And lessons learned!
It was early Sunday morning that my daughter, her husband, their teenage son and I set out heading for the Ozarks. We were on our way to visit my eldest son and his family. It's about a nine hour drive, and we only had five days. So, with two days for driving, that left us three days to visit. Even though I knew we would only have three days to visit, I took my BOB (bug out bag) along just in case there was an opportunity to practice some of my newly acquired skills (acquired from online articles and videos, lol). My main purpose, of course was to visit my son and his family. Although, when you get right down to it, I just didn't feel safe and secure about leaving my BOB at home. Not when we would be so far away from home. It really just made good practical sense to take it along! If we would have had enough room I would have wanted everyone to take their BOBs, but we didn't.
It was an awesome and glorious time! I finally got to see the land and homestead that my eldest son owns and is building his homestead on! He's living in an RV at the present time, but is working on building his log cabin out of the plethora of trees available on his land. The Ozark Mountains are so beautiful! But, the best part of all? I got to see my son, his wife and their two youngest of their six children!
I have only been to the Ozarks a couple of times in my life. The first time was when my four kids were all still in school and we went down there as a family and camped in a time share campground. I totally fell in love with the area! I love the mountains and being in the midst of them and enjoying God's nature!
The first time I visited my son and his family I fell in love with the Ozarks all over again. He had a really nice home on about 3/4 of an acre of land in a wooded area just outside of town. This time, he's living on ten acres of land in the middle of the mountain forest, 30 minutes from town. I love it even more! I so want to move there!! On his acreage! For real!
Make sure your cell phone has a good battery!
I would have taken more pictures to share, but my cell phone decided that it either needs a new battery, or I need a new phone. Ugh. Fortunately, I had taken three (yes three!) battery charger packs with me. And, believe me, I used the heck out of all three of those! I knew I was having to charge my phone more often, but I really found out how bad it was on our trip. Lesson learned: If you're planning on using your cell phone's GPS for a 9 hour trip, and taking lots of pictures while at your destination, make sure it has a good battery!
Epic bushcraft practice fail
So, my son had to go into town to pick up his two kids from school on Wednesday. We were out at his place knowing he would have to leave for a while to get the kids from school. While he was gone, my daughter, her son, and I decided we would practice using a ferro rod and some home made tinder/fire starter I had made with round cotton pads and melted candle wax. So, we gathered around the fire pit and set out to practice. None of us had actually ever used a ferro rod before, so it was fun striking them and making them spark! However, all we accomplished was getting a small (very tiny) amount of fire started on the cotton pad, which would burn out right away because it was a little too windy out. So, you know what that means? Practice, practice, practice! They always make it look so easy on YouTube! But, I also think I may have over-soaked the cotton pads in the candle wax. It was fun and kind of funny trying, though. My daughter's husband was watching us and I'm sure he was laughing on the inside at us! Anyway, we did learn how to strike the ferro rods and got some good spark from them. Definitely learned that it may take LOTS of practice to get it down. Lesson learned: Skills need to be practiced. Practice, practice, practice! You don't want to be in the middle of a SHTF/Emergency situation and find out it isn't as easy as those with experience make it look!
By the way, if you're new to fero rods and you're ready to give them a try, make sure you remove the outer coating on them. If you don't, they won't throw a spark. Fortunately, I had known this BEFORE we went down there and took some sandpaper along with me (in my BOB). So, on our second day there, I took my BOB along with me out to my son's place and used the sandpaper to grind off the coating on my ferro rods. Besides, I wanted to show off my BOB to my son! Hehe. I was hoping I could practice some things at that time, but it just wasn't meant to be that day.
The need is real
The biggest lesson I learned was that it really, truly is important to be in good physical condition. As much as is possible anyway. I know I'm overweight and out of shape, but wow. I had a hard time just walking up and down stone steps on about a 2 foot hill into and out of the yard area. Not to mention the time we spent walking; although most of that was done in the stores we visited, lol. Nonetheless, I have decided now that I have seen how badly out of shape I truly am that I am going to make that my goal for the rest of 2019: to lose at least 40 pounds and exercise, walk, or whatever it takes to get into better physical condition. I really cannot express how important this is.! Even if you're not overweight, you may need to be able to endure walking, climbing, etc. for long periods of time. Biggest lesson learned: Get in shape now. Don't wait until SHTF and think you'll automatically get in shape then because of all the hard work you will be doing. Prepare yourself now. Otherwise, you may not be able to endure.
Whittling the time away
My daughter saw that I was having difficulty going up and down the steps and that I had grabbed my son's walking stick from him to use and got a great idea to make a walking stick for me! So, she had my son cut a big limb for her and she stripped it, cut off all the knots, and carved an area near the top of the stick for me to hold onto it. She was having so much fun working with the wood and knife that her son decided to make one for himself. It was quite enjoyable sitting out by the fire pit watching them work with the wood and their knives. Plus, it was much easier climbing those four steep steps with a walking stick! So, if you're planning on the possibility of having to "bug out" it would be a very good idea to have some hiking poles or at the very least, a walking stick. This will help your trek to go much more smoothly. Plus, it could help save you from some muscle aches at the end of the day. Lesson learned: Use hiking poles or a walking stick to help carry the burden of walking long distances or climbing rocks and hills. Your back will thank you for it.
Oh, and my grandson used my Mora Companion knife on his walking stick (after his knife blade grew dull) and he loved it! Now he wants one. He also used my knife sharpener on his knife and was absolutely pleased with the results! He wants one of those now too, lol.
We were on our way over to my son's house when we got a text from him that he had been called out to a forest fire (he's a volunteer firefighter) but that the fire was contained and he would be home soon. Talk about a mother becoming scared! I had just learned the night before that he had become a firefighter. I knew he was an EMT for the fire department, but didn't realize he was also a firefighter. One of those, "I thought I told you" moments, lol. Apparently, a neighbor up the hill had started a fire somewhere on his property and the wind blew a spark into the dry leaves and the fire grew out of control! Wow, I just realized that was also on Wednesday, the same day we were practicing starting a fire. Good thing we were using the fire pit!
Lesson learned: If you're going to build a fire, make sure you clear all of the debris around the area. If you can, dig a shallow hole and place rocks around it to make an actual fire pit. As Smokey The Bear always said, "Only you can prevent forest fires"! Well, that saying is not totally true, because lightening, glass laying around, and other things can start forest fires too, but you know what he means 😊.
Using a make-shift toilet system
Excuse me if I get a little personal here. But, my son was in the process of turning his bathroom (in his RV) into a non-flushable system. In other words, he had disabled his toilet and replaced it with a bucket that had wood chips in it and had a toilet seat on it. It wasn't something he told me until I had to use it. I didn't want to have to use it anyway before I knew, because I didn't want to use up his water resources from his water tank. But, one day (and only once) I couldn't hold it in any longer. So, he informed me that he no longer had a flushing toilet. I had been inside his RV a few times (we stayed at a different location than his homestead) and hadn't smelled anything offensive. So, I was rather surprised when he told me!
Anyway, I crept into his RV and went into the bathroom. Lo and behold, there it was...the make-shift toilet. I was very surprised when I lifted the lid and didn't smell any obtrusive odor. There sitting next to the "toilet" was a pail with wood chips in it, along with a wooden scooper that he had carved out of wood. So, I did my duty and proceeded to scoop some wood chips into the bucket. What I didn't know was that you aren't supposed to put toilet paper into the bucket. Oops! It took what I'm sure was way more than the usual amount of wood chips for me to cover that up. Again, sorry for the TMI, but I do have a point to make. That point is, don't put toilet paper into the bucket! It takes too much of the wood chips/sawdust or whatever is being used to cover it up! Seriously though, I had no idea. I don't remember seeing another receptacle for the TP, and he didn't mention it, but I'm pretty sure he had one somewhere.
When I went back outside, I asked him what the wood chips were that he was using and he said it was cedar chips. I told him that I had expected it to smell like an outhouse and was surprised that it didn't! Fortunately for him, he has LOTS of cedar trees on his land and that is what he is using to build his cabin and his "man" shed. So, he has an almost unlimited supply of wood chips. When we left he was in the process of updating his toilet system by making a more attractive (if you could call it that) "toilet" and taking the actual porcelain one out. Lesson learned: If at all possible, use cedar chips/sawdust in your toilet buckets!
Ticks are everywhere down there! Especially in the wooded areas. Thank goodness we were aware of that from our last visit and my daughter took along some bug spray! But the ticks down there are different than the ones I'm used to. They are tiny! We didn't get any on us, but we made sure to check ourselves and take showers as soon as we could after leaving his homestead for the night. I was told that at least they didn't produce Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I relaxed somewhat after hearing that news. However, I made a mental note to find some natural remedies that repel ticks for our BOBs. And, when we got back home that's exactly what I did! Lesson learned: Make sure you have some natural bug repellent remedies in your BOB and prepping supplies. Bug spray won't last forever.
I must say that I was truly impressed with the my son and all he has done and using his self-reliant skills and knowledge! I didn't even know he was a prepper until we went down to visit him last fall. Then, I discovered he was not only a prepper, but had a goal of becoming self-reliant. He was looking at the land he now owns when we were there then, and was pretty serious about purchasing it. He told me about it, but we didn't get a chance to go check it out with him. That just goes to show how good some people are about not sharing the fact that they are preppers with others! I had literally just started this blog site when we were down there last fall and was sharing my excitement about it with him when he fessed up, lol. It gives a parent a peaceful feeling knowing that your children will be able to take care of themselves and their children if there was a SHTF or emergency situation. Especially when they live hours away.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip! I really do want to move down there. Not only is it the perfect bug out location, but it is so beautiful and peaceful. Yes, I do want to move down there. Sigh. I'm considering turning into a "snow bird" and spending my winters down there with him. But, I really kind of invited myself to do so. I realized that after the fact. So, I will wait and hope and pray that he will actually take the step to ask me about doing that, or ask me if I actually plan on it and letting me know that he is okay with it. I don't want to impose myself upon him. Although, when I did express my desire to stay down there in the winter, he did mention that if he gets his cabin built before this winter, I can stay in his RV 😊. So maybe I wasn't being so intrusive after all. One can hope!
Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!