At the beginning of course when you light it up, this is a TOTALLY unsuitable fire for cooking, and grilling in paticular.  Way too hot at the grill surface, even for Pittsburgh Rare.  You gott wait until the fire burns down some and you get some coals for more even heat distribution.  Usually takes about a half hour if the wood is dry.  You feed in a little wood at a time until you have the heat hitting the grill around a temp you can't put your hand above it for more than a second or so, and this is about right for fast cooking Pittsburgh Rare.  If you like a more medium level and not so blackened on the outside, then either wait a bit or raise your grill surface higher above the the heat.

Once you have your cooking heat adjusted, the next issue is the cooking surface.  Do NOT use the grate provided in a public camground as your cooking surface, and not because it might have Germs on it.  Those have all been sterilized by heat, in fact not just sterilized but incinerated.  It's because these grates are just grossly too large, and stuff will fall into the fire below, even big ass hamburgers you patty up.  If you work with a big enough steak you are pretty safe, but even here I prefer to use an add on like a BBQ basket for the steak.  Makes it simple to flip, and EZ cleanup too. For open fire grilling in other forms of meat, you don't need to use a grill at all, sometimes big Forks or Spears work better.  Hot dogs are done easily on a spear, Bratwurst or Italian Sausage also.  You can buy commercial industrially produced ones, or just make one out of a skinny tree branch.

All the rest of open fire cooking besides meat should be done with some surface between the food to be cooked and the fire below.  I will go over that in a future post or video on outdoor cooking, along with demonstrating the techniques on the I Spy Doom videos that I publish in the middle of the week to supplement this series.

Once your cooking and eating tasks are done for the day and you are esconced at a nice campsite, there's not a whole lot to worry about.  You're in a FOR PAY site and have the RIGHT to be there (paid to Da Goobermint), which the little ticket you post in your windshield says.  The local Gestapo do NOT patrol these places.  Actually even the camp host (old retired guys who stay all summer for free and collect parking fees) doesn't patrol them at night, so if you drive in after midnight and leave by around 6AM, you can park it for free.  I do this on the up and up though and pay my $15 when I stay overnight.  Once you start paying, this is not true Boondocking of course, but it is Semi-Boondocking as long as the cost for the nightly fee is less than what you would pay to rent a monthly apartment space in the neighborhood.  So if rents in the area are going for say $900/mo, that is $30/day.  If you can buy a campsite for $15/day, you are 50% Boondocking.  If you only take such For Pay site every other night, then you are up to 75% Boondocking.  For myself going out OTR. I would probably be in the 50% range for Boondocking most of the time. 4 nights in FREE spots, 2 nights in For Pay campsites and 1 night in a Bates Motel room to charge up all my batts and do my laundry, etc.  Assuming the campsites come in at $15/night and the Bates Motel room comes in at $60/night these days, that is $90/week or around $360/mo, approximately half my current rent.  If the budget demanded it, I could cut the Bates Motel room to once every second week.  There is a lot of flexibility here with this style of living. Rent is the NUMERO UNO fixed cost for the Min Wage Worker or an old guy living on Social Security. At Min Wage, Rent in most places is at least 50% of your fixed costs for living. If you can cut your rent down to 1/2 or 1/4 what it costs for a "normal" living arrangement, you can start to save some money.  The main reason I saved money during my trucking years OTR was not because I made so much money, although the income was pretty good prior to 9-11.  The reason was because I had no RENT!  I wasn't paying money to some Scumbag Rentier who owned properties he was renting out to poor people.  I lived basically free in my Freightliner.  Because that was a Bizness, all the fuel was tax deductible too!  In a Van or other rig arrangement not done as a bizness that is not true, but really your fuel costs are not that much right now to do it, maybe $4/day is my estimate, I'll see at the end of the week how much I spent on fuel.  Looks like around $30 right now. If/when the fuel costs go up, this price won't be accurate.  If/when the fuel becomes unavailable, the lifestyle won't be possible at all.  But that is not true RIGHT NOW.  So for today, I go OTR one more day, and enjoy a little bit of nature before it is gone at the End of the Age of Oil.

See you next week for Part 4 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier, and WATCH YOUR MIRRORS!

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier: Day 2

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 23, 2017

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Day 2 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier has arrived, and after waking up at the fairly late hour for Boondocking of 9AM in the Walmart parking lot and doing some personal hygiene cleanup in the for Cripples toilet stall in the Men's bathroom, I buy an Egg McMuffin at the Mickey D's inside the Walmart for breakfast for $3.  I am almost able to consume 3/4s of this disgusting but calorie laden food sitting in the driver's seat of SaVANnah, with my Mobile Desk attached to the Steering Wheel to place the McMuffin on and surf the web for Doom Newz while I eat breakfast.  Then I fire up SaVANnah and drive over to the Alaska Club to do some swimming rehab and take a Sauna and Steam Bath again.

My early day tasks now complete, I prep up for today's overnight parking, which will be another FREE spot, this time one of the Public Use camping spots you can find around almost any state, although there are more of them in Alaska then any other state I am pretty sure.  The amount of time you can stay parked in such a spot has some legal limits, around 7-14 days in most of the spots around here. One of the Diners, Azozeo says you can stay up to 90 days in BLM managed land (Goobermint Bureau of Land Management) in the Mojave Desert in AZ. I however would never stay so long in such a location, 1-3 days tops for such a parking spot for me.  This particular stay will only be for the rest of the day and overnight.  The drive to this site is not that far from "civilization", around 10 miles. I will need food for this day, as well as water to drink and BEER & Cancerettes to smoke while camped out!  So I stop first at a Subway to buy a Foot Long Spicy Italian hero, and have it cut into 3 parts. Cost for this food, $7.50.  This is generally will last me 2-3 days, with a couple of eggs thrown in for breakfast and a can of soup for dinner, and the Vitamin pills.  Then I head to Fred Meyer (Kroger chain store in Alaska) and buy a 30 pack case of cheap beer ($15) and a pack of cancerettes in the liquor dept for another $10.  This will last me most of the rest of the week, although I will need to buy another pack of smokes I am pretty sure.  I try to keep the smoking down to 4 cancerettes a day, but not always successful with this.  I load up on potable water for FREE in the Kroger bathroom, filling up two one quart old juice containers with the aqua from the Palmer City water system, which is very nice water and not overloaded with chlorine.  I buy a block of ice for $3 which will last about 4 days in my cooler/refrigerator to keep leftover sandwich parts, my eggs and my drinking water and beers cold.  I buy a dozen of the cheap non-organic eggs for $2.50, about 20 cents an egg.  The Free Range chicken eggs go for $7/dozen, around 60 cents an egg.  I'll deal with the hormones and antibiotics injected into the cheap chickens laying the cheap eggs at this price differential.  I buy 3 cans of Chunky Soup for $6, a half pound of Red Potatoes for $0.60, a white onion for $0.70 and a package of breakfast sausages for $3.50.

Now loaded up with my preps for a few days, I point SaVANnah in the direction of the FREE Public Access point on the Matanuska River which has NO CAMPING FEE associated with it and where I could set up camp and park for a couple of weeks FREE & LEGAL if I wanted to, but I am only going to stay for the night on this trip.  I have a lot of other places to hit during this week of the Great Alaska Boondocking Adventure in order to give a broad overview of your possibilities for Boondocking in your rig.  Also, this site has no FREE Wi-Fi available so I will have to use 4G while parked in this spot.  I have to watch my bandwidth when I do this, although since I usually scarf up FREE Wi-Fi during the day somewhere, it's generally not an issue. On the way to the river, I make a stop to check mail in my 24/7 Mailbox at the UPS office, where they also will collect packages of Preps I order online from Amazon or Ebay.  Nothing there, because I don't actually use this box currently, I get my mail in the box where I normally live at my digs.  I just have this box as a backup arrangement if I have to actually move out and live full time OTR in SaVANnah.  It's one of my Plan B backups for SHTF Day.  Another Insurance Policy, and at less than $1/day, not too expensive.  I made the stop anyhow even though I knew the mailbox would be empty just to demonstrate how you collect snail mail and package deliveries while homeless.

Leaving the UPS office, I make the 10 mile or so drive to the FREE public access site on the banks of the Matanuska River to set up camp for the night.  This spot is REALLY bare bones, besides no toilets, water, sewer or electricity there are no Fire Rings and no Picnic Tables either.  This is actually Good Newz, because few in the RV crowd will use the spot. It's very quiet, no motor boats or 4-wheelers tooling about. It's a rather lumpy gravel lot I drive slow over while I decide where I will park SaVANnah for the night, and finally back myself in to a fairly shady spot.

With no Picnic Table on the site, to set up my outdoor Diner Control Center I need to pull out two of my Aluminum folding tables to set up as a desk, and my cooler and stadium chair as my seating while at the keyboard.  My Beer is conveniently located right under my ass.  It's a clear day but the SUN☼ is getting low on the horizon and setting up the Big Brolly for shade really isn't necessary.  It's not going to rain tonight either.  Then I take my emergency shit bucket out and put it behind the Van, basically out of site of the other folks camping at the site.  I won't need the piss jar here, when I need to take a leak I'll just fertilize the trees.

So this campsite is real EZ and fast to set up, and also to pack up and leave.  You can setup on dirt in a spot like this, or on asphalt in a Rest Area or parking lot.  No stakes need to be driven into the ground for tents and tarps, and if it looks like it might rain, it only takes another 5 minutes to set up the Big Brolly.  Well, more like 10-15 minutes for me, but for an uncrippled Van Dweller it would only be 5 minutes.

I do have larger setups for places I might park my butt for a week or two at a stretch like say the Grand Canyon including a Big Ass 20'X10' 3 Room Tent and tarps to make awnings with but at the moment I have no plans to make such long stays anywhere.  This week, everything is a one night stand.  When I head down to Kenai for the Dipnetting Adventure, probably only 3 nights and I probably won't do them all in the same spot.  For me alone, it's really hard to justify setting up the tent.  If I was at a convocation of other Van Dwellers and might share my site with others who don't have such a good setup, then it would be worthwhile.

Come to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.and you can take classes and learn plus make many great friends.

If I was living this way with a wife and kids I would need to set up the tent every night.  However, in that case I wouldn't do it with just SaVANnah, I would pull a trailer of some type.  If you are living the Gypsy life Over the Road, you do need to scale up your rig to accomodate more people, you can't do it in just the Van.  The van is only good for up to 2 people, and only if they can stand to be in such close quarters with each other all the time.  I know of few married couples who could do that. lol.  Here's a nice rig setup you probably could pull it off in:

Brand spanking new as this rig setup is, it would be pretty expensive to get into.  That van probably goes for $40-50K and the trailer for another $20-30K.  That is of course still a LOT cheaper than any McMansion you could buy, but by no means is it necessary to spend so much and have this type of arrangement.  SaVANnah cost me $5000, and I can buy a used Camper trailer of this size for around $10K.  I can get cheaper than that if I go with a Cargo trailer and modify it, for that it costs me maybe $3K for the trailer and another $1K in modifications.  Total cost for that rig setup would be $9K.  Instead of a Van, you could drop a camper back onto a pickup truck if you had one of those, then pull a modified cargo trailer with it.  You can get camper backs for pickups on the used market for around $2K.  I prefer Vans to Camper backs on Pickups because I like being able to go straight from the bunk to the driver's seat without going outside, but you have the same size space to work with for living in general.  However, other Van Dwellers prefer Camper backs because you can drop them off at a campsite and then use your pickup truck  for plowing snow or some other means of making some money while you live the life.

With my one-man site all set up and cozy now, I pull out 1/3rd of my Subway Spicy Italian hoagie and a bottle of water from the cooler and fire up the Laptop to surf some Doom by tethering the laptop to my cell phone.  I'm just working off the internal batt of the laptop at this point, it's fully charged and brand spanking new and the batt lasts a good 6 hours.  After I finish my lunch, I'll set up my electrics so I can plug it in and not discharge the batt while doing my daily tasks on the Diner and writing.  For tonight, I expect to use 1 of my 10AH 12V Deep Cycle Batts, maybe have to go into the second one depending how late I work.  Doubt I will need to wire in to my REALLY Big Ass 120AH 12V Deep Cycle Marine Batt, in fact I doubt I will have to do that all week, which is why Solar Panels on the roof of SaVANnah really just aren't necessary, at least until after TSHTF in my neighborhood and I can't get gas or can't afford it.

It probably will get pretty chilly tonight since the sky is so clear, so I'll probably want a little heat inside SaVANnah.  I have a few choices on fuels and methods for heating your rig and staying warm, which I am going over in my Video Series I Spy Doom concurrent with these articles.  They appear in the middle of the week, while these articles appear for Sunday Brunch here at the Doomstead Diner.  For tonight, I think a kerosene lantern should be enough to keep the interior of SaVANnah pleasant inside when I am working at my Inside Office prior to packing it in for the night and crawling into my kick ass sleeping bag good to 40F below 0.  I'll have to leave it unzipped, otherwise at these temps it would be too warm.  So overnight, I won't need to keep the kero lantern burning.

There are the usual lively debates ongoing Inside the Diner on our Forum, and I chip in a few comments, pissing off some Diners as my comments often do.  My opinions are not all that popular all the time on the Diner Forum. lol.  Then I do some surfing of other Doom websites and look for an article from one of our cross posting Bloggers to publish tomorrow.  I find that Jason Heppenstall of 22 Billion Energy Slaves is back to blogging after his hand injury, so I will publish one of them in his current Alphabet Series.  I'll put off formatting it for the Diner until tonight though prior to going to sleep.

As I finish the hoagie, I get the Call of Nature as often occurs soon after finishing a meal.  I make a quick trip behind SaVANnah to my shit bucket and relieve myself of my internal waste.  It goes into a bag lining the bucket, and the bag will be disposed of in some dumpster tomorrow along with the doggie-doo-doo the walkers pick up with their pooper-scoopers.

There is still plenty of daylight left, so I shut down the laptop and stow it inside SaVANnah along with the aluminum tables and cooler, and roll out my Ewz to do some cruising around.  I lock up the gear, although around here it's unlikely it would be stolen even if I left it outside SaVANnah.  I cruise along the river rather slowly because it's pretty bumpy.  The scenery is very nice and I get some nice pictures.  I could go on the road and cruise faster but there is nothing nearby here worth cruising to on the road.  You could do the same type of cruising around on a bicycle of course.  Or if you had good legs you could go do some hiking or running, or even climb one of the mountains overlooking the river.  If you had a kayak on your roof rack, you could paddle out onto the river and do some fishing.  There are a lot of nice ways to spend your day when you park your Van in a spot like this, and it is both FREE & LEGAL.


Returning to SaVANnah, it's time for dinner, which is EZ to prepare.  For this one I'm just going to use my propane camping burner and heat up a can of Chunky Clam Chowder.  It takes me most of the rest of the night before I go to sleep to almost finish it, a spoonful every 10 minutes or so.  I dump the remaining chowder in the woods to be eaten by the various bugs inhabiting the forest floor, or perhaps scavenger birds who come to pick off the remaining bits of clam in there.

After heating up the soup, I set up the laptop inside SaVANnah and get to work formatting up Hepp's article and then writing up most of this day's log of the Great Boondocking Adventure on the Last Great Frontier, then I shut it down and headed into the bunk for a night of comfortable shut-eye in a very quiet location.  I did wake up in the middle of the night with the Call of Nature, but this time it was only to piss so I went outside and quickly relieved myself on the base of a nice size Cottonwood tree I am sure was greatful for the nice meal of nitrogen.  Then back inside and back to bed. In the morning upon wakening, I (slowly) got myself dressed and then mozied over to the river to splash some water on my face and wake myself up more.  I could have done a full sponge bath, but I really didn't need one since I just hit the Alaska Club yesterday, and plan to again today after I break camp.  Then back to SaVANnah to cook breakfast.  First I boil one of the red potatoes until it is tender enough to push my fork into but not so soft it will fall apart when I cut it into chunks for Home Fries.  While it is boiling, I cut up about 1/4 of the onion to add to the home fries.  Then I take the potatoes off the burner and sautee up 2 of the breakfast sausages until nice and brown, take them out leaving the residual fat in the pan and add some peanut oil to it from the larder I have in SaVANnah of basics and stir fry up the home fries.  Those go on the plate with the sausages, then I scramble two of the eggs in the remaining oil and add them to the plate.  This takes me an hour to eat after cooking it, during which time I get back on the laptop to surf the latest in Doom.

Cleanup is EZ for this meal, the pot I boiled the potato in needs no cleaning, I just dump the water out.  The pan is a Non-Stick porcelain coated one, and cleans with a fast wipe off in the river, and I ate off a paper plate which will go in the dumpster after I leave.  I clean off my Hobo Knife which has fork, knife and spoon with a quick dunk in the river and another wipe down.

I then load everything back into SaVANnah, saving the shit bucket for last.  I tie off and seal the bag inside, and close the lid over the seat.  Very little smell is coming out, and I will dump the waste a couple of miles up the road at the first dumpster I run into.  It only stays with me inside SaVANnah for around 10 minutes, and then is disposed of, leaving the cabin still smelling fresh and nice.

My total costs for today were fairly expensive, because I bought supplies to last just about the whole week, including the beer and cancerettes.  However, you don't HAVE to have those habits, and I would have them living in a McMansion also.  So besides the Daily Fixed Expense of Rent of $8.50, my only other expense was the food I bought, and that will last a few days.  Total Food cost was $25.  If you add in the Beer and Smokes, another $25.

To finish this episode of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier, I then drive over to the Alaska Club for another nice Sauna and Shower, and plan my Boondocking Day and where I will spend the night.  For tonight, I will buy a For Pay campsite for $15 which has Fire Ring and Picnic Table, but no electricity, water or sewer hookup, although they have a dump station and also a bathroom and showers onsite.  Join me again next week here on the Doomstead Diner for part 3 of Boondocking the Last Great Frontier.  In the mean time…


Boondocking the Last Great Frontier: Day 1

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 16, 2017

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I am now off on the Great Boondocking Adventure! :icon_sunny:

As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, I will be starting the adventure by Boondocking the Wasilla Walmart.  The Wasilla Wally World is very friendly to RVers in the Tourista Season, they spend a LOT of money on supplies offered at Low, Low Prices Every Day by the Walton family.  Nobody bothers you if you overnight in the Walmart parking lot in Wasilla, not Walmart staff and not the Gestapo either.  However, it's really bare bones, because this Walmart is not open 24/7, it shuts down at 11PM which means no access to bathrooms until they reopen at 7AM.  For me that is a significant downside, because when Nature Calls, I need to hit a bathroom PDQ.  However, I have this covered with an emergency Piss Jar and emergency Shit Bucket, both of which I prefer to use outside the van, but can use inside if necessary as you probably want to do in a Walmart parking lot, although at 2AM nobody is around to see you relieving yourself of your biological waste.

Even though Wally World is going to be the property I borrow for the night from the Walton family that "owns" this patch of the Earth, I am NOT going to spend all day sitting on my ass in their parking lot!  This is only where I plan to spend the night sleeping in SaVANnah.  I will be using a few other parking lots through the day as I fill it up with things to do with my Unemployed & Crippled Self.  Time spent in these lots may run from 1 hour to as much as 8, depending on what there is to do with myself that is close enough to that parking lot I don't need to move SaVANnah.  I have a very good range there, because my Ewz electric scooter will cover a good 15 miles on a single charge, although usually I will cruise around no more than about 5 miles from where SaVANnah is parked.  For the Uncrippled out there, you could do the same thing with a Bicycle.  You should have some good means of local transportation to use in conjunction with your Stealth Van.  It saves you a LOT on burning gas moving around a neighborhood.

I woke up early in the morning (4AM) to begin the adventure.  The Scenario is this (Semi-fictional.  The scenario set up is mostly fiction, although it parallels my own experience in becoming disabled.  The rest of the day is non-fiction.): I was a Tree Surgeon making $50K/year 6 months ago, but then I fell out of one of the trees I was pruning branches on and broke both arms in multiple places.  Many screws were put in and recovery time was estimated by the orthopedist Pro from Dover to be 3-6 months.  The costs of the operations were enormous as the Criminal Racketeers in the Medical Profession took their Vigorish.  I couldn't get Unemployment Insurance because I wasn't able to take a job while healing.  Applying for SS Disability, I couldn't get that for a minimum of 5 months after the injury, and unless approved on the first round before appeals, it could take 2 years or maybe never.  On the first try, only 40% are approved.  Second Try, another 40%.  20% get left Twisting in the Wind.

My Workman's Compensation case against my Tree Surgery Employer would also take over a year to work out, and drive a huge rift between me and the old employer as I pursued the case.  Even after I recovered, there was no way he was going to re-hire me, and besides shortly after I fell he replaced me with a cheaper young Chainsaw Jockey, recently immigrated from Nicaragua.  There would be no job waiting for me when I finally recovered.  I was among the fortunate and got my SS Disability bennies after 7 months.

I was fortunate because I was a Doomer and regularly read the Doomstead Diner.  Although I didn't have much savings, I had some, enough for 2 months of my usual bills.  However, I STOPPED paying all bills immediately!  I knew this meant I would be evicted, so I got prepped for that if/when it happened and I didn't get a new source of income.  I sold my 3 year old Dodge Ram Pickup and bought a 1999 Ford Raised Roof Conversion Van.  I sold my furniture in Garage Sales for 2 months until I was rid of almost everything.  I leased a Storage Unit for $40/mo a couple of miles from my McMansion, soon to be repoed by the Bank.  After all was said and done, I had a couple of thousand FRN digibits left in the bank and a paid off 1999 Ford Conversion Van, I named SaVANnah.  I had no debt at all after I finished selling off everything and dumping the remaining debt on the McMansion on the Banksters with the Jingle Mail.

I left early in the morning the Sherrif was due to arrive, with the keys to the McMansion taped to the front door as Jingle Mail. Since Alaska is a non-recourse mortgage state, the banksters were SOL despite the fact I was 3 months behind on mortgage payments and the property was underwater, having lost value since I bought it at the top of the market when I moved up here in 2006, right before the 2008 financial crash.

Heading out in the morning from my old McMansion at the bright and early time of 5AM, I headed over to the Alaska Club, a fitness gym where I invested in a Gold Membership costing me $93/mo.  The gym is open 5:00AM to 10PM every day except for a few holidays, and I am welcome there anytime between these hours with my Photo ID Card, plus pretty safe to park in their lot an hour or two before or after if I want to.  I go for a swim in the pool as part of my rehab exercises for my broken arms, then I take a Sauna and a Steam Bath prior to taking a shower and shaving and dressing for the day.  I now look like a respectable member of society, not a smelly and decrepit Homeless Person.  I spend about 2 hours doing these tasks at the Alaska Club, then about another hour online utilizing their FREE Wi-Fi and doing early morning Admining tasks on the Diner.

Once done with my morning rehab exercise, sauna, steam and shower and surfing the net after around 3 hours at 8:30 AM, I drive SaVANnnah from the Alaska Club a short distance away to a Mini-Strip Mall location which has a lot of great spots to spend the day, with FREE Wi-Fi!  First I drop in to Kalahdi Brothers Coffee Shop, arriving there almost 9AM.  I order myself a 12 oz Sludge with 2 shots of Espresso, an expensive coffee drink @ $3 but it sure does light you up!  lol.  I plug in both my laptop and one of my 10AH 12V Batts for a recharge while I surf the web for Doom and admin the Diner.  I spend almost 2 hours there from 9-11, refilling my coffee cup with FREE refills of plain coffee of the day, which at Kalahdi Brothers is still pretty strong coffee even without the X-tra shots of Espresso.  I am now pretty wired on caffeine. lol.

I leave SaVANnah in the parking lot of the Strip Mall, and drive less than 1/2 mile on my Ewz to the brand spanking new Wasilla Library, which will be my Home Base for many hours on many days.  They let me drive my Ewz right into the library since I am a Cripple, and I park myself at a nice desk and set up my laptop and batt arrangement and plug in again. Now the laptop, the 10 AH Batt and the Ewz are all being charged up.  I am scarfing up FREE electricity everywhere!   A few more messages and emails have rolled in on the Diner and my Email which I respond to and then do some work editing some of the videos I made in the last week on the issue of staying WARM and HEATING your van when it gets cold, so you don't end up Freezing to Death parked in your Van on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska in the winter. (These Videos will be Coming Soon to a Laptop Near You here on the Doomstead Diner.  Tune in to see the How-to-do -it video manual on Boondocking Techniques).

Getting burned out now on my Internet Collapse habit, I shut off the laptop and go to the shelves of the latest Research Journals and pull out one on First Nations people history & archaeology, one of my favorite topics.  I read this journal issue cover to cover, taking me about an hour.  Then I go look for a book on the collapse of the Roman Empire I haven't already read, and spend another hour reading that.

It's now the late afternoon and I haven't eaten anything all day, the only things I have ingested so far are Kalahdi Brothers Coffee and most of a bottle of water.  I'm not hungry (I never am these days and find eating a chore), but I know I have to eat if I am to keep living and take some Vitamins too!  So I pack up the laptop, unplug from Library power and get back on the Ewz for the short trip back to the Strip Mall parking lot where SaVANnah has been patiently waiting for me to return all day.  I head into Carr's Grocery, the local Alaska affiliate of the Safeway chain and hit the hot Deli Counter for a Smoked Kielbasa Sausage, which costs me $2.  I go over to the tables they have there to consume the food you buy, and once again pull out my Laptop to check the Diner on their FREE Wi-Fi, and a few new posts have come in, a couple of which are on topics of interest to me so I chip in my 2 cents on them.  I eat my Smoked Kielbasa at a leisurely pace, because I don't really enjoy eating it, it's just a chore I know I need to do and then I take a few vitamin pills after finishing it.  The whole time at Carr's grocery and deli is about 2 more hours, and it is getting to be close to 6PM or so.

I cruise out of Carr's on the Ewz over to SaVANnah in the parking lot, and get the Ewz loaded back into her, which is something of a chore despite the fact I have a ramp arrangement for this set up now.  I am working on getting a more Custom Arrangement for this set up with a local welder I know, hopefully to get done in the next month. He's pretty bizzy this time of year. Leaving the parking lot at Carr's/Kalahdi Brothers, I drive over to a different location of the Alaska Club in Wasilla and spend another hour with a quick Sauna and utilizing their FREE Wi-Fi again.  Now it is getting late after a fairly long day with no Naps, and it is time to retire for the night.  I point SaVANnah in the direction of the Walmart parking lot, about 3 miles away.

Upon arrival at Walmart, many other Summer RV Touristas are populating the edge of the parking lot, where they all get their spots if early enough in the day.  There is still room for me on the edge with them since my rig is so small, and I do a little NY Shity style parallel parking and wedge myself between a Big Ass Diesel Pusher and another retiree with a fucking HUGE 5th wheel arrangement I swear was nearly as long as my fucking Tractor-Trailer with 22' of Tractor and 53' of trailer.  His tow vehicle was a Ford 350 pickup, itself a monster size vehicle, forget the fucking trailer.  Fucking FLORIDA plates on this rig! I met him and his wife the following morning, and he was older than me, I am guessing late 60s/early 70s there, but he was in a good deal better health than me.  He was a retired NY Shity cop, and we exchanged some NY Shity stories and he invited me in to have a look at his trailer.  This one had not 1, not 2 but THREE slide outs!  Forget raising a family in this behemoth, you could house an entire TRIBE in there! lol.  He was heading up for Denali National Park to spend a month there and we exchanged phone numbers and email addys and he invited me to join him at his campsite, but I don't think I will be able to fit a trip to Denali into my schedule while he is there.

Anyhow, my Boondock level Van did squeeze in easily between the Monster Rigs, and even if it did not I could have just plopped into one of the regular parking spots with all the other Carz. Once parked, it is still fairly early, Walmart has not closed up shop for the night yet.  I head into Wally's to make a visit to the toilet and hopefully rid myself of internal waste so I don't have a middle of the night emergency.  In this case, I was successful.  I also bought a bunch of Bananas for $2 and ate one of them before going to sleep.  I also spent some time cruising the aisles on one of the electric Go-Karts for Cripples, looking at preps to decide on stuff I don't have yet that might prove useful.  I didn't find anything on this shopping expedition though to buy.  I have pretty much exhausted what is available at the typical Walmart in my Prep runs since 2008.  These days, a shopping expedition at Home Depot or Lowes for hardware of various types is much more productive.

Now it's getting quite late, around 9-10 PM and I head back out to SaVANnah to pack it in for the night, although I connect up to the internet via the 4G Network on my smart phone to make a last check on the Diner for the night, but there is nothing all that new in the last couple of hours to make a comment on.  I check Google Newz for any late breaking Collapse Newz, but nothing new there either except for further buffonery from the Trumpovetsky crowd currently running the FSoA criminal racket, so I crawl into the sleeping bag in the bunk for the night.  The temps are a little cool for summer at night, in the low 50sF, but this is not too cold for sleeping with no heat if you have a sleeping bag good to 40 Below, which I have.  I snooze peacefully, quite late into the morning actually for Boondocking since nobody bugs you in a Walmart parking lot, at least up here in Wasilla.  If you are in a less friendly Boondocking parking lot, usually you want to be out of there by 5-6 AM. I got up around 9AM and headed into Walmart to do a little cleanup with a sponge bath in the big toilet stall for Cripples and shaved with my electric rechargeable Phillips shaver back in the van.  Then back on the road for another day of Boondocking.

Now we have to tally expenses for today's Van Dwelling existence.  First I will define the terms.

Rent:  My rent is the cost of my 24/7 storage unit per month divided by 30 days + the cost of my gym membership at the Alaska Club + cost of Insurance on the van to keep it legal + the cost of my UPS 24/7 accessible Mailbox, $300/year or about $0.90 a day..  The storage unit costs $40/mo, so that is $1.33/day, call it $1.50 to account for months with 31 days.  My gym membership costs $93/mo for $3.10/day. Insurance for the Van is $1000/year divided by 365 days for $2.75 (this actually includes other vehicles I have, it would be lower if I just had the van).  I don't have a registration fee for the van anymore because it is old enough to qualify for Permanent Registration here on the Last Great Frontier and there is no yearly Inspection required either.  Total rent when Boondocking and not buying a for pay campsite is $8.25/day.

Smarter Tools 2000W Parallel Capable Inverter Generator with Yamaha Engine Electricity:  The only time I would be calculating an electricity cost is if I run my generator.  I don't expect to have to do that this week at all.  I will generate or collect most of the electricity from the van alternator, and any electricity in spots I can plug into grid power like the library and coffee shop.

Heat:  Heat cost is what I use any day in candles, kerosene or propane to warm up SaVANnah while not running the engine.  I may have to use some this week, but the first night was pretty tolerable even before getting in the sleeping bag. Obviously, winter time would require more than it does now in the summer, but I seriously doubt at any temp it will cost me more than $2/day to heat this space to my comfort zone of 60sF.  I will explain more of this in my upcoming video series on Heating on the Doomstead Diner You Tube channel

Communications:  This is my monthly phone bill including wireless 4G divided by 30 days.  $75/mo, $2.50/day

Food:  What I spend at the grocery store or in restaurants.

Gasoline: Whatever I use either driving around or idling the van to stay warm or generate electricity.  To be calculated at the end of the week and divided by 7 days for a daily average.  It probably would be somewhat higher in the winter than in the summer, but all we can get for now is the summertime average.

For today's expenses:

Rent: $8.25
Electricity: $0
Heat: $0
Communications: $2.50
Food: $7.00
Gasoline: To be calculated at the end of the week

Current Total: $16.85

After I finish today's excursions, my Boondocking location will be one of the "Public Access" areas we have here on the Last Great Frontier. Much nicer scenery than a Walmart parking lot, but absolutely ZERO in terms of facilities, no bathrooms, nada.  Day 2 log will be Coming Soon to a Laptop Near You here on the Doomstead Diner.  Also be sure to tune in to the Diner for the upcoming I Spy Doom Video series on STAYING WARM when your environment for Boondocking starts to get COLD in the Winter!


Note:  I did most of the photography for this adventure either before or after it, not during it.  So the pics used to illustrate are not always precise illustrations of the exact moment.  Setting up to get good shots itself is time consuming, and I did not want to have to do that while actually "living the life".  A few in this series will be live shots though, as I do carry around my El Cheapo Samsung WB-250 most of the time, and it still works most of the time too.

Boondocking the Last Great Frontier

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 12, 2017

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As regular readers of the Diner know, I recently purchased a Stealth Van, a used 1999 Ford Conversion Van that I have christened SaVannah.  Over the last few weeks, I have been modifying and equipping SaVannah for the necessities of Living On The Road, aka HOMELESS without a domicile but still solvent enough to afford a vehicle to live in.  This is something I am well experienced with, I lived for almost 7 years in my Freightliner tractor while working as an Over the Road (OTR) Trucker.  You can read the Over the Road series if you are interested in more details of the OTR Trucker life.

The objective of this series of posts will be to examine how to live in a given neighborhood in a Stealth Van, staying Under the Radar of the local Gestapo who generally do not look favorably on people who live in their vehicles, unless of course those vehicles are practically brand new super expensive Class 1 Diesel Pusher RVs and are parked for the night in for-pay Campgrounds with full hookups for electricity, water and sewer.  You get less respect if you are using a Class 3, especially if it is older, and in terms of the RV crowd, you're down in the Boondocks if you're down to Van size.  Car campers aren't really considered part of the RV crowd overall, and if you LIVE out of your car, you're a HOMELESS person, not a "camper".

The neighborhood I chose for this experiment and series of articles is my own, the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley of Alaska.  Peculiarities of this neighborhood make some things easier than you would find possible in the Lower 48, but overall most of the techniques I will describe will work anywhere in the FSoA. Just the Scenery won't be quite so nice most of the time. lol. The main question to be answered though is about the MONEY!  How much does it cost you to live this way in current FSoA FRNs each week, and how much do you need in Investment Capital to begin living this way?  I will be detailing all the costs to get started and the weekly budget.

First caveat in this respect is that this is NOT a lifestyle that can persist once TSHTF in earnest and Gas is either not available or too expensive to afford.  However, when that day does finally arrive, EVERYBODY will be thoroughly FUCKED and you might actually be better off than most if you at least still have one full tank of gas and a good Bugout Location picked out in advance to park your mobile home permanently.  That is a whole other topic though, for this one we are just analyzing how to live mobile while some semblance of BAU is running in the Western countries.  Not just the FSoA, I include the Great White North of Canada in this and Oz also.  Also Western Europe, although over there gas is rapidly becoming unaffordable for much of the population, particularly in the southern PIGS nations of Portugal, Italy, Greece & Spain.  In the main though, we are talking about Amerika, the Land of Happy Motoring.

Another important consideration here in analyzing this methodology is that it is mostly restricted to Single people, and usually Males.  There are a few Females who pursue this lifestyle, just as there are a few OTR women out there driving the Big Rigs and just as there are a few women haunting the Collapse Blogosphere.  Statistically speaking though, it's a small percentage in all cases.  Couples are plausible, at least if you can stand to be with your Significant Other in a confined space all the time.  I know of few couples who can manage that over the long haul. lol.  Trucker Marriages with both on the road have a horrendous life expectancy.  Beyond that,  once you have kids, the whole paradigm becomes extremely dicey to pursue.  It's not IMPOSSIBLE, but it is orders of magnitude more difficult.  You have to Homeschool obviously, and a kid confined to a vehicle sized abode is generally not a very happy kid.  Then you have Child Protective Services to deal with as well.  It's about the same I suppose as trying to take a child into an off grid living situation on a fixed Doomstead, with a few extra Knuckleballs thrown in.  Or Yachties who take their kids circumnavigating on a small sailboat.  I have run into all these types over the years, but they are exceedingly rare, they are outliers. It is also important to note that I am NOT in fact Homeless and living in SaVannah!  I avoided this potential outcome when I got my SS Bennies and won my Workman's Compensation case.  However, I lived in desperate fear of this outcome for 7 months before the first check from SS was deposited into my account.  Each night I had nightmares I would end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska © .  Fortunately for me as a Doomer, I HAD enough Savings to carry me through this period, most people in Amerika do not.  60% of people have less than 1 month in savings to carry them through hard times, much less make it for 7 months.  My scum sucking bottom feeder lawyer told me more than half of his clients ended up Homeless before they ever saw an award from WC, and many of course never saw one.  You can be off the cliff in the Blink of an Eye, all it takes is an injury at work, a car accident or a debilitating illness like Cancer.  In all of those cases also, Medical Bills can and usually will play a large part in bankrupting you.  If you do not protect yourself, the "social welfare net" will NOT protect you in the FSoA.  You too will become a Homeless Person, an an early victim of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

My close call with this outcome however makes me very aware of the problem so many in our failing Industrial Civilization now have, and it is a lesson I will never forget even after I pass into the Great Beyond.  In my writings, these are the people I really write for, even though they mostly are not here to read the stuff.  If you are that far off the cliff, it's unlikely you are spending much time on the computer surfing doom, although it is possible to do as this series is intended to demonstrate.

Before we go on the Journey though, one more caveat.  Although I intend for this series to be an accurate depiction of events, they may not always occur in the order in which they happened.  I may shuffle things around some for the purposes of the narrative.  I may fictionalize some names and places so as to preserve anonymity to an extent for myself and for others I might encounter along the way.  It should however be a fairly accurate rendition of living the life of a Boondocker.

What IS a Boondocker? It's not the original meaning of the word "Boondocks", which is where "Boonies" comes from as in "I grew up in the Boonies".  When people say that, they mean they grew up in the "sticks", some backwater place where most if not all the people were poor and just getting by.  In recent years though, Van Dwellers glommed the term, and what they mean by Boondocking is parking your van for the night in places that cost you no money to do it.  Sometimes these places are legal, other times they are not.  The more rural the area you are in, the more places you can generally find which are at least quasi-legal and that of course is what is going to make my little adventure quite a bit easier than if I was doing it in NY Shity for example.  However, I DID live in my Astro Van for 6 months on the streets of Manhattan, a stones throw from Wall Street and you can do it there too.

I'm also not going to STRICTLY Boondock for the week.  I'll take a couple of planned nights in For-Pay campsites too, for a variety of reasons I will detail as we get to them.  What you are looking at here is a total Weekly Budget, and if you can afford some more comfortable nights in a pay for parking and services campsite, that's GREAT!  I could afford every night this way right now, but then I wouldn't have a Boondocking article to write, it would be a review of Campsites which are a dime a dozen on the RV websites.  The plan for the week currently is for 2 out of the 7 nights to be in for pay campsites, the other 5 will be Boondocking.

Finally before we actually get out on the road here I need to make a distinction between 2 different types of Boondocking and Van Dwelling in general.  One type is what I would call "Local" Boondocking.  This is done all in one general neighborhood where you probably USED to have a McMansion before you were laid off, your UE Bennies ran out and the bank Foreclosed on the mortgage.  All your ties are still to that neighborhood though, it's what you know.  That gives you something of an advantage in terms of finding good boondocking locations.  You "hang out" in this location, you don't cruise the whole country all the time.

The other great advantage of Local Boondocking is that you don't have to be entirely self-contained in a Van (and maybe a trailer).  You can lease a Storage Unit, and in my week of Van Dwelling here I will be utilizing my Storage Unit quite a bit I imagine.  The storage unit allows you to keep a lot more stuff (including food preps) than you could possibly keep in a van without ridiculously cluttering it up.  Also there are Seasonal changes to handle.  You don't need to be carrying heating equipment around every day in the summer, nor do you need all those layers of winter clothes.  You don't need the fans and the air conditioner if you spring for one of those in the Winter.  You don't need to carry nearly any food preps, just what you will eat over the next day or two.  When you are out Over the Road you have no storage facitlity for all you would like to have with you all the time, so this is a much more difficult paradigm to pursue long term.  You might travel fairly far and wide, but you always need a Home Base of some sort as a Nomad.  Even the old time H-Gs returned each year to a known location for a Summer Gathering with other tribes of Nomads.  My Home Base as a Stealth Van Dweller is my 24/7 Storage Unit facility, which costs me $40/mo.  That's a LOT cheaper than renting an apartment!  I do have one of those too though, just not using it this week except for occasional cheats if I forgot to bring something along. lol.

OK!  Now with the Preamble done and all the Caveats and Disclaimers made, let's get ON THE ROAD Boondocking the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley of Alaska, My Hometown.  Where will we BEGIN this adventure?  There can be ONLY ONE place to begin.  The Walmart Parking lot in Wasilla.

Campfires in Collapse 2

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 6, 2017

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Here in the second installment of the Campfires in Collapse series, we look at the issues ofr acquiring fuel for your fire on the cheap, as well as making a campfire suitable for cooking on, which really big bonfires generally are not too good for other than roasting marshmallows.  A big Bonfire makes tons of heat, but for cooking you need a controlled heat which is stable over typical cooking times, usually in the 1/2 hour to 1 hour range for most meals besides stuff you slow cook, which can be much longer and generally take other methods to accomplish out in the field where you don't have a working electric slow cooker that will deliver just the right amount of energy when you set the temperature so you don't have to go over and mind the fire every 5 minutes to make sure it's not burning too hot or too cold. Back in my main camping years which went from about the age of 11 until age 30 or so, I did most of my cooking at campsites over open fires, not using campstoves of either the old pump style pressure stoves or the more recent version of propane fired camp stoves.  In this period, I always made a separate cooking fire from the larger campsite bonfire we would sit around after dinner and before bedtime and swap Ghost Stories or sing Folk Songs and roast marshmallows.  lol.  Good cooking fires are made with much smaller diameter wood pieces, generally from downed branches no more than about an inch thick.  Once the fire is going, you feed these in a little at a time to keep the temperature fairly constant while you cook.  When settling down in our campsite for the evening, after getting the tents set up the next priority was to gather wood, both for the cooking fire and the bonfire.  Bonfire people got to find big downed trees (you weren't allowed to cut them down and besides green wood sucks for making a fire) cut them into manageable chunks and split the wool.  Cooking fire people got to collect lots of twigs and small branches and cut them into smaller chunks to fit the cooking fire surface.  The Bonfire job was the more physically demanding one because of all the chopping and splitting you had to do, but the cooking fire job took a lot more trips over a wider area so also had it's physical demands.  This was all particularly annoying after an exhaustng day hiking over Mt. Katahdin and just about the time you hit the campsite it starts to rain.  Setting up old fashion Pup Tents in the rain and getting your fires going in the rain is no fun at all, and neither is collecting and chopping up wood.

So usually we would quit the hiking or canoeing around 4PM or so to get going on setting up camp for the night.  It usually took around 30 min to get the tents up and then another hour collecting wood for the night and for cooking the next morning.  I became Head Cookie (what a campsite chef is usually called) in my 2nd year at the Primitive Skills camp at the age of 12, very young for a Head Cookie at this camp, usually they were 14 or 15.  This because cooking became an interest of mine very young, and I practiced year around out on my porch over a small cast iron charcoal hibachi.  In fact I snubbed Propane as a cooking fuel for years because it just doesn't deliver the flavor that charcoal does.  However, I got lazy after around age 30 and went to mostly propane. lol.   Head Cookie was a great position to have, because once enough wood was collected to begin the fire, you didn't have to go out searching for it anymore, your job was to start the fire and make it ready for cooking, which takes some time and tending to, especially in the rain.  It usually takes around 30-45 minutes to get a wood fire ready for cooking, charcoal is a bit faster, especially if you are liberal with how much kero you will pour over it to get it going. lol.

Cooking over a Bonfire is something I only started working on in the later years, and takes a whole different set of techniques and equipment.  In the videos, I only discuss a few of them.  The main way I do discuss is simply to wait for the fire to burn itself down to coals until it is at the right temperature for cooking.  However, with a big fire you have to wait a while for that.  Dinner comes pretty late if you go with this method.  Another way is to raise up your cooking surface, a Camping Tripod is a good way to do that, I have one of those.  However, you are limited mainly to stews and soups and other stuff you can do in one big batch in a Dutch Oven.  You generally can't get close enough to the fire to do stuff like sauteing or even just flipping your burgers.  You can roast weenies on long forks though with this kind of fire.

The advantage to doing this is you get dual use out of the Bonfire, not only does it provide heat for the campsite (and it can get quite cold at night in NH, VT & ME even in the summer), but you get cooking heat out of the same fire, conserving both wood and human effort.  In recent years, I developed a 3rd use for the same heat, which is to heat thermal mass (rocks) to keep your temporary domicile warm overnight too.  If you follow the series here, you will find more information on those techniques.

The most important thing here to consider is that in all mobile living arrangements, fuel for heating and cooking is an important consideration, and often will cost you money.  You CANNOT do outdoor fires if you are Boondocking a Walmart parking lot!  If that is where you park for the night, my main advice is to eat cold food like cheese and maybe some hard boiled eggs and fruit, or just a Subway Hero that night.  That is no muss, no fuss.  If you insist on having something hot for dinner in this situation, use a kero or propane fired stove inside your Bugout Machine to heat a can of Chunky Soup.  Also no muss, no fuss.  For Gourmet Road Cooking, wait until you are in a location you can set up your full 9 yards of equipment.  If I put out all my portable cooking gear, I can cook up OTR any thing I ever did at Capsuto Freres, and in some cases better because I had no Smoker there at the time.  For myself though these days, I never do that.  I am happy if I can munch down 1/3rd of a Subway Spicy Italian for dinner now. Roll Eyes

The Path of Totality: The Repair Adventure

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on September 3, 2016

At last, customer service!

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Regular visitors know that on my way to experience the eclipse with RE my transmission decided to switch into 'limp home mode' where the top gear becomes second gear and 5000 rpm only gets you 40 mph in a car that can cruse all day at 100 mph.  This happened out of cell phone range at 3 AM eastbound on I-90 three miles into Montana.  But I did not limp home.  Instead I continued in 'limp to eclipse' mode figuring wrongly that there were as many Mercedes dealerships ahead of me as there were behind me.  The human brain is built to deceive.  RE and Brian who RE was traveling with, met me after I could get them on the phone when I once again came into phone range and could tell them I was in trouble. 

They were just a couple of hours ahead of me having spent the night in Drummond MT. My saviors RE and Brian met up with me in Anaconda Montana where Lee a tow truck driver from Butte, trucked my Mercedes away to his lot in Butte MT wearing one of our rare and precious Path of Totality Tshirts for his eclipse weekend enjoyment and we were on our way to Rexburg.

Lee promised to deliver my car to the Mercedes dealership in Missoula after the eclipse and he did exactly that on Tuesday just as he had promised to do. Unfortunately I foolishly assumed that the Mercedes dealership in Missoula would be able to fix my Mercedes. My mistake. How could I be so foolish? I was totally wrong and the only way my car was going to be fixed in less than a month was if I towed it to a real Mercedes Dealership which the Missoula outfit turned out to be in name only. Missoula has the big round Mercedes logo but only one mechanic and one salesman. Both claiming to be overworked. This so called dealership is part of a larger umbrella dealership that serves several other brands. The owner, DeMarois Buick GMC has an impressive website but if you visit the actual brick and mortar or in this case glass and steel as I did, you find the 'dealership' is a double garage which passes for a showroom featuring just three cars, two small, and a desk next to several other identical double garages selling other brands. A cosmic joke which I had foolishly towed my car to. Had Missoula the time to even diagnose my problem and the time to work on my car, fixing it in Missoula would have made sense and the $350 plane ticket back to fetch it would have been a bargain. Sadly the Missoula Mercedes mechanic is backed up for weeks. If someone wants to be a Mercedes mechanic there is a job open for one in Missoula right nowMissoula might be a place to survive collapse a lot better than other places will. The Clark Fork River valley is beautiful and there could be doomstead possibilities in the area. After the eclipse and my visit to the Missoula 'dealership' I returned to Seattle and rented a car for the week.

Here it is getting gassed up for its return to Sea-Tac airport yesterday.

K-Dogs Rental

K-Dogs Rental

I rented the car and the salesman who sold me my Mercedes a year ago got me in touch with Olga who arranged to have my car moved to Seattle from Missoula. Things would have been great if Olga stayed in touch with me but once she had my info and told me my car would be picked up in Missoula on Saturday she disappeared and would not return emails or phone messages at all. The Russian mafia now had my car and they were not about to meet with me until I had cash in hand and I could exchange it for my car in a remote parking lot face to face meeting at a date a time of their choosing, Breaking Bad Style.

Without knowing this would be my horrorshow future I authorized my car be picked up by phone last Saturday in Missoula but by Wednesday I was calling back tracking it down from the Missoula end. The job had been contracted out to a Spokane trucking outfit and they had my car 20 miles out of Tacoma when I found out where it was and who had it. I also knew what Olga's cut was and figured I was paying her enough for the wheels not to stop moving on this delivery. I also figured that because of the payment issue, cash or money order only, she would not be giving me my car back before Friday as it would take Thursday to pass to her lot in Sumner from Tacoma so she could plan on which remote parking lot to deliver it to me for the face to face.

I jest, the agreement was to deliver it to the Seattle Mercedes dealership and the transaction took place in their parking lot. I met Olga's driver next to the Mercedes dealership in Seattle about noon on Friday. Here is my car on his truck. It has been on at least five trucks to get from Anaconda MT to Seattle WA. He rolled it off and I paid him. Then I drove my car a few hundred feet to the Mercedes service department.

My car about to roll off the last truck.

A work order was filled out and waiting. My experienced changed once the Seattle Dealership had my car. They had the problem diagnosed by the end of the day. They are very helpful. A transmission 'pressure plate' needs to be replaced and this will involve a full transmission service. A part has been ordered. Now that they have my car to fix, Mercedes of Seattle could give me a loaner so I was able to return my rental car without extending my rental contract. I naturally did not want to extend the contract and I was in fear of having to do exactly that after Olga disappeared.

I returned the car rental car yesterday, Saturday morning. So after the week long move of my car from Missoula at about $1.50 a mile I dropped off the rental car at the SeaTac rental car terminal.


Rental Car Terminal

Then I walked about a third of a mile to the International Boulevard Light rail station. Facing the opposite direction from the last photo you can see the light rail station. The hardest part of this trip was figuring out how to walk out of the rental car terminal. The normal way to get to the terminal is by car or bus and the normal way to get to the light rail would be to take a bus to the main Sea-Tac airport terminal where there is a builtin light rail station. That seemed foolish. A mile bus ride to get to Sea-tac Airport or a short walk to the next rail station down the line. I chose the walk. It was a beautiful day and not yet too hot. I had to ask how one gets out of the rental car terminal on foot.

International Boulevard – Seattle Light Rail Station

Experiencing the public in their various states of cluelessness caused me to lose some forward momentum yet I made steady progress and at last a train approached. My fare to the 'Stadium' terminal was $2.75

Waiting for the train.

The train is a nice link between the Airport and downtown Seattle. The line is still being built. It starts out on an elevated track for several miles from the Airport but drops down to ground level to pass through some south end neighborhoods. Stimulating the economics of these neighborhoods was part of the overall plan though there are only four stops in these neighborhoods since the route is primarily express oriented. I once lived a few blocks away from the route long before it was built. It rises again to be elevated before passing into a tunnel which seems about a mile long through a hill. In the middle of this hill is a station with elevators 100 feet up to the top of the hill where a main north south street passes by. The Beacon Hill neighborhood. Next the train passes through the SODO (south of downtown) area of Seattle where I got off and walked to the Mercedes dealership to get my service loaner. Through and north of downtown the train becomes a subway, the north end of the route is still being dug. It will eventually go many miles under the north end to a stop at the University of Washington and North Gate, an original old school north end shopping center.

The train.

On the train.

The 'SODO' stop would have worked out better but the Stadium stop is the one I used. It was about a five-teen minute walk to the Mercedes dealership.

At last, customer service!

Once there I showed my proof of insurance, my license, and a credit card as a deposit for damages and I was off and going in my free loaner car. My eclipse adventure is still not quite over but it is now only one car switch and a bill payent away!

Can it really go that fast?

The service loaner.

The observant among you will notice the 1990 300E in the upper left of the picture which we own. If that car were in running condition I would not have needed a rental car or the loaner. Mrs Dog's car is also parked to the left but you can't see what it is.  It is much like my car which is being repaired. Unfortunately we often work different hours so we cound not easily share it and the repair of the 300E is a job in itself.  Yet what do my personal woes have to do with collapse and the Diner other than being a part of the Path Of Totality tripI hope my experience entertains but the Path of Totality trip itself may seem like a contradiction to some. A bunch of people who worry about collapse all burning fossil fuels for apparently no good reason.

I'll jump to the answer. The snarky answer is "When in Rome burn like Rome" but seriously it is important that Diners meet. We can't have any community unless actual face to face meetings take place and physically re-positioning oneself for collapse will be important. This means travel. The irony is that this will require burning fossil fuels.  I also am way past the 'we have to change the world' reaction.  That is a newbie knee-jerk reaction, I had it, but as an experienced Diner I know THE WORLD DOES NOT WANT TO BE CHANGED.  All we can do is connect with like-minded people and figure out how to survive.  Like-minded people, experienced diners also learn, are hard to find and can live hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.  We have to all ironically learn to be mobile so that we can perhaps find a place together where being mobile becomes unecessary.

This trip stressed to me the importance of being prepared for collapse and let me clearly know I am not ready. RE's obsession with boondocking seems very well placed. It is a way to prepare or at least it is a means by which we can understand what preparing for collapse really means.

“Get Out Now Or Die”

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 3, 2017

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This week in Collapse featured the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on the Shores of South East Texas, with the Bull's Eye of Houston directly in its path.  The city got positively HAMMERED with a massive Rain Event, topping 4' in a few locations.  Usually Hurricane destructive events are focused on a few miles around where the Eye of the Hurricane hits when it is at full strength, goes a few miles inland and then dissipates after that.  So in normal circumstances it is only cities that are located right on the ocean that will sustain maximum damage from such a storm.  Cities like New York with Sandy, New Orleans with Katrina or Donna and numerous others which have hit Florida over the last century of record keeping on this are the most vulnerable. Harvey was a bit different though, because the overall weather patterns kept it stalled over the Houston neighborhood for several days, and the rainfall totals kept piling up.  Levees were overtopped, flash flooding arrived everywhere.  One of the 2 main rain catchment reservoirs designed strictly to control water flow not to store water got over-topped, and still more water flowed down the Buffalo Bayou, the main river flowing out of Houston to drain the copious amounts of excess water that city receives in even normal weather.  Houston is a hot, humid, damp and rainy place not fit IMHO for human habitation, like many parts of Florida as well.  But people do live there, mainly because there have been jobs that pay well down there for the last century while the Oil Industry both extracted and refined the Black Gold for use in the Happy Motoring lifestyle that evolved in the FSoA during the Age of Oil.

To accomodate all those people, Suburbs around Houston popped up like Mushrooms on a damp August morning in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, often built on land that used to be Swamp but now drained by oil powered pumps to keep the land dry enough for people to drive their cars around on, most of the time.  However, even in typical moderate rains in the Houston area, low lying neighborhoods will often flood with just a few inches of rain.  Harvey did not bring rainfall measured in inches.  Harvey brought it down in buckets measured in FEET.  There was no way of getting out this storm once it began, so if you were not prepped up and ready do go, you were pretty much Shit Out of Luck, as many people who live in the Houston area currently still are. The thing here is, this was no fucking surprise, the Weather folks have gotten a lot better over the last few years with these big cyclonic storms in terms of predicting the track and predicting wind speeds and rainfall totals.  At least 2 days before Harvey hit, everyone knew about where it would hit and a rough estimate of rainfall totals.  It was obviously going to be a total fucking disaster.

This is where I begin to have real trouble with folks who have at least the modest means of a used car and enough money to buy tents, sleeping bags, food preps etc.  WTF would you stay in a location which OBVIOUSLY will be innundated and out of commission for at least a few days?  GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE!  What purpose is there for you to remain in your McMansion during this time?  You're just setting yourself up to be camping on your roof and waiting for the National Guard to rescue you by Helicopter.  If you are lucky and they get to you.

On the other hand, if you LEAVE, what's the downside?  Maybe you miss a few days of work if your workplace is actually still open for Biz?  You might get your McMansion Looted while you are gone?  Who is going to be cruising around flooded McMansions looting Plasma TVs in boats when the streets are all flooded?  Besides, if you have a big enough rig with a trailer, you probably can fit in it most of your really valuable electronics anyhow, you don't necessarily have to leave them behind.  You might have to leave behind your expensive Italian Leather Sofa, but maybe you can move it upstairs to the second story and you'll only get 5' of flooding in your McMansion and it will be salvageable. Losing a few pieces of furniture and some drywall is not a life devastating event though, and for the most part even if you stayed you wouldn't be able to keep these things from getting wrecked in some way.  So WTF do you hang around when you KNOW you're about to go under water?  Are you just fucking STUPID?  GTFO OUT OF DODGE!  Don't be an IDIOT!

Of course the question is "WHERE DO YOU GO?" when the "Big One" hits, and besides not being prepared to do a Bugout, most people probably have no plan on where they will Bugout TO!  The best place for a few people is obviously Relatives who you actually like and somewhat get along with, although many people these days don't have too many of those.  lol.  Do you have a brother or sister or aunt or uncle you could shack up with for more than a week without being at each other's throats?  In my case though, I would head for friends rather than relatives, for a few reasons.  First off, I just don't HAVE many relatives, and the few I have are pretty far from me and I don't keep in touch with them much.  Second, you can PICK your friends and they can pick you, you can't pick your relatives.  I have slightly more confidence my friends would tolerate my presence for a week or two than my relatives would.

If you don't have either relatives or friends to seek succor and shelter with, now you are pretty much on your own.  If you have enough money, the next best alternative is a good Bates Motel and line up accomodation there for a week or so.  In all the cases here of Friends, Relatives or a Bates Motel, you want to pick a place a minimum of 100 miles from Ground Zero of whatever the disaster was that hit your neighborhood, because blowback effects are always going to happen in the vicinity even if it is not directly affected.  The Bates Motel we took on the way in and out of Rexburg ran around $70/night for 3 people.  Another extra person, you are probably at $75/night.  For a full week, this will cost you a little more than $500, but you also might be able to get a weekly rate, these places often offer that deal.  This is pretty much a bargain price to stay out of trouble and stay in relative comfort while the worst of the shit is worked out in your neighborhood.  Bates Motels usually have a Microwave and small Fridge, FREE Internet and electricity and cable TV too if you watch that shit.  You can't find them listed usually on the internet, you have to find them yourself through recommendations.  The way we found our Bates Motel was from a recommendation from a Waitress at a Bar-Restaurant that itself was not a place you normally would find on the internet in a search.  So NOW is a good time to go search these places out.  They may not save your life, but they could make a week away from home a LOT more comfortable than Boondocking in your car, unless you are real well set up to Boondock, as I am. After the Friends, Relatives & Bates Motels, now you are down to camping in one way or the other for your week away from the Disaster Zone, and of course legal For Pay sites are nicer and better, and if you have a Big Ass Diesel Pusher as your Bugout Machine you might be living in close to the same Industrial Era Luxury during your week away from home as you would be if you were still there.  Some of the really big mother fuckers even have Hot Tubs!  If you are not on such a big budget though, you can do quite well with a Used Van (like my SaVANnah) and an enclosed cargo trailer, you can put a rig like this together for under $10K.  Dropping down to car camping and just using a tent, you seriously limit what you can carry and how comfy you can make a campsite, but even this is still better than being stuck on the roof of your flooded McMansion with no electircity and no potable water available for days or perhaps in some cases weeks.

What can drive you from your home and force you into the Bugout situation?  Hurricanes are quite obvious and a really good one in the sense that unlike many othe collapse disasters they are pretty predictable these days.  Within reasonable dgrees of error, you know 2-3 days before a Hurricane hits where it will hit and with what intensity.  So if you happen to live within this zone of uncertainty, it is just plain stupidity not to GTFO of Dodge once you know it will hit somewhere in your neighborhood.  If you are really poor with no car and no means to escape you have an excuse, but anyone above that level of extreme poverty has no excuse. In its wake, Harvey left behind a Chemical Fire at a Frog Plant manufacturing Organic Peroxides for Industry, currently spewing all sorts of chemicals into the local environment, but of course is denied any or them are harmful at the moment by the EPA and the plant owners.  Nevertheless, they ordered a mandatory evacuation for a 1.5 mile diameter around the plant, which is quite a large neighborhood.  This diameter would have covered everything from the Main Street #7 Line Subway to my house in Flushing, Queens when I was a kid, which also had a shit load of people living in aparments as well as McMansions in this space.  I would guess 20-30,000 people lived there at this time in the 1970s, today likely more than that as many McMansions were bulldozed and multiple family dwellings replaced them.  The neighborhood around this plant in TX is likely not too different from that.  Even after the flooding from Harvey recedes, is this a place you want to live and drink the water?  Think Love Canal or more recently Flint, MI.  At least though it wasn't a Nuke Puke Plant going Super-Critical that could cause problems on a wider scale than just 1.5 miles or so.  One of the "officials" in his statement to the public said "Get Out Now or Die" and suggested anyone who remains in the neighbohood should use a Sharpie to write their Name and Social Security Nuber on their arms for when the corpse is fished out of the receding waters and delivered to their surviving relatives for burial..

Residents in one East Texas county received a harrowing warning from emergency management officials to “get out or die” due to expected massive flooding.

Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette posted the stark message late Wednesday when the remnants of Hurricane Harvey headed back to land and dumped more rain near the Texas-Louisiana line.

“The US Army Corp of Engineers has advised the Tyler County office of Emergency Management that the flood gates were opened to 100 feet at 3:00 pm CSDST,” Blanchette wrote.

“River levels will rise to near seventy-nine feet. With additional rain fall accumulations, a potential elevation could reach near eighty-two feet.”

The alarming missive said residents near the area must evacuate immediately.


“Anyone who chooses to not heed this directive cannot expect to be rescued and should write their social security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified,” wrote Blanchette. “The loss of life and property is certain.”

The advisory ended with the words “GET OUT OR DIE!” along with a phone number for anyone needing boat assistance or rescue, the Houston Chronicle reported.

This is one of the more honest statements made by a Goobermint Apparatchik during a disaster made in recent times.  Usually they don't even admit there is a problem and just issue out platitudes like "Texans are the salt of the Earth.  We will all pull together and recover from this disaster." Roll Eyes

The deal here is of course that Harvey is not a one-off disaster.  These suckers are coming with more intensity and greater frequency all the time, although you can only keep track of this shit anecdotally, you don't get any solid statistics on that.  I however have been walking the earth for 60 years, and from my experience over this time we are getting a lot more and bigger Hurricanes, and besides that more Volcanic eruptions and Earthquakes too.  Then there are the Wildfires taking out huge swaths of forest and of course the Droughts which are making numerous regions uninhabitable for Homo Sap and lousy locations to be growing food.  So pretty much any region you live in currently can become an uninhabitable one pretty close to overnight, and this is of course not even taking into account the possibily of Thermonuclear War and an Atomic Bomb being dropped close to your McMansion by the North Koreans, Chinese or Ruskies, depending on who the FSoA is most pissing off over any given geopolitical or economic issue.  The "end" part of TEOTWAWKI can actually arrive quite rapidly even living in a First World nation.

In the wake of Harvey, in the coming week there are already two more nice size storms brewing up in the Atlantic, Irma who has already achieved Hurricane status and is on track to likely make landfall somewhere along the East Coast of the FSoA and Jose behind her, currently a "Tropical Wave" coming off the West Coast of Africa but also showing signs of maturing into a nice Hurricane which will hit nobody knows where at the moment, the weather models don't work that far out in advance.  Da Federal Goobermint has promised even more money to recover from Harvey than they shelled out for Sandy, which was supposedly around $120M in funny money.  Despite being flat broke, somehow they manage to come up with money to fix up these disasters after they occur.  The money is never there though to improve and repair infrastructure BEFORE such a disaster hits, levees all over the country are in disrepair, so are bridges and dams.  In almost any location you care to pick out, you will find fragile infrastructure we depend on ready to fail with the slightest push over the edge by Mother Nature.

To get back round to the main topic here, I find it simply amazing so few people are prepared to do a Bugout of even a short duration like a week or two while the "authorities" in a disaster get some semblance of BAU going again, like restoring electricity and drinking water.  Currently as I write this article, Beaumont, TX is on its second day with no drinking water available, although the city is currently sitting in a lake.  Both the water pumps providing fresh water to the city went under and failed, and there is not even an estimate on when they will come back on line.  This in a city with over 100K people.  That's more people than live in the entire Mat-Su Valley here in Alaska, and the valley by itself is about as big as Texas.  While you can live for a week or more with no electricity, you CAN'T live much more than a week with no fresh water.  Now these people HAVE to evacuate the city, but it's a shit load harder now since the roads are all flooded and many of their Bugout Machines are also under water and probably ruined for good. Now, not every neighborhood is suceptible to Hurricanes, as I said earlier it usually tends to be a coastal problem and here in the FSoA mainly focused on the Gulf Coast cities and on the South East cities on the Atlantic coast.  They can produce interior problems with extreme rainfall events though as well.  Hurricanes aren't the only threat you face though which might require a Bugout.  Wildfires are another, and they have become ever more prevalent in the western states and here in Alaska as well.  The nice thing about both Hurricanes and Wildfires is you usually get at least a couple of days of warning, so you have time to pack your shit into your Bugout Machine and GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE!  For the Earthquakes or your local Nuke Puke Plant melting down though, you're probably not going to get much if any warning at all, so having your gear pre-packed and ready to go is a good idea for the true prepper.  Right now, if I get a newz report that Mt. Redoubt went Ballistic and the ashfall will cover the Mat-Su valley for 100 miles around it in the matter of a day, I am out the door inside of 5 minutes and putting as many miles between myself and Mt. Redoubt as I possibly can, putting the Pedal to the Metal on the Glenn Highway doing at least 70 for at least 4 hours straight, for around 280 miles.  I've got enough dried foods packed inside SaVANnah to keep me going at least 6 months, especially considering how little I eat these days.  I've got kero for heating and cooking, I've got life straw water filters and I would probably throw my Yamaha 2000W generator in also at the last minute if I suspected it was going to be a long to permanent bugout situation.

I could do a lot better than this too if I was pulling an enclosed trailer, say 12'-16' ft in length which SaVANnah with a V-8 engine is fully capable of towing and already has the tow hitch installed.  A second set of springs would be a good idea to install though if I go the full 9 yards on this, which currently I plan to do next spring.  Pulling such a trailer, I can carry enough Preps along for a good 2 years without going Fishing ONCE!  However, even without the trailer just using the van, I am good for the normal amount of time anyone gets displaced in typical disasters, which tends to run from about a week long to a couple of months.  Even with Superstorm Sandy, I think most people were back in their neighborhoods within a couple of months doing "rebuilding" as a target for the next Hurricane that comes down the pike in that neighborhood.  Katrina was exceptionally long in recovery, people were in shelters or FEMA provided trailers for a year and more there, and some never returned to NOLA at all.  Even here, with a good Bugout system in place, you are a lot better off than having to depend on Goobermint provided shelter as you literally try to "ride out the storm".

Where would you rather hang out for a week while waiting out the disaster in your neighborhood?


or Here?

The second photo above is the Boondocking Site we set up for during TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ in Rexburg, Idaho.  This is done with just an old Toyota Pickup on a farmer's field, not even a real campsite location.  No Picnic Tables, no Fire Ring, no potable running water, no electricity, NADA.  What we got out of it in a couple of hours of set up time was a 3 Bedroom apartment, with 2 bedrooms sleeping 2 each and one sleeping 3 on very comfortable air matresses, along with a living/dining area with a table to eat at, another table to cook on, coolers for refrigeration and a tarp to cover it and keep off the rain if we got any of that (we didn't) and maintain shade for the hot mid afternoon SUN (we got a lot of that).  The Toyota provided all the electricity we needed from her starter battery and a 400W Inverter, we didn't even need a deep cycle marine battery or a generator for this length of Bugout (around 3 days, but we could have easily gone a week with this set-up).  With my Bugout Machine SaVANnah we could have improved on this a LOT, but SaVANnah is currently up here on the Last Great Frontier of Alaska, and the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ was in Rexburg, Idaho and I wasn't prepped yet for driving the Al-Can to get her down there for this one.  So we made do with the Toyota Pickup, and she did a great job.  Brian also did a great job in stuffing her full of Preps for the trip, she was PACKED.  That took a few hours to accomplish because we had to go buy stuff at the Prep Big Box Stores.  If you had them all in containers and ready to go, you probably can pack up in under an hour, with the exception of food which you might have to go buy on the way out of Dodge.  How much does such a Bugout arrangement cost you?  You are in it for under $5000, and that is INCLUDING the vehicle, if you buy a good used one.  You can be ready to GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE pretty much anywhere, even if you live in an apartment in a Big Shity.  There is no excuse for people who have at least enough money to afford this level of prepping and who get themselves trapped on a Rooftop awaiting Rescue from the National Guard.  I have little sympathy for these folks when I see the fotos and vids of them helplessly holding up cardboard signs waiting for help.  They should have been out of the location long before this came to pass.


Even heavy duty Kollapsnkiks with a fat wallet often do not have a good Bugout Plan in place.  One of these folks might have a gorgeous 40 Acre Doomstead complete with Honeybees, Chickens, Goats and Pigs and a full blown Permie Raised Garden setup AND and Aquaculture setup in a Greenhouse which cost him a good half million to get set up, but they got ZERO figured out on WTF to do if the Doomstead itself goes up in smoke, literally in the case of a forest fire?  Or maybe you can't even GET to your Doomstead because the roads are covered with flood water?  Lotta good your expensive Doomstead does for you if you can't even GET there!

For myself, the most likely scenarios for temporary disruption that would require a Bugout would be an Earthquake or a Volcanic Eruption, since I live on the Ring of Fire here in Alaska.  Wildfire also a significant risk here.  Hurricanes and Tornadoes, low risk for this neighborhood.  Nuclear Bombs a significant risk since Alaska is basically a Military Base here to protect the OIL still coming up from the ground in ever decreasing quantities at greater cost.  All 3 of the large military bases here are obvious targets in the case of Global Thermonuclear War, and running away far enough to get away from the fallout would be pretty tough.  I am likely to be Nuclear Toast in this case.  In the cases of the Earthquakes or Volcanic Eruption, I probably get little to no warning.  I have been through a few decent size quakes since moving up here a decade ago, 2 7s and 2 6s that I felt and shook my digs pretty good.  In my current spot, I can get outside in under around 10 seconds when the shakes start to come.  So I think I can avoid having my digs collapse on top of me unless I am sound asleep when it takes off.  Then it is a matter of whether SaVANnah survives as well, she is outside under the Carport and that could collapse on top of her, but it is a pretty solidly built one and it would take a real big shaker to knock it down completely.  I debate with myself all the time though if I shouldn't just park her in the open at another spot not under the carport at all.  Disadvantage of that is clearing the snow off during the winter.

I would of course lose most of my preps in the situation I had to permanently Bugout from the location with just what SaVANnah has inside for the Fast Bugout.  In most situations though, I would expect to be able to return to the location a week or two later, survey the damage and then pick through the rubble to retrieve more preps.  Rebuilding would likely occur as it did in NY Shity after Sandy, I would find new digs and transfer my preps over there.  I don't own the property I live on, I rent it so there is no property loss for me here, just major inconvineience while I look for a new rental property.  This is the major reason I prefer rentals to "ownership" of properties.  It's a big White Elephant hanging off your neck every time you want to make a move, and as a Nomad for most of my life, I moved a LOT.  There are of course downsides to being a renter, but overall I find it better suited to my personality than buying property.  It is though for most people the "Amerikan Dream" to "own" your own McMansion somewhere.  Not my dream though, more of a nightmare.  WTF wants this headache?  Maintenance, HOAs, Property Taxes, Building Codes it has the WORKS in terms of bullshit to deal with in modern Industrial Culture as we live it today.  I can do without this headache.

One more note here on the subject of prepping for a disaster in your neighborhood.  I consider anyone who does not do this but has enough money to do so (around $5-10K for a real good setup) to be completely irresponsible.  You immediately become dependent on Da Goobermint for aid and support, from the Rescues from Boats and Helicopters to the crowded shelters they drop you into after you are "saved".  You have no source of food and no way to get to a job, if you still can find one.  Your car if you had one is now wrecked and submerged and will cost a fortune to fix, if it is even worth fixing.  You can avoid all of that witha good Bugout Machine setup.  I am a completely over the top with this with what I do, I have every portable prep known to man and I couldn't fit all the shit into my rig even if I add an enclosed trailer to it.  I would need a fucking Freightliner tractor and a 53' Dry Box to pull all of it like I drove back in the good old days when I was OTR. lol.  You don't need to get this extreme though to at least be responsible.  A car, a tent and sleeping bag in the trunk, a cooler for food, an extra set of clothes and a few other essentials is enough to keep you going and out of the shelters for a week or two.  Longer than that, you're going to need something like my arrangement with SaVANnah.

For those who consider prepping stupid because "we're all gonna die because we are going extinct by 2026" according to Dr. McStinksion, unless you plan on commiting Seppuku when Collapse arives at your doorstep if you are not prepared for this eventuality you too will be throwing yourself on the mercy of Da Goobermint to save your Nihilistic & Misanthropic ass.  Even fucking extinction will not come overnight, and there will be a period of time between when BAU exists as we know it and when whatever comes after will come.  Granted, if what comes after is Nuclear Bombs dropping all around me, I am not going to maintain a strong desire to live to see the aftermath of that.  SaVANnah doesn't only provide me a way to SURVIVE though, she also provides a couple of ways to DIE, pretty damn quick also.  I can drive her off one of the cliffs on the Glenn Highway.  I can park inside a garage and let the engine run, as Fred Astaire did with his sports car in "On the Beach".  As decrepit as I am though, I still have the WILL TO LIVE, and the imperative here for all life forms is to do that for just as long as you possibly can.  Unless you prep though, you can't do that.

I don't know what Irma or Jose will bring to the FSoA over the next couple of weeks, but I do know that I won't feel too sorry for the idiots on top of the rooftops in the neighborhoods affected by those storms.  Look at the fucking Weather Maps for crying out loud!  You got a car?  GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE!

The Eclipse at 60

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 31, 2017

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Happy 60th Birthday to ME! :icon_sunny:


Somewhat incredibly, today I reached my 60th complete year Walking the Earth as a Homo Sap Meat package.  I have considered myself "60" for just about the whole of this last year, but now it is "official", I am 60 years old.  I never figured I would make it so long in this iteration of my immortal soul.  I should have been dead many times over already, and really I have considered all the time since I was 50 as Bonus Time.  I am glad I got this Bonus, because it gave me the opportunity to observe and write about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization I witness around me every day.

In terms of my own life, I already covered most of it in my autobiographical posts, so not a whole heck of a lot to write there anymore other than going into more detail, most of which I don't remember all that well at this point.  My life continues onward though, as sad and decrepit as it is so I still have new shit to write about every day to keep me bizzy.  The most recent action was my Last Great Adventure down to witness the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ in Rexburg, Idaho with some friends. It turned out to be a great Bucket List trip overall, and in this article I will cover the eclipse itself as we experienced it.  If you can manage it, this is something you do not want to miss experiencing in your lifetime.  This was the only one I ever saw, once in a lifetime for me.  There is another one due to occur in the FSoA in 2024. if I am still above ground and can still get into the 70 mile wide Path of Totality for that one, I will be there too.  My hopes are not very high that I will make it that long to see that one, but at least I got to this one and it was incredible.  It is a memory that will go with me into Eternity in the Great Beyond.

The TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ came on Monday, August 21st, 2017 around 11:30AM where we were located in Rexburg, Idaho.  To be ready for it, I determined a wake-up call of 8AM was necessary for all at the campsite.  I was up substantially before that around 6:30AM, and K-Dog was actually up before me probably around 6AM.  Brian got up a little before 8AM.  The Nex Gen Ecliptics though were a bit hard to wake up, I had to yell at their tents and shake them a few times to roust them out of their sleeping bags.  They went well into the night before soaking up the booze and ganja and were not too happy about getting out of bed so early. lol.  I did manage to disturb their Wa enough though to get them moving by around 8:30 to perform their main job of cooking up breakfast, which was another good bacon/egg/hash brown potatoes meal, which once again I did not eat too much of.

By around 11, we were all set up for the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ , and right on schedule it began to occur as we finished breakfast.  If you don't have Eclipse Glasses, at the beginning of the Annular Eclipse when the Moon first begins to cover the SUN, you wouldn't notice it at all.  If you have the Glasses though and know it is coming, you watch for the beginning.  K-Dog was the first to pick it up in our encampment, and perhaps at the whole Rexburg, Idaho site we were at.  The call you make when you detect this is FIRST CONTACT, and you shout it out.

When it first occurs, you have been in anticipation of the event for so long this is very exciting, but visually even through the Eclipse Glasses it's really not that big a show overall.  You're just seeing the Moon slide over the SUN at a relatively slow rate.  Primitive people never got to see this show at all, you can't look up at the SUN even when just a sliver is left still shining through.  I find it hard to imagine how anyone could "damage their eyes" looking at the SUN during this period, without the Eclipse SUN Glasses on I couldn't even look up at it for a second of time.  You definitely can't see jack shit this way, so why would anyone do it?  You don't even realize anything is ongoing until the last couple of minutes of the Annular Phase of the Eclipse. because your eyes adjust to the changing light conditions.  If you are really perceptive, you will notice that there is higher contrast at the edges of objects you look at because the light is coming from a smaller and smaller crescent all the time, but you don't get really perceptible darkness or change in temperature until the last few minutes before TOTALITY sets in.  Primitive people without all the equipment and the knowledge of what was ongoing would have been taken completely by surprise, and it must have been quite the shocker for them.  You also have to remember that the Path of Totality is only around 70 miles wide during any TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼, so few people historically got to see one of them.  They didn't have EZ travel and mobility we have now, certainly no Inuit living up here on the Last Great Frontier could travel by Jet Plane to go see one occur in Idaho.  For most people, such travel remains impossible and out of budget to this day.  Even though I am a relatively poor cripple living on my SSI bennies, relative to global population I am still probably in the Top 1% of the world to be able to afford such an extravagance.

I did get to go though, and I will never regret this trip or feel bad about the fossil fuels I burned to get there.  There is no Bucket List item I can think of that could match this experience.

The TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ lasted only around 2:15 of time, but it transfixes your gaze while it is ongoing.  Time slows down in your perception of it.  I stopped trying to shoot pictures after around 30 seconds because I really was not properly set up for that, and trying to readjust my cameras and the filters I would have been so bizzy I would have missed actually watching the event take place.  Fortunately, my fellow Admin here on the Diner Surly DID get really good pics of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ in South Carolina which I incorporated into the video along with the audio I recorded during this period in Rexburg.  I compiled all of it into the Video Montage that heads this article.

The aftermath of TOTALITY as I said at the end of the video is sort of a "post-coital" experience.  The first part of the Annular Eclipse is like Foreplay where you have expectations and become stimulated, and the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ is the Orgasm.  Afterward, the Annular Eclipse of the Moon exiting the other side is just a repeat of the incoming phase, just run in reverse.  At the end of that, there is no big sight to see, you just have your normal SUN again.  So for those of us at the Boondocking site in Rexburg, we were all ready to leave pretty much as soon as the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ was finished.  Actually, Brian was ready to be out of there even before that, while everyone else was enjoying the spectacle Brian bizzied himself packing up stuff and organizing for the trip out in his usual obsessive manner.  Pretty much single handedly he packed up the whole campsite, simply because he wouldn't wait for everyone else to help him. lol.  Like we were rushing to get somewhere?  The plan was to stay at the Bates Motel anyhow, so it made a big difference if we got there at 7PM or 9PM?  Due to Brian's diligence and expert and obsessive packing  and organizing though, we did get there at 7PM and had a really awful meal at a local restaurant! lol.

The trip out did come with some good Traffic though, unlike the trip in.  We ran into a stretch of road shortly after crossing the border into Montana that had been cut down to one lane for maintenance, although there was no maintenance being done for the entire 5 miles or so of this lane restricton visible anywhere along the road.  This backed up traffic for a good 1.5 hours @ around a top speed of 5 mph.  We raced along against two other interesting vehicles, a logging truck that had a full load on its main trailer and then a lonely single log on the auxiliary trailer, it was pulling double.  I cannot fathom why they would throw a single log onto a whole second trailer.

The other rig racing with us belonged to the FSoA Air Force, and appeared to be a Missile Carrier complete with the hydraulics to angle the missile upwards and fire it off.  Probably a Cruise Missile of some type, I don't think this rig was big enough to be carrying an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).  It certainly would have been cool if they actually fired the thing off while we were stuck in traffic, but that did not happen. lol.  It also had out in front of it another rig which obviously was the control rig for this device.  Where they were going with it I have no idea.  I am sure it will protect us from attacks by the North Koreans though.

We made it back to Couer d'Alene in pretty good shape just around noon, and unloading the Toyota went pretty quick.  K-Dog and myself organized our bags to be ready for a pickup from an airport shuttle service at 4PM to save Brian the hassle of driving us to the airport.  K-Dog had his flight to Seattle for the evening that night around 6PM, mine was not until the following day so I copped a hotel room by the airport for the night and did a lot of sleeping and some editing of photos taken during the adventure.

The trip to Seattle was de riguer for a cripple, I got my ass wheeled around the airport, picked up my bags and K-Dog was on time to pick me up, waiting in the smart phone staging lot for me to text him I was ready for pickup.  We had another enjoyable day together shooting the Collapse Shit, with the major excitement for the day being we got ourselves locked out on his porch when the porch door locked itself closed after being slammed shut.  Fortunately, his son was available to rescue us after a 15 minute drive from where he was hanging out in Seattle, so we got out of this one relatively easily.  The following morning prior to my flight back to the Last Great Frontier, we headed over to the airport rental car warehouse and rented him a car for the week while he waits for his Mercedes transmission to be fixed up.  The resolution on that one was to have the Mercedes shipped from the "dealership" in Missoula to the one in Seattle he bought it from for repair.  The Missoula "dealership" really doesn't deserve this title at all, it is basically just a car lot for sales.  They have a one-bay "service" department and one employee to do this task, and it was going to be a good couple of weeks before he even LOOKED at it or threw it on the computer to get the codes to diagnose the problem, which is how the techno-carz work these days.  Hopefully in Seattle they will get to it a bit quicker than this.

My final stop on the Last Great Adventure was a pilgrimmage to the grave of Jimi Hendrix in Seattle, which is a real nice monument with other family members buried under gravestones surrounding it and a big bronze guitar underneath the concrete gazebo which I presume Jimi is buried underneath.  I won't have near so big a monument at my gravesite, but I do intend for it to be quite technically neat so it houses my corporeal remains safely until the SUN goes Red Giant.  My friends and relatives all think I am nuts for this, but I don't care.  I am going to get this piece of shit left of my Meat Suit packaged up right so it lasts a long fucking time.

The Last Great Adventure 2: The Total Eclipse of the SUN☼

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 27, 2017

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The Last Great Adventure is not yet over, since currently as I write this article I am sitting in the Spokane airport waiting for a plane to Seattle, where I will spend another couple of days with another one of the Diners who was with me at the campsite we occupied down in Rexburg, Idaho to observe this once-in-a-lifetime cosmological event (actually, there is another one in 2024 I hope to still be above ground for in 2024 to attend).  Then on Friday night I fly back to the Last Great Frontier and park myself back at my Diner Workstation in the digs.  I don't have any other Bucket List items and at the moment I have no plans to leave my  perch for observing the Collapse of Industrial Civilization for the forseeable future.  You can't do better than Alaska for low population density and good energy, food and water resources.  Besides, it's where all my Preps are.

Overall, the Last Great Adventure to the Path of Totality of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ was a raging success on almost every level, and the trip was Blessed I think by the Finger of God.  I came soooo close to cancelling on it the day before when I felt as though I was at Death's Doorstep and the Grim Reaper would win this race and come to collect me as the counselors did when I tried to make my run for Woodstock from Summer Camp in the Summer of '69.  Not this time.  RE won this race with the Grim Reaper.  I made it to the Cosmological Woodstock. :icon_sunny: 

In reality, the "Last Great Adventure" turned into a series of adventures, beginning with just getting my crippled ass out of Alaska and to the site of the Big Event.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my two friends you see with me at the top of the page in the Header Pic, K-Dog from the Diner and Brian, a friend from my years as a Gymnastics Coach.  They successfully got me in and out of cars, and mostly unsuccessfully tried to get me to eat more.  I did eat enough to stay alive though, since I am currently keyboarding out this article.  It's amazing how little you can eat and still stay alive for quite some time.

Although a lot of stuff happened both before and after the core part of the Adventure, for this article I am just going to focus on the Road Trip from Spokane & back, along with the 3 days spent at the campsite preparing for the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.   Other adventures from this trip may get their own articles at some future date, particularly my trip to the Computer Museum in Seattle.  For the Eclipse itself, I also will likely write a separate article, including videos and still pics from the event.  That will take a while to get produced and edited up though.

We began with an inauspicious start when Brian was an hour late in picking me up at Spokane Airport on Friday morning, because he set his wake-up alarm for PM instead of AM.  I waited longer in the Spokane Airport than it took to fly from Seattle to Spokane, around 45 minutes air time.  As soon as you get up to cruising altitude, the plane starts descending again.

Once he did finally arrive, we headed back to his place to inventory his Preps to see what he already had and what we might need to buy for this trip.  He just moved into a really cute little Doomstead near Lake Couer d'Alene which is nicely separated from close neighbors, but still inside the BAU envelope of Industrial Civilization, so the neighborhood has all the Big Box stores you expect, Target, Costco, Safeway and of course Wally World (WW).

Brian had most of the Camping Basics of a nice size Tent big enough for all 3 of us on comfy twin size air mattresses, sleeping bags and cooking gear including some vintage stoves that still worked, but we still needed a lot of Preps, both of the durable kind you can re-use on other trips as well as the consumables and disposables like food, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, etc.

I discovered a major problem at this point, which was that my 4 year old smart phone batt was going bad and not taking or holding a charge very well and also running very hot, usually meaning the batt is going south.  If it quit on me on the site this would have been a major disaster.  It's a 5 year old Samsung Galaxy Mega, and the Batt for it usually is not in stock at the local batt stores and you need to order it online.  I lucked out though and Batteries & Bulbs had ONE of these batts on the shelf, so that was our first stop in terms of prepping up.

The next stop on the Prep Run for TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  was of course Wally World, for a few reasons.

First off, Wally's has Low, Low Prices Every Day, they generally come in cheaper than anyone else for any given item they actually stock on the shelves.  It's not generally the highest quality stuff and they keep the prices so low by exploiting their employees who stock the shelves and man the registers and contractors who provide the merchandise over in China & India, but as a consumer it's hard to pay double the price somewhere else for the same stuff even if you know this, unless of course you have money to burn, which I do not.  I gotta make my little Nest Egg last for however long it is I actually have left to live.  I have no further financial windfalls coming to me on the horizon I can forsee, since I don't buy LOTTO tickets.

The second main reason is that Wally's is a One-Stop-Shop not just for the Prep Hard Goods, but also the FOOD.  Again, it's not the greatest Food Superstore out there and initially we wanted to go to a separate better quality Food Superstore in the neighborhood, but time was tight and besides for Camping Food you're not really shopping for high quality, just calories and at least some nutritional value.  We made a list of the usual suspects like burgers and hot dogs, fresh fruit, potatoes, onions, bacon & eggs for breakfast, etc.  However, Brian couldn't stop throwing every food item that appealed to him in the basket, so pretty soon it was filled to overflowing. lol.  He was the one who had to unload it and get it packed into the bugout machine, so I didn't complain too much.  By the time he was done though, it looked to me like we had food not for a week, but more like for a month. lol.

After Wally World we headed over to Cabela's, a more high end Camping Superstore that carries many specific items that you don't find at Wally World I wanted for this trip, like the Folding Camping Chair you see at right, which I picked up ON SALE at Cabela's for $40.  Not that WW doesn't have camping chairs, they do, but they are generally pretty flimsy and not real good for cripples.  In this model, the armrests are part of the support structure of the chair, and I can use them to help me get in and out of said chair fairly easily.  When I sit down in an El Cheapo chair where your butt sinks real low, I can get stuck in it and not be able to get myself out.  Shifting from the sitting to standing /walking/shuffling/liimping positions several times a day is one of my toughest repetitive daily tasks I have to consider and engineer properly to accommodate my cripple status.  I also spend most of the day in the sitting position, so it needs to be pretty comfortable for my ass for the whole day.  This chair fit the bill nicely.

Besides the chair, we needed some type of Picnic Table to eat at because the campsite I bought really wasn't a campsite at all, just a 25'X30' rectangle in an unused small farm field that the owner had decided to make a nice profit from since the farm was located right on the Path of Totality of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  So it had none of the amenities you expect from a "real" campsite such as a picnic table and fire ring.  This also came in ON SALE at Cabela's for $90.  You see this table in the header pic at the top of the article.

I also realized I had forgotten to bring with me a pair of regular Sunglasses, and it was a real bright sunny day in Idaho when we were doing our Prepping Up and I was squinting before noon.  I of course had my Eclipse Glasses with me, but you can't see jack shit through them unless you are looking straight at the SUN☼, in which case it looks in normal times like a disk about as bright as the Moon.  So I went over to the Sunglasses counter to see what was available, and got the full Sales Pitch from the Sunglasses Sales Desk Rep on how these Sunglasses are soooo much better than the El Cheapo ones I have been buying from Convenience Stores for decades because I always lose them and they only cost like $15 each these days.  They sure better be better, because a pair of these Optical Protectors of your Eyesight go for $200 and more at Cabela's!  This was a Bucket List trip though so I went ahead and coughed up $200 for a fucking pair of sunglasses!  I lived in fear for the whole trip I would lose them before the trip was over.  I managed not to do that though, and the $200 Cabela's Sunglasses made it back with me to the Last Great Frontier in the Ballistic Nylon Hard Case Cabela's supplied along with the Sunglasses in my Carry-On Wheely Bag.  There they will remain until the next Bucket List trip I make if I make one before the trip across the Great Divide, and up here locally I will switch back over to the El Cheapo Sunglasses I have about 3 pairs of and do an OK job of protecting my eyes from the harmful radiation of the SUN☼ for as much as it hits Alaska even on a cloudless sunny day.  I will say though that the expensive glasses really do work better, although I am not sure it is worth $200 to buy them.

Prepping & Packing for the Road Trip now finally complete, we could actually now begin the drive down to Rexburg, ID to get our campsite set up.  This is Friday around 4:30PM, 3 days before the actual event of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  Drive time according to Google Maps around 7 hours, but this assumes you do the Speed Limit on all the roads on the drive for the full route, and those limits are well up there at 80mph for most of the drive.  8 hours is a much more realistic estimate, even 9 if you take time off for a sit down meal somewhere and don't just buy sandwiches and eat while you drive.  This would have brought us to the campsite well after midnite, which is not a great time to set up a campsite with one working body and another cripple.  I decided the best alternative was to make it a little past half-way, just past Missoula before stopping for the night in a Bates Motel, but I was determined we should make at least the half-way point before stopping at around 9PM or so for dinner then crashing in a Bates Motel.

So we drive pretty flawlessly and smoothly through Missoula on the West side, passing many chain Motels but I tell Brian to keep going, we are sure to find a Bates Motel somewhere on the East side of Missoula before we stop.  Unfortunately, as soon as we pass through Missoula to the West Side of the town, everything fucking DISAPPEARS!  No more Motels, no more Restaraunts, no more Gas Station/Convenience Stores, or at least they are long distances apart.  I am starting to curse myself because it is looking more and more likely we will have to catch some ZZZ's sleeping in the seats of the Toyota Bugout Machine before finishing the trip the following morning.  While I have pulled this stunt on many occassions, it is never pleasant and even worse for the driver who was not me in this case but Brian at the time.

However, after about another hour of driving, we ran across an exit with a still open Convenience Store and a still open Restaurant, around 9PM or so.  Henry's Poor Boy Bar & Grill, with good food at least so Brian told me since I only ordered a beer.  The waitress told us there was a  Bates Motel around 30 min down the road we might get a room at, so we called them and they did in fact have one room available which we reserved.  After dinner, we sped down the road to grab our beds for the night at the Bates Motel

This was a TRUE Bates Motel, of the type I love.  I have stayed at many during my years as an OTR Trucker, and lived in a few for extended periods during my years as a Nomadic Gymnastics Coach.  They all have the same type of design, rooms in a one story building with the parking spot right out front.  They are not corporate owned, usually owned by some local who himself lives on the property.  Residents are often people who get Section 8 Housing Credits, sometimes Welfare Moms, sometimes Crack Heads, you never know precisely what you will get there when you check in.  But they are the REAL AMERIKANS for the most part, people who have not quite yet fallen completely off the economic cliff and still manage to put a roof over their heads a little better than a tent in a Homeless  Encampment.  In all my years staying in these places, I never had any problem with violence or theft for myself, although periodically there was such action that went on surrounding me.

In this particular Bates Motel, Dogs seemed quite popular to have as pets, the owner had around 8 of them and the next door neighbor had araound 2 of them, but they were reasonably quiet overnight.  Brian and I got a good restful sleep in the Motel and set out early on Satuday morning to finish the drive to Rexburg and get the Boondocking site set up to view the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .

EXCEPT, one *small* problem occured.  Behind us on the road, K-Dog had taken off from Seattle in his Mercedes on Friday night also.  Somewhere near the WA-ID border, his transmission went haywire and his Mercedes got stuck in 1st or 2nd gear, and he could do no better than 40mph without over revving the rpms on the engine.  But he kept going anyhow.  Had the Mercedes kept working according to spec, he likely would have bypassed us overnight while we were sleeping at the Bates Motel and arrived first at the Boondocking site.

The following morning however while finishing the drive to Rexburg, we got a BRAZOS call from K-Dog telling us what had occured to him on the road and what his situation was.  When you get a BRAZOS call from another Diner, there is no greater priority than to RESCUE that Diner, if you can.  So Brian and me turned the Toyota around and went back up the road to rescue K-Dog, who parked the Mercedes in a Rest Area in Anaconda, MT, just outside of Butte.  We got the Mercedes towed to Butte, and the 3 of us got back on the road to see the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ at the campsite in Rexburg Idaho.

We found the campsite with only a slight bit of navigational trouble, and then determined priorities in set-up.  It turned out good that K-Dog was with us at this point, because I was little assistance to Brian for setting up the site, other than giving Boondocking Advice.  Some of the tenting systems worked, others did not.  We had to adapt to get the site reasonable for 3 days of Boondocking, which in the end we did but took some creative thinking along the way.  My main concern at this time was keeping my crippled ass out of the SUN until we had some shade set up so I could avoid both heat stress and sunburn, both of which plagued me at the last Convocation at the Harvest Day Festival in SC last year.  I actually got bubbles on my skin and 2nd Degree burn which was quite painful for about 2 weeks after that adventure.

Once the initial site was set up, it was a matter of waiting for the Next Generation to show up to finish it off, which did not happen until well into that night, around 10PM  they finally showed up and got their two 2-man tents set up to complete the Boondocking location for 7 people.  It came out pretty comfortable for all of us in the end, and the Next Gen folks were handy to have around since we assigned them the cooking responsibilities which they mostly did a good job with.  In the morning we had a real good Breakfast with Bacon, Hash Browns and Scrambled Egss which were good, although I only ate a few bites.

After Breakfast it was a matter of getting things set up to record the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ , and this was fraught with technical problems as far as electrics were concerned on the site.

As I generally do, I had Backup for my main Inverter, but somehow that one wasn't working right.  I got Brian to try and hook up the new 1000W pure sine wave inverter, but he crossed the positive and negative poles on that inverter and blew a bunch of the fuses inside, rendering that one useless also.  K-Dog thinks he can fix it though, so I gave it to him.   Given this was a fairly long event to record, I wanted a steady source of electric power beyond the internal Batts of the cameras, and without the funtioning inverter I did not have one.  This made me terrifically unhappy. lol.  The Next Gen folks have a couple who are Nerds, and they set about trying to fix the busted inverters, which went a good part of the day with a lot of discussion on what we would need to fix the mother fuckers.  Many great ideas and these inverters may eventually become once agai functional, but after hours on this day it became apprent to me that such a fix was NOT going to happen before the  the following morning.  So I did what any smart consumer would do, I sent the Next Gens out to buy me another one!  lol.  They spent more than I wanted for this replacement, but this was Bucket List shit and money was no object here for this one.  This throwing money at a problem resolved the electrics issue  for the next day recording of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .

We spent the evening prior to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  quite pleasantly cooking up some burgers over the charcaoal grill, although the "professional cooks" attending did have some arguments about how to best cook a burger over an Open Flame.  For the people who actually ate one of them, the cooking seemed adequate and I was ot one of them, either cook or eater so if it was OK for them, I am fine with this.  I sure would never have cooked them so long over this fire though.

OK,  that's the leadup to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  I'll follow up next week for Sunday Brunch with more of the LAST GREAT ADVENTURE.


Campfires in Collapse 1

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 10, 2017

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This is the first video in a series of 4 about how to use a typical campsite fire as a means to warm up your Mobile Domicile, in this case my Stealth Van SaVANnah.  All the same techniques could be used in many other types of mobile dwellings of course, besides such dwellings as Geodesic Domes, Yurts and TeePees.

In the series, we also discuss Cooking Techniques for working over an Open Fire without burning the shit out of your food if you make one big enough to also do the heating task besides the cooking task.  Generally speaking under ideal circumstances, cooking fires should be small ones using small wood, while heating fires should be big ones using big wood.  But when Boondocking, you can't always get both or have the ideal situation.

Your Tools and your Knowledge are the most important things in terms of making the best use of the fire you make, and getting the most out of the Energy that is released in the Combustion process.  Many of these tools will not be available after SHTF Day arrives, so it's a good idea to prep up with them NOW and practice with them.

I Spy Doom Vol 2 Issue 2: Small Scale Heating

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 26, 2017

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In the first episode of Volume 2 of I Spy Doom, we discussed ways to Self-Insulate, so you personally can stay pretty warm even in Freezing temperatures just by conserving body heat.  This is the MOST important thing to do if you live in a cold climate!  Your Preps MUST include good cold weather clothing, in layers you can wrap on as the temps drop, or strip off as they rise.  You NEVER want on so many layers you start to sweat.  That makes you uncomfortable, and makes the clothing start to stink also.  Then you need to wash it more often, which beats it up faster.  Your goal in self-insulation is to stay just warm enough you are comfortable.  As night falls, this usually means adding one or two more layers before you crawl into the sleeping bag.

Here in Episode 2, we discuss the most simple, cheap and "primitive" ways to make personal heaters good for very small spaces like a 2-3 man tent or refrigerator box for a Homeless person.  I went "on location" to do this shoot at one of the nearby State Parks with a nice Lake.  Apologies for the first 3 minutes or so of the Vid, the ICE powered motor boaters showed up to launch off the ramp nearby where I parked and so I had to talk over them.  When I started setting up at a little before 9AM it was nice and quiet.  By 10AM when I was set up and ready to shoot the fishers were launching into the lake.  Anyhow, after the first 3 minutes, most of the background noise of Industrial Civilization fades out.  I won't be using this location again though for vids, and not just because it's too loud.  They fucking charged me $5 just for DAY PARKING over 1/2 hour!  No camping, just sitting at a picnic table!  That is fucking RIDICULOUS!  There are tons of quieter, nicer locations around to park for FREE!  Here's the list of Fees for Alaska State Parks:

In the video opening I SAID it was one of my "favorite" locations.  It USED to be, before I had to pay $5 just to fucking park for the day!  I haven't been there for a few years.  It has now dropped way down on the list.

A "Regular" spot here gets you NADA for $25!  No water, no sewer, no electricity.  At my favorite For Pay campsite not on the State Parks system, I get the same type of site for $15.  For $25, I get electricity too!

Besides the daily camping fee of $25, if you are coming here to fish (why else would you come to a lake for camping?) it's going to cost you another $15 to launch your boat every day you are out there on your holiday.  Now you are up to $40/day!  I asked a couple of boaters dragging their ICE powered water rigs out of the lake how they did for the day with fishing.  One of them got nothing, the other got about 4 puny size lake trout I could buy for less than $20 at 3 Bears, and I don't have to clean them either.  This is NOT a good way to feed yourself on the cheap while BAU is ongoing!  When they stop collecting the fees at the parks, then you might do OK.

In the upcoming episodes of I Spy Doom, we'll be expanding on and refining the basic priciples of heating for your OTR living, and doing some scaling up and measurements as well for efficiency.  Tune in to I Spy Doom here on the Doomstead Diner to get more techniques to keep from ending up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska © ,


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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 19, 2017

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It's been quite some time since I did an episode of I Spy Doom on Diner You Tube.  I am renewing the series now however in conjunction with my blogging series on Boondocking the Last Great Frontier.  The vids will be appearing in the middle of the week on the Diner, while the articles are published on Sundays for the Diner Sunday Brunch collapse meal.

The first videos are concerned with STAYING WARM and heating your mobile living arrangement in an economical fashion.  One of my greatest FEARS and a source of many nightmares since I became disabled was that I would end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska. ©

There are many ways to do it and many choices possible beyond just idling your engine, which was how I mostly did it when I was living the OTR life as a professional trucker.

In our first installment of the series, we will cover what comes BEFORE adding auxiliary heating systems, which is self-insulation, aka dressing for the cold.  I live in ALASKA, so I know about cold. lol.  If you were trying to do Van living in the tropics, you would have a whole different set of problems, trying to stay COOL.  That is actually harder to do and more energy intensive than heating.  I would never choose to live in such an environment year-round, I can't stand sweating all the time.  I will touch on means to keep the van cool in temp ranges that go up to around 90F during the day though without resorting to air conditioning.  If you have a source of electric power and can run an air conditioner inside the van, you can survive just about any outside temperature.

For now though, we are just concerned with the COLD and how to prepare for that type of weather.  In this video, I cover how to dress yourself so you can withstand temperatures well below 0F for extended periods, if you are fairly active and have plenty to eat and burn the calories.  Following episodes in this part of the series will include various heating techniques utilizing various fuels and equipment, from very simple arrangements to more complex ones using modern appliances currently available to purchase from Industrial Culture, usually these days manufactured in China.

Parenthetically, you should get a laugh out of watching a cripple try to get his jackets on.  This is a HOOT! lol. 😀

SUN☼ Finds a Home Base

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 5, 2017

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This article is a continuation of a long running series of articles I have written on Gypsy-style, on the road living.  It actually began in the earliest years of the Diner with my Over the Road series, which chronicled my years as an OTR Trucker.  In that case, I was travelling all over the Lower 48 plus some Mejico and Canada and living in my Freightliner tractor, pulling 20 tons of some shit for Konsumers to buy at some store somewhere.

In this new iteration, it began a month or two ago with the purchase of my Stealth Van (now Christened SaVANnah), a 1999 Conversion Van on a Ford Chassis which I got for the bargain price of $5000.  It's in great shape, and after several Tests already, I am quite confident on its mechanics for long trips OTR.  The goal now for next year is to bring Brother RE's Travelling Collapse Salvation Show to the Sheeple in the Lower 48 who don't frequent internet collapse websites.  Not sure I will actually be able to pull that one off given my health issues, but it provides a goal for me that is within reason.  Living life without some goal in mind, while possible, is not very rewarding IMHO.  I know that some philosophies of life stress only living in the here and now, but I am not built that way and do not agree with such philosophy.

Since procuring SaVANnah on the used market off Craig's List, I already took her on one Adventure I chronicled here on the Diner to Talkeetna, where I was scoping out some Land for a possible purchase for SUN☼ as a Home Base.  That chronicle is the 4 part Alaska Sustainability series which directly precedes this article written over the last month.  However, that trip did not turn out to be even a one night stay overnight in SaVANnah, I drove home the same day.  At that point I hadn't even equipped her with what I needed to make her a viable living arrangement for myself.  For instance, I couldn't even get in and out of the cabin area from the side or back doors, I needed footstools for this purpose.  My legs just won't make that big step up anymore.

So over the last couple of weeks I have been Prepping Up SaVANnah to serve as a Road Worthy Stealth Van providing good accomodations while at the same time looking from the outside like just a normal family conversion van that Soccer Moms drive around if they have big families.  Most of the important stuff I did not already have arrived by last week, so over the July 4th Holiday Weekend, I decided impromptu to take SaVANnah on her Maiden Voyage, a Shakedown camping expedition of 3 nights/4 days at a favorite campground of mine.  It's a very family-friendly campground, right next to one of our major rivers, nicely wooded with big old-growth Cottonwood trees and with lots of bike trails and a playground for the kids.  There are flush toilets available and you can buy a shower for $2.  Campsites with no electric go for $15/night, with electric $25/night.  I took a primitive site, it's much nicer with woods all around.  The electric sites are built for big ass RV diesel pushers with the slideouts, a McMansion on wheels.  These crates are the vehicle of choice for many financially successful Amerikan retirees who cruise the North American continent visiting the grandkids and touring the Natural Wonders of the National Park system set up by Teddy Roosevelt.  They are the ultimate fusion of the Happy Motoring culture and McMansion living brought to us by the Age of Oil.

SaVANnah however is much more modest, at least by those standards, and can fit anywhere the typical car will fit for car camping.  The primitive part of the camp doesn't recommend anyone with a vehicle 30' or more try to negotiate the dirt road in, although a few assholes do try that.  I also don't really need the grid electric power for what I am doing right now, I have my own on board electric systems that take care of those needs, which I will describe further down in the article.

Smarter Tools 2000W Parallel Capable Inverter Generator with Yamaha Engine The first step was loading SaVANnah with all the preps I wanted for this trip, and any trip up to a length of time about a month in duration.  For longer/more permanent road living there are a few other things I will include, like for instance my Yamaha 2000W portable generator.  However, for this length of trip I was pretty much right on with what I would need/want to have along.  The thing is, on loading SaVANnah with the preps, I just pretty much threw them into the cabin willy-nilly, and the cabin was a cluttered mess you couldn't really easily sleep in or move around in to do stuff like getting dressed in the morning or even working at the indoor computer workstation I wanted to set up.  I figured that my main project for the stay at the campsite would be to get all the preps properly organized and stowed so the interior would be livable.

Upon arrival, I chose one of the larger sites with good open space to set up camp and get organized.  Despite the fact it was a Holiday Weekend, the campground was less than half full up when I arrived on Saturday, and never got more than about 3/4 full through Monday so I had my choice of sites.  It's not a well known campground, and many of the big RV people don't use it because it doesn't sport FULL hookups including water and sewer, just electricity.  There is however water on site as well as a dump station for your humanure collecting in the tank of the behemoth.

Here is the empty site on arrival, before setting up camp:

The first order of bizness was getting all the CLUTTER of preps out of SaVANnah and getting them organized up and stowed in some Sterilite plastic drawers and containers, along with setting up my Big Brolly, a 9' Beach Umbrella I bought ON SALE at Walmart for $20, a price you normally will pay for a personal Totes umbrella.  This item was invaluable over the weekend, since after arrival there and a few hours of a sunny day the overcast rolled in and then we had basically non-stop rain for 2 days.  I set the brolly up over the picnic table, and this became the outdoor equivalent of my desk back at home in the digs, where I spent most of my time surfing the web for doom, writing and Admining the Doomstead Diner.  Without the brolly, I could not have sat with the computer getting rained on and me getting soaked, I would have had to spend the whole time inside the van.  That would not have been a pleasant 3 day holiday!

The ramp you see in this shot is how I get my Ewz Scooter in and out of SaVANnah & the folding step-stool allows me to get my crippled ass in and out of the cabin

Once the workstation was basically set up, it needed to be supplied with electricity and light sources to power my computers, which I used two different systems for because the Plan A system (one of my old laptops) just was not working too good.  So I had to go to Plan B on this one.  I also discovered after Day 1 that I would need some sort of Mosquito Defense, because while they mostly do not seem to like the taste of my blood and don't bite too often, they can be extremely annoying buzzing all around you and landing on your computer screen which is very attractive to them.  I purchased a couple of Citronella Candles for this, and they worked pretty good over the next 2 days.

Outdoor Office Plan A.  Crapped out because the laptop is now a piece of shit after 3 years of yeoman service to the Diner.

Outdoor Office Plan B – Lenovo 8" El Cheapo Android Tablet with Bluetooth keyboard & mouse

In this photo, you see the main supplies I brought along on this trip for electricity and for light & heat:

The inverter which converts D/C electricity to A/C in this photograph is the larger of the two units I brought with me, producing 500 Watts of A/C power.  However, I didn't need it, the smaller El Cheapo 120V inverter I bought ON SALE for $12 worked just fine over the 3 days to power my diode lights, my smart phone which served as a wireless router and my laptop one day and my Lenovo 8" Tablet the other 2 days.  Everything got recharged overnight by SaVANnah's starter battery, and it didn't put any dent in that battery's ability to start up SaVANnah the next day.  Then after doing a little of the day's necessary driving, that batt was once again fully charged.  Rinse and Repeat.  If you were parked in one location and did not do some driving every day, eventually you would drain the starter battery, so this is not a good solution for a longer term stay in one location.  To cover that situation, I have a much larger Deep Cycle Marine Batt, but I did not bring it along for this trip.  You could further up your electric resilience with some solar panels (which I have), but at the moment as long as fuel is available I don't see a necessity for having them installed, which would be fairly expensive.  I can just use my small generator to recharge the batts as necessary on longer expeditions.  It's much more fuel efficient than running the van engine if I don't have to.

Burning the Midnight Oil. From empirical evidence, I kerosene lantern burning overnight in a 1999 Conversion Van will not poison you with CO. However, this may not be true for your van, so test first with a CO detector for safety.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES[/caption]The Heater you see pictured is a Propane fired one, but I also did not use that.  It didn't get THAT cold overnight (only down to the 50sF, around 10-13C), and in fact in my sleeping bag on the first night I was quite comfortable with the temps in the low 50sF.  It was on awakening in the morning to get dressed that it was annoyingly chilly.  On the first morning I fired up SaVANnah's engine to get the heat going, and ran it for around 20 minutes.  The following two nights I ran a Kerosene fired lantern inside the van to keep the heat up over 60, and this worked fine at this exterior temperature.  For REALLY cold temps, I have a catalytic Kero Heater which puts out a whopping 8000 BTUs, and would turn a smal space like the interior of SaVANnah into an OVEN if run continuously over any temperature over maybe -30F. lol.  I don't expect to be sleeping in SaVANnah at those type of temperatures, even here in Alaska.  It gets that fucking cold, I will take a Bates Motel room!

I did get warnings from fellow Diners about possible Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning by running the Kero Lamp inside a confined space, but I had discussions with another long term Gypsy, Van Dweller who has been doing this sort of living for 50 years, since the 1960s.  He never died from it, so I figured this was pretty safe even without a CO monitor.  Vans are not air tight, there is a lot of leakage through all the holes drilled to pass wires through, your gas and brake pedals etc even if you don't crack the windows.  Anyhow, this test worked out OK, I am still alive. lol.  However, I will buy a CO monitor for tests running more lamps or either the propane heater or the kero one to see what the numbers are for CO burning that much inside the van volume.

The other stuff in the photo are mostly candles, good for nice gentle light and a little bit of heat too if inside the van.  These candles however are not good for repelling Mosquitoes, for that you need Citronella spiked candles, so I bought a couple of those on a Prep Run done on Day 2 to Walmart.  This in conjunction with buying a new Laptop since the old one just would not operate properly and cooperate with me.  However, I elected not to get it set up while out on the road, as this would have burned up a lot of my bandwidth on 4G, so instead shifted over to using my Lenovo tablet instead, which worked well enough for the next two days but has its limitations.  I'll have the new laptop set up by the time I go on the next Adventure in this series, Boondocking around the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley of Alaska.  "Boondocking" for those of you who do not know the terminology of Gypsy Van Dwellers is parking and sleeping in public parking lots and off the road in public access areas where there is no charge attached.  In some cases it is legal, in some quasi-legal and others strictly illegal.  I will be sticking to the first two of these types during this Boondocking Adventure.

After the Boondocking Adventure, the next one is a trip down to the Kenai Peninsula for Dipnetting season on the Salmon Run.  I'm not fit for dipnetting anymore, especially considering all the pushing and shoving I am told occurs these days as the subsistence fishers here in Alaska vie for the best spots, but I have a potential fisher who will fish my quota for me, in return for half the catch.  I wouldn't be able to eat even half the catch in a year anyhow, so what I will do with it is smoke it, vaccuum seal it, freeze it and air ship it down to Diners as a part of the Diner Potlatch Economy of Gifting. 🙂  If you want in on this, tell me how you want the salmon smoked, as Salmon Jerky or Cold Smoked as Nova Lox.  If it is a reasonably successful expedition, I would expect to come home with 30-50lbs of salmon fillets to smoke.  That is a LOT to give away!

After the Dipnetting Adventure, the next one is not in SaVANnah, I will be flying down to the Lower 48 and renting a Dodge Grand Caravan Minivan to observe the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ on August 21st in Idaho.  So I won't have my full array of van dwelling preps available for that adventure.  However, I will make a Prep Run to a Walmart for some essentials down there, and leave the preps I buy with one of my friends when I head back to the Last Great Frontier after the trip.

In terms of what you need for "Car Camping" or "RV living", this varies widely between individuals in terms of how much of industrial civilization comfort they wish to bring with them out into the "wilderness", which really isn't wilderness at all anymore, just a facsimile of wilderness.  Even as a facsimile though, it is still a good deal better than Suburbia.

Accomodations in such an environment can go anywhere from Spartan to Luxurious, above you saw the penultimate of luxury in the Industrial Civilization camping paradigm, the Big Ass Diesel Pusher.  Here in decreasing order of Luxury you can choose to camp with at SUN☼ Headquarters are some possible choices:

Just below the level of the Big Ass Diesel Pusher are Class 2 RVs and Trailers.  Most folks who yank these around also want full hookups, so as you can see the SUNCampgrounds are pretty empty even over the 4th of July Holiday Weekend

Dropping down a bit further are the folks with smaller trailers and Pickup Truck Campers who will park in more primitive sites along with the Tenters.

The next level down are those who will just use a car/SUV/pickup and set up camp with tarps and tents.  This was my next door neighbor's set-up who I may meet with again down on the Kenai Peninsula for some dip netting fun.

Getting down to the bottom of Motorized Camping, you have a small cadre of people who do this with Motorcycles.  Because of limited towing or carrying capacity, they are pretty much limited to tenting, although they can carry bigger tents and tarps than hikers or cyclists.

The final stop on the journey here to Spartanville is the Backpack Tenter with no motorized vehicle at all.  These are usually interesting young people to meet, many of them coming over from Europe on the cheap.  Not too many locals will camp THIS Spartan.  They at least got a 10 year old Ford Escort to haul in some preps.

Now, is this "sustainable" living?  No, of course it is not.  However, it is ALTERNATIVE LIVING  to typical industrial living, and can be done quite a bit cheaper.  It is mostly limited to single people, young couples and retirees though.  Families with young kids need not apply for this style of living.  You would run into huge problems with the division of Child Protective Services if you tried to live this way with young kids.

For myself with SaVANnah, I could live this way basically in perpetuity, I know this to be true because I already did it for 7 years while I drove truck, and this would actually be easier.  Even though you are burning gas while driving around, it is actually more energy conservative than living full time in a McMansion, because your heat and electic requirements are so low.

Upon leaving the SUN☼ campsite after 4 days, this is what it looked like after I packed up and was ready to go:

There is no evidence that the Hominid RE ever inhabited this location or walked the earth in this spot.  Well, OK some of my hair probably fell out while I wuz there and left DNA traces,  For the most part though, I left that patch of the earth just as it was when I arrived.  If more people would commit to doing that, the earth would be in far better shape.

Although the lifestyle of the Van Dweller will disappear along with the disappearance of fossil fuels, the lifestyle of the wandering Nomad never will.  In fact it never did, Nomads walk among us to this day.  I am one of them.  I am always at my most comfortable when I am on the road and I have lived in a dozen different states and countries over the course of my life with at least as many different jobs.  For me, there is "no place like home" at all.  Everywhere and nowhere is home to me.

View From the Bugout Machine: A Half Century Van Dweller Story

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 3, 2015

Discuss this article at the Bugout Table inside the Diner

You can find out a lot more about Stealth Van living at Cheap RV Living

RE-BM-LadderRead Part 1 of View from the Bugout Machine

A few weeks ago, I decided to pick up on a series I started back in 2013, View from the Bugout Machine.  I let it lie fallow for a few Collapse Seasons, but in doing my usual Doom Surfing a while back I ran into a story about "Stealth Van" living.  Stealth Van Dwellers don't necessarily stay in RV Parks, they stay just about anywhere they can park for free in reasonable safety.

While there are of course challenges, there are also rewards for living this way.  #1 Reward is you get rid of that nasty rent or mortgage payment, which saves a LOT of money.  You also save on typical utility bills, although you still do have some costs with generating heat and electricity.  Beyond all that, you are Mobile!  You can go just about anywhere in North America if your passport is good from the Great White North or the Fascist States of America.

Following up on my research for the artcle, it led me to the CheapRVLiving website, which has its own Forum similar to the Forum of the Doomstead Diner.  We run on an SMF platform, they run on a MyBB platform, but they are not all that much different.

In order to research the article, I joined their forum and began participating in my usual fashion, which is to say I contribute a lot, and daily.  LOL.  Also, since my viewpoint is not mainstream, I tend to get napalmed by the Group Think crowd on any given website, and this occured fairly rapidly over there.  Inside around 3 weeks I got shit canned by Bob Wells, Admin of that website.  Well, not completely shit canned, I'm not banned (yet), but most of my posts there now don't make it past the moderation to see the light of  day.

Prior to any posting there at all, I asked Bob if he would like to do a Podcast, but he refused saying he was "too busy".  So I joined the forum which is pretty active to see if I could find anyone else who would be willing to talk.  The subject holds great interest for me, since I spent 7 years living Over the Road driving big rigs all over North America.  I also spent about a year all totalled of my own Stealth Van Dwelling on the streets of NYC after my divorce.  So I figured this was enough chops to be a part of their forum and discuss the topics with some experience.

Unfortunately, I was immediately viewed with suspicion by most of the regulars, and almost nobody would agree to doing a podcast.  They seemed to not like that I run a collapse website and that I would reveal all their "trade secrets" like what the best places for "boondocking" are and how they keep their valuables safe etc.

Although it was almost nobody, that's not nobody, and 2 Van Dwellers did step up to the plate and told me they would do a podcast.  I recorded one of them last week with a REALLY experienced Van Dweller  with over 50 years of living this way.  Like me, he was a trucker for most of those years and it just made no sense for him to be paying for an apartment or McMansion when he was out driving so much.  For myself I didn't go that route except for the occasional camping trip with my car of the era, a 1987 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon.  Mostly I either stayed in motels or with friends or relatives during my time off from driving.

Anyhow, in Part 1 of the podcast, we talk about energy and heating and cooking methods mostly.  Much more to come in future installments.

VD's Stealth Van Floor Plan

Disclaimer: Due to the fact I spoke with VD on his Cell Phone, our volume levels are mismatched and the software I am using for editing doesn't allow me to fix that without completely cutting it apart and then reassembling it.  You can fix it while listening by lowering the volume when I am talking and raising it back up when VD is talking.

Hope you enjoy the chat, it's a remarkable tale of a lifetime on the road.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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