RE

The Path of Totality: The Last Great Adventure

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 12, 2017

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On Wednesday August 16th at 8:00 AM, I am scheduled for the long awaited Hearing with the SSA to try and resolve the dispute on how my SS Bennies were figured after I received my Workman's Compensation Award.  After that I have booked and planned a trip down to the Lower 48 to Witness the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  at a prime location for this, right on the line of the Path of Totality.  It remains an open question however whether I will achieve either goal.

http://media.spokesman.com/photos/2017/08/04/Eclipse_path_refuges_t810.jpg?043915c051a7e8a61f3dafe8e38e28c2ebfb384b On my own, there is no way I could pull it off.  I have been in bad health for years, but the last few weeks have seen an enormous deterioration.  I am fortunate though that I got a couple of friends who are going to try and help me to make it there for the Last Great Adventure of my life as a Meat Package Walking the Earth.  I don't know if we will be successful with this as of yet.  Every day becomes harder to even get out of my chair, much less go Jet Setting and contributing further to the carbon being excreted into the atmosphere.

I wrote a "Bucket List" article a while back where I made the statement I didn't really have anything left I haven't done that I wanted to do and was still capable of doing.  That was true when I wrote it.  But then I found out about the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ , and I decided I had to try and be there for this event.  They do not happen often, and when they do happen the Path of Totality is very narrow, only around 70 miles wide.  So few people ever get to witness such an event in their lives.  I have never witnessed one to this date.

For me, the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ holds a lot of symbolic meaning.  First off, our Civilization is in Eclipse, it is Going Dark as we speak.  Then my own life is in Eclipse as well, I am truly on my "last legs" and struggle every day to stay above ground.  I kind of hope I will Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond© right during the 2 Minutes or so that the Big Event lasts for.  I want OUT of this Meat Package!  It is just a complete mess, not the great one it once was that anyone would have been proud to wear.  But I am not the suicidal type either, so I don't pull my own plug no matter how awful I feel each day.

Life is a One Way March from Birth to Death for everyone.  I suppose everyone also hopes for a long life in this march, and some folks get long ones and others get short ones.  I got a Medium Long one, which I am happy with.  60 years walking the Earth in one Meat Suit is certainly a lot longer than the statistical average for Homo Sap over the last 70,000 years.  Even today, when you start living to 80 or so even if you were Mr. Healthy your whole life you get Med problems, so living so long is not so great no matter how you look at it.  It's a fabulous drain on the society to have so many OLD people around.  Just about all nations are facing this problem now, from East to West.  China & Japan have it the worst, but the Europeans aren't far behind them and we are not far behind the Europeans for this problem.  The demographics are horrific, and the implications for a monetary system based on perpetual growth are horrific as well. The evidence of how it is breaking down is already well in view.  Both Public & Private retirement systems are collapsing in all these countries, whether they are "socialist" or "capitalist".  There is no way out of this dilemma, and when the collapse comes, the Old Folks around are going to go first here.  I am getting a jump start on this and going to the Great Beyond before this becomes a systemic problem.

There is also no great purpose to living so long for a Homo Sap.  If you Marry at 20, by the time you are 40 your kids are grown.  If you live another 20 years, you can help your kids raise your Grandkids.  What is the purpose here for the time after that?  You're too feeble to be much help raising your Great-Grandkids, and probably have Med issues too. Now you become a burden to your kids.  So for Homo Sap life expectancy and reproduction purposes, I think 60 years Walking the Earth is about right.

Returning to the Last Great Adventure though, logistically this is a tremendous challenge, even if I was healthy.  Actually even getting there and getting out will be difficult.  This event is like Woodstock on Steroids.  There will be a fantastic number of people trying to position themselves along the Path of Totality all at the SAME time, and the road system just isn't designed to handle that.  Think Katrina.  In the words of Arlo Guthrie, "The New York State Thruway is CLOSED man!"

Better get there early and be prepped for a lot of traffic if you don't!  Keep your Gas Tank topped off!  Have enough Food & Water to last you at least a day after the event to wait out the real traffic crush.  If you do not have a Stealth Van or RV, bring a tent for temporary shelter.  In many respects, this is like a mini "Dry Run" for a Bugout.  If we manage to follow through with our plans and I do not croak first, we plan to get to the campsite on the 18th and have enough with us to last a week if necessary.  Hopefully though we only have to wait most a day for the traffic crush to let up.

https://cdn3.cdnme.se/cdn/7-2/300189/images/2010/cloudy_keyart_wallpaper_1024_80342035.jpg Then because I want to record this event in various ways, I have all my cameras to get set up and experiment with in the day or two prior to the Big Event.  I have never tried to shoot anything like this. It takes special filters and the exposure issues are difficult. I'm not sure of the campsite layout either other than I am pretty sure I have my spot guaranteed.  Then I have my own physical disabilities to deal with in this, and dependence on friends who are not as familiar with photography as I am or how my current set of equipment works.  Even *I* am not that familiar with how it all works!  In the digital age, it has become a lot more than just focusing, framing with the Zoom, setting your aperture  and shutter speed and pressing the button.  The cameras have numerous types of settings you can work with.  You can spend a lifetime just figuring out how one of these cameras work, and they all use proprietary software.  So no 2 are alike at all.  Back in the day, there was no real difference between a Canon and a Nikon or even a Hasselblad, other than price of course.  Today, you work through a whole different tree of choices on cameras of a similar price which do similar things.  When you buy one, you gotta figure it all out.  Then before you know it, the camera is obsolete for some reason, and you have to start this process all over again.

Nonetheless, I hope to get SOME good images/vids of some type here if I make it to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.  I have a lot of redundancy.  The "Pro" pics will undoubtably be a lot better, and I have Weather to worry about too.  What if it turns out to be a CLOUDY DAY?!?!?!?!  ACCKKK!!!

Despite the fact the Pro images will be better (not to mention NASA images taken from Satellites) I want to have my own images & videos with my own Copyright © to them as my Intellectual Property.  Beyond the Eclipse itself, I also want to record the EVENT.  This is going to be quite the show, again like Woodstock.  It was only partly about the Musicians up on the stage.  It was really about all the people who came to see the event.  So I want to talk to people and video that action.

http://stumptownblogger.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b86d36970c0133f316507f970b-pi

So, tomorrow is another day and there are 10 more to make it through to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.  T-10 & Counting.  We'll see if I make it.

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.

60: The Life & Times of a Boomer Doomer

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 9, 2017

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My 60th Birth Anniversary Month of August has arrived, and I am getting Prepped for a trip down to the Lower 48 to see the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼   My original plan was to post this Full Biography on August 31st, my Birthday after I get back, but these days I am not sure I will make it through until tomorrow, much less down to Idaho or back up here to the digs after that.  Every day is a challenge staying above ground now.  In the Drafts here on the Diner is my Self-Obituary.  One of the other diner Admins will need to publish that after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond.

So to tidy up here just in case TONIGHT is the one the Grim Reaper finally arrives, here's the Full Autobiography of RE.  It's only around 13,000 words, so not complete detail here, but it should give the casual reader some of the Flavor of my Life these last 60 years.  There are also many other autobiographical articles of mine posted up here to the DoomsteadDiner.net Blog.

I have enjoyed tremendously being a analyst of Collapse over the last decade.  I made a few friends, and a LOT of enemies in the process.  I continue to alienate people to this day because I am a very uncompromising sort of guy and I never quit on an argument.  Most people just cannot handle the truth of their lives and their beliefs, and if you tell it to them they get angry with you. So it goes.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy the story below of 60 Years Walking the Earth as a Boomer-Doomer.

RE

 

Unbelievably, I (almost) made it to the Big 6-OH, my 60th year walking the Earth as a Homo Sap Meat Package in this iteration of incarnations of my immortal soul.  My last Big Birthday Party on the Diner was 5 years ago when I turned 55. That was when we first launched the Diner, and now it is getting close to 6 years old itself, 10% of my total lifespan.  That's a pretty significant chunk of my life!

Actually, my focus on Doom predates the Diner by quite a bit, I got started down this Rabbit Hole after the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns in early 2008.  Actually a bit before that since I was observing the lead up to this in 2007.  So call it a solid Decade now as a "Kollapsnik".  Given I am now 60 years old, that is 1/6th of my life or 16.66%, even more significant.

I can break up my life into defined segments, each of which almost is a life unto itself.  When I look back on these segments, it's almost like I am looking at another person entirely, they each are so different in their own ways.  But I do know it was always "me" in that body at that time, it just morphed as time went by. To begin this autobiographical post, I'll start with the beginning and work through the stages of my life, to date.  Then maybe some speculation on the future for me, although I don't think I have much of one of those left anymore in this meat package.

As it turns out here after finishing this tome, it came out a lot longer than I figured it would when starting it.  It's LOOOONG, even by my standards.  So rather than waiting until my actual Birthday of August 31st, I'll start publishing installments in EZ to Bite off chunks of my life over the next few months, rather than all at once.  I will publish the whole thing together though on my 60th Birthday, so if you want to wait until then to read the whole thing all together, feel free to skip over these installments.  Feel free also to skip over the complete story too if you aren't curious about how I got to where I am today.  From my POV though, it's a pretty entertaining story! lol.

This has advantages, for both me the writer and you the reader.  For me, first off it gives me a lot more in the way of weekly material to drop on the Diner, rather than slamming it all down in one post.  On a non-fiction level, it's like my serial novel How I Survived Collapse.  Having a lot of material "in the can" takes the pressure off feeling like you have to write something every day, although I just about always do so it's not a problem for me to have material to drop on the Diner each week.  Besides that though, I always feel like I might be dead tomorrow, so getting this stuff out before I actually croak and having a chance to talk about it with friends is a nice bonus before my trip across the Great Divide.

For the reader, the advantage is obvious, it comes in small enough chuncks you can read it over Morning Breakfast on a workday or Sunday Brunch or while on a coffee break at work on your smart phone.  You don't need to dedicate a whole lotta time to reading my life story in any given week and being bored to tears by it. lol.

By itself, it's not a Book-length autobiography, but if you patch it together with all the other autobiograpical stuff I have dropped on over the years like the Over the Road Trucking series, the Pump Up the Volume Pirate Radio adventures and the Excellent Mexican Dental Adventures, along with all the stuff in my Online Diary (Diners Only) about my Health issues and Legal Battles, you could easily get a full length book out of that.  I'll leave it to some historian of the future to put that one together though.

Meanwhile, here is Part 1 of my autobiography…

————————————–

Stage 1- Birth in NY Shity – Age 5

My Birth in NY Shity until Age 5 living in attached type town housing.  Bedrooms were on the second floor, there were 3 of them, my parent's bedroom, my sister's bedroom and my bedroom and the bathroom in which I was toilet trained.  I vaguely remember that.  On the ground floor there was a foyer entry, living room, dining area and kitchen.  Below ground was a basement and garage.  We had a small backyard and I remember a clothesline that my mom would hang the laundry out to dry on, we did not have a dryer in those years.

http://www.remarkablecars.com/for-sale/data/6859/buick-1957-special-269591.jpg We did have a car though, a 1957 Buick Convertible, same year I was born.  It was red, gigantic and had the tailfins on the back.  It was bought used in around 1960 I think by my Dad, who was building his career as a Pigman Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank, now known as JP Morgan Chase after numerous Mergers & Acquisitions.  Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Chemical Bank were both subsumed into Chase Manhattan, then Chase and JP Morgan merged later on.

The Buick lasted almost to when we left for Brazil, and I remember the numerous trips to Rockaway Beach during the summer we took in it.  There  were no seatbelts in the car, and there was a big bump in the road we would always hit and my dad would speed up the car to hit it so we all went flying up out of our seats, singing "Here we go loop-de-loop, Here we go loop-de-lie".  On one of these trips to Rockaway Beach when I was around 3, my dad took me out for a walk on the jetty and made me throw my Baby Bottle into the ocean.  That was my first major contribution to ocean pollution.  He felt I was clinging on to the baby bottle too long and this was a good symbolic way to get me to mature some.  It didn't work, I am still immature. lol.

http://www.screeninsults.com/images/bozo-the-clown2.jpg I have numerous memories from this period, crashing my tricycle into the back wall of our underground garage; locking myself in my parents bedroom while trying to "fix" the latch mechanism; bouncing myself off my bed I was using as a trampoline and smashing my skull open; Bowling with plastic Bowling pins in the upstairs hallway, making popcorn and chocolate cake with vanilla icing with my older sister in the kitchen etc.  I remember watching cartoons on TV and my mom taking me to the filming of the Bozo the Clown show in a NYC Studio, where I was frightened to death by the real life Bozo who looked nothing like the cartoon character, and we never went in to see the show because I was crying.  Waste of money on those tickets.

I remember also the pack up for our move to Brazil, when I was forced to give up my Bunk Beds that I had just got and had coveted for probably a year before I got them.  I cried over that one too, but when we got to Brazil my parents bought me a new Bunk Bed so I was happy again.  Which brings us to Stage 2.

Stage 2 – The Brazil Years

This was an almost idyllic time in my life, because of the difference in Economics between Brazil and the FSoA in the 1960s my dad's salary bought us a much more luxurious life than it did in NY Shity.  We had a full floor luxury apartment, a Maid, a Cook and a Driver.  The apartment was less than a block away from Ipanema Beach, and I spent almost every day after school for a couple of hours at the beach body surfing and building sand castles.

I went to a Private School for brats of the Military, the State Department, the CIA and Bankster Brats, "Escola Americana", chartered by the UN as a "United Nations" school.  My 3 best friends were the kids of the FSoA Ambassador to Brazil, a Military brat and a brat who was son of a man who ostensibly worked for the Fisheries Dept of the UN, but in fact was likely CIA.

http://www.wingclips.com/system/movie-clips/searching-for-bobby-fischer/hate-your-opponent/images/searching-for-bobby-fischer-movie-clip-screenshot-hate-your-opponent_large.jpg I was however blissfully unaware of most of this at the time, and enjoyed my days body surfing at the beach, reading a lot of Sci-Fi in Kid Book form mostly, the Adventures of Tom Swift series and also the Hardy Boys Detective series.  My dad bought me subscriptions to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and Scientific American at this time also as my reading skills and comprehension improved.  He also taught me to play chess around age 6 and we played regularly until I started beating him regularly around age 8. lol.

The first Star Trek episodes came on our Black & White TV in the later years as well, dubbed into Portuguese. I became a big Star Trek fan in those years, in fact what was known after it went off the air as a "Trekkie".  I went to the first Star Trek Convention in NY Shity after I got back to NY, but that is skipping ahead to the next portion of my life.  I identified heavily with the Spock character, and prided myself on being analytical and logical.  I dressed up as Spock for a couple of years for Halloween once returning to the FSoA.

I also got my first witnessing and understanding of class difference as I played futbol (soccer) with the boys from the favelas on the beach and saw the way they lived as opposed to the way I lived.  Mostly we all were friendly, but there was an undercurrent of resentment you could always sense, even at 8 years old.  Similarly, although the servants in our household were always deferential to me, you could sense their resentment as well.

I began to get somewhat politically aware then in my last years in Brazil, as one of my friends (son of the CIA guy) was 3 years older than me and he was very into the music of the era, including a lot of Folk Protest music including the likes of Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and many others.  Upon my return to the FSoA, this political aspect of my life grew quite a bit.

Stage 3 – The Junior High Years

This period actually includes late Elementary school 4-6 grade as well as Junior High 6-9 grade which I actually did in 2 years not 3, courtesy of the "SP" or Special Progress track the NY Shity Public Skules ran at the time for "gifted" students.  So roughly a 5 year portion of my life in the Age of Oil.

It wasn't quite as idyllic as the Brazil period, my parents got divorced and with my mom we took a big hit in lifestyle and economics.  No more maid, cook or driver of course.  More than that, at least in the first couple of years no car either.  Mom did get a small McMansion in Queens out of the divorce settlement though, and overall we were better off than most of the folks in the lower middle class neighborhood of Flushing, Queens this McMansion was located.

It was at this point in my life I got identified as an "IGC", or "Intellectually Gifted Child".  This because on a standardized IOWA test in the 4th grade I scored off the charts with a college level reading ability and math ability. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a single question wrong on that test, as I recall it was fantastically simple and I finished it in about 30 minutes of the 2 hours alloted to the test to fill in the dots with my #2 Pencil.  So began a 4 year episode of meeting with shrinks who were testing me all the time, every Saturday during the school year at a center in Jamaica my mom dutifully brought me to on the subway.  Since the IOWA test wasn't good enough at discrimination, I got my first try at the SAT in the 5th grade.  Then a variety of IQ tests too, and interviews.  I was a fucking lab rat for 4 years.  By year 4 I was sick of it and started puposefully answering questions wrong and being terrifically uncooperative with the Shrinks. I think I was 12 or 13 not sure.  I got let out of the cage at the end of that year. lol.

The other important aspect of my life over those years were the Summers spent at Camps of two varieties.  One was a "Primitive Skills" camp that was all Boys which I attended for 2 of those years, and then a ritzy camp for upper class kids run by a fellow named Werner Rothschild.  Not sure if he was related to the general Rothschild clan, but he probably was.  Camp Merrimac in New Hampshire, near the town of Contocook, pronounced "contokit".  It was mostly populated with Jewish kids, I was I think the only Unitarian at the Camp in those years.  I got my first sexual experiences at this camp, and I also got to watch Neil Armstrong make "One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind" on a TV dragged into the main barn where our Socials and Dances were held every Friday.  Every Friday Night at the end of the Social, I danced with my Amour of the Week to the strains of "Sealed With a Kiss", and then scooted off to behind the Science Cabin for some SEX action, where I normally regularly dissected living frogs knocked out with a little choloroform to attempt Heart Transplants on them.  None of the frogs ever lived through one of those operations. lol.  Me and the girls survived our sex experimentation though, fortunately.

The all Boys primitive skills camp wasn't quite as entertaining on the sexual exploration level since there were no girls around to do this with, although there was a director at the camp who had a fondness for taking photos of me while naked showering and such. LOL.  Other than getting photos of my naked body recorded on film though, I never got molested during this period.

What was real fun about the primitive skills camp though was learning all the techniques for survival in the wilderness, although granted we had nice industrially produced knives and tents and canoes to use in the learning.  The wilderness areas we hit back in the 1970s were still pretty pristine and not over camped, and I remember many occassions filling up my canteen with water straight from a clear running stream, no boiling or water purification tablets.There were frogs everywhere and we often ate frog's legs for breakfast and dinner.

As I moved into my early teens, I became a lot more politically aware and music aware, and my friend Randy from Brasil moved to my neighborhood with his CIA dad when he was transferred to work at the UN Headquarters.  Thus began my Pirate Radio adventures, which I have written about before here in Pump Up the Volume.

Stage 4 – The High School Years

In the middle of my 9th Grade year in JHS, they gave us another standardized test to see if we qualified for any of the Magnet schools that the NY Shity public schools were running at the time, Sutyvesant, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, the High School for Art & Design and the Highs School of the Performing Arts (The FAME School).  As usual I aced this test and had my choice of schools and picked Stuyvesant, because it was a Science & Math skule and I was a nerd.I picked it over Bronx HS of Science and Brooklyn Tech because from where I lived it was much easier to get there by Subway, although still a pretty long trip of around 1.5 hours every day.  For the other two schools, the only way to get there was by buses which weren't all that dependable or EXTREMELY long subway commutes.

Stuyvesant turned out to be a great choice on the academic level. The best teachers vied for positions at Stuy High, and I got some really good ones.  Frank McCourt who went on to write Angela's Ashes was my Journalism teacher and main mentor as in a teacher I went to for advice and just to talk.  Later when I went to college I would meet up with Frank at McSorley' Old Ale House, an Irish bar in downtown Manhattan not far from where Stuy was located.  I had a great Organic Chemistry teacher in Mr. Price (don't remember his first name), and because I had done Orgo already once in HS, it was easy for me to Ace in college while it gives a lot of people fits.  They weren't all stars though, my History teacher Mr. Lowenthal was ANCIENT, probably in his 70s and boring as all hell.

I also had some great classmates.  Eric Lander who sat right in front of me in many classes because of the spelling order of our last names and in gym class was a real genius who won the Westinghouse and eventually went on to founded the Whitehead Institute at MIT and did major work on the Human Genome Project.  In sophomore year, we were partners in biology lab.

Gym and athletics though took a real hit during the HS years, Stuy had a really crappy gym space in the downtown NY Shity building it was housed in, and a school packed with nerds doesn't field very good sports teams. lol.  So I didn't do any organized sports during my HS years.  My main after school clubs were the Chess Club and the Debating Team.  There we were VERY competitive, and the finals for the NYC Public School System nearly always came down to a battle between Stuy, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx HS of Science.

Stuy also was not very good for my incipient love life, as it had only gone co-ed 3 years before I got there, and only with a sprinkling of girls, not 50-50. More like 80-20.  All the new girls were snapped up by the Seniors, leaving not much for Sophomore and Junior boys.  I did manage to get a date for the Prom though at least.

However, I made up for this lack of Amour during the HS years from school in a few ways.  First off, there was summer camp where I met girls who lived in the general NYC broad metro area, and I would take the train to see them for dates once in a while.  Then I also got flown down to Oz twice a year to be with my Dad the Pigman for his court ordered visitation rights, and being an Exotic Amerikan, Aussie girls found me interesting.  Finally, in my local neighborhood of Flushing, there were still girls I knew from Junior High around, so I wasn't totally bereft of female companionship for those years.

The other main aspect of this period of my life was it was the Pirate Radio years with my friend Randy which I wrote about in Pump Up the Volume, so I won't rehash the story again here.  Just to encapsulate though, that period represented my main political awakening period.


The Bacchanalian Years

This was about a 6-7 year Era in my life, which included the College Years at Columbia and the first 3 years after college working on Wall Street.

https://img.memesuper.com/63e4fb8d025d248f8f2a9ba0fc70ab75_july-2010-investing-caffeine-animal-house-toga-meme_420-322.jpeg While studying in school was the ostensible reason for being there, the REAL reason that consumed most of my time was PARTYING!  I got to college at the ripe old age of 16, and even then you weren't supposed to be able to legally drink alcohol until you were 18, but nobody at bars or liquors stores ever checked your ID, and if they did any old ID you whipped up with a fake birthdate would work.  We ran "Happy Hours" in the social room of the Dorm on the ground floor every week, and about every night one floor or another in the dorm would run a "Floor Party".  I remember one floor party where I got the job of rolling joints from a quarter pound of Ganja, which took me quite a few hours during the week to get done.  I got real good at rolling joints though as a result of this.  By the time I was done, they were almost as uniform looking as smokes out of a pack of Camels! lol.

Just as important as Partying though was GETTING LAID, and I bounced through a few one night or one week stands before I finally met my first true love in Sophomore year, who I refer to nowadays as the Illuminati Spawn.  She was a transfer student in Sophomore Year from Bennington College in Vermont to Barnard College, the women's school associated with Columbia before they went Co-Ed, but I think both schools still exist as separate entities to this day even so.  She was a brilliant polyglot, could speak fluently in a good dozen languages and could read Ancient Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.  Her dad was a math professor at MIT, and actually he and I got on better most of the time than I did with his spawn, except when we were fucking.  She was pretty unstable overall, and dishes would fly if she got mad.  lol.  Still we mostly stayed together through Senior year, though with a number of episodes of cheating by both of us.  We broke up on graduation though, when she went to Washington to pursue a career in the State Department and I took my first job on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch, courtesy of connections from Dad the Pigman (a pal of his from the Executive Training Program at Chase in the 1950's had ended up as CEO of Merrill).

In terms of getting laid, this was even better than college!  I was making gobs of money, hitting clubs like CBGBs and Max's Kansas City and fucking half the dancers in the Joffrey Ballet Company!  There were mile long lines of Coke laid out on mirrors at every party and the food wasn't potato chips and dip like in college.  It was caviar, canapes, smoked salmon and fresh sushi and sashimi.  Afternoon lunches were picked up by Merrill Lynch as long as I got myself invited to sit at the table with the big wigs, which I usually was able to do because my dad's buddy who got me the job was the CEO! What's not to like about this life?

The JOB and the people I worked with, that's what was not to like.  A bigger bunch of assholes gathered together in one skyscraper could not be imagined.  Everybody was out to fuck everybody else, especially "low hanging fruit" investors, but also each other as they tried to climb the corporate ladder.  I also couldn't stand dressing up in the Monkey Suit every day, getting my shoes shined and bringing my costume to the Dry Cleaners every week.  So one fine clear September morning I just couldn't walk through the door and into the lobby, and took the subway back home.  Thus ended my short years as a rich and privileged scion destined to someday become a Master of the Universe.

The Medical Technologist, Chef, Part-time Gymnastics Coach & Marriage Years

I did have some savings after the Bachannalian Years, but not much since I spent most of the income on blow and booze at the clubs.  Expenses were pretty high too, it's not cheap to get all your suits dry cleaned and your shirts washed & pressed at the Chinese Laundry every week you know.  I also still had a good 8 years left to go on my college loans.

https://www.stlawrencecollege.ca/-/media/images/programs-and-courses/med-lab/med-lab-2016-5.jpg?mw=960 However, I quickly hooked on as a Medical Techologist in a lab at a Hospital I had done some Research Assistant work in the Cardiology Department as a Work-Study job during the college years, and this met most of the basic bills fairly well.  I had a very interesting schedule of 2 16 hour shifts over the weekend, starting at 4PM on Saturday and 4PM on Sunday, separated out by 8 hours where I caught some sleep.

I also caught a good deal of sleep on the job as well, since my lab was independent and isolated from the rest of the Chemistry Labs in the hospital, it was in the Cardiology Department, closed and locked down for the night other than the Blood Gas lab.During the Midnight-8 shift, few samples came in usually, maybe 5-10 a night on average, and they would take about 5 minutes to run, record in a log and report the results to whoever it was that sent you the sample.  Samples came from the ER, SICU, MICU and NICU.  If you don't know what these medical acronyms mean, look them up on Google. lol.  There were even nights I got no samples at all and could sleep straight through the whole shift and get paid for it!

Although it was paying around enough to cover all my bills, first off I was bored the other 5 days a week and second did not have enough spare income to go out doing too much else.  So I looked around for a 2nd job to take and found a job as a Sous Chef at Capsuto Freres, a very classy restaurant in Chelsea which I had frequented during the Bacchanalian years and knew the Head Chef.

I also used my free time to work out at a Y in Westchester where they had a Trampoline and an incipient Gymnastics Program starting up run by my eventually to become wife and then ex-wife.  I met her initially working out in the weight room pumping iron, getting myself back into shape after years of neglect since High School Daze, and found out she was Head of the Gymnastics Program they were starting up.  She was an ex-Elite gymnast whose dad had been on the Hungarian gymnastics team in the 1940s or 1950s not sure and had trained here under Muriel Grossfeld for a while.  So I asked her if I could use the Tramp while it was set up for practice. The gym at this time was similar to many, a "set-up & take-down" gym that was in the normal Basketball gym space in this Y. This was before there were many dedicated Private Gymnastics Clubs with permanent setups around.  That didn't start exploding until after Mary Lou Retton won the All-Around Gold Medal in 1984 (an Olympics boycotted by the Ruskies).

Like riding a bicycle, once learned gymnastics tricks are not forgotten by your Reptilian Brain.  You may lose the physical ability to do them, but the motor control is with you for most of your life, until the brain itself starts to decay.  So after getting myself back in shape (I was still in my 20s at the time), I was able to throw fulls and double backs on the tramp, and she was impressed!  We became an "item", and she asked me to help her coach tumbling, vault and bars skills, all of which I understood perfectly well even though I had no formal training as a gymnastics coach.  There was in fact no such formal training available in those years, and there still is very little.  It's something you learn as you grow up, from others who tried these things before you.  I had additional background in Physics, Mechanics, Biology and Child Psychology which helped as well on the theoretical end for developing drills for learning the skills, and for training the mind to be fearless enough to try them.

RE with a future National Team member, Age 5

So I left the world of Haute Cuisine and took on as my part-time job coaching gymnastics.  After 3 years of dating and living together, we married. After another 3 years, we divorced.  Why?

Not long after getting married, things started to go south economically.  My Union went on strike for 6 months, and I couldn't meet all the bills we had accumulated.  We took a great and memorable Honeymoon in Europe for 6 weeks, we bought a Condo and the only new car I ever bought in my life, a Chevy Astro Van so we could ship our gymmies around in bulk periodically, sort of like a Soccer Mom & Dad on Steroids.  I also still had college loans to pay off.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/YjZZun16pus/hqdefault.jpg To cover this shortfall, I ran up my credit card bills, paying my Student Loan by taking cash advances on the CCs.  The lack of money put a crimp in the lifestyle both of us liked, which was still a lot of partying.  Arguments over money ensued, wife started cheating on me and I started cheating on her.  We got to where we couldn't stand each other, so finally I left her a note on the Kitchen Table, a Music Mix on a Cassete Tape I recorded of breakup songs, and left her with the condo and took off in the Astro Van, which I lived in for about 6 months before quitting on that lifestyle and moving back in with my mom in the McMansion in Flushing, Queens in NY Shitty.

I got out of the marriage pretty cheap as those things go, we mutually agreed to end it and no lawyers involved.  I filed all the paperwork myself and it was over for about $250 in filing fees.  I agreed to pay my half of the mortgage payment on the condo until we could get it sold, which took about another 6 months.

Once the marriage was over, I found another part-time gym coaching job at a new private gym not far from my mom's house in Flushing, and then my Union finally settled the strike and I was back to full income and able to pay all my regular bills, although the credit card balance I had worked up did not come down very much.  I plodded through another couple of years this way.

Then there was a re-organization in the Hospital, and my lab was moved in to be part of the regular Chemistry Lab.  No more sleeping on the job and getting paid for it!  I determined at this point this was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and determined to go back to school to get a Teaching degree.  It was the Reagan Era and they were crying for Science and Math teachers to keep the FSoA "competitive" with the Chinese and other nations who were starting to surpass the education system here even back then.  While I had all the undergrad credit hours in four different HS specialization areas necessary for certification (Math, Chemistry, Biology & Physica), I did not have the Education courses you are required to take for a teaching license.  I also didn't really want to be a HS teacher, I wanted to teach Elementary School.  However, my advisor in the Ed Dept in the Master's program at Queens College advised me that I was way over-qualified to be an Elementary School teacher and should go for a Secondary School license.  Sadly, I followed that advice.  I might have lasted a bit longer teaching elementary school.

The two years it took to get all my coursework and certifications in place were thoroughly exhausting.  I was coaching from 4PM to 9PM at the gym, I was in the Lab from Midnight to 8AM, and then I was in class from around 10AM to 3PM, although not continuously every day.  I got what little sleep I got during this time in the back of the Astro Van, between jobs and between classes.

Once finally fully Certified as a Public Skule Teacher, I made my applications and got a job in the Valley Stream Long Island school system, teaching Junior High through High School Science and Math, in two different schools. Thus ended this period of my life, which was the longest in one general paradigm, about 15 years.

The Public School Teaching Years

This was the shortest era of my life, around 3 years.  Teaching science and math seemed like a good choice in changing careers, teachers of these subjects were in notoriously short supply since anyone really knowledgeable went into private industry where the salaries were higher.  It also matched up well with my Hobby-Job of coaching gymnastics, since Skule finished the day in theory at 3PM, and coaching usually got underway around 4PM.  Except I often had detentions to do after school, so I was often late for practice.

http://weimax.com/images/Buehler_Ben-Stein.jpg The problems I faced during this period were endless.  First off, because I was being sent to two different schools (a Junior High and a High School), I didn't have my own clasroom.  Instead, what I got were two rolling lecterns (one in each school) in which I was supposed to keep all my student records, my lesson plans and graded tests and homework assignements, and roll the lectern around from classroom to classroom that happenned to be empty while the main teacher assigned to that classroom had a prep period.  Needless to say, these lecterns were stuffed full of papers I couldn't find all the time.  I stopped giving homework assignments as a starter to get this under control. lol.

Worse than this were the kids I was trying to teach though.  90% of them in any given class first of all had little interest in learning Physical Science or Math, and their preparation coming out of elementary school was horrendous.  Students in 9th Grade could not solve the Density equation Density=Mass/Volume except if you gave them Mass and Volume and a calculator to do the division.  They couldn't rearrange the equation if you gave them Density and Volume for instance.  So I couldn't really teach the curriculum, I spent much more time doing remedial work that should have been finished 7th Grade the latest.

https://thelittle.org/sites/default/files/imges/film/thebreakfastclub.jpg The problem here now becomes one of Behavior and acting out in the classroom.  If you are going over the heads of the unprepared kids who are also disinterested, they become behavior problems and disrupt the lesson.  They are lost and bored.  If you start teaching down to them and trying to remediate, you lose the few kids who are interested and decently prepared.  There are fewer of them, so you mostly teach down, and then to keep everyone somewhat entertained you do demos like a Thermite reaction, or you make rockets out of plastic soda bottles and rubbing alcohol.  Everybody likes that stuff! lol.  You can't do that every day and actually learn anything though.

Then there were the battles with the Administration, and if your kids were bigger behavior problems than the next teacher, YOU got called on the carpet for this!  It was YOUR fault they weren't interested enough to pay attention!  When a parent came in to complain, the Parent Was Always Right, like customers in a retail store.  It was a total No-Win situation, and the hours turned out to be endless.  Because I taught science, I had labs to prepare and clean up.  I had to get to the skule a full 2 hours at least before class actually began to get labs ready.  Then there were the after skule detentions as mentioned, then after getting home from coaching around 9PM, I usually had a good 2 hours of grading papers and preparing lesson plans.  This went on day in and day out for 3 years, and if I got 6 hours of sleep with no recreation time at all I was doing good.  I turned in my resignation after the 3rd year of this insanity.

http://schooldesigns.com/Portals/0/SD_Images/Projects/138-exterior_aerial-1.jpg After resting up for a month, I forwarded out some resumes to gyms around the country for a full time coaching position, but also a couple to Elite Private Skules for the Rich, specifically, Choate, Phillips Exeter, Phillips Andover and the Horace Mann School.  I got interviews at Choate and Horace Mann, and was offered a job at Horace Mann.  I was shown my Physics Classroom and Lab, which would have been all mine.  Every toy in the catalog was in the cabinets.  Class sizes all 20 or less, averaging around 15. Upper Class kids who were expected to do well in School by their successful parents.  A $35K/year salary, which was competitive at the time with Public Schools as a starting salary.  I turned the job down.  Why?

Mainly because the 3 prior years had thoroughly burned me out, and I supected there would be similar if not worse administrative issues.  Rich parents have tons of clout in a Private Skule, and if their prized little brat complains to them that you're not grading them fairly or teaching them right, they can do more than a Public Skule parent can, they can threaten to take the kid out of your expensive skule and send them to a different one.  You gotta make the customers happy, and these are BIG PAYING customers!  Tuition at Horace Mann even in those years was comparable to Ivy League tuitions.

So came another major crisis in my life, and now I was nearing 40 years old.  Too late now to really go back to grad skule once again for yet another degree and training for some other field.  So I elected to try going out as a Full Time Competive Gymnastics Coach in the growing industry of Private Gyms.  I had the experience and knew many people in the field after years of doing this part time.  I got my first job full time where my sister had moved to and my mom retired to, in Springfield, MO.

The Full Time Gymnastics Years, Round 1

Coaching Gymnastics is tons of fun and very rewarding in a non-monetary way.  You have a very significant impact on the kids you work with, often for several years, much more time than a school teacher does.  It's also very challenging, particularly to teach higher level skills, and it's FUN!  It's not like having to work in a Coal Mine or garb up in a Monkey Suit to cheat pensioners out of their life savings on Wall Street.  Unfortunately, it's also a very low paying profession in general, unless you manage to open your own gym, in which case you can become quite successful.  Unfortunately, I never got together enough money to do that after my early bankstering years.  I was fortunate through most of the time to just keep a roof over my head.

http://c2971522.r22.cf0.rackcdn.com/7XuW9wI1ujOL7HDr2i03.jpg However, I did move my way up pretty quickly to the higher end of a low paid profession as a Head Coach and Program Director at a pretty large gym outside of Chicago, after 2 years coaching as an Assistant Director to the gym owner in Springfield.  It was a decent middle class salary and included medical bennies, which mostly you do not get in these type of jobs.  However, I had disputes with the owner and the owner's daughter who was my assistant coach, and you never win when it's family you are dealing with and they write the paychecks. I quit that job and moved onto another one.

Similar result the next time out, although this time I was fired rather than quit.  I bounced through about 2 more of these jobs in different places before I finally became fed up with both not making much money nor being able to sufficiently control the direction of the program to achieve my goal, which of course was to coach an Olympic level gymnast.  For the second time in my life, unemployed and with little money in the bank and still a good deal of credit card debt overhang I returned to livng with my mom, now retired with a rented 2 bedroom apartment in Springfield MO.

Approaching the age of 40, with an Ivy League education and a Master's Degree, I started sending out the resumes.  Over about 4 months of time, I got exactly one interview for writing technical journals for a pharmaceutical company and did not get the job.  I was starting to feel quite hopeless for my future. Then, perusing through the Help Wanted pages of the Springfield News-Leader (this was before the internet job seeking system with monster.com and other sites got rolling), I spied an Ad for Schneider National Trucking company, recruiting Over the Road Truck Drivers.  I went to the recruitment meeting, held at a Bates Motel in Springfield.  I met the requirements, I had a clean driving record with no DUIs, I had no criminal record, I was a HS graduate and Amerikan Citizen and I could drive a standard transmission car.  All I had to do was get my ass up to Green Bay, WI for FREE training and promise to work for them for a year to pay off that training for the low, low slave driving wage of the era of 21 cents/mile.  So I packed up my 10 year old Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon (a kind of early mini-SUV) and drove from Springfield to Green Bay the following week.  Thus began the next 7 year era of my life ast an OTR Big Rig Driver cruising the Eisenhower Interstate Highways, along with occasional dispatches into Mejico and the Great White North of Canada.

The OTR Trucking Years

I covered this period of my life in extensive detail in my 5 part Over the Road series back in the early years of the Diner.  I won't rehash that stuff here, although there are a few stories I left out.

http://static.wixstatic.com/media/69d8a0_481c7c21f5a64e539bcd3d26894c10f5.jpg_srz_260_158_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz The first is that prior to going out in the truck, after years of headaches with Student Loans and Credit Card bills, I finally got out of debt.  I was completely broke with no assets at all they could take in a bankruptcy.  I only had my 10 year old Toyota, and they can't take your primary transportation.  Besides it was worth almost nothing.  The Student Loans were gone, over the years I had transfered them to the Credit Cards.  So I didn't have the problem of Student Loans not being disharchargeble in a bankruptcy.  If you get a big enough CC limit over the years to do this, I highly recommend the method! lol.  So at the time of the BK, all my debt was in unsecured CC loans, and it wasn't that huge either by today's standards.  Around $7000 at the time as I recall, which is probably around $12K in 2017 dollars.  This may not seem like much, but when you are totally broke and the interest charges and penalties keep piling up, it just gets worse all the time. The Banks did not even bother to show up for this piddling bankruptcy though, and I walked out of the courtroom in 15 minutes, free and clear of debt for the first time in my adult life!  What a load off my shoulders!  I had a clean slate and a new job lined up as an OTR Trucker for Schneider National!  I never went in debt again for anything, and never held a Credit Card since.

Next is how this period which lasted around 7 years changed me psychologically.  Up until that time I had been a fairly gregarious person, enjoyed hanging out with friends, going to parties, etc.  However, when you are trucking you spend all day driving or getting loaded or unloaded for weeks at a time and don't talk to anybody.  In the truckstops where all the truckers congregate, I had nothing in common with them other than the fact we all drove big rigs.  Even if I did have something in common with them, it's a different crew of people every night so it's not like hanging out with friends.  More like going to a bar and talking to whoever sits down next to you.  The only person you might have regular conversations with and get to know some is the Bartender.

http://www.truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com/image-files/park-n-view-terminal-truck-stop-dsc02341.jpg I got used to being alone this way, and actually came to enjoy it over time.  I did have the internet, it was just getting into the Truckstops in the era, before Wi-Fi.  There was a company called Park n View which put little hubs into the asphalt you could get cable TV and a phone line.  It was dial-up modem era, and all text.  However, that was enough for me then, and I ran my Yahoo Groups and Forums in areas of interest to me at the time, primarily Gymnastics.  I maintained contact with coaches who were friends, and parents of some of the gymmies I had coached who kept me updated on their progress.  Three of them went on to become Elite Gymnasts and two made the National Team.

In addition, whenever I made it to Central California, I would take a few days off to go in and guest coach at a friend's tiny gym in the relatively poor Ag land area around Madera.  It was a small gym serving the mostly Mexican community, and she was persistently broke.  Not a super successful gym owner, she wasn't real good at bizness and she set up in the wrong neighborhood to make any money from the sport even as an owner.  She lived in a barn loft with 1 bedroom I think she paid around $300/mo for.  She also was a heavy smoker, and then shortly after I left trucking a couple of years later, she died from an embolism in her brain.  Around 45 years old at the time.

Of all the things I did not cover in the Over the Road series though was that this period featured the last real "relationship" I had with a female, as in something more than just a one night stand or one week stand.  After a year of slaving for Schneider at 21 cents a mile, I turned in my resignation a day after my anniversary, took a month off and then went to work for JB Hunt, first at 48 cents a mile as a company driver, then 2 years later as an Owner-Operator.  JB financed this if you were a clean driver who made his deliveries on time with no accidents, which was me.  In the first couple of years with JB I was already doing quite well and had virtually no expenses besides my truck expenses, and these were all tax deductable.  No rent, no mortgage, no utilities to pay on a McMansion.  No kids to buy clothes for, and the Med Insurance from JB was all paid for by them.  I was still pretty healthy at this time anyhow, and didn't need to see doctors except for my annual driving check up.  My Savings Account was piling up the FRNs.

So one day I hit the Petro in Joplin MO, one of the nicest truckstops out there and a favorite of mine to stop at whenever driving the I-44, which I did often because my terminal was in Kansas City and this route was one of their biggest.  On this day when I rolled in, I went in to hit the Buffet for dinner, and a REALLY cute young waitress came to take my order.  The Old RE came back from the dead and I made some jokes and flirted with her.  She laughed and made some jokes of her own.  I decided not to order the Buffet, but instead order a dish off the menu so that I would see her again.  More flirting when she brought the meal, more when she refilled my water glass and more when she brought me desert which I usually never order but it gave another opportunity to chat.  By this time I had found out she was attending the local community college and had grown up on a small farm outside Joplin.  She was half my age, but when she brought the check I asked her for her phone number and she gave it to me.  Thus began the last romance of my life, which lasted around a year and a half.

To her, I was a successful Trucker, I took her out to nice places and took her on the road with me a few times when she was off from school.  After a few months of this, she started talking about the Big M, Marriage.  I put it off, I said we should be dating at least a year before tying the knot.  I didn't want to dash her hopes entirely, I really enjoyed being with her and talking, she was a great listener although kind of quiet herself most of the time.  The sex also was quite good. lol.  She accepted this idea in her own quiet way and the talk of getting married stopped, until I had almost forgotten about it.  But then almost to the day I first met her the next time I rolled into Joplin up the topic came up again.

"So, it's been a year.  Don't you think we should set a date?"

I almost said "Date for what?", but I knew what she meant.  So I said, "Yes, I suppose we should.  How about when school lets out in May?"

A HUGE smile broke out on her face and she gave me the biggest hug EVAH!  It was only around 4 months away!  We would drive to Vegas and get hitched there.  She was happy, I was happy…for me for about a month.

Then all the old memories came back to me of my first marriage, while I was alone in the truck driving the endless miles of the Eisenhower Interstate.  On top of all those issues I thought about the new ones with this marriage.  As a trucker, I would be away from home most of the time, with a young and attractive wife at home, unless I took her with me on the road, and did I really want to be living inside a Freightliner 24/7 365 with ANYONE?  We would need a McMansion, and there would go all the savings I was piling up.  What if she got Pregnant!  Just like wanting to get married, she surely would start talking about having kids inside a year or two.  These questions all floated through my brain every day, even as we chatted on the cell phone making plans for the Big Trip.  The Butterflies in my stomach flapped their wings harder every day.

The fateful day finally arrived, and as I approached the Joplin Exit on the I-44, I realized I just could not do this, and I drove right by it.  We spoke on the phone and I made an excuse I got delayed and would be there in a couple of days.  I called her a couple of days later and told her the truth.  There were a lot of tears.  We spoke a few more times in the months after that, but the phone calls finally drifted into history.

Athough I often wonder how my life would have gone had I taken that exit off the interstate and it breaks my heart every time I think about it, in the end I think I made the right choice on this one, for her and for me as painful as it was and still is for me at least.  About a year or so later 9-11 went down, and freight dropped off the map for a while.  Income dropped precipitously.  Not as bad a situation as when my Union had gone on strike financially for me during my first marriage since my expenses were so low, but had I been married that would not have been the case.  Besides that, I was quite sick of driving by this time, it's just an endless grind and doing it for the rest of my life was not something I wanted to do anymore than I had wanted to do battle with administrators and recalcitrant, unprepared and unruly students as a teacher for my whole life either.

So out of the Truck I got, and moved on to the next and last period of my Working life, a return to the World of Gymnastics as a Full Time Coach.  It also coincides with the years where I metamorphosed into a Doomer.

The Gymnastics Rerun & Early Doomer Years

After getting out of the truck, I had a nice buffer of savings and took a nice two month break from work while I figured out what to do with the rest of my life.  I finally settled on returning to gymnastics, as even though the pay wasn't great, at least I enjoyed the job and with money in the bank as long as it was enough for my bills, it would be fine.  So once again I called up old coaching friends and lined up a job in WI as Asst Head Coach for Optionals with the Team Director there, who was a friend of my friend.  It was a community owned gym, so she wasn't the Owner, just another employee except she had the right to hire and fire other coaches, with the approval of another employee, the overall Gym Director.  We came to a salary agreement I felt I could make ends meet on, which was hourly but guaranteed me a minimum of 30 hours a week of coaching time.  No medical bennies or retirement account or sick days, no pay for when the gym was closed for holidays, but generally enough to get by on.

This went fairly well for a couple of years, although there was the usual Gym Drama between coaches who all do not usually agree on the best means and methods for developing the gymmies. lol.  Still, our gymmies did pretty well, we took a couple to Nationals at Level 10 and we had a strong Compulsory level program in the younger age groups.

Unfortunately, the area was not doing well economically, it was in the lead-up to the Financial Crisis in 2008, in the years 2005-2007 or so.  Enrollment in the rec & preschool programs were low, and the Gym Director called me in one day and told me she had to cut my hours back to 20/week, just Team.  I told her I couldn't live on that, and she told me there was nothing she could do, they just weren't making enough money.  So I started checking the Ads in USA Gymnastics Magazine (still not fully digital job seeking yet on the internet), and found one for a gym in Alaska looking for a Head Coach.  A week or so later after sending out the resume via Snail Mail I got a call from the owner, and we had several more long phone calls after that discussing philosophy and how to build a good high level gymnastics program.  He then invited me to fly up for a test week, paying for my plane ticket and expenses.  The test week overall went well, he offered me a Salaried Position with bennies and I immediately quit the job in WI on returning and made plans to move to Alaska the following month.

I moved up here with no car, no furniture, just the 5 bags of personal stuff I usually carried with me during my years as an OTR trucker.  It was just before they started dropping charges on checked baggage on the airlines, so the 3 bags that went in the baggage compartment did not cost me any money on that trip.  It was in February of 2007 that I made my migration as a refugee from the lower 48. lol.

Things were not precisely as the owner had made them out to be when I arrived, as I soon found out.  He indicated the old Head Coach who had been with him from the early days of the gym wanted to step back to spend more time with her family, but in fact she did not want to at all and was very resentful of me.   We had a kind of shared Head Coaching responsibility, and we battled often the first year.  We reached a raproachment of sorts in the second year, and the gym began to turn around from perennial loser to State Champion at several levels.  Things were looking OK, but then I got my first real medical issue, Peripheral Artery Disease in my legs.  I had to take time off for a rotor rooter job on the femoral arteries, and in the meantime the Owners Daughter (again!) took over responsibility as Head Coach.  The original HC had by this time quit and gone into teaching PE in the Pulic Schools.  Once I had recuperrated and came back in, things were way worse than they ever were with the original HC, me and the Owner's Daughter were like Oil and Water and just could not mix.

My gymnastics responsibilities were reduced, and my job was redefined to help grow the Private-Homeschool Academic program the Owner had dreams of building, as addition to the Day Care program he already ran that went from Infancy to Pre-K.  I lasted an additional 2 years this way, spending part of the day teaching the Homeschoolers through 3rd through 6th Grade, and the other half teaching developmental gymanstics to pre-team level gymmies.  This kept me and Owner's Daughter from butting heads much over team, although it was distressing for me to watch her eviscerate the program I had been building.

It might have persisted a while longer, except the Homeschool program was losing money. Not enough parents wanted to pay for this service that was supposed to bridge the gap in cost between Public & Private School.  So at the end of the second academic year of this, the Owner gave me my walking papers.

So, now I am past 55, and the likelihood I can find anyone down in the lower 48 to hire me at a decent paying position with bad legs and overall diminished mobility necessary for spotting in gymnastics is quite small.   However, there was a recently opened gym by another former employee, which had grown some and moved into a new facility.  I went over there and talked to the fellow who opened it, a New Owner.  We came to an agreement of my old hourly, but only 20 hours/week to start.  Not enough to cover my bills, but not draining my savings too fast either, so I figured in a couple of years we would grow the program and I would get more hours.

Grow the program we did, and once again the gym went from perrenial loser to State Champion in the 3 years I was there.  Team Doubled in size.  That's a LOT of additional income over that time period.  Did I see any raises or any more hours?  Nope.   Instead in year 3 said owner invested his additional income in expanding the gym and buying tons of expensive new equipment.

In the same year, I took a fall while spotting on the Uneven Bars and injured my neck.  Consequences from this began to crop up, extreme pain for a while, then my right arm became semi-paralyzed, then walking started getting difficult, etc.  I was trying to hang on long enough to take my last bunch of gymmies to State Championships, but then just a couple of weeks before that me and the owner had one more big argument and my career as a gymnastics coach was over.  It would have been over anyhow in a couple of weeks, the doctors told me it was too dangerous to continue, but there was just no way I could go into work the next day after that argument.  Fortunately, the gymmies were well prepped and they all went on to win the State Championships at all 3 levels I had been coaching.

During this whole decade of time, simultaneously I became a Doomer, and that began right after I moved up here.  Even though it occured at the same time, I'll give it a separate category, the Beginning Doomer Years.

The Beginning Doomer Years

Right after I moved up here in 2007, the Investment Bank Bear Stearns began to have serious problems.  I picked up an article on the web about it, don't remember where.  I started following the story, and by June they were in the deep doo-doo.  I began to research the causes for this and eventually came on an article by the notorious Goldbug Antal Fekete, "The Twilight of Irredeemable Debt".  Further Link Surfing brought me to the PeakOil.com forum in late 2007-early 2008, not sure when.  By then I was sure Bear Stearns would fail, and fail they did, and then Lehman Brothers after them.  Then the full blown Financial Crisis of 2008 came around October, and by then I was a full blown Doomer and predicting the Collapse of the Monetary System within a year.  It didn't play out that way of course.

The Smartest Guys in the Room like Henry Paulson, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke along with pissing in their pants politicians pulled out the Big Bazooka. They conjured up 100s of $Billions$ out of thin air to bail out AIG and other TBTF Banks on the brink of toppling over the cliff like Bear & Lehman did.  They got it patched together and BAU resumed, with one exception.  Instead of each year a few 10s or 100s of $Billions" of debt being added to the system, now every year $Trillions$ were being added.  Along with that, Quadrillions in derivatives bets on the whole House of Cards.  That continues to this day, although it's not doing a  whole hell of a lot to fix the economies of any country in the world at all.  Every last one is in deep debt, and the weakest ones with the least ability to manipulate the credit creation system are being triaged off first, places like Greece and Venezuela.

All of this of course has had increasing Geopolitical consequences and Social consequences as well, with more brush Wars between Proxy Nations of the Big 3 of China, Russia and the FSoA and more Shoot-em-Up Postal events occuring all the time, along with numerous Bankster Suicides and domestic violence and Homelessness increased.  The only question at this point is when the Tipping Point for the whole system will come and what event or events will be to really send things into a tailspin.  Will it come from a failure of one of the TBTF Banks, as it did with the failure of Lehman in 2008?  Will it come from the failure of a major European state like Italy or Spain?  Will it come from a direct military confrontation between the FSoA and Mother Russia over Syria?  China and the FSoA over the Spratly Islands and South China Sea?  A Nuke pitched out by North Korea? There's no good means to predict this, all you can say with assurance is something is gonna give here at some point, and the timeline doesn't look too far into the future.

Anyhow, while I began my Doomer years as a typical commenter on the Peak Oil forum, being very opinionated and often a contrarian to the Group Think there, I eventually got my ass booted off the site, not once but twice.  I began there under the Rogue Economist ID, and after being banned with that one returned a couple of months later under the Reverse Engineer ID, the one I use to this day on all the sites I either run myself or participate in the Commentariat.  Often just using the "RE" initials.

At that time I set up the Yahoo Group Reverse Engineering, where I invited a few friends and maintained off and on from 2009 to 2012 when we opened up the Doomstead Diner for serving Doom up to the World Wide Web on a daily basis. lol.  I also blogged for a while on Jimbo Quinn's blog, The Burning Platform as a counterpoint to the racist, alt-right claptrap he serves up there on a daily basis.  We had numerous arguments and falling outs, and he owned the site, so eventually I got the Permanent Ban, after a few shorter duration ones, and a brief rapproachment after we started the Diner and we cross posted each other's blogs.  When he sticks to economics and CPA style analysis, Jimbo is actually a very good and detailed blogger.  However, his political views are so putrid it overwhelms his accounting analysis overall and his commentariat is a complete sewer of shit throwing monkeys, which he encourages.  That is his own term to describe the participants in the commentariat of TBP.

While the Reverse Engineering Yahoo group was congenial and small, it was a Private Group not open to the general public, and just a few people read it, maybe a dozen or so the most at any given time during it's operation.  Overall I was pretty happy with it though as it gave me a place to write and a few people of similar mindset to discuss ideas with without the discussions turning into Napalm Contests.  I probably would still be there if not for one thing…YAHOO BOTS!

I put up a couple of posts discussing racial inequality and racism in general, and used the word "Nigger" in the posts.  This is in a Private Group mind you, not a generally accessible public forum.  My goal with the posts was to show why one group (the Niggers themselves) can use the word without a taint of racism to it, but a Honky cannot do so.  It was overall a word analysis post.  It never went up.  Then I had a couple of other posts not see the light of day for similar reasons, and I mentioned this to Peter, who I had met on Karl Denninger's Ticker Forum and who was quite the computer wizard, amongst his many other Wizardly skills.  He said he could set up the kind of blog & forum I wanted, with all the bells & whistles I wanted.  I agreed to do this, and the Doomstead Diner was born in February of 2012.

Retirement and and the Recent Doomer Years

I have written any number of blogs about all the nonsense I have been through over the last couple of years with respect to my exit from the working world, my hassles with the medical and insurance industries and all the Goobermint nonsense you need to negotiate your way through to get your bennies.  Crap which I still am dealing with, it's still not done after over 2 years of battling the bureaucracies involved.  Along with my Diner tasks, this also keeps me bizzy.  lol.   Even more on this topic (MUCH MORE!) is written in my Personal Diary Inside the Diner titled "RE is Dying".  It's on a restricted board though, so only visible to mods and long term respected Diner contributors.  So again, I won't rehash that shit in this compilation of autobiographical stories.

For me though, this switchover to the retired life changed my priorities, while still employed the Diner was just my Doom Hobby and not my primary focus.  Nowadays though, it is basically what I LIVE for. If I didn't have the Diner, I would be bored out of my skull as a mostly home-bound cripple with little to do but eat, sleep and excrete.  As it is with the Diner, every day I have something new to ponder on and write about, and I also am always finding new friends to discuss ideas with and new enemies to argue with!  I have tons of tech maintenance issues always to deal with and always getting new BRAINSTORMS on ways to get the message out to more people to fulfill my stated goal of "SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN". These days beside the Diner Blog & Forum itself we have Facebook and Twitter channels, a Reddit Channel, several Paper.li Newz Agreggations and a Soundcloud Channel for Audio Podcasts.  I'm not responsible or Admining all of them though, my partner in crime Surly handles the Facebook, Twitter and main Newz Aggregation curation site of Doomstead Diner Newz.  He is not too pleased with me these daze though. lol

At the same time though, it's not like this is the typical job where I have to get up at any specific time to do Diner tasks; nor am I obligated to a Boss to please him to keep my job and keep my Weekly Paycheck incoming.  I can on any day simply not "show up for work" and it doesn't make that big a difference, although I usually do not do that under normal circumstances.  If I am travelling or other medical shit is going down, those are the only times I won't show up on the Diner to drop in my humble opinions on a given day on EVERYTHING! lol.  So it's really the ideal job for me that I always wanted, just I don't get paid for it and it costs ME money to keep it running!  lol.  However, it's not an onerous amount of money at the moment, and since I spend little in other ways I can afford it even on a Poverty Level income.  I could in fact do it for free for the most part, although it would not be so customizable and I wouldn't have as much control over the data that way.

Besides continuing onward with the Diner as a means to "Save as Many as We Can" (aka inform people of the shit that is coming down the pipe so they can prep for it), the other aspect of these retirement years is the SUN☼ Project, which is a non-profit 501c3  corporation we set up originally back in my Stage 1 Doomer years, but are now trying to lift off the ground and actually get some kind of resiliency system and forming community IRL to combat the problems we see on the horizon.  Not an EZ thing to do for many reasons, $MONEY$ being the #1 obstacle on this one.  I am leaving behind a substantial amount of money to get it off the ground, but I do not know how the other Officers of the Foundation will spend this money after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond.  Unlike a website to form a virtual community in cybersace which is within reason on a poverty level budget, setting such a thing up IRL on a real piece of land with all the preps you need to give it a reasonable chance of success takes a decent piece of change and I only have enough for a small part of it.  Then there are the number of people you need to bring aboard the project, as I have hammered down on many times the individual Doomstead is a fantasy in terms of its long term sustainability.  Even in Cyberspace we are nowhere near that number of committed Diners, much less getting such a number together IRL, which would be around Dunbar's Number of 150 at minimum.  The Diner has plenty of lurker-readers, but the number who are committed to the SUN☼ Project remains in the single digits.

However, I always council patience on this sort of thing, Rome was not built in a day after all. lol.  As long as the internet remains up and BAU continues, there'sd still opportunity to keep growing the project and getting it to fly.  The Wright Bothers crashed a lot of kites and gliders before they got that first plane to fly at Kitty Hawk you know.

As things progressively deteriorate, if there is not a sudden meltdown and instant fast crash, more and more people will become interested in the ideas we have been cultivating with the SUN☼ Project.  It remains a worthwhile project as far as I am concerned, at the very least like the Diner it keeps me bizzy and thinking aout plausible solutions to the predicament we findourselves in these days.

SUN☼ has already produced significant IRL results, it provided a reason for the first Diner Convocation in April of 2014, where all of us who had never met IRL got together for a week of learning and celebrating our online friendships.  Last year in September of 2016 many of us got together again for a second convocation in conjunction with our first real life sales pitch to the Movers & Shakers of the Inman City Council, which went very well politically speaking even if it did not raise the money we need to get the project off the ground.  Even without the money though, it provides a Foundation to work from and brings more supporters into the project, so that is progress.  Hopefully in this next year we will see more progress, we're working on a Greenhouse project in Inman at the moment.

——————-

PHEW!  After over 13,000 words, this more or less encapulates my life and how I got to this point, still semi-ambulatory and above ground.  I did not cover the many times I should have died before I hit 60 in this autobiography, although I have detailed a few of them Inside the Diner.  Perhaps if I make it to 65 that will be the next autobiographical post.  I have also over the last few weeks thoroughly pissed off and aliented some of the Diners with my opinions.  The basic problem is that generally speaking people cannot handle the TRUTH of their lives.  Because I am on my way out the door, I tell them the truth they do not want to hear.  So I may very well leave this iteration of walking the Earth in a Meat Suit with no friends left.  So it goes.

Where does it go from here?

Given my wide variety of medical issues, I don't give myself many more years walking the earth as a corporeal meat package.  It's a race to see which collapses first, my biological functions or the global industrial economy? lol.  I do HOPE I live long enough to witness the kind of fast collapse of the monetary system that I think will occur at some point in the timeline, and I MIGHT live just about long enough to see that.  If not, I will witness it instead from the Bleacher Seats of the Great Beyond.  The Daily task of walking around inside this decrepit Meat Suit is no fun though.

In the meantime, I have the Diner to write on and a great perch here on the Last Great Frontier to observe the chaos as it spirals out of control through the rest of the world. Here it still is quite peaceful, the shelves are stocked full of food I usually don't have much appetite for but is nice to look at as I cruise around the aisles of 3 Bears on my Ewz.  I am getting better at passing up bargains on sales of Ribeye Steaks and Baby Lamb Chops, I am out of freezer space for more meat and I can never finish a package before it goes bad.

On the uplifting and positive side, the SUN project still slogs onward, and there are new projects to undertake with that to keep me bizzy and my mind occupied.  I have a nice new Dell All-in-One computer with a HUGE monitor screen, the biggest one I ever had in all my years as a computer and electronic gadget junkie.  The internet is now more or less at its Apex, it's getting increasingly more intrusive but you still do have the freedom to write and have others read it.  At least as long as you stay within some boundaries anyhow, you won't last long if you advocate for terrorism for instance.  You can however make analysis of why terrorism exists and what the motivations are for terrorism. Besides the somewhat circumscribed freedom to write, as much as Google is a collector of YOUR information on YOUR life intruding into your personal privacy, it's also a fucking AMAZING search engine.  With a well composed query of a few words, I can get answers to questions I am thinking about in a few seconds, depending how fast my ISP is moving, not how fast Google processes the packets.  Besides that, when composing my material, I am no longer limited to just text, I can also search up and include pics, videos and audio to illustrate the points I am trying to make, and of course if a Picture is worth 1000 words, a Vid clip of just a minute in length is worth 1800 pics at 30 frames/sec, which makes it worth 1.8M words!  It would take me a long time to write that many words! lol.

Seriously though, for all it's faults and problems, the internet is still a pretty decent communication medium, and at least for now I remain reasonably able to communicate with the rest of the world.  The Diner actually is still below the Radar of sites banned in China, we even make it through to there.  It also continues to grow, and ovverall readership at the moment is around 400 users/day, which far as I am concerned is plenty of people to be reaching every day (although I would like more of course!).

If the internet does crap out before I do, I'll have to evacuate my digs here and get together with some of the other Diners in the Lower 48 or I'll go completely stir-crazy (I'm halfway there already).  Hopefully though, the crapout does not occur before I tidy up the last of my legal battles with the bureaucracy, hopefully again by the end of this calendar year.  Then it will be off to another adventure of my life in the Age of Oil, likely the Last Great Adventure.

It's been a blast though, and I was a very lucky individual to be born when I was, where I was and to who I was, along with the gifts given to me by God.  Regrets?  I have a few, but then again, to few to mention.  I did it MY WAY.

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.

https://saferide4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/travel-with-kids-rv.jpgWhich 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.

https://www.boatsandoutboards.co.uk/upload/sailingyogafamilyfinal.pngFirst 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.

I Spy Doom Vol 2 Issue 3: Improving Personal Heaters

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 26, 2017

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In our last episode of I Spy Doom, we looked at ways to make a very simple Personal Heater from just a Soup Can, a Rock and a source of heat like a Tea Light Candle or Can of Sterno.  In fact you can use about anything that you can burn as a source of heat in one of these things, from Twigs to Newzpaper.  It's not a huge source of heat, but in a very small space like a 2 man tent or a refrigerator box for the homeless, it will make a decent difference in the overall warmth of your shelter.  You can of course also use more than one of them at a time, just be sure you put it somewhere you are not going to knock it over.  A good way to do that is to hang it from the ridge line or roof of your shelter.  Cut holes in either side of the can and make a hanger from some piano wire.

Generally speaking, overnight while you sleep it's not a good practice to leave your heater burning while you sleep in a tent or cardboard refrigerator box.  It could get windy or a stray dog might come by and jostle the box, starting a fire which you would not be aware of until it was too late.  However, you shouldn't need a fire burning while you are sleeping, your sleeping bag and cold weather clothing should be enough to insulate you through the night, when you wake up you can start them up again and wait for them to take the chill out of the morning air before you crawl out of your bag.  After you extinguish the fire prior to sleeping also, you can take your last couple of Hot Rocks, wrap them in a towel and put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag.  That will keep you warm in even the coldest temperatures!

In today's episode, we're going to improve on our Soup Can/Rock Heater with another cheap addition, an insulator & reflector.  Staying as cheap as possible again to make this Homeless Affordable, we're using just cardboard, aluminum foil and duct tape.  This combination of materials is very useful in a wide variety of applications, and future episodes of I Spy Doom will feature other devices constructed in this way.  We'll also go on to show how they can be improved on with a slightly higher cost from hardware materials you can purchase at Home Depot or Lowe's.

Stay Warm in Collapse!  You don't want to end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska.

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.

http://cdn-tp1.mozu.com/17461-27355/cms/27355/files/a5d90bd6-9530-4375-8361-057286acd1c1?max=650&_mzcb=_1498847188140 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.

http://www.peakwheels.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Specialized-Mountain-Bike-for-Kids.jpg 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.

http://kbelectricpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/spaceheater.jpg 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!

http://media.safebee.com/assets/images/2015/5/beach-bonfire.jpg 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.

https://jehingr.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/campfire-hot-dog.jpg 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.

http://www.overdriveonline.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2013/01/TruckerTim0095-sleeper-sleep.jpg 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!

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 © ,

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.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/35/2c/e8/352ce8d4a3b98d3a831da6058b2beff0.jpg 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.

https://newyork-ny-4766.theupsstorelocal.com/Image%20Library/4766/4766.jpg 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:

http://roadtreking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/trailer.jpg

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.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4a/d9/05/4ad905d71001d5bd2a9391be04910b22--single-burner-propane-stove-stoves.jpg 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…

ENJOY WHAT IS LEFT OF NATURE WHILE YOU STILL CAN, AND WATCH YOUR MIRRORS!

I Spy Doom RETURNS!

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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. 😀

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.):

http://nickbobby-treeservices.co.uk/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urlimagefile&blobheader=image%2Fjpeg&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3Dtree-work-suffolk-nick-bobby-tree-services-tree-felling.jpg&blobkey=id&blobtable=UXImage&blobwhere=1340520657244&ssbinary=true&moddate=2012-06-25%2013:53:54 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.

http://evansheline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Walmart-Mario-Cart.jpg 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.

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpg 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?

https://www.freshoffthegrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Van-Venutres-Sprinter-Van-27.jpg 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.

60: Life & Times of a Boomer Doomer 4

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 9, 2017

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Read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 at the Links

The OTR Trucking Years

I covered this period of my life in extensive detail in my 5 part Over the Road series back in the early years of the Diner.  I won't rehash that stuff here, although there are a few stories I left out.

http://static.wixstatic.com/media/69d8a0_481c7c21f5a64e539bcd3d26894c10f5.jpg_srz_260_158_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz The first is that prior to going out in the truck, after years of headaches with Student Loans and Credit Card bills, I finally got out of debt.  I was completely broke with no assets at all they could take in a bankruptcy.  I only had my 10 year old Toyota, and they can't take your primary transportation.  Besides it was worth almost nothing.  The Student Loans were gone, over the years I had transfered them to the Credit Cards.  So I didn't have the problem of Student Loans not being disharchargeble in a bankruptcy.  If you get a big enough CC limit over the years to do this, I highly recommend the method! lol.  So at the time of the BK, all my debt was in unsecured CC loans, and it wasn't that huge either by today's standards.  Around $7000 at the time as I recall, which is probably around $12K in 2017 dollars.  This may not seem like much, but when you are totally broke and the interest charges and penalties keep piling up, it just gets worse all the time. The Banks did not even bother to show up for this piddling bankruptcy though, and I walked out of the courtroom in 15 minutes, free and clear of debt for the first time in my adult life!  What a load off my shoulders!  I had a clean slate and a new job lined up as an OTR Trucker for Schneider National!  I never went in debt again for anything, and never held a Credit Card since.

Next is how this period which lasted around 7 years changed me psychologically.  Up until that time I had been a fairly gregarious person, enjoyed hanging out with friends, going to parties, etc.  However, when you are trucking you spend all day driving or getting loaded or unloaded for weeks at a time and don't talk to anybody.  In the truckstops where all the truckers congregate, I had nothing in common with them other than the fact we all drove big rigs.  Even if I did have something in common with them, it's a different crew of people every night so it's not like hanging out with friends.  More like going to a bar and talking to whoever sits down next to you.  The only person you might have regular conversations with and get to know some is the Bartender.

http://www.truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com/image-files/park-n-view-terminal-truck-stop-dsc02341.jpg I got used to being alone this way, and actually came to enjoy it over time.  I did have the internet, it was just getting into the Truckstops in the era, before Wi-Fi.  There was a company called Park n View which put little hubs into the asphalt you could get cable TV and a phone line.  It was dial-up modem era, and all text.  However, that was enough for me then, and I ran my Yahoo Groups and Forums in areas of interest to me at the time, primarily Gymnastics.  I maintained contact with coaches who were friends, and parents of some of the gymmies I had coached who kept me updated on their progress.  Three of them went on to become Elite Gymnasts and two made the National Team.

In addition, whenever I made it to Central California, I would take a few days off to go in and guest coach at a friend's tiny gym in the relatively poor Ag land area around Madera.  It was a small gym serving the mostly Mexican community, and she was persistently broke.  Not a super successful gym owner, she wasn't real good at bizness and she set up in the wrong neighborhood to make any money from the sport even as an owner.  She lived in a barn loft with 1 bedroom I think she paid around $300/mo for.  She also was a heavy smoker, and then shortly after I left trucking a couple of years later, she died from an embolism in her brain.  Around 45 years old at the time.

Of all the things I did not cover in the Over the Road series though was that this period featured the last real "relationship" I had with a female, as in something more than just a one night stand or one week stand.  After a year of slaving for Schneider at 21 cents a mile, I turned in my resignation a day after my anniversary, took a month off and then went to work for JB Hunt, first at 48 cents a mile as a company driver, then 2 years later as an Owner-Operator.  JB financed this if you were a clean driver who made his deliveries on time with no accidents, which was me.  In the first couple of years with JB I was already doing quite well and had virtually no expenses besides my truck expenses, and these were all tax deductable.  No rent, no mortgage, no utilities to pay on a McMansion.  No kids to buy clothes for, and the Med Insurance from JB was all paid for by them.  I was still pretty healthy at this time anyhow, and didn't need to see doctors except for my annual driving check up.  My Savings Account was piling up the FRNs.

So one day I hit the Petro in Joplin MO, one of the nicest truckstops out there and a favorite of mine to stop at whenever driving the I-44, which I did often because my terminal was in Kansas City and this route was one of their biggest.  On this day when I rolled in, I went in to hit the Buffet for dinner, and a REALLY cute young waitress came to take my order.  The Old RE came back from the dead and I made some jokes and flirted with her.  She laughed and made some jokes of her own.  I decided not to order the Buffet, but instead order a dish off the menu so that I would see her again.  More flirting when she brought the meal, more when she refilled my water glass and more when she brought me desert which I usually never order but it gave another opportunity to chat.  By this time I had found out she was attending the local community college and had grown up on a small farm outside Joplin.  She was half my age, but when she brought the check I asked her for her phone number and she gave it to me.  Thus began the last romance of my life, which lasted around a year and a half.

To her, I was a successful Trucker, I took her out to nice places and took her on the road with me a few times when she was off from school.  After a few months of this, she started talking about the Big M, Marriage.  I put it off, I said we should be dating at least a year before tying the knot.  I didn't want to dash her hopes entirely, I really enjoyed being with her and talking, she was a great listener although kind of quiet herself most of the time.  The sex also was quite good. lol.  She accepted this idea in her own quiet way and the talk of getting married stopped, until I had almost forgotten about it.  But then almost to the day I first met her the next time I rolled into Joplin up the topic came up again.

"So, it's been a year.  Don't you think we should set a date?"

I almost said "Date for what?", but I knew what she meant.  So I said, "Yes, I suppose we should.  How about when school lets out in May?"

A HUGE smile broke out on her face and she gave me the biggest hug EVAH!  It was only around 4 months away!  We would drive to Vegas and get hitched there.  She was happy, I was happy…for me for about a month.

Then all the old memories came back to me of my first marriage, while I was alone in the truck driving the endless miles of the Eisenhower Interstate.  On top of all those issues I thought about the new ones with this marriage.  As a trucker, I would be away from home most of the time, with a young and attractive wife at home, unless I took her with me on the road, and did I really want to be living inside a Freightliner 24/7 365 with ANYONE?  We would need a McMansion, and there would go all the savings I was piling up.  What if she got Pregnant!?!?  Just like wanting to get married, she surely would start talking about having kids inside a year or two.  These questions all floated through my brain every day, even as we chatted on the cell phone making plans for the Big Trip to Vegas .  The Butterflies in my stomach flapped their wings harder every day.

The fateful day finally arrived, and as I approached the Joplin Exit on the I-44, I realized I just could not do this, and I drove right by it.  We spoke on the phone and I made an excuse I got delayed and would be there in a couple of days.  I called her a couple of days later and told her the truth.  There were a lot of tears.  We spoke a few more times in the months after that, but the phone calls finally drifted into history.

Athough I often wonder how my life would have gone had I taken that exit off the interstate and it breaks my heart every time I think about it, in the end I think I made the right choice on this one, for her and for me as painful as it was and still is for me at least every time I let myself think about it.  About a year or so later 9-11 went down, and freight dropped off the map for a while.  Income dropped precipitously.  Not as bad a situation as when my Union had gone on strike financially for me during my first marriage since my expenses were so low, but had I been married that would not have been the case.  Besides that, I was quite sick of driving by this time, it's just an endless grind and doing it for the rest of my life was not something I wanted to do anymore than I had wanted to do battle with administrators and recalcitrant, unprepared and unruly students as a teacher for my whole life either.

So out of the Truck I got, and moved on to the next and last period of my Working life, a return to the World of Gymnastics as a Full Time Coach.  It also coincides with the years where I metamorphosed into a Doomer.

The Gymnastics Rerun & Early Doomer Years

After getting out of the truck, I had a nice buffer of savings and took a nice two month break from work while I figured out what to do with the rest of my life.  I finally settled on returning to gymnastics, as even though the pay wasn't great, at least I enjoyed the job and with money in the bank as long as it was enough for my bills, it would be fine.  So once again I called up old coaching friends and lined up a job in WI as Asst Head Coach for Optionals with the Team Director there, who was a friend of my friend.  It was a community owned gym, so she wasn't the Owner, just another employee except she had the right to hire and fire other coaches, with the approval of another employee, the overall Gym Director.  We came to a salary agreement I felt I could make ends meet on, which was hourly but guaranteed me a minimum of 30 hours a week of coaching time.  No medical bennies or retirement account or sick days, no pay for when the gym was closed for holidays, but generally enough to get by on.

This went fairly well for a couple of years, although there was the usual Gym Drama between coaches who all do not usually agree on the best means and methods for developing the gymmies. lol.  Still, our gymmies did pretty well, we took a couple to Nationals at Level 10 and we had a strong Compulsory level program in the younger age groups.

Unfortunately, the area was not doing well economically, it was in the lead-up to the Financial Crisis in 2008, in the years 2005-2007 or so.  Enrollment in the rec & preschool programs were low, and the Gym Director called me in one day and told me she had to cut my hours back to 20/week, just Team.  I told her I couldn't live on that, and she told me there was nothing she could do, they just weren't making enough money.  So I started checking the Ads in USA Gymnastics Magazine (still not fully digital job seeking yet on the internet), and found one for a gym in Alaska looking for a Head Coach.  A week or so later after sending out the resume via Snail Mail I got a call from the owner, and we had several more long phone calls after that discussing philosophy and how to build a good high level gymnastics program.  He then invited me to fly up for a test week, paying for my plane ticket and expenses.  The test week overall went well, he offered me a Salaried Position with bennies and I immediately quit the job in WI on returning and made plans to move to Alaska the following month.

I moved up here with no car, no furniture, just the 5 bags of personal stuff I usually carried with me during my years as an OTR trucker.  It was just before they started dropping charges on checked baggage on the airlines, so the 3 bags that went in the baggage compartment did not cost me any money on that trip.  It was in February of 2007 that I made my migration as a refugee from the lower 48. lol.

Things were not precisely as the owner had made them out to be when I arrived, as I soon found out.  He indicated the old Head Coach who had been with him from the early days of the gym wanted to step back to spend more time with her family, but in fact she did not want to at all and was very resentful of me.   We had a kind of shared Head Coaching responsibility, and we battled often the first year.  We reached a raproachment of sorts in the second year, and the gym began to turn around from perennial loser to State Champion at several levels.  Things were looking OK, but then I got my first real medical issue, Peripheral Artery Disease in my legs.  I had to take time off for a rotor rooter job on the femoral arteries, and in the meantime the Owners Daughter (again!) took over responsibility as Head Coach.  The original HC had by this time quit and gone into teaching PE in the Pulic Schools.  Once I had recuperrated and came back in, things were way worse than they ever were with the original HC, me and the Owner's Daughter were like Oil and Water and just could not mix.

My gymnastics responsibilities were reduced, and my job was redefined to help grow the Private-Homeschool Academic program the Owner had dreams of building, as addition to the Day Care program he already ran that went from Infancy to Pre-K.  I lasted an additional 2 years this way, spending part of the day teaching the Homeschoolers through 3rd through 6th Grade, and the other half teaching developmental gymanstics to pre-team level gymmies.  This kept me and Owner's Daughter from butting heads much over team, although it was distressing for me to watch her eviscerate the program I had been building.

It might have persisted a while longer, except the Homeschool program was losing money. Not enough parents wanted to pay for this service that was supposed to bridge the gap in cost between Public & Private School.  So at the end of the second academic year of this, the Owner gave me my walking papers.

So, now I am past 55, and the likelihood I can find anyone down in the lower 48 to hire me at a decent paying position with bad legs and overall diminished mobility necessary for spotting in gymnastics is quite small.   However, there was a recently opened gym by another former employee, which had grown some and moved into a new facility.  I went over there and talked to the fellow who opened it, a New Owner.  We came to an agreement of my old hourly, but only 20 hours/week to start.  Not enough to cover my bills, but not draining my savings too fast either, so I figured in a couple of years we would grow the program and I would get more hours.

Grow the program we did, and once again the gym went from perrenial loser to State Champion in the 3 years I was there.  Team Doubled in size.  That's a LOT of additional income over that time period.  Did I see any raises or any more hours?  Nope.   Instead in year 3 said owner invested his additional income in expanding the gym and buying tons of expensive new equipment.

In the same year, I took a fall while spotting on the Uneven Bars and injured my neck.  Consequences from this began to crop up, extreme pain for a while, then my right arm became semi-paralyzed, then walking started getting difficult, etc.  I was trying to hang on long enough to take my last bunch of gymmies to State Championships, but then just a couple of weeks before that me and the owner had one more big argument and my career as a gmynastics coach was over.  It would have been over anyhow in a couple of weeks, the doctors told me it was too dangerous to continue, but there was just no way I could go into work the next day after that argument.  Fortunately, the gymmies were well prepped and they all went on to win the State Championships at all 3 levels I had been coaching.

During this whole decade of time, simultaneously I became a Doomer, and that began right after I moved up here.  Even though it occured at the same time, I'll give it a separate category, the Beginning Doomer Years.

The Beginning Doomer Years Coming to a Laptop near you in August, my Birthday Month.

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.

http://www.rvt.com/photos2/7263/7457263/main.jpg

http://www.rvbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Journey-F2B-42E-14-resized.jpg

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!

http://www.alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/images/stories/activities/fishing/dipnetting/dipnetting_technique.jpg

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.

Going on a Land Hunt

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 2, 2017

 

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This is Part 4, the final installment of the Alaska Sustainability series.

Read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 at the Links.

In our last episode of this 4 part series on the Survivability and Sustainability of Alaska once TSHTF here in Collapse, I took a Road Trip up to Talkeetna in my new Stealth Van (now Christened with the name SaVannah) to have a look at a possible piece of property for the first SUN☼stead.  Prior to that in Part 2, I looked at the property through the lens of Google Earth, which without actually going there and for FREE, you can get a pretty good fly over view of just about any patch of land on earth.  It's a great tool, and these days you wonder how anyone could search down a real good property without it?

As good as it is though, it's still no substitute for Boots on the Ground investigation of a property you might want to fork over your hard won FRNs for.  There's a lot more to consider than just the general geography and lay of the land you can discern from Googe Earth satellite views, they're not detailed enough to give you the actual terrain features, particularly not when obscured by tree cover.  In the .xml file you can find out more information on this, but it is still not that detailed.   Besides the terrain features which affect your ability to build on the land and the expense that will entail, you have issues of how deep the water table is for digging a well, and what the water quality is in the location.  Here in Alaska, there are many places where the ground water has high levels of Arsenic in it, occuring naturally even not from mining.  Not a good location to dig a well.

Then there is the brush and tree cover, how thick is it and what would it take to clear land either for domiciles or for some type of farming or ranching?  What is the topsoil like, could you directly grow Alaska Carrots & Potatoes in the soil, or will you need to build Raised Beds or do hydroponics or aquaculture to grow produce effectively?  Can you raise domesticated animals like pigs or chickens on this plot of land, and what are the needs of those animals for them to survive a frigid Alaska winter?  How big a barn will you need for them, and will you need to insulate and/or heat it through the coldest months?  Where will you get feed from if you can't grow it all yourself?

The biggest hurdle of all currently though and not available for review on Google Earth is PROPERTY LAW!  What does the deed actually state, how "unrestricted" is this land really?  What kind of domiciles will the county allow you to put up?  Can they be temporary and movable like Tiny Homes?  Is it OK to live in an RV-Bugout Machine on the property?  Is septic required or can you just use an outhouse or Humanure Composing system?  Could you drop down as far as Tents or Teepees to dwell on the property?

All these questions and more were in my mind as I headed up the Parks Highway in SaVannah, my recently purchased 1999 Ford V-8 conversion van to have a Boots on the Ground view of the property I had Googled up the prior week.  I passed the turn off onto the spur that leads to Talkeetna and continued up the Parks Highway, in the general direction of Denali National Park and then Fairbanks, another major piece down the road.  I crossed the Susitna river at one of its more narrow points where they dropped in a bridge, continuing up the road until I saw the signs for Trapper Creek.  As towns go, this one is even smaller with less to do even in summer than Talkeetna, which is right across the Susitna river on the other side, but "you can't get there from here", at least not with going back 15 miles to get to the bridge.  The river is too wide at this point for anything but a pretty expensive trestle bridge or suspension bridge, and there isn't traffic to justify that.  It's also far too deep and fast flowing to cross in a 4-wheeler also.

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/frontiersman.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/b5/5b5ea550-4a46-11e1-82dc-001871e3ce6c/4f24ed980b95e.preview-300.jpg As I arrive at the general neighborhood of the property, I see that Trapper Creek is a runoff stream from the Susitna River, and as such will always have water flowing, at least until all the glaciers finally melt off which is going to take quite some time.  That is all the water you could ask for on a property, fresh and flowing rapidly and many sorts of micro hydro experiments could be done on it.  You could even dam it up, although that would be a big job on a stream of this size.   Not as big as the job of damming up the Susitna River herself of course, which would take the Army Corps of Bozos to pull off.  In fact there is a proposal to do just that upriver a ways, but it probably will not get built for a number of reasons.  First off, the financing of it is close to impossible, because it would cost $5B even on estimates, and you gotta know it would have cost overruns that would double that before it was finished.  The total population it would serve could never pay it off, and that is obvious even to the Magical Accounting people on Wall Street.  Then there are the Environmental and Tourista concerns.  It would play havoc with the salmon run on the Susitna, whether they build fish stairs or not for the fishies to keep swimming upstream past the dam.  It also would reduce flow downriver during the periods the reservoir was filling, mainly in the Spring and early Summer as the runoff comes down from Denali and the rest of the mountain range from the melt off of the winter snows.  Besides messing with salmon migrations, this also fucks with a main Tourista Draw for people who like to Canoe or Kayak during this time of year, when if you are going downstream you don't have to do much beyond steer your boat, the river current does all the real work.  You "float" the river, you don't really paddle it.  The Susitna isn't a full on Whitewater experience except if there is an exceptional rainfall so it is not good for rafting except in a few short stretches, but the water does move quite rapidly downstream and you'll easily cover 5 miles/hour floating it.  You'll be down in the Gulf of Alaska before you know it.

As a result of all these negative repurcussions, all the artsy Tourista biznesses in Talkeetna are dead set against it.  Just about every store or bar had a sign up or a flyer plastered on the wall of NO DAM!  Besides the probable destruction of their Tourist trade is the fact that Talkeetna is straight down river from the proposed site of the dam, and if/when it fails all of Talkeetna and anyone who lives within a mile or so of the current track of the Susitna river would be washed away in a nano-second.  The land around there is pretty flat, and if all that water came washing down at once it would spread out over quite a wide area before draining off.  I don't think the dam will be built though, so this is not a huge factor for me in calculating whether this land purchase for SUN☼ would be a good one.

Getting back to Trapper Creek and Talkeetna, the only way to connect them directly that might be in any way economical would be with some kind of ferry system.  You could cross the river with a powerboat of course, if it has a decent enough engine to buck the current.  Another way would be a raft attached to cables strung across the river, for a "Missouri Boat Ride". lol.  I don't expect either of those options to be taken though, so after TSHTF to get from one half of the combined town to the other, you're stuck with riding your Ewz or Horse down to where the current bridge actually is, then back up again on the other side, as long as that bridge is up.  If you want to go home the same day, you better get an early start in the morning.

Nevertheless, for the SUN☼stead I am not real concerned with being able to trek over to Talkeetna from Trapper Creek every day, maybe once a week during the summer for the Farmer's Market and some trading. The fact the property was right on Trapper Creek with 100' of frontage was enough to make my property acquisition juices start flowing though, despite the fact I am generally against the individual ownership of land property.  Philosophically speaking, since I was shopping for SUN☼ and not myself, I was avoiding this moral dilemma and didn't feel any hypocrisy.  OK, maybe a little. lol.

Approaching the property, the first thing I noted was that it was heavily treed and as of now completely undeveloped.  Looking at the land platte and how it was sub-divided up, the 5 acres I was looking at were the third in from the road.  There was no way I was getting back in there on the Ewz, even a healthy guy on foot would have a hard time making it through all that brush.  So walking the property itself was out of the question, although I could tell it was all basically flat land, and once you did clear some trees it wouldn't be hard to put any kind of building on it at all, permanent or temporary.  No major earth moving to do to level the ground for a pad to build on.

However, the lack of any kind of road or trail in currently, plus the density of the tree growth on this patch of land means that for the moment, until the total property is developed (which includes about 6 5 acre properties and 4 10 acre ones) really can't be used for anything, including camping.  I couldn't drive SaVannah up to Talkeetna and spend the night sleeping in her bunk for instance on the SUN☼ owned patch of the earth for instance.  I would have to park SaVannah on the roadside and hike my in on my crippled legs, set up a tent, etc.  If they would let you set up tents, but they won't do that.  The Deed Restrictions say you gotta plop a McMansion down on this property.  Will I buy this property for SUN☼?  Obviously not, it's idiotic.  It's no better than a stupid ass property in the middle of suburbia in Inman, SC.  Just colder in the winter. lol.  It is a good deal cheaper than the stupid property in Inman though.

However, the placement of the property on the Susitna River continued to intrigue me even though I couldn't get on the property itself, and I pondered on it while driving back over to Talkeetna on the other side of the river to grab some photos.  I gave the Real Estate Agent a call and had her send me more of the documents on the property.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XebeG8Kg2Rc/Tx7xRVbWCuI/AAAAAAAAADM/hj2hkWt37VE/s1600/ranch+style+house+1.jpg As it turns out, the property is NOT in fact "unrestricted", the only type of dwellings you are allowed to erect on it are 1 family houses, which I am sure have to be up to the standards of the local McMansion building and fire codes.  Even worse than that though is the fact there isn't even a trail as of yet back into where the property actually is, and you couldn't really cut your own either since it would pass through the two other properties that are between it and the county maintained road.  You would need an easement of some kind to do this, but there are already plans in place for a subdivision road to go through, just it hasn't been built yet.  Nor have any of the McMansions on any of the other plots been started, nor has any sewer or electric been put in.  What is going on here?

In all likelihood, maybe a decade or two back, some developer bought this whole tract of land which is probably 50-100 acres in size, with the intention of subdividing it into plots for Vacation Homes.  A couple of people bought plots but never built on them.  The original owner probably retains ownership the on plot that is right on the county road itself.  Even though there are currently no "Home Owners" here because there are no Homes, there IS a Home Owners Association! LOL.

Besides the only single home restriction (which is MAJOR), there don't appear to be any other major ones.  You can raise animals as long as they are properly penned in and you can have a garden or farm it if you can (which I doubt, the soil is piss poor).  Regardless, the single home restriction is a deal breaker.  At the beginning, the property would just be for me to camp on during the summers and do some experimenting with Hydroponics in a small dome, as well as holding convocations where everybody camps out in tents or RVs.  This is not going to fly with the HOA.

So here we are up on the Last Great Frontier in pretty much the middle of NOWHERE with nobody else around for at least a mile or so, and you can't do WTF you want with your own property, which you are paying fucking taxes on!  Do you think this is any better down in the Lower 48 in Suburbia?  Of course it's not, it's WORSE down there!  I am beginning to think there is NO SUCH THING as "unrestricted land", at least not any you can buy in small parcels.  This got me to thinking about how this whole system actually WORKS.

I can drive the length of the Glenn Highway (Hwy 1) or the Parks Highway (Hwy 3) and along both stretches of road there are MILES of completely unoccupied land, but NONE of it apparently for sale.  Who OWNS this land?  It's not National or State Park land.  Answer is it is mainly State or Federally owned and managed land, whatever "managing" means in this context.  They don't have people out there patrolling the property.

If you want to use or buy this land, you have to do it through Da Goobermint and they don't sell or lease it off in 10 acre parcels.  Probably not even in 100 acre parcels.  I bet that you need to be in the market for 1000 acres or more before you can negotiate for one of these tracts of land.  This completely takes out the Little Guy from land ownership at the origination level.  Only big ass Pigmen and Corporations can afford to buy such large tracts of land.

http://www.homeinvasionnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/HOA-Police.jpeg So the first Major Pigman buys a tract of land of say 10,000 acres with basically No Restrictions except maybe sticking to EPA rules on the environment (now being eviscerated by Trumpovetsky).  He sells off this land in 1000 acre parcels to some lesser Pigmen with only a few restrictions like where the roads and sewer pipes will go.  These guys sell off to various commercial and residential developers in 100 acre lots with a few more restrictions, like what that lot will be zoned for.  This lowest level Real Estate Pigman drops on the final set of restrictions on what can be built or done on J6Ps 5 or 10 acre plot, and establishes a Home Owners Association.

Based on this general analysis, I wonder if there is ANYWHERE in the FSoA SUN can buy the kind of truly unrestricted land we need to demonstrate Sustainable Living techniques?  Seems like you would need to be a Billionaire to pull it off.

Which brings me back around to the Talkeetna property.  If NOWHERE is going to have truly unrestricted property, then because the price is so good this might be a BUY anyhow, not to use now but on SHTF Day.  It's an "investment property".  The HOA can't do anything if we build nothing at all on it. After SHTF Day, HOA's will be meaningless.  Who will enforce the restrictions?

The only thing against this for me is the current lack of access of even a trail to get back there, and no clue whatsoever as to when they figure to cut an access road in.  I'll talk to the Real Estate agent about that next week.

Overall to date, the Landhunt for property for SUN☼ has been quite frustrating.  For myself at this point I prefer the idea of not owning any land at all and just living the Nomadic Existence of the OTR Trucker, which I am thoroughly familiar with.  Just it would be a lot better since I wouldn't have any asshole shippers, receivers, dispatchers, safety officers or lumpers to deal with.  Also with a Van rather than a fucking huge Freightliner tractor and 53' of trailer I wouldn't be relegated to Truckstops and Rest Areas every night.  National & State Parks, Private Campgrounds, Walmart Parking lots and Bates Motels without Truck Parking, all open season for SaVannah, my Stealth Van.  The World is my Oyster!  On SHTF Day, I take my last tank of gas and drive it hopefully to one of my Diner friend's Doomsteads with all my preps on board and see just how long I last.  Or I could punch my Ticket to the Great Beyond and drive SaVannah off a cliff.  We'll go out of the Age of Oil together, in a Blaze of Glory.

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 28, 2017

 

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As regular Diners know, I have been battling many health issues resulting from my injury to my neck along with chronic spinal deterioration.  Immediate symptoms after the injury were overall muscle weakness, partial paralysis of my right arm, bowel immediacy issues (when you gotta go, you gotta go!), tinnitis ("ringing" in the ears) and severe pain for a couple of months which eventually calmed down to just steady medium level pain.  All of these stem from the same place, the injury to the C3-C5 vertebrae, where the nerve bundle got squished down to about 2 centimeters.  You're normally supposed to have around 8cm of space in there for your spinal chord.  It stayed this way for quite some time, because I was uninsured and I wasn't going to go in without insurance, because first off just the testing would nearly have wiped me out financially, and second after that I wouldn't have been able to afford the price of an operation, so why bother spending the money on testing?

Injuries this high up the spinal column in the neck are very debilitating.  Had the spinal chord actually been cut through another 2cm, I would be a quadraplegic right now or preferably dead.  I didn't know all this at the time though, it wasn't until I finally got insurance from Obamacare that I went in to get the testing done. Testing mainly expensive MRI and CT scans for this task. After getting some really annoying and occasionally painful testing done by the neurodiagnostician as well, I was informed by her that if I took one more fall that I WOULD end up a quadraplegic.  Given my work as a gymnastics coach, falls are likely, so I had to leave the job.  Thus began a wonderful adventure through the legal system of Workman's compensation, still ongoing.  I'll leave the complete story of that nonsense until I get a resolution from the latest of the battles with Social Security, after a hearing I am scheduled for on Aug 16th.  This however is not the main topic of this article, the medical issues.  So let me move on here.

The diagnosis from the neurodiagnostician got me referred over to a neurosurgeon for a carving job to be done on my neck.  I was at first unwilling to do this as I wasn't sure how it would all get paid for.  However, my Workman's Compensation lawyer told me I HAD to get the operation, not to do so would severely damage my case making it look like I didn't want to get better.  So in I went in August of 2015 to have the Pros From Dover carve up my neck.  Prior to the operation Dr. Hawkeye Pierce informed me that there were no outcomes guaranteed from the very expensive operation he performs.  Sometimes people have a virtual instantaneous relief and improvement, that is the most hoped for result of course.  Second best is that after the operation there is a gradual return of functions along with the relief of pain.  Third is that the operation doesn't do any good at all, no improvement.  He didn't mention whether occasionally things are WORSE after the operation.  The anaesthesiologist Dr. Trapper John McIntyre did inform me occasionally patients have bad reactions to the anaesthetics used and die though. lol.  No statistics are available on what the percentage distribution of these possible outcomes are for any particular Pro from Dover.

I was fortunate enough to avoid Door #5 there, but I ended up with Door #4.  A few things were worse immediately after the operation, and little improved.  On the improvement side, I got a little more strength in the muscles overall and some of the range of motion back in the right arm.  On the downside, the tinnitis got worse, the bowel problems got worse, and additionally a new problem appeared, a serious loss of appetite and ability to eat much food.  It takes a real effort for me most of the time to stuff any food in my pie hole, and I sure don't enjoy it like I used to.  So my nutrition hasn't been real good over the last  year and a half either, causing other knock-on health effects.

The biggest NEW symptom (although it is going on around 6 months since it first appeared) is a persistent ITCH, which first started in the middle of my back then spread to my shoulders.  I started rubbing my back on the backrest of my office chair almost constantly, which I am still doing along with other now itchy areas as the problem has extended to the front side of my upper torso and neck as well.  The constant rubbing on my back has produced a kind of rough, red, patchy, scaly Dragon skin over the time period which kind of resembles hives.

This began right around New Year's, and at this time I was once again uninsured, because the Obamacare Insurer I had been with for the last 2 years pulled out of the system.  Also, my income dropped low enough to be eligible for Medicaid, but after applying in November 2016, no Medicaid ID card had arrived.  So I had another 3 month adventure exchanging snail mails with Meidcaid (no Goobermint, Health Care or Insurance will communicate via email) to finally get a "Manual Issuance Letter" with the Medicaid ID number on it which normally comes as a Card you can stuff in your wallet, to thicken it up some more with your 2 forms of Goobermint Issued ID (I have an Alaska Drivers License & Passport Card), your Debit Cards/Plastic Digibit money, and your food superstore discount and "rewards" card, along with whatever paper money you choose to carry for the occasions the plastic money doesn't work.  This all makes for an ever thickening wallet.  I never did receive the Card from Medicaid, but the letter has done the job with all the various Billing Offices I have visited since March so far.

I also had to get a new "Primary Care Physician", since the Internist I had been using for the last 6 years up here retired as of Dec 31st also.  He wasn't able to sell the practice to a younger Doc, even though he had a nice sized Patient list.  All he got sold was the condo office space he had in a medical and legal strip mall in Palmer.  I had to go over to his office to get all my medical records by February before he shut down, otherwise who knows where they would have ended up?  I did get them in time though.  They also gave me a list of possible Docs and Clinics to try, only some of whom accept Medicaid.  After the 3rd try I found one, a Non-Profit called the Mat-Su Health Services Center.  It's mostly staffed with Nurse Practitioners and Physician's Assistants though, not Med Skule graduates.  I think there are only 1 or 2 M.D.s or D.O.s on the staff there, and I didn't luck into getting one of those.  I didn't luck into getting one of those, I got one of the Nurse Practitioners, and while she is a nice enough woman who has been around the Med Biz a long time so far she hasn't been much help other than as a conduit to get me a referral to a specialist in the area my problem appears to be located, which she also isn't usually too sure of. So for the ITCH, on the first visit she just recommended some Over the Counter creams & ointments, which did jack shit over the next 2 weeks when I went in for the follow up visit.  Then on the next visit, she did a Punch Biopsy taking a coule of chunks out of my back Dragon Skin to send to the lab

After doing a punch biopsy on my back which ranges in colors from bright red to orange to green, she referred me to a Dermatologist who I actually know, since I coached both of his daughters in gymnastics. This process took another month, while the itching is getting worse, not better.  Finally see the Skin Pro, he has a look see and gives me a couple of scrips, one anti-fungal and one supposed itch reliever, which does nothing.  5 Weeks until the follow up visit!  By now I am itching my brains out and this is only on the back side of my torso!  I'm still waiting for that 5 week follow up visit, scheduled for June 23.

In the last 3 weeks, things got a whole lot worse than the awful they already were, as the itch migrated itself to include not just my back and shoulders, but my chest, neck, armpits,and upper arm to the elbow joint as well.  It's always the worst right after I wake up, where the itchy-scratchy show can go for a full hour.  Yesterday was particularly bad it wouldn't calm down for more than 4 hours straight, and I was basically in tears.  For the first time in my life I truly contemplated suicide.  Living like this is simply intolerable, you can't even think straight while the itch is overwhelming you.  At least with PAIN you can block it out with Opiates.  Nothing seems to work with this shit.

In the interim, while neither the Nurse Practitioner nor the Dermatologist seemed to have a clue what is causing the Itch From Hell, one of the Diners JDW came up with a diagnosis that matches my symptoms plus makes sense given my spinal issues.  In all probability this is a case of Notalgia Paresthetica, a form of Neuropathic Puritis (itching).  The itching doesn't come from the skin, it comes from the nerves.  They are being enervated by being pinched in the spine on the way out the door to get to your skin, making your skin hypersensitive to everything from touch to pressure to dampness from sweat.  You perceive this as an itch, but it's really not the same kind of itch as say a mosquito bite.   All the topical ointments and creams I have tried don't do jack shit to relieve it, and neither do anti-histamines or even ibuprofen.  According to what little literature there is on this topic, the only things besides (more) surgery that sometimes helps are cortico-steroids or accupuncture.

With this new knowledge in hand, I called the NP and told her what I thought the problem was, and asked her for a referal to a Neurologist here in the valley.  She agreed to make the referal having already seen me 3 times for this problem, but I still haven't got a call from the Neuro Pro from Dover to schedule an appointment after a week of waiting.  Next week I'll call the NP again to see what is going on with that, but I also called the Neurosurgeon Pro From Dover for a follow up visit with him to see if he can write me a scrip for something that might help.  Also, see if he can refer me to an accupuncturist so maybe then Medicaid will reimburse for that.  If I just go to one, I'll have to pay for it straight up out of pocket.  I am sure though that he will order another set of scans to see the latest condition of my spine and then after that recommend another surgery.  That is of course how surgeons make their big money, not by chatting with patients and writing scrips.  They only do that once a week because they have to so you know they are a real person and not a robot.

Will I go in for another surgery?  If Medicaid will pay for it and I haven't found any other way to relieve the problem, damn straight I will.  If Medicaid will not pay for it and it persists, at some point here I will blow my brains out.  I'm not going to spend what is still good money to keep this failing Meat Package ticking another day just so I can write another blog about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  Been there, done that, own the T-shirt.

The main problem far as the near future is concerned is this puts all my plans for the future, be it travelling the country in my stealth van or buying some land for SUN on ice.  I can't make any plans for the future right now until I get this issue resolved.

Like Sands through the Hourglass, these are the Days of our Collapse Lives.

 

Maiden Voyage of SaVANnah

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 25, 2017

 

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This is Part 3 of a 4 Part series on the sustainability of Alaska in a post-Collapse World, and how to make it happen.

Read Part 1 HERE. Read Part 2 HERE.

 

In our last episode of the Alaska Sustainability & Resilience series, we shifted the focus of the location of the first SUN☼stead from South Carolina to either Alaska or the Pacific Northwest of OR, WA, ID and MT.  This due mainly to the MONEY problem of raising enough FRNs to pull off a project like SUN☼ in the relatively expensive neighborhood of the East Coast of the FSoA.  Besides the expense were the problems of the presence of Nuke Puke reactors in the neighborhood, plus the fact this area has already been developed for the most part around the unsustainable Suburban Car dependent model.  So, Plan B has been implemented to look for cheaper land in a less populated area with NO NUKES!

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Since I LIVE in Alaska and am currently twiddling my thumbs waiting for my SSA Hearing to resolve the dispute between them and Workman's Compensation, I am utilizing the time to investigate some properties up here on the Last Great Frontier as possible SUN☼stead locations.  In the last article, I hunted one down in Talkeetna which looked just about PERFECT, at least on Google Earth.  However, you can't really tell for sure about a property even with this marvelous technological wizardry, there is no substitute for Boots on the Ground.  So in order to do this investigation, I took my new (for me, it's actually a 1999 in very good condition) Stealth Van for its Maiden Voyage up to Talkeetna to have a look.  What follows below is my Travelog Diary of the trip.

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Overall SaVannah performed pretty well, although she downshifts pretty hard on the grades and the handling is typically coarse as with most of these light trucks.  I will bring her in to have the tranny looked at before taking it across the Al-Can, for sure.  I will be very depressed if I have to drop in a new tranny for  $3000.  :(  I haven't done a fillup yet to get a precise gas mileage figure, I'm going to wait until after next week's trip down to Anchorage for the appointment with the Neurosurgeon Pro from Dover.  However, according to the gas tank meter we used 1/4 of a tank and the odometer reading was 150 miles.  That would indicate a 600 mile range on a single tank, which is astounding for a passenger vehicle.  It must have a whopping big gas tank.  I'm going to guess 40 gallons. (edit: I since got a reading on gas mileage for the van.  15 mpg average.  Not great, but a good deal better than my old Tioga Bugout Machine which got 7mpg on a good day going downhill.  As a result, I virtually never drove it.  I don't think I put 500 miles on it in 5 years of ownership of this vehicle.  I kept it as a one time emergency bugout machine).

I hung out around Talkeetna until around 8PM, but since it's still light out until after 1AM at this time of year.  Actually, it never gets truly dark around the Solstice here, you get a kind of twilight between the hours of around 1AM and 5AM.  Here is a picture from my back porch at 2AM as I write this article.

I elected to drive back home to the digs rather than sleep in the van. It's only around a 90 minute drive. The other option was to stay in one of the rental cabin places, but my cheapskate side didn't want to spend the money.  I did take a nap in the van however after lunch for about an hour.

I finally got on the road close to noon, because my final packing job of last minute items took longer than expected.  I kept thinking of additional items I wanted to have along for the ride, and I move so slow it took forever to load them.  Then getting on the Parks highway and leaving Wasilla there was construction being done where they are adding a second set of lanes and extending the divided highway.  Finally passing that though, it was open road and clear sailing the rest of the way.  It was a mostly sunny warm day with temps in the 70s F, although there were a few brief SUN☼ showers while I was driving up there.  None once I got to Talkeetna though.

I took a break for lunch at the Sheep Inn, the first building I ran into on the drive that had that nice big log cabin look to it of traditional Mountain Lodges. Very Picturesque. It was quite empty however, although large with many tables both inside and outside.  No free wi-fi.  The beer list looked pretty good, I picked an IPA from a local brewery that was very good.  Looking at the menu though, it was singularly unimpressive.  A more stock list of Bar Food you couldn't imagine, about 4 different hamburger types, about 6 sandwiches, 12" Pizzas which were no doubt stock frozen ones, 1 soup of the day of Chicken Noodle.  I ordered a hamburger off the Kid's Menu which came out not even on a Bun, but on two slices of toast.  It was the cheapest thing on the menu at $7, and the meat patty was thin, dry and overcooked.  For $7, I can buy 3 Roast Beef & Cheese Sliders at Arby's each of which has more meat on it than this burger did and way tastier too.  No wonder there was nobody at the tables!

A CUSTOMER!  I had to get up from my table to shoot a picture of this shocking event at the height of Lunchtime at the Sheep Inn

Now, WTF spends $Millions$ on a building like this, then serves up this type of crap food?  Put a decent Chef (like ME!  ;D ) in that building, and you could have a world-renowned restaurant.  It's in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Wasilla and Talkeetna so no real local traffic, but in terms of touristas coming up for some summer fishing fun or to go hiking around Denali, it's at about the perfect spot where somebody arriving at Ted Stevens International Airport and renting a car to drive will hit around lunchtime, and then on the way home you could time it to stop for dinner.  Needless to say though, I took 3 bites of the hamburger consuming less than half of it and I will not be stopping at this joint again for anything other than a beer.

https://www.containerstore.com/catalogimages/151101/Pg_31%20Slim%20Folding%20Step%20Stool-2_x.jpg?width=1200&height=1200&align=center After this huge, delicious and filling meal   Roll Eyes   I was feeling kind of pooped and decided I would take my first nap in SaVannah's cabin.  Here I ran into my first major problem.  I couldn't make the step up at the side door to get in the cabin and onto the bed for my nap!  I couldn't find a place to purchase my (weak) arms to help my legs in making the step up.  Unlike the Driver's entrance, there is no halfway step installed there.  After returning home, I ordered a lightweight aluminum folding step-stool to resolve this problem in the future.  The shipping on it cost more than the stool.  $27 for the stool, $32 for the shipping.

I did finally make it into the bunk though.  I considered going in through the Driver's door and climbing to the back from there, except the Ewz blocked that path and there was no way to get any footing, really even if you were healthy with the current Ad Hoc system of packing SaVannah.  To be really efficient as a Stealth Van, the current interior will have to be removed and a custom interior put in.  If I do that, I will go to an Amish Cabinet Maker and have a custom job done to my design.  I have seen some Stealth Vans done this way and it can be positively beautiful if you find the right cabinet maker.  Same guys will also do custom boat interiors.

I was considering buying a camper-trailer for it that would be my actual living space, but on researching this the folks who sell these trailers on Craig's List think much too highly of them.  You can't find a decent used one for under around $6000 or so, and that's more than SaVannah cost and no engine in it either!  Any of them in REALLY good shape you are talking $10K.  That Dog won't Hunt.  Mainly I need the trailer to store all my STUFF, the Van itself is quite sufficient for me as a living space if it is not cluttered up with everything.  Good Cargo Trailers can be had for $2000.  I bought one for LD for his Landscaping Bizness while down in SC for the 2016 Convocation for $2000.

Anyhow, the way I finally did get into the bunk was through the rear doors, because there I was able to use the Bumper as an intermediary step, although even here was difficult because I still had nothing to really grab hold of to use my (weak) arms as helpers in getting my sorry, crippled ass into the the bunk.  With some snake belly crawling though, I managed it.  ::)

Once in the bunk and ready to grab my Power Nap, I realized how uncomfortably WARM it was inside SaVannah.  This with the exterior temperature only maybe 72F and partly cloudy.  Down in the lower 48 on an 80F sunny day, FUHGETTABOUDIT, without A/C SaVannah would be an OVEN unless at least well shaded and with all the doors wide open and a fan to blow air over your mostly naked body.  But of course, you can't do Stealth living if you have your doors wide open, you need to be closed up and locked down to look like the Van is unoccupied and just parked.  So I am looking into small, portable A/C powered air conditioners to cool the interior down to a tolerable temperature for sleeping, which for me is around 65F or below.  Problem here of course is that I will need a source of A/C to plug into, which limits the nightly parking during the warm weather months to legitimate for-pay campsites that have at least an electric plugin.  However, this would only be for half the year and is within my budget.

In this case, I resolved the problem by opening the front windows about 3", then opening all the sliding panels on the rear windows, and there was enough of a Breeze going that the air blew over me while I napped.  I took off my shirt so the moving air would evaporate any sweat straight off my skin and cool me.  I got about an hour's worth of nap time this way, which is typical now with the Itch From Hell  :evil4: anyhow.

After leaving the Sheep Dip Lodge, I headed on north to scope out the potential SUN☼ Property I found on the net which seemed like a good possibility at the right price.  I will skip over this part for this article and cover this in part 4.  The travelog here is already turning into a fairly long article by itself, and there is a lot to cover in the property examination.

After finishing the Land Scoping portion of the trip, I headed for Downtown Talkeetna to grab some Pics and give the readers a better idea of what this town is like as the closest town to the potential SUN☼stead.  Here I ran into my next two great challenges, first off getting the Ewz out of SaVannah, then the Call of Nature, basically simultaneously.

I knew where I would park in Talkeetna, at the very end of the Talkeetna Spur off the Parks Highway Right on the Susitna River is a Day Park (no camping allowed) with Picnic tables and Fire Rings, and you can set up your own BBQ as well.  I brought the gymmies up there a couple of times after State Championships for our Celebration BBQ for the season.

http://www.letsmakeadeal.com/lmad-curtain.GIF So I get out of the Driver's Seat and proceed to begin the next aspect of the Trucker's Life, the Unload.  Normally in my Trucking Years I paid Lumpers to do this for me rather than do it myself, but in the park at this time there were no lumpers, only a couple of old ladies playing Gin Rummy at one of the Picnic Tables.  About halfway through getting the Ewz out of SaVannah, I get the URGE!  I gotta POOP!  Now, the Public Toilet is about 100 yards from where I am parked.  I can either try to shuffle my way over there before I have an "accident", I can go inside the van and use my Shit Bucket, or I can try and finish getting the Ewz out of SaVannah, then jump on her bones to traverse the 100 yards in a few seconds.  I elect to go for Door #3 on this Let's Make a Deal.

I managed to succeed and did not shit my pants, thank God since that would have made the drive home quite uncomfortable, not to mention gross.  Once relieved of this problem, I took a short tour around Talkeetna to get some Flavor pics of the town, which is a "Historic" town now transformed into an Artsy Tourist Trap during the summer months.  Thing you have to remember is this town basically shuts down out of the tourist season, and in terms of full time residents up there, the census lists less than 1000.  They are also pretty spread out and there is nothing to buy or do for the whole winter, so most folks are just holed up if they live there year round.  Many do have winter hobbies such as Cross Country Skiing or Dogsledding of course, and there are Churches where I imagine the faithful gather together every Sunday, but overall there isn't too much to do with yourself there over the Winter.  More than anything else, this I think is what turns of Industrialized people to making an Off-Grid move to a place like this.  It's not even that far out really, it's not the Alaska Bush.  It's only 115 miles from downtown Anchorage, paved highway all the way.

The view up "Main Street" of Downtown Talkeetna at the height of the Tourista season

The Walmart of Talkeetna, the General Store where you can buy all your daily needs, if they are open and if they stock them when they are open

This wouldn't bother me at all though, because I basically spend all winter holed up in my digs anyhow, even though there are movie theatres and places to shop open all winter here in Palmer.  The only main difference for me is I would have to stock up more on preps, and instead of just having preps enough so I don't have to go out and do weekly shopping, I would need enough to carry me through a whole winter from the freeze and first snows until the spring melt.  Also necessary of course to keep my mind active and keep Cabin Fever from setting in would be an Internet Connection, and that would at the moment have to be done by 4G, although Satellite is a possibility.  Some of the biznesses did have free wi-fi, but password protected.

I was going to include in this article the scoping out of the potential SUN☼stead Property, however this article turned out long enough just on the travel aspects, so I'll hold off on the specifics of the property analysis for a Part 4 of this series, currently tentatively titled Going on a Land Hunt.  Coming next week to a Laptop Near You for Sunday Brunch on the Doomstead Diner. 🙂

Summer Solstice 2017 in my Crippled Life at the End of Industrial Civilization

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 21, 2017

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Back home in the digs after a hellishly long, exhausting and frustrating day.  I'm was going to just write a couple of posts Inside the Diner on this, one in the Stealth Van thread on the Trailer Purchase issues and then another one for the RE is Dying thread (Diners Only!), but after writing the first couple of paragraphs I realized this was Blog Length material and should be up for the Blog Lurkers to read as well.  So, ater a nap on the return home, I knocked this one out in one night.  It covers one horrific day in the life of a cripple at the end of the Age of Oil and Industrial Civilization

The issues began early with the trip in.  I woke up around 5AM with the itches, even though I set my alarm for 6:30.  I killed some time on the net and scratched and rubbed, then changed into more respectable clothing for meeting doctors and trailer sellers.  Then around 6:30 I felt drowsy again and went to take a Power Nap with the intention of getting on the road at 7:30 which would give me comfortable time to make the 8:45 appointment.  I overslept and woke up at 7:45, and it takes me 5 minutes to get out the door and get rolling even if everything is all packed in SaVannah.  So to be on time I had to put the pedal to the metal, exceed the speed limit and hope for no traffic.  The weather was not cooperating either, it was pouring rain.  However, I did pull in to the parking lot at precisely 8:45, but making it from the parking lot to the Pro from Dover's Suite was a real trial in the pouring rain.  I had the Ewz with me in SaVannah which I had intended to use for this part of the Journey.  However, with the rain pouring down, I would have been soaked to the bone before I even finished getting her out of the van, and besides that takes more time and would have made me later.  I had the forethought to bring an umbrella with me, so I hoofed it with the Brolly over my head.  It took me 10 minutes to cover the maybe 200 yards total and my calf muscles were SCREAMING in pain.  On the upside, they took me right in.  Unsurprisingly when they took my vitals for this one, BP was high at 140/90.

After the intake nurse left, another very short wait and a NEW Physician's Assistant comes in to discuss the case.  Once again, I am not talking directly to the Great Man himself.  So I go through a brief recap of my itching etiology and history, and then ask her if she knows what Notalgia Paresthetica is.  Nope.  This is a PA who is specialized in neurosurgery.  Not very encouraging.  So then I explain it to her and hand her the 10 page Research Booklet I have put together to educate dim-witted and overpaid medical professionals on Notalgia Paresthetica.  Then she asks ME what I would like to do about the problem!  Roll Eyes This is what Medicaid is paying $600 for.  True Professionals assisting you with you Health Care needs. So I list what I would like done here:

1- Referral to the Brain Center in the Valley (maybe somebody there has heard of Notalgia Parasthetica?)

2- Referral to an Accupuncture Clinic so maybe Medicaid will pay for it.

3- Possible scrip for cortico-steroids.

4- New imaging to look at not only my neck but also the rest of the spine.

Notalgia paresthetica is a chronic sensory neuropathy characterized by pruritus of the upper to middle back, typically below the left shoulder blade. Symptoms may include pain, hyperesthesia, paresthesia, and hyperpigmentation of the affected area.

http://jaoa.org/data/Journals/JAOA/932101/605fig.jpeg

Note: Credit to Diner JDW on researching and locating the condition of Notalgia Paresthetica

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/21/Sabaoth_icon_%28Russia%2C_19_c.%29_2.jpeg/220px-Sabaoth_icon_%28Russia%2C_19_c.%29_2.jpeg PA says this all seems reasonable, and disappears for around 30 minutes.  Finally returning, guess who is with her?  THE GREAT MAN HIMSELF!  It was like being in the presence of God, he has a big white beard and he's an older white guy.  He even had the White Flowing Robes!  OK, it was a Lab Coat. lol.  Now, surely a well experienced M.D. who has been practing Neurosurgery for 30 years and is Board Certified would know what Notalgia Paresthetica is, right?  WRONG!  He's never heard of it either. Isn't God supposed to be Omnicient?  icon_scratch This is a condition described in the medical literature since at least 2011, that's the oldest date I have on it anyhow.  According to the literature, about 10% of people with spinal problems end up with this at some point.  He's never had a single case of it in 30 years?

In any case, after chatting with him for a full 10 minutes of his valuable time, he does agree to all four of the suggestions I made for a further treatment plan. I should have been a Doctor.   Roll Eyes   It remains to be seen if Medicaid will approve either the Accupunture or the 2 new expensive MRIs.  The cortico-steroids I expect they will approve.  It also remains to be seen if his referral gets me in to consult with the Neurologist at the Brain Center who rejected the first referral from the NP Bimbo as not being a neurological diagnosis.  Any bets on whether this medical professional has ever heard of Notalgia Parasthetica?

Apointment #1 for the day now finished at around 10AM and my next appointment with the Vascular Pro from Dover is not until noon.  My plan was to go look at the Anchorage trailer, the huge practically new one to fill in the gap in time.  So I shuffle my way back to the van a lot slower than earlier so it is not as pain inducing.  The rain has also calmed down to an intermittent drizzle.  Once in the driver's seat, I drop in the address for the Anchorage trailer and listen to the directions from the smart phone.  I am about halfway into this drive when I realize it's not taking me to another location in Anchorage, it's taking me to the Eagle River trailer location!  Somehow, I managed to transpose the addresses and phone numbers of thes two trailers when I wrote them down.  RE's screw up there.  It was too late to turn around so I finished the drive there even though I knew the seller wouldn't be there.  The trailer was though and out in the front yard too so EZ to take a look at.  Not going to buy that one.  It's a little too small, mainly because of its configuration not its length.  Also, even with a new pro paint job and new wheels and tires, it just isn't up to SaVannah's standards, it would make her look cheap.  So, hopefully, the Anchorage trailer will be better, and I will go look at that after the consult with the Vascular Pro from Dover.

I arrive at his office suite, which is actually in a separate building and is a consortium of docs called Imaging Associates.  Radiologists and Heart docs.  It's around 11:15 now and the appointment isn't until Noon.  I stay in the van to snooze in the driver's seat, I didn't go in the bunk for this.  At 11:45 I shuffle into the offices, fortunately a much shorter shuffle than from the hospital parking lot to the neurosurgeon's offices.  Walking up to the receptionist, I tell her my name and I have an appointment with Dr. Arteries & Veins.  She looks in the computer and finds no such appointment, which I had just made on the phone the prior day.  Then she goes in the back to find out what's up?  Turns out, the appointment they made for me was at their offices in the Valley, where I live!  They neglected to tell me this when I made the appointment.  Then she tells me they will squeeze me in, don't worry.  OK.  So I sit down and wait, not too long maybe 15 minutes so we are still more or less on time.  Intake nurse comes in to take my vitals, and then getting ready to leave tells me, "TJ will be in to see you in a couple of minutes".  TJ is the PA for Dr. A&V.  I don't WANT to see the PA!  I came in to see the Great Man himself!  I am not impressed with the knowledge base of all the PAs I have seen in my medical adventures, and Medicaid is not paying good taxpayer money for me to see PAs!  This is when she tells me that Dr. A&V is out in the Valley today!

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/75/22/84/7522842748cc9eddd630e08f43663702.jpg Now I am getting just a little HOT under the collar along with being itchy.  Nurse goes out of the exam room to discuss problem with the Office Manager, and comes back to tell me I can see Dr. A&V back up in the Valley at 3PM.  I tell her I can't make it by 3 because of other appointments (although as it turns out I could have).  We negotiate for a 4PM time.  For my trouble and aggravation, she gets me a $15 Visa Gift Card to make me feel better.

Now done with this appointment but with another new one for the day scheduled for 4PM, it's time to head over to the Anchorage address and once again I program the smart phone to get me there.  This time the right address.  Strangely however, it gives me a transit time of around 30 minutes?  Anchorage is not that big and generally you can get from one end of the town to the other in 20 minutes, tops as long as there is no traffic, and around 1PM is low traffic.  I begin the drive, and around 3/4 in I realize why the transit time is so long.

There is only a relatively small patch of flat land at the mouth of the Knik River that is geographically good for setting up the kind of Towns/Cities that we are used to.  All surrounding that to the South, East and North are Mountains, big, steep and rugged ones, no gentle slopes there.  Where this guy's digs are is RIGHT on the edge of Chugach State Park.  The only road that gets out of Anchorage to the North and South is Alaska 1, the Glenn Highway.  To the south it runs along the arm of the Turnagin Glacier, to the north along the arm of the Knik Glacier.  You don't find any other real good flat land building locations until you get to Soldotna in the south and Palmer-Wasilla in the north.  Eagle River has some good spots, but its still pretty mountainous terrain.

http://s.zefirka.net/images/2014-12-25/villa-lejkkrest-na-beregu-ozera/villa-lejkkrest-na-beregu-ozera-21.jpg Where this guy has his digs is RIGHT at the border at the edge of the municipality of Anchorage with Chugach State Park, and it is the foothills of those mountains.  As foothills go though, these are pretty serious ones with some VERY steep grades, some that I hit on the way there exceeded 10% even on the paved portions.  Even in the Rockies and Appalachia I never hit grades in the double digits, except on some off ramps for short stretches.  Yet people built their McMansions in this location, some quite magnificent ones since rich fucks love the beautiful views from their glass enclosed living rooms.  Honestly though, I can't imagine driving back and forth to work in downtown Anchorage every day on these roads in winter, even with 4WD.  EZ enough to get stuck on flat land in icy conditions, I can't see how these folks get in and out of some of their driveways, which some of them look to me like a 20% grade.  Maybe they winch themselves up in the morning?

Anyhow, I stuck with it determined to see this other trailer.  At least I did until the road I was on turned into a dirt road and had a warning sign of 15% Grades!  Still, I soldiered on and went off the road with Savannah to see, even though she is NOT a 4WD vehicle, not to mention fairly large as 4 wheelers go.  I went about 1/4 mile down the dirt road, wondering if I would be able to:

1- Turn around, or would I have to back up to GTFO of there?

2- Would SaVannah be able to hold traction to make the climb back out on only 2WD?  Engine power was enough, but traction was an issue since the road was still wet from the morning rain.

http://www.greenbookblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DangerWillRobinson.jpg As I came around the first bend in the dirt road about 200 yards ahead of me I saw a big increase in the downslope AND a tight switchback at the end of it.  My Trucker Safety ALARM SIREN went off. "DANGER! WARNING WILL ROBINSON!"   NO!  I will not do this road!  "There's a Signpost Up Ahead.  You have reached…The Death Zone".  At least this time I wasn't driving 75' of Tractor-Trailer.

http://www.dennismansfield.com/.a/6a00d834530c9c69e20120a628de06970b-pi There was a McMansion to my left with a big 2 car garage and leveled land for the driveway. I pulled into that driveway, turned Savannah around and GTFO of Dodge and back to the paved roads, and worked my way back down to the Flatland of downtown Anchorage.  So I never even looked at the big ass nearly brand new trailer.

What boggles my mind is that the idiot who is selling this trailer actually drove it down this stretch of dirt road fully loaded.  This guy definitely has more courage than brains.  If he wants to sell it, he needs to drag it back out of there and put it on consignment at a used car dealer in Anchorage.  He must be driving one fucking monster of a tow vehicle too, a Ford 350 or something like that.  Even with that, I can't imagine taking the hairpin turn I was looking at with that trailer.

Anyhow, working my way back out, I still had time on my hands to make a stop for lunch in downtown Anchorage before driving back to the Valley for the last appointment of the day with Dr. A&V.  I had planned to hit a Top 10 restaurant in Anchorage Simon & Seafort's Saloon for dinner and then spend the night in SaVannah in a Stealth Van Living experiment, but since I had to head back to the Valley for the last appointment that plan had to be cancelled.  I opted instead for lunch at S&S.  I programmed the smart phone once again to guide me there, where it is right across the street from Cap'n Cook and the Crow's Nest Restaurant, which I was avoiding because I wasn't happy with my last meal there last year.  This is the pricy area of downtown Anchorage where the Oil Tycoons meet & eat, so the hotels are expensive and so are the restaurants.

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tEmafHO71n0/ToCg7Jv2ElI/AAAAAAAAECQ/KviFaWqhHRQ/w1200-h630-p-k-no-nu/child+peeing+all+over.jpg Upon arrival at the location, I pulled into the public parking lot and bought my ticket for 2 hours or less for a cool $10.  Then as I dropped it on the windshield I got another one of those untimely Calls of Nature, this time just to piss.  The walk over to S&S is just too far, I know I won't make it without pissing my pants.  So I go into Savannah to use my piss jar, but it has slid under the back seat and I can't get to it.  In the end, I got back out of Savannah and pissed in between her and the car parked next to her, a brand new Hummer.  I pissed all over the driver's side tire.

Now relieved and SaVannah legally paid and parked, I took the long shuffle over to S&S and got seated promptly at a nice table for 1 or 2 with a view of the ocean, although it's not really much to see, just water.  I ordered the Halibut lunch special, which featured two cuts of Halibut, filet stuffed with Alaska Crab and Halibut Medallions encrusted with an Asiago Cheese breading.  Supposedly according to the waiter the medallions have a consistency closer to Scallops which I still like (as much as I like any food eating these days anyhow), but I don't agree with that after sampling them.  The meal was accompanied also by Mashed Yukon Gold Alaska Potatoes and briefly steamed heirloom broccoli.  I also ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio to wash it down with.  No Red Wines on the Wine List, and I am not a big fan of White Wine.  It's a Fish place of course, and you're not supposed to have Red Wine with Fish if you are an epicure.

My hope was that eating an expensive and well prepared meal it would encourage me to eat more of it, but this didn't work on this occasion.  The Crab Stuffed Fillet was the best, I had 3 bites of that.  2 Bites of the Asiago encrusted Halibut medallions. 2 forkfulls of the Alaska Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes.  One forkful of the al dente broccoli which I couldn't chew, if I finish it I will need to steam it some more.  All the rest went in a Doggie Bag, about 2/3rd of the meal now in my fridge as leftovers.  I'll see what I can work through of that tomorrow.  This meal cost $50, but $15 of it was paid for by the Gift Card I got at Dr. A&V's office. icon_sunny

Now it is back on the road for the final leg of this journey, the trip back home to the Valley which was uneventful except for the fact I found myself nodding off from exhaustion and became worried I would fall asleep at the wheel.  I kept jarring myself back to wakefulness each time I drifted off looking around the road though, and made it to the offices in one piece.  After checking in at the desk, I sat down in one of the chairs and immediately fell asleep, but not sure how long, maybe 20 minutes.

On shuffling my way to the back to the exam room, the intake nurse wanted to do ANOTHER set of vitals on me.  That would have been my 3rd for the day.  I recused myself from this and told her to call the Anchorage office, they had done them 3 hours earlier. She was amenable to that.

https://i.imgflip.com/3vtg9.jpg Finally the Great Man arrived to discuss the problems and what to do about them.  Unlike the Notalgia Paresthetica, I have no firm idea of the cause of the edema in my legs and neither does the Pro from Dover.  With no idea what is causing it, all that he can suggest is to treat the symptom, but none of the treatments thus far have done jack shit.  The cardiac workup came out OK, the Blood workup OK and the latest imaging on my leg veins also OK, in that it doesn't look likely to be a cause of the edema.  So in this consult he is referring me to a physical therapy center here in the valley that does massages and the like to push the fluid around and hopefully remove some of the discomfort from having legs that look like watermelons.  Another one I do not know if Medicaid will pay for.  Medicaid don't pay, I don't go.

In terms of possible causes, the most likely one that came up in the discussion was POOR NUTRITION, specifically lack of protein in the diet which sometimes cause edema.  This is a good possibility since my nutrition is positively atrocious, but in terms of eating real food I don't see a lot I can do about it.  I simply can't stomach much food.  I will go out tomorrow and buy some Protein Shakes and see if I can stomach that stuff better.

In terms of solutions, I brought up the possibility of amputation of the lower portion of my legs below the knee.  He was very against this, saying it would put me in a wheel chair.  I am going to be in a wheel chair soon enough anyhow.  At least this way it gets rid of some of the pain and discomfort.  We won't be going down this route anytime too soon though.  When I start showing up for consults in a wheel chair anyhow though, he will have less of a convincing argument.

Final stop of the day before returning to the digs was at the gas pump, to refill SaVannah and get the first accurate assessment of her gas mileage.  After the trip to Talkeetna, local driving there then local driving back here in the Valley, then the drive to Anchorage and local driving there, the tank was down to just over the 1/4 full mark and the odometer at 323 miles.  The odometer is NOT linear, it goes down faster once below the halfway mark.  After doing the fillup in came out to a little less than 23 gallons, working out to an average around 15mpg, what I expected.  A BIG IMPROVEMENT over the Tioga though!

Once back home, I sat down at the keyboard to write a couple of posts, but found I was too fatigued to do it and so went to take a nap.  Instead of the posts, you got a nice long winded RE style blog, 3500 words worth in about 3.5 hours.  That is averaging 1000 words/hour.  icon_sunny All written in 1 draft, stream of consciousness. No outline.  No edits except for typos.  How many writers can pull off that stunt?  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I didn't enjoy the day that inspired it.

Seeking a SUN☼stead

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 18, 2017

 

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This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on the sustainability of Alaska in a post-Collapse World, and how to make it happen.

Read Part 1 HERE.

 

I'm taking off for a shakedown cruise of the new Stealth Van tomorrow, and will be keeping a diary of the trip, and will publish the whole thing after I get back.  Meanwhile, I've given the trip a whole additional purpose besides just checking the gas mileage and reliability of the SV, I am going to do some Land Shopping for the first SUN☼stead!  :icon_sunny:

Our project in South Carolina has stalled, it's generally speaking out of budget for where we are right now financially. Without some investors from Inman, it's just not going to happen there.  So far, although SUN☼ got a very positive response from the Movers & Shakers in Inman, to date nobody has ponied up one thin dime to make the project happen there.  So it's time to move to Plan B.

If we can't get the money together for a demonstration property in SC, I'm going to look in other states for more affordable land that is also more remote with a lower population density than the Inman area of SC, which is basically Suburbia as it is laid out now.  That is not congruent with the SUN☼ mission unless you can get the whole town to reorient around Sustainability, and right now that doesn't seem in the cards either.

The first and easiest place to look is of course right where I AM, here on the Last Great Frontier.  I'll also be traveling down to WA to visit with my friend Big Sam from Seattle, and we'll scope out land in WA, OR, ID & MT.  Overall these are the two best survivability locations in the FSoA IMHO, I never was particularly enthused about SC due to its location on the East Coast and high population along with the close proximity of several Nuke Puke reactors.  SC is Nuke Central, they don't just have one Fukushima waiting to happen, they have three!

SC is where the other SUN☼ principals currently live, so I was willing to move there if we could get a viable SUN☼ Project going in that neighborhood, but that doesn't look like it is in the cards anytime too soon due to lack of sufficient MONEY.  On the other hand, it's unlikely the SC branch of SUN☼ will move to Alaska or even Idaho anytime too soon, but I think they will have a change of heart when the Oconee Nuclear Station goes full on Chernobyl.  The problem of course at that point would be the ability to GTFO of Dodge and make it across the country with your truck and trailer rig.  Will you be able to get gas for it at that time?  You might make it to Idaho perhaps, but I don't expect much in gas to be available along the Al-Can by this time.

http://hoodoorecreation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/TrapperCreek_05.jpg So I went Googling for available land around Talkeetna, which is where I was planning on heading in the Stealth Van anyhow, and I found what looks like to be a PERFECT property at the right price.  I have 3 screen shots of the satellite view of the patch of land (about 5 Acres, but with many more parcels around it completely devoid of human habitation at the moment), and it comes in at a real bargain price I can afford, cash on the barrel head, no mortgage, owned Free & Clear for SUN☼.  :icon_sunny:   It is within budget!  Particularly since there are no building codes or requirements whatsoever for this land, you can camp on it if you wish, you don't need to drill a well or put in septic, you can just shit in the woods if you like. However, I will experiment with Humanure composting techniques. 🙂 It's has frontage right on a year round glacier fed running creek coming down from Denali, which actually is really a river, not a "creek".  At right you see a pic of Trapper "Creek" in this neighborhood.

First the zoomed out map of the entire neighborhood.

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/Talkeetna_railway_station_2011.jpgAs you can see, it is just south of Denali National Park and you can see where the Glacier ends and the runoff begins.  The town of Petersville which is the closest without having to cross the creek (no bridge there to Talkeetna) has a population of…get this… 4 people as of the 2010 census! lol. We would be a suburb of this town. lol. Talkeetna does better with a population of 876, although that expands quite a bit during the summer Tourista season.  It's got a nice Main Street with bars and restaurants, although they are only open from around May-September.  It's got a couple of General Stores where you can buy a few items, but generally people who live around there drive down to Wasilla every couple of months to stock up at Wally World and Fred Meyer, the Kroger affiliate here.  Definitely stock up for deep winter from Dec through Feb, you never know when you might get snowed in.  The distance is only around 70 miles though and it's right on the Parks Highway, so even in mid-winter the road is usually clear.  It's also a stop on the Alaska Railroad.

Zooming in a little closer, you can see the general terrain features of the neighborhood.  Lots of ponds and small lakes, along with Trapper Creek.

Because of all this ground level water available year-round as glacial runoff, there is no need to drill a well.  That saves you a shit load of money right there.  It might even be potable straight out of the creek, but I have a water distiller anyhow and besides that, I'm sure just boiling it would be sufficient.  Plenty of wood around for fuel to boil the water with too.  No neighbors around for miles to complain about the way you are living, and certainly no Home Owners Association.  YOU are the whole HOA!  There's obviously no grid electric flowing in there, but the SUN☼stead will be off-grid with solar and wind anyhow, and micro-hydro possible on Trapper Creek.  Also of course you can use a generator as long as the fuel remains available.  I have no hypocrisy problems with doing this.

For Internet access, it should be close enough to Talkeetna to get 4G, if not I will go for a satellite link.  Talkeetna is also within range of an Ewz, although probably not my current unit, I will need an e-trike from ZEV for that commute. Also will invest in a gas powered 4-wheeler to go cross country, which is a lot shorter than going by the roads, if there is a spot shallow enough to cross Trapper Creek anyhow.

Finally, up close and personal on the property itself, bordered in Yellow.

Nice wooded lot right on Trapper Creek, and the spot actually looks like a good fishing hole.  Here's the ad description of the property:

Almost 5 acres under 2 miles off MP 121 Parks Hwy, on the trail system. Crystal clear Trapper Ck frontage, and a short ride to September Lk. Selling under the assessed value. This wonderful getaway is being offered with terms of 20% down, 6% interest, 5-7yr amortization. Nicely treed with birch and spruce. Trapper Ck is reported to have rainbows, grayling, moose, and bear hunting.

http://alaskabushadventures.com/images/m0251.jpg Moose and Bear hunting right on your own property!  Who could ask for more!  Not that I will be doing any of that, but once a few younger Heliopaths show up they can do that.  I'll stick to trapping some small game.  Fishing is even probably out because I can't cast or reel in too good anymore, but I might try doing some Spear Fishing with my Pistol Crossbow.  The trees are also Birch and Spruce, so you could tap the birch trees to make birch syrup in the spring.  That is done a lot around here.

http://n7g2722vxpcn1fx5s3njdgqr.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FDome_75_11.jpg What about a domicile?  For that, to begin with I will put up an F-dome.  Again, I'm not capable of doing the construction of the deck and assembly of the dome myself, but I will hire a couple of the unemployed native carpenters in my complex for this task.  I'll also have them build a greenhouse for growing tomatoes, zucchini, green beens etc.  I'll grow Alaska Carrots & Alaska Potatoes outdoors in raised beds, since the soil around there isn't too good, nowhere near the quality of Palmer soil.  I'll set up a small Hydroponics setup to do herbs and spices.

Now, will I actually LIVE on this property year-round through the winter to begin with?  Hell no, not in mid winter for sure, not until there are other Heliopaths living on the property with me. I'll use it from spring after the melt to fall at the end of harvest time, around mid-April to early September around here with the current climate. SUN☼ can hold Workshops and Convocations during the summer as long as the Jets are still flying and BAU continues.  I'll keep my digs in Palmer for the Winter.  There will be no additional cost to me besides some very low taxes since I will buy the property for CASH.  In winter, besides holing up in the digs I will do some Sunbirding, and fly down to the lower 48 to visit friends, burning the jet fuel while the planes are still flying.

http://www.shtfplan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/mountain-house-food-medium.jpg What about making it survivable for a SHTF scenario where I have to move there full time?  Can't feed myself off the land probably, not by myself anyhow.  So I will double up my stock of food preps, now good for over 2 years.  Say a 5 year supply, I'm not going to live that long anyhow. If I make the next year, that will be fairly miraculous. Got water from the creek, fuel to cook and heat with from the forest, food.  No worries about Zombies coming for my food and killing me, if anybody is hurting and shows up, I'll give it away.  When it's all gone, I die.  Going to the Great Beyond here soon enough anyhow.

Overall, this Plan fits into what it is currently feasible for me to do on my own without additional investors in SUN☼.  I can spend whatever time left that I have walking the earth a little closer to nature.  I can straddle both worlds and do some demonstration projects for SUN☼ on the property. Diners will always be welcome when TSHTF, if they can get there of course.  Until TSTF, we can hold Diner/SUN☼ Convocations on the land, and do Workshops.  Until we get investors, SUN☼ will focus on its Mission of Education about Collapse, which we can do on a limited budget utilizing the web.  I'll even pay Albert's plane ticket up here for a kickoff workshop on Biochar. lol.

I'll take pictures of the neighborhood and hopefully the property itself, although unless my Ewz can negotiate the terrain off the road there (about 2 miles worth) I won't be able to get to the site itself. I have been to the neighborhood before, and it just depends on the given terrain and tree density whether I can negotiate the Ewz around.  Just have to see when I get there.

Will this particular patch of land be the one I buy for SUN☼?  Probably not, since first I want to go look at properties in WA, OR, ID & MT with Big Sam from Seattle.  However, as you can see from the Google Earth screen captures, by no means is this the only property of this type out in that neighborhood.  So I will be patient on this, unless it just looks so juicy when I get there and my Ewz can give me a full property tour that I can't resist the Buying Opportunity. LOL.

Road Trip Diary and photos coming next week in the Plan B of an Alaska SUN☼stead. :icon_sunny:

Greenie Techno-Cornucopianism

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 14, 2017

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http://www.thefarm.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/51rH5hmexjL._SY344_BO1204203200_.jpg I regularly cross-post the work of Albert Bates here on the Diner.  He's a true Hero of the Revolution, going back to the 1970s when The Farm was founded as part of the Back to the Land Movement of the era.  The Farm has gone through its ups and downs over the intervening decades, but unlike many other experiments from the era it does still exist, and AB is still there.  Well, at least he is when he's not Jet Setting around the world to attend Climate Conferences or give Permaculture courses.  Albert takes a decent amount of criticism for this, since flying around in Jet Planes is one of the most unsustainable aspects of our industrial civilization, and on a per capita basis is arguably the MOST unsustainable.

AB defends his Global Jet Setting by planting trees, with the assumption that over the lifetime of the tree, it will soak up more carbon than he is burning in a trip to London on British Airways.  Of course, this calculation doesn't work if the tree burns down or dies from some sort of infestation or plain old drought.  However, I don't find travelling around by jet to be hypocritical at all in the context of trying to bring the message of climate change and sustainable living to more people.  For the time being, these planes will fly whether AB is on board or not, or being dragged off said planes kicking and screaming due to overbooking.  Boycotting flying wouldn't do a damn thing to Save the Planet, but going out there with missionary zeal to wake up more people might have some effect.  So on balance this is a positive thing to be doing in his declining years using the reputation he developed as an international expert on many of these topics.

However, as I continue to read and cross post ABs work, I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the form of techno-cornucopianism he has been pitching lately, similar in many ways to what another cross poster I feature regularly, Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence, The Club of Rome and Cassandra's Legacy pitches.  In the case of UB, he pitches Renewable Energy, specifically Photovoltaics as a means to salvage at least part of our high tech lifestyle.  In AB's case, he pitches Permaculture and Carbon Sequestration through Bio-Char as means to sustainably feed ourselves and to if not stop, at least slow down climate change.

Besides that, AB has now latched onto another Greeny Dreamy idea, going back to Sailboats to replace all the airplanes burning tons of jet fuel every day to ship around Homo Sap Meat Packages.  Here is the recent high tech sail dream from AB to replace our current fleet of planes and container ships with more Earth-Friendly sailboats:

Atlantic Dreams

Will Nodvik, who studied Computer Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, writes on Quora:
 
 
The foiling AC-72s sailed [in 2013] during the America’s Cup top out at around 40 knots in super heavy conditions. Average container ships move at around 20 knots. The mast on an AC-72 is 40m high. Keep in mind that this mast is a rigid wing. The AC-72 is the lightest, fastest, most highly advanced boat. These masts are the strongest material possible since no expense was spared in their construction.
 
 
Forty knots (46 mph) is still only 8 percent of the cruising speed of a Boeing 747. Figure three and one half days, if top speed could be held the whole way.

 

The America’s Cup Challenge resumes this June in Bermuda’s Great Sound. The AC-72 (72-foot) yacht that Oracle Team USA sailed to a historic come-from-behind 9-8 victory over Emirates Team New Zealand on San Francisco Bay in September 2013 is gone. Obsolete.

 

Replacing it is a smaller, lighter AC-50 (50-foot) catamaran with 79-foot carbon fiber wing sail and new alloy hydrofoils to give it near zero drag. All the competitors in this year’s trials are expected to fly above water for 100% of the race time.

 

The sail’s drag is one-third to one-half that of four years ago, while producing about twice as much power. The control system comes from the Airbus A350 XWB airliner, compiling a terabyte per race collected from as many as 1,000 sensors fed into the Oracle Exadata supercomputer for instant analysis. Oracle will predict wind patterns (within half a knot accuracy) all the way down to 100-meter or even 50-meter grids on the racecourse. The sailors — a six man crew (down from 11 in 2013), need only glance at smart watches connected to a small onboard Linux server, to know what they need to do.

 

Speeds approaching 60 mph are possible in the Bermuda races—about 20% faster than in 2013. That would get us down to a two day Atlantic crossing.
 
 
More importantly, the days spent on crossing by sail put nothing into the atmosphere except the breath of the sailors. Today’s commercial passenger fleet is responsible for 3 to 5 percent of climate forcing, on its way to 15 percent according to some IPCC projections. Clearly it is going in the wrong direction.
 

While it is really cool to think about all this high tech stuff, it's also thoroughly unrealistic for many reasons, on the physics and mechanics end as well as on the economic end.  I wrote this response to his article in his commentariat:

Another artifact of climate change is bigger seas and more rogue waves.  In even mildly rough seas, you can't hydroplane a sailboat.  You need pretty flat water for this.  So it's pretty unlikely you could maintain a constant hydroplane speed all the way across the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.

Then you have the fact these high tech boats are built from the lightest weight polymers and carbon fiber material, which all have tons of embedded energy in their manufacture.  The computer systems and servos controlling sail trim are extremely complex, requiring the usual kit bag of rare earth minerals and complex manufacturing facilities.

Even if you do build them, they can't carry much payload.  The whole reason they will hydroplane is because there is so little weight being carried aboard.  You absolutely could not build any facsimile of a modern container ship and have it hydroplane.

Not to say of course sail will not make a comeback, it probably will but not the sort of high tech sail you are featuring in this post.  Much smaller boats, and floating in the water not skimming along the surface.  Such boats will not be able to move around the vast amount of cargo container ships do, and thus will not be able to support such a large population moving food around the globe.

There is no techno-cornucopian solution to this problem, the only thing that can bring Homo Sap back into balance with nature and maintain the habitability of the planet is a massive die off of the current population.  If you knock off 90-99% of the human population, some of the solutions you write about could work.  They do NOT scale to a population of 7.5B meat packages.

RE

https://sausalitowaterfront.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/screen-shot-2010-10-27-at-3-42-07-pm.png AB is not the only Doomer out there with the Sailboat Dream, you also have Dmitry Orlov of Club Orlov living on his sailboat and Ray Jason of The Sea Gypsy Philosopher living on his, plus innumerable other Yachties cruising the Bahamas, the Greek Islands and the South Pacific and enjoying their sense of "independence".  The lifestyle gives the illusion of being FREE, able to move where you want as necessary to avoid the worst aspects of collapse if they happen to arrive in your neighborhood.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Gk0L1_1NlSZ5badPn7A-nnlkmYkMWbbJiI-tuZALjvoZDv397d_NcfFHN9HhBUtp6_sfvGlXLIZO0ZI=w282-h220 By NO MEANS however is such a life either sustainable or self-sufficient.  Everybody who lives this way has some form of external income, generally retirees with a pension although a smattering of others such as writers and IT programmers who have portable professions.  Dmitry for example makes his living these days bloviating his opinions about Collapse, promoting Mother Russia and insulting various feminist groups. This job can be done anywhere on earth, and Dmitry does these things well enough to make a living at it. lol.  A few of the younger mostly male ones will also take gig jobs on making port somewhere and use the money to resupply with another couple of months of food and then sail to some remote cove and pretend to be Robinson Crusoe or the Swiss Family Robinson.

I sincerely doubt there is ANYONE out there who lives aboard a 30-40' sailboat who gains all his sustenance from fishing and harvesting coconuts on South Pacific beaches.  On board a sailboat of this size, if you are a solo sailor and stick to compact dried foods, you might be able to stuff it with 6 months of supplies.  If there are 2 of you, reduce by half.  In a good fishing and gathering neighborhood, you might be able to double the amount of time you could spend doing the Swiss Family Robinson before needing to head back to civilization for a resupply.

Beyond the Food Problem of course is the Security Problem.  Most of the places the Yachties currently frequent are Tourist Traps which use the tourist economy as their driver.  Most of the nicer ones sporting Marinas in the Bahamas or Panama are pretty safe at the moment, the customs officials are fairly polite (although always looking for a bribe) and the Marina Convenience Store has bags of rice you can buy if you have Dollars or Euros to spend.  Free Wi-Fi too in many cases.

https://i0.wp.com/hiiraanxog.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/201744636268700637727177Burcad-Badeed-Soomaali-weerar.jpg?fit=660%2C439&resize=350%2C200 This pleasant safety and convenience begins to disappear rapidly though if you sail outside of these enclaves of retired yachties and are cruising off the coast of say Somalia.  There are already locals in this neighborhood who smell a good possibility for a Ransom Demand if they spy your sails on the horizon, and send out a fishing boat to greet you, complete with automatic weapons.  Say bye bye to your sea mobile home and hope there is somebody back home who will cough up the ransom demand.  This situation is not going to improve as the general economics further spin down.  Finding a place to safely moor your vessel with any kind of local population size will be extremely difficult, so now you are back to trying to do Robinson Crusoe, which just about nobody from industrial culture can really do.

Beyond the Food & Safety issues is the maintenance issue.  Anyone who has ever owned a boat of even moderate size knows they are a total money sink and stuff breaks all the time.  Standing & Running rigging wears out, Winches break, the auxiliary engine quits, sails get ripped in a storm…etc etc etc.  You have to have ports around to get parts and do some repairs you can't do yourself, even if you are a mechanical genius.  You need a haul out and bottom job every so often with anti-fouling paint (an oil product).  If you could keep your sailboat in good working order for 3 years without access to replacement equipment and a well stocked marine supply store I would be shocked.

http://sunstarshipping.com/images/portfolios/nvop.png The paradigm for shifting back to sail on the commercial shipping level is in many respects even worse than trying to make the small sailboat Seasteading paradigm work. Modern container ships move enormous amounts of cargo, which in order to load and unload requires enormous ports with oil powered cranes to move the containers on and off the ships.  The days of longshoremen unloading ships by hand are long gone.  This is how we are able to move the massive amount of goods we do around the world to keep 7.5B people fed and clothed.  The last time we were regularly transporting around goods by sail the global population was around 1.5B people, and most of them were not even on this network.  The world was largely populated by subsistence farmers.

Today, many areas of the world can't grow enough food to feed their own populations (see Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen etc, etc,etc), so unless you have the means to ship around enormous quantities of food sufficient to feed entire countries, you're going to have a lot of starving people.  Sailboats aren't going to do the trick here even if you could build enough of them fast enough and train a whole new generation of people to be able to sail them.  This is just not going to happen, not on the scale necessary for keeping 7.5B Homo Saps walking the earth.  So once again you need to reconcile yourself to the fact a large culling of the human population is coming down the pipe, and sailboats and permaculture aren't going to stop it.  This is just techno-cornucopian hopium, dressed up in Green outfit.

http://www.rresolar.com/images/solar_farm1.jpg The Solar PV solutions Ugo Bardi promotes are very similar.  They simply don't scale up to apply to such a large population.  Forgetting all the embedded energy and mining necessary to produce enough Solar Panels is the huge scale up of the current decaying electrical grids to handle the loads necessary for running all the carz, trucks and trains on electricity.  Current wiring isn't near thick enough to handle the load even if you cut the fleet of vehicles by half.  Where is all the copper going to come from to run wiring from your Solar or Windfarm to electric charging stations all over the country?  The best you might do here is have intermittently available electricity at the local level, but this again does not maintain current population levels or anywhere near the current standard of living in 1st World nations.  I highly doubt also any 3rd World nations are going to get wired up with massive Wind & Solar farms either.  If they didn't get electricity yet, they're not going to get it.  Which of course might be good for them, since they won't miss it too much when it's gone.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54e5ee5de4b0c694a3dc63e2/557ef912e4b0452ec6a2526f/557ef913e4b06b6897c313e8/1434384659946/Biochar+%28for+Soil%29.png Finally on the scale of techno-cornucopian solutions for today of stuff that just ain't gonna happen is ABs ongoing mission for Bio-Char as a solution to sequestering carbon and keeping Planet Earth from turning into a facsimile of Venus.  What this generally amounts to as I understand it to is planting a shit load of trees, turning them into charcoal briquets and then burying the briquets for soil ammendation.  The amount of area that needs to be reforested this way is enormous, and then how with the remaining arable land mass you will feed 7.5B people without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, tractors & combines is somewhat unclear.  Also unclear is whether the climate in many areas will even support reforesting at all?  I think you would have a pretty tough time these days reforesting Syria and turning it into the lush Garden of Eden it once was 5000 years ago.

All of this speaks to the problem of Irreversibility, which theoretical physicist David Korowicz covered quite extensively in his seminal paper Trade Off: Financial System Supply-chain Cross Contagion – a study in global systemic collapse.  In particular many of the earlier systems we used are simply no longer practical or even available to shift back to now.  New "high tech" solutions don't scale up as necessary, and certainly not inside the time frame we have to work with, which most certainly is less than 30 years before we see extreme dislocations to the current system.  Many are occurring now as we speak, but are for the most part at the moment confined to 3rd World nations and not too much of a bother to the 1st World ones.  Any unbiased and clear headed analysis of all these variables and the difficulties that exist in implementing any of the solutions should inform you that we are in the midst of a clusterfuck of Biblical proportions, and Greeny Cornucopianism isn't going to solve the problems any more than Cold Fusion will.

Given this information then, WHY do clearly very intelligent and wel educated people like Ugo Bardi and Albert Bates continue to promote ideas which just aren't very likely to work, and in fact are counter productive because they are a waste of time, money and energy?  That is pretty simple to understand, it's the "Reverse Guy McPherson" effect.  Whereas in Dr. McStinksion's case he has given up ALL HOPE and considers Homo Saps and the Planet all DOOMED to Near Term Human Extinction by his latest prognostication of 2026, AB and UB maintain a tenacious grasp on SOME hope that we can yank ourselves out of this mess.  I hold out that hope myself, but I do so in what I consider a more realistic manner, which is to acknowledge the inevitability of a MASSIVE DIEOFF of the human population, probably greater than 99%.  This is something neither UB or AB wishes to acknowledge.  In fact, I would agree with them on some of their solutions if they would acknowledge a massive dieoff is inevitable now, I think they could work with a vastly reduced population size.  I definitely think the Reverse Guy McPherson POV they pitch is the superior mindset to the Guy McPherson one, even if it is utterly unrealistic.  Professor McStinksion's philosophy is just utterly defeatist.

So, if we can't reforest the earth, we can't replace the fleet of container ships with green and friendly sailboats, we can't wire the world with Solar PV Panels, we can't stop the climate from warming up and we can't keep most the Homo Sap meat packages currently walking the Earth alive, just WTF CAN we do here beside join Guy McPherson in his nihilistic & misanthropic Death Cult?  What we can do is to start building Lifeboats to SAVE AS MANY AS WE CAN.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/06/e8/66/06e86644228baedbdfe701d79a0caa83.jpg What building lifeboats in this context means is to consider locations on the earth that will likely IMPROVE in their ability to support human life as the overall temperature regime increase.  Alaska where I live is one such location.  A 10C average increase in temperatures around here on the Last Great Frontier would make the place positively balmy and pleasant.  As the Permafrost melts, that could provide thousands of hectares of fertile land upon which to grow crops.  We can also begin to breed new crops resistant to extreme weather, and we can build grow domes to do food production in a controlled environment.  We can change our building techniques and excavate to live partially underground, where the average temperature of the land mass runs around 66F.  Building such survival communities at high latitudes and high elevations, we can save a portion of the human population.  It might only be .1%, but that is still 7.5M people, which is a lot more than the ZERO that Dr. McStinksion Guy McPherson predicts for 2026!

Over time, with far fewer people infesting the earth and no more burning of fossil fuels, the global climate will begin its long road to recovery, which might take thousands or even millions of years.  In the interim, the great experiment with Sapience will continue, and those who make it through the Zero Point will have the opportunity to evolve into a new and better species, one with more true wisdom.

We have to own up to what is REALISTIC here, not pie in the sky, rainbow shitting unicorn, greenie dreamie fantasies of a world of 7.5B people running in peace and harmony on permaculture and renewable energy.  This is just NOT in the cards at this point.  We can't save everybody.  We can only SAVE AS MANY AS WE CAN.  That's where the efforts of our best and brightest need to go, not into wasting time, energy, money and brain power on faulty solutions that will not succeed.  No more Skittle Shitting Unicorns!

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c9/cd/52/c9cd5232feee65a5e8c6d7cf699827b5.jpg

Alaska: Is it Sustainable after TSHTF?

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Published on The Doomstead Diner June 11, 2017

Discuss this article at the SUN☼ Table inside the Diner

This is Part 1 of a 4 Part Series which will air on the Diner for the next 3 weeks of Sunday Brunches

Last week, a friend of mine now living down in the Lower 48 in WA came up for one of his more or less bi-annual visits.  We used to work together up here.  He has a rental Real Estate property here still, plus a part time job gig as well doing the books for a small biz up here.

It was fortuitous timing for me, I've been in the market for a Stealth Van to go traveling with and bringing the message of Collapse to the masses, but without a 2nd driver along it's hard to make the kind of on-the-spot CASH deals you want to make for Used Cars.  If you flash the Greenbacks at a Seller and say you will buy it right here, right now, you instantly shave at least 10% off the asking price.

So, after he attended a weekend wedding of the guy he does the books for, he dropped by and we went Stealth Van shopping! 🙂  I had done research the prior few days and found one which looked good down in Anchorage.  It turned out to be as good a buy as I had hoped for, and I made the deal on the spot and he drove my Ford Explorer back home to the Mat-Su Valley while I drove the new Stealth Van home.  Well, not really NEW (it's a 1999), but new for me.  It also performed pretty much like a new vehicle in my test drive and then on the drive home, so I was (and still am) very happy with this find and purchase. EVERYTHING on this vehicle works, including the overhead console Cathode Ray Tube TV circa 1999 in the passenger area for the kiddies to watch cartoons on during long trips. CD players front and rear also work.  I got it for what I figured to pay for this type of vehicle ($5000), and it fulfills the requirements I was looking for in a Stealth Van.  Together with an enclosed trailer to hold a good supply of preps, it's the ultimate land-based bugout machine, and you can put together the whole rig for under $10,000, including the preps.  You can even live in such an arrangement right now,, and there's a whole community of people who do this.  You might have listened to the Podcasts I did with Van Dweller who has been living this way for 50 years, or read my article on Storage Unit-Van living so you don't have to be pulling a trailer around all the time.

My hope here is assuming my health holds up in the remaining pre-Collapse period would be to go on the road with my rig, take pictures and vids, do interviews and write stories about the Homeless People I run into and the abandoned Malls and decaying cities.  I hope to speak at places of Worship of all denominations and PTA meetings and Town Council meetings, wherever they'll let me speak.  I'll drop in and visit with as many of the Diners as I can.  However, I have quite a few obstacles ahead of me to be able to fulfill this Bucket List dream, so I give it only a 50-50 chance I will actually pull it off.  I call this Bucket List Dream "Brother RE's Travelling Salvation Show". lol

Plenty of climate ideologues will chastise me for hypocrisy in burning all that gas, but it's not really going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things far as the climate is concerned.  I'll only be able to do it for as long as BAU continues, and during that time between all the container ships burning bunker fuel, all the jets burning kerosene, all the JIT Big Rigs burning diesel, all the SUVs on the daily commute burning gasoline and all the Power Plants burning coal or natural gas, it's not even a drop in a drop in the bucket.  What it accomplishes though could make a difference, to wake some people up to the kind of world they will face in the future and how to get ready for it, both in physical and psychological terms.

https://i0.wp.com/images.cheaprvliving.com/choice-me.jpg

After we did this deal for the van, the guy who got married invited him on a fishing trip with the Bridal Party and family members, about 13 people.  As their trusted Biz Accountant he's worthy of such an invitation (there were about 80 people at the wedding, a 50s age guy getting married!).  So he drove down to Kenai for this fishing expedition in a Charter boat, owned by another friend of the guy who got married so they got a good deal.  Breaking down the cost of the charter between all the adults who went out, it cost my friend $150.

http://www.alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/images/stories/activities/fishing/saltwater/kodiak_charter.jpg

They really lucked out into a picture perfect day up here on the Last Great Frontier, it was in the 70sF and nice and Sunny.  The fishing was also good and they Maxed Out on their limit on Halibut, having to throw some of the smaller ones back. My friend caught 6 himself.  On returning to shore, they didn't even have to do the processing themselves, there are professionals at the dock who do this for you, amazingly fast.  In the end, after the whole catch was divied up between the principal adults on the charter, my friend got around 20 lbs of fillets out of this.  So what was the total cost and how does that compare to what you would normally pay for Halibut at the supermarket?

http://saltwatersafari.com/images/large01.jpg Well, he spent $150 for the charter, $70 for the gas for the round trip to Kenai, and then another $25 to take the frozen fillets vacuum sealed back down to WA packed tight in a cooler in checked baggage on the plane.  So that is $245, call it $12/lb as opposed to the $19/lb for Halibut you usually pay in the grocery store up here.  Not sure what it goes for down in the lower 48.  So good savings there, as long as you don't count in the cost of the round trip airfare itself, which from WA is usually in the neighborhood of $500 or so.  If you count that in, then the cost of your 20lbs of halibut skyrockets from $12/lb to about $38/lb!  Not a very economical way to feed yourself that way! lol.  But if you are traveling up here for other reasons and are spending the money for plane fare anyhow, you get a nice vacation and some cheaper fish too.  Doing subsistence fishing though is really only practical as a means to feed yourself if you actually LIVE close to the fish.

Then you have the next question for people who actually DO live here in Alaska and don't have to fly on a plane to go fishing?  How far is it practical for them to travel to get to the nearest good fishing ground?

Well, in this case it took traveling from the Mat-Su Valley to the Kenai Peninsula in a car, which as long as you got gas you can afford does not take all that much time. From the Mat-Su Valley to Kenai is around 200 miles, and takes about 4 hours, depending how fast you drive of course.  You can go down there, fish & fillet, drop the fillets on ice then be back home to vacuum seal them and freeze them in your Frigidaire Freezer inside a day.  Now good for easily a full year of scrumptious eating, and probably quite a bit longer than that as long as your freezer keeps working.  I have vacuum sealed 5 year old steaks I have pulled out of the freezer for a BBQ and they are pretty much as good as the ones I ate fresh out of the refrigerated rack at 3 Bears the day I bought them.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e5/e8/4e/e5e84edd7ade84dfd26a3a489b701410.jpg BUT…if you do NOT have a car and gas to make the round trip to Kenai, these fish are mostly out of reach for you.  In a Kayak, if you left from say the Knik River and paddled your way down there along the coast, this would take you several days/weeks, same for the return trip.  With no refrigeration either way, you would have to salt/dry the fish you caught for the return trip.  Not very practical or even possible really, which is why almost all the Native settlements from the days before the European Invasion here are right on the coast.  You go out and fish every day, you eat fish every night, you dry and preserve some fish for the winter, rinse and repeat every year.  Natives up here did no farming whatsoever.  They lived on fishing, hunting the moose and some gathering of tubers and nuts that grow up here pretty well.

So as it is laid out and organized now, in the absence of the gas to make it to and fro the fishing and hunting grounds that are still quite good around here at the moment, you just couldn't do it.  The population would need to migrate out to the spots that are good for this, which generally speaking are where any of the old native villages are located.  They're there for a REASON.  That's where the FOOD is!  Said villages however are in some of the most inaccessible (by land) places in Alaska, even today there are no roads in or out of them.  They are lonesome and desolate places these days for the most part also.   The old culture is gone, alcoholism rates are through the roof and now they live in manufactured housing shipped in by barge and dropped on the permafrost, which is now not so perma anymore.  It's sure not very likely you will get the vast preponderance of White people who currently live in Anchorage, the Mat Valley and Fairbanks to move to these places when TSHTF.  Rather, most of them will try to GTFO of Alaska if they can, if it's not too late and they missed the last plane ride back to the Lower 48.

Given all of that, can the people who remain here create an economy not quite so far down the evolutionary ladder as mere subsistence Fishing & Hunting?  IMHO, yes it is possible.

http://www.wildnatureimages.com/images%204/100623-001..jpg In the first place, there is a lot of infrastructure in place already which can take up some slack.  The Alaska Railroad which starts down in Seward and goes up through Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley past Denali (Mt. McKinley) and ends in Fairanks is still an actively functioning railroad for both passengers and freight.  It brings down coal from Healy which currently mostly gets shipped to China.  It brings Touristas who don't want to drive and/or want to experience the railroad adventure up past many scenic vistas on the way to Fairbanks.  For an Alaska Vacation, many people do this in conjunction with a Cruise to do some Whale Watching and/or a Fishing Charter to go catch some Halibut.

So, fish caught down at the mouth of the Kenai river could still be moved quickly up into the interior of Alaska, as long as you have a source of energy to power the trains.  Switching back over to steam locomotives powered by coal, Alaska has plenty of that and it's right along the right of way of the Alaska Railroad too.  No difficult transportation to get the coal to the trains.

http://buyalaskagrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/fmstore1.jpg Similar to fishing, produce grown here in Alaska on the farms in Palmer can be shipped up and down the line on the Alaska Railroad.  People don't tend to think of Alaska as a great place for farming, but for certain crops they grow very well up here.  Root vegetables and tubers such as carrots and potatoes grow very well. Although the outdoor growing season is short, the days are very long and those vegetables that do grow well up here grow very big.  Alaska holds World Records for vegetables like Carrots and Cabbage.  Other vegetables grown locally that show up in my local supermarket are various forms of squash like Zuchinni along with Pumpkins.

Beyond those vegetables grown outdoors, Alaska sports a lot of Greenhouses, both small private ones along with large commercial ones.  The local hothouse Tomatoes on the vine we get up here are very good (for modern tomatoes), although about twice the current price for the tomatoes shipped up from Mexico.  That network of Greenhouses could be expanded easily by using glass from the buildings in Anchorage and from abandoned Carz and McMansions.

For meat, we have both the hunting available from the large population of Moose along with ranchers in Palmer who raise Cattle, Bison, Big Horn Sheep, Pigs and Chickens.  Many people also raise their own chickens as well, the local ordinances in most communities allow this.  People also have Worm Farms, although currently used for bait or chicken feed, not direct eating by local Homo Saps.

About the only thing we don't currently have is a local Dairy, the one operational one shut down a couple of years ago.  However, the equipment still exists and this would not be that difficult a thing to start up again.

https://media1.britannica.com/eb-media/39/96239-004-31A629B3.jpg So on the food end of things, I think we could be pretty self-sufficient, especially if many people start leaving the state which I suspect will happen when the North Slope stops pumping oil down the Alaska pipeline and the Big Oil Companies make their exit.  They employ many people and the money those employees make is the main driver for the secondary economy of goods and services up here.  Similarly, Mining of other minerals currently brings in revenue to Alaska, but after TSHTF there won't be much of a market for those anymore outside of Alaska.  The Tourist/Vacation industry is a third driver which brings in decent revenue over the summer as people come up here to experience the Wonders of Nature now mostly gone from the Lower 48.  They are mostly retirees with Pensions, 401Ks and Social Security though, and that sort of vacationing will become a thing of the past.  Besides, the planes they fly up here on to experience Nature's Beauty won't be flying anymore to get here.

Finally, the main source of external revenue for the State of Alaska is the FSoA Military, which runs 3 large military bases here, Elmendorf/JR Richarson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright Military Base and Clear Air Force Station.  There's probably additional Secret ones as well.  This also brings in substantial revenue to run the secondary economy, you pretty much cannot walk around Walmart without seeing somebody in Fatigues, and most of the people working for the Military permanently stationed here wear civies all the time anyhow.  After TSHTF though, major features of this will be both the dissolution of the entire federation of the FSoA into more local Regional entities, along with the collapse of the FSoA Military. So while the soldiers left here may take over the local Goobermint and run the show with their leftover weapos and ammo, the military won't be a source of revenue after this point in time.

In addition, it's not certain we have to immediately give up the Internal Combustion engine here after TSHTF in general around the rest of the world.  While the North Slope is quite depeleted these days in terms of producing enough Oil to economically push down the Alaska Pipeline, it can still produce a good deal of oil to refine for local use as distillates, and we do have our own Refinery in Fairbanks, although it is currently Mothballed.  It could be restarted though, and refined products of gasoline and diesel transported down by train to Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley, where most of the current population of Alaska currently lives, along with Fairbanks itself.

Besides the remaining oil on the Slope, there is a ton of Natural Gas sprinkled around here locally, and internal combustion gasoline engines can be fairly easily modified to run on NG.  It's not quite so easy to do fillups as you need to work with compressed gas and in an accident you could end up with an explosion that might take out half a city block, but it could be done.

https://www.wildsalmoncenter.org/content/uploads/2016/02/AK-SusitnaDam-map-333x352.jpg Besides that, there is talk and ongoing debate about building a big Hydro Plant by damming up the Susitna River.  In current dollars, estimated to cost around $5B.  Such a Hydro Plant would provide enough "clean" electric power to run many of Elon Musk's EVs.  I'm not personally in favor of this dam due to ecological damage to the fisherie, and I doubt it will get built due to economic reasons, but it remains a possibility if it can be financed & built prior to SHTF Day.  The environmental lobby here is also pretty strong, and remains vehemently opposed to this dam.  The Tourist industry also not in favor of it.

We are also fortunate there are no Nuke Puke plants up here, it was never even remotely economically feasible to build one due to the low population so spread out over a large territory.  So no decommisioning costs or danger of a melt down or worse, a critical mass explosion of the core when cooling and containment is lost.  Most areas of the country that are densely populated have one or more Nuke Puke plants in reasonable proximity, like Fukushima is to Tokyo.  That includes most of the East and West Coasts of the FSoA, and many spots along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers bisecting the center of the land mass.  Alaska only has to worry about what gets blown up in our direction when these plants inevitably fail, but by then it should be farily well diluted.  Not so for someone who is 100 miles straight downwind of such a plant, of course.

So the food problem seems soluble, and so does the energy problem here for a small population.  In terms of the climate problem, even a 10C rise in average Global Tems would just make the neighborhood somewhat more comfortable and balmy.  It is unlikely to exceed Wet Bulb temperatures up here for quite some time to come, certainly not in the next decade which Dr. McStinksion Guy McPherson predicts as the Termination Date for all Humanity, and Global All Dead People, aka Near Term Human Extinction..

The biggest problem here in making a transition though is not the energy or the food or even the climate, since warming up 4C would lengthen the growing season and reduce the heating requirements for living. The most difficult thing in the near term is replacing the current Monetary System with something that will actually work.  Alaska would have to issue out its own money of course, and what is that money going to be based on and how will it be distributed to the population to equitably distribute the resources?  How will jobs be assigned to the population, and what job categories will there be?  Who or what organization will be responsible for organizing this all up, under what type of political system?  How will reproduction be controlled so as not to repeat the same mistake of population overshoot that went down before?  These are very difficult questions to answer in a post-SHTF scenario.

https://pgithens.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/burning_money.jpg Despite all those problems, I believe Alaska still represents one of the best Survival Holes on Earth in the face of both Global Economic Collapse and Global Climate Collapse.  It has all the essentials locally, and it starts out here with one of the lowest population densities on the planet, and there will certainly be die off and outward migration from the current numbers.

Prior to the European Invasion, the estimated population of First Nations people that lived up here was around 60,000.  With the knowledge and technology that we have acquired since then, I believe the population that could be supported in a sustainable manner is probably double, and perhaps triple that.  Call that around 150,000 people.  That is about 20% of the current population, so to get down that low you only need 80% to leave or die off.  I believe the vast majority of people currently here will leave when the economy collapses.  For the people who remain, mostly only the very hardy will survive, and I will not be one of them.  I will in all likelihood live longer up here than I will just about anywhere else on earth though, certainly much longer than if I was currently living in Syria or Yemen.  It's also currently fairly peaceful, and the shelves are filled with food goodies from around the world to sample at my leisure (at least if I actually still had an appetite for eating them anyhow).  If you are an observer of Collapse, you couldn't ask for a better Perch.

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http://www.activistpost.com/2017/04/gold-manipulat [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on August 06, 2017, 04:57: [...]

There are unintelligible messages from Karpatok an [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on July 20, 2017, 01:36:05 PMOil [...]

Quote from: luciddreams on August 05, 2017, 06:29: [...]

Quote from: RE on August 05, 2017, 01:00:20 AMThe [...]

I have taken a lot of abuse on my opinion of what [...]

The database has been upchucking a lot of old post [...]

We got another treat to old posting from the Diner [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

This and That - Vol. 1 Lines in the Sand By Cognitive Dissonance   When I was younger I would get in [...]

We Are All Going To Die! By Cognitive Dissonance   This one is short and sweet folks. The subject al [...]

Have You a Positive Personal Practice? (Part Two) By Cognitive Dissonance   My apologies for how tar [...]

Have You a Positive Personal Practice? By Cognitive Dissonance   Those who dive deeply into unmaskin [...]

Dark Homes By Cognitive Dissonance   While we closed on the purchase of our mountain cabin in March [...]

Event Update For 2017-08-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-08-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-08-11http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-08-10http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-08-09http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

With a bit of ice on the floor depositers could almost ride the seeds right on in (photo by Global C [...]

Well, at least it was made sure that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault looks real pretty (photo courtes [...]

Now it's data that makes the world go round? It's comfortably accepted by many that what w [...]

I left off last week's post – "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, Industrial-Scale Renewabl [...]

When you wish upon a star the Blue Fairy sends Tinker Bell, who plants a magic seed, which grows int [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

A Personal Forest"Every year on New Years Day I write down my annual electric meter reading, chart the milage of [...]

Is God Serious?"How ironic is it that having cornered some seemingly unique absence of reality, adherents cann [...]

The Gospel of Chief Seattle: Written For Television"No bright star hovers about the horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Some grim Neme [...]

Can Foodies Save the Planet?"Facing all of these grave threats, humans collectively have chosen to go insane."Having a [...]

Snowflake Summer"Why has academia descended into neo-fascist regimentation?"We didn’t give serious thought [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

A new book argues that, in order to survive climate change and peak oil, the global money economy ne [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Lensman commented on Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar. in response t [...]

Name commented on Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar. in response to F [...]

Marcus T. Monihan : Yeah, but if enough PV panels are erected and connected to the grid, then at som [...]

I don’t have pets, but last night one of gods creations, a fly, flew into my apartment. I named him [...]

Look --- a refugee from DelusiSTAN has washed up on FW.... Gary ... here's a towel... and a bow [...]

Welcome to new day, added 's' to 'http' so everyone should feel more secure ... [...]

Just to be clear about all the different administrations mentioned; All the while not one thing that [...]

Clintons job was to keep the party going, BJs under the desk for all! Bushs job was to tell jokes an [...]

Hey Steve, why don't you look into becoming REs neighbor. After the great power down, you can l [...]

Think Vermont. All you need is a wood stove and an internet connection. I'll bet you have a lot [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

In this paper, we study the use of wheat land fallow production systems as a climate change adaptati [...]

Ambulance services are in operation around the world and yet, until recently, ambulance data has onl [...]

In this investigation, a numerical model expressing advection and diffusion effects is used to exami [...]