Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thoughts on travel

During these trying times, the temptation is to stay close to home. That’s where I’m strongest and most prepared. At home I’ve got water, shelter with wood heat, some food stores, solar electric, guns, family, friends and community. It’s a good place to weather disasters, either natural or man made.

It might be safer at home, but what’s the fun in that? My lovely wife and I enjoy traveling, in spite of any risks. Most of our prep stuff stays behind. Sure, we travel with camping gear, a bit of food and water, but nothing like the resources of home. Unless things totally fall apart before we leave, we will head south to warmer climes.

When preparing for travel, it’s good to have an idea what possible problems might arise. A well maintained vehicle will save headaches on the road. My vehicles are old. Even with the best maintenance, things can go wrong. That’s why some roadside insurance is handy. I’ve had AAA for years. Once I discovered they won’t touch problems with boat trailers, I added BoatUS trailering insurance. Only wish I hadn’t made that discovery by burning out a trailer wheel bearing while crossing the Everglades.

Know how to navigate. Don’t rely on just a GPS. Have a good road atlas. My wife has gotten into the habit of grabbing every free map available for every place we go. Often state rest areas will have pretty decent maps. Camping and hotel guides can prove useful. All that information is good for trip planning, but even more useful when the plan falls apart.

Imagine getting caught in a freak snowstorm. There were no plans to say in the area, but suddenly it’s important to find a hotel nearby, and one that takes dogs. Suddenly that tourist guide is useful. Sure, there are things like phone apps for that sort of thing, but I like hard copy. Communications might be one of the things that fail in an emergency. An outdated GPS will stubbornly try to take you across closed bridges and blocked roads. Good maps make finding alternative routes a lot easier.

A major concern of mine is fuel availability. I remember trying to travel across the country during the 70s oil embargo. Plenty of gas stations closed, and almost nobody open after dark. Once I pulled into a gas station well before they opened. The needle was on “E” and I wanted to be first in line.

Since I am running diesel vehicles altered to allow the burning of waste vegetable oil, my fuel options are greatly increased. On a long trip, it’s common for me to carry enough veggie to go 1500 miles or more. Carrying vegetable oil is much safer than traveling with extra gasoline. I’ve run my vehicles on diesel, WVO (canola, soy, peanut, olive, flax, lard, and mystery vegetable oil), crankcase oil, #2 heating oil, K1, and hydraulic fluid. I should be able to find something to burn that will bring me home.

How about security? What if there’s a SHTF situation when I’m on the road? In general, I avoid big cities. I’m not a fan of them at the best of times. My instincts are all wrong, but at least I’m aware of that. I do have friends and family scattered across the country. Should things look bad, there’s a chance I’d be able to reach some of them. There is strength in numbers.

My options are increased by having a boat. Given enough time, I could sail back to New England from the south. Even when I had just a canoe, it was a great advantage. Here’s an example. Imagine being down the Florida Keys, and one of the major bridges blows up at the height of tourist season. Hundreds of thousands of people would be stranded on those little islands. Not only that, there is only one pipeline that supplies all the water to the Keys. That would be destroyed along with the bridge. A person with a canoe could island hop until they got past the damaged part. Baring that, they could paddle out to a small uninhabited island and stay there until the craziness died down.

So come January the plan is to make my way south. I believe life is about living. A person locked in an underground bunker might be alive, but is it living? It’s worth getting out and experiencing new things and meeting new people. I think universe favors the bold.



  1. 1500 miles versus the typical range of 300 is a lot.

  2. I once went 3000 miles by pulling a utility trailer loaded with veggie jugs.

  3. Funny you talked about traveling. Check out my blog and see what I just got. Hope it wasn't a mistake.

  4. Your plans seem well thought out. Still, I'd pack a firearm.

  5. Life IS for living! If only more people would realize that, the world would be a much better place. I'm going fishing Monday or Tuesday come hell or high water...