Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Not to Bug-Out

The prepper and survivalist communities are gaining lots of notoriety - not always a bad thing. We have lots of acronyms, as do most demographic groups. We talk about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and that time in the future when TSHTF (the shit hits the fan). We express concern about EMPs (electromagnetic pulses), which can be naturally occurring as in a CME (coronal mass ejection or solar flare) or the result of the high altitude detonation of a nuclear bomb. The result would be the same - widespread power outages, which would take months, maybe years (maybe never in some places), to restore, and it's a huge concern, because it's definitely a possibility, and it would plunge the world into total darkness in a second.

Of course, EMPs aren't the only, or even the most significant, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario that concerns preppers. There are all sorts of possibilities, but the one thing most seem to agree on is that preparedness is key. Unfortunately, when it comes to prepping, I'm kind of in the minority with where my primary prepping occurs and how my future in TEOTWAWKI will look.

And I don't even have a BOB (bug-out bag).

Well, I do, but also not ... not really ... because I think there are very few circumstances that would prompt me to leave my home, and I definitely don't have a bunker or a cabin up in the mountains to which I plan to escape when this even occurs.

First, let me explain. I'm not planning to leave, because where would I go? I read an article a few weeks ago the gist of which was that we're never more than ten miles away from some place. Even in the middle of what we might believe is the wilderness, there's something or someone around somewhere. At very least, there's a road. If my goal is to get away from other people, there are very few (if any) places I could go.

I read a different article recently in which the author spoke of the places he would consider as good bug-out locations. I've lived in two of those places: Maine and southeastern Kentucky. Let me just make an observation about people, but first let me say that 1 square mile is just shy of 700 acres. I can walk one mile in about fifteen minutes. I've seen people talking about their bug-out compounds, which on the small side might be ten acres, and on the bold side, a hundred. That's not even a mile. If someone wanted to find that cabin, it would be no problem. Places where there are wide areas of wilderness, at least here in Maine, aren't for sale. They are national parks.

And also, unless the prepper has some extra cash laying around, land here Maine, can be pretty pricey. A "hunting cabin" (completely off-grid, less than 200 sq feet with no insulation, and probably no well or other water source, definitely no septic, and maybe a slit-trench outhouse) on four acres will cost between $20,000 to as much as $70,000. More acreage, more money. If the house is on a lake or close to the coast, expect to pay double.

But there's another, perhaps more important, thing to take into consideration. We have some friends who live on a lake in western Maine. We went to visit them recently, and, well, their house is pretty out of the way. Getting there during the winter would be a challenge, because the road was narrow and steep, which is why most people don't winter there. I can't imagine navigating that road during a winter like we just had. There were several houses within sight of theirs, but they live in an area that is mostly populated by "summer people." That is, they don't have any neighbors during the winter.

Great, right?

Only that a lot of year-round people aren't fond of the summer people. Sometimes it can be a nuisance. Personally, as someone who lives in a tourist-centric town, it's a bother, because those people who visit just during the summer months have no investment in our community. They are here for what the community can give to them, never even considering that we are people with lives that don't revolve around making sure their vacation is pleasant. I'm not a rude person, by nature, but as a word of warning, if one comes into my community with some expectation of entitlement, that person will leave Maine thinking Mainers are not friendly people. And make no mistake, THIS is my HOME. I live here. I work here. I invest myself in this community as an active member - and it's that fact that got me to bristling when I read that article about bug-out locations.

The other suggestion of moving to southeastern Kentucky raised the same scarlet flag for me. First, we think mountains = seclusion, but that's not, always true. In fact, in Harlan County, Kentucky, while there is a lot of land, most of it is on the side of a mountain (or owned by a coal company ... or both). People have built houses on just about every flat surface available, which means, when one is driving down what should be a "country" road, there are houses almost as densely packed as some more comfortable suburbs. Good luck finding a piece of land there.

The whole idea of the bug out cabin kind of reminds me of the way the Europeans viewed the Americas. To them, it was this wide-open, uninhabited wild place that they could come and take and tame. The problem is that it wasn't, and the problem with the idea that one is going to escape the city or suburbs and hunker down in their "vacation" cabin when TSHTF - just move in, without any regard for the other people who live there already (not in their cabin, but in that area) - to me is a little naïve. And please, I don't mean to offend anyone. It's just my opinion, especially being a person who moved around a lot and had to learn to assimilate into new communities, but also as someone who has not just been to those places, but lived in those places that are being suggested.

I know the basic idea of some of the preppers who are planning to bug out is that they, their family, and a few select friends will build a fortress and move out there. Unless it's a pretty big acreage (more than 100), it won't support very many people, but also, 100 acres is not even a mile, which means neighbors are likely to be fairly close.

People have asked me. Every time I do an interview, the question comes up, but bugging out has never been part of my plan.

There are some things that might encourage me to bug out. If we were in a war, and the front was moving in my direction, I might leave. If there was a raging fire headed in my direction, I would probably evacuate. If a tsunami were barreling down on the east coast and likely to hit southern Maine, I'd head to higher ground (although to reach me, it would have to be a pretty large and scary tsunami).

There are very few things that would cause me to leave, and most of the TEOTWAWKI scenarios that concern preppers are not among them.

All of the reasons I would stay are detailed in my book, but mostly, it's because, where would I go?

My goal is to develop an edible, perennial landscape (so that I won't be dependent on buying seeds), to remodel my home so that I am not dependent on non-renewable resources, to have a source of potable water, and to build a community of folks who can support me and whom I can support if (when) the shit does, finally, hit the fan.

Of course, I know that (sh)it is already happening, but it's kind of like the frog in the stew pot. The water starts out cool so that he doesn't jump out, and the temperature is slowly increased ... so slowly, that the frog doesn't notice - until it's too late.

For those who are planning to bug-out, maybe now is the time to go, because it's unlikely that things will suddenly be bad, and it would be very bad to be that frog when things get really difficult.

For those who aren't, getting to know your neighbors and your community is definitely win/win.

1 comment:

  1. I read years ago the best bug out would be in a sailboat, set up off grid and with a lot of self sufficient stuff...