Sunday, March 18, 2018

Road Weary

    I started a new job at the beginning of January, as a tech, for a contractor that preforms installs for DirecTV and AT&T. As a tech, I drive to the job site and can see multiple jobs a day with sometimes an hour drive between jobs.

     My favorite part of this new job, is the drive itself. I've always loved driving, since I was a boy and my dad would take me for drives and occasionally let me drive the family Cherokee. I drove from Utah back to Minnesota in the pick up my father had handed down to me. That was about the time I developed what I've been calling "Road Trance" and  began looking for any excuse I could to just hit the road, any reason at all and there I went. Sometimes bordering on immaturity and irresponsibility.

     When I drive now, be it the work truck, or my truck, I get sucked into the road and I see nothing else, no emotion, no problems, there's nothing but the road and myself. Cars, animals, buildings, people, it all appears grey to me. There is someone that I occasionally call at the end of a work day. An old Friend from Utah, who's easy to talk to for hours, that seems to be one of few that can pull me out of this trance. I get home, hang up the phone, lie down, and close my eyes, and my last thoughts before drifting off, are of getting up and doing it again the next day.


It felt good to post again, forgive me for I have been very busy with work, I hope you guys enjoyed the read!
Good Luck and Stay Safe Out There!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Mall Survival Guide

     The Holidays have come and gone. Bringing joy to many, children are happier than they will be until, well, next Christmas. Recently, my older sister dragged me out to the city to get presents for the family. Now I don't know about you, but I hate going to town. Chances are if I have to buy anything that's not edible, I can get it from Amazon. But, alas, I went anyway, while at the mall in a Barnes & Noble store, I happened upon a couple survival guides, from urban and wilderness guides to desert and ocean guides.

     Then the thought came to me....."Why is there no mall survival guide? Especially when there's holidays like Black Friday?" My mind began to race with Ideas, tips and tricks on how to survive Sam's Club when about ninety people have to stop at the free sample stands because they're gonna starve to death between isles four and seven, or at the mall when people just abruptly stop in the middle of a walk way to take the proverbial "Selfie". Like, "Can't you see other people walking here?" I think from that alone, you get the idea of how much I hate urban environments.

     So here it is, the how to guide on surviving the mall when the wife, daughter, son, brother, sister, mom or dad.....drag you to the depths of millennialland.

Part One: Avoiding the "Buy three get the fourth one free" Discount

     We've all been there at some point or another, including me for sure. I can not begin to tell you how many times I've been suckered into buying three or four of the same shirt because "Oh but it's on sale" No, Riley, it's not, you now just have four of the same shirt, when you're only going to be wearing one of them. To avoid this, make sure you know what you'll be getting ahead of time, research, plan, execute. Get in and get out as quickly as possible.

Part Two: Avoiding signing up for various rewards and credit programs

    Now this one I am not guilty of. But I know a few people who have come to deeply regret this decision. What's the worst that could happen? I won't use the credit card, I just want this one time, VIP discount. Next thing you know, you're $13,457.99 in the hole and trying to figure out how to sell a kidney on the black market. I still believe that getting more than one credit card, for anything other than emergencies and responsible credit building, is a poor decision, but that's just me, and I've been wrong. Credit cards do have their uses. So here's how to avoid it. When walking into the store, reply to every employees question with a firm but polite "No". They will get the message that you're not interested, and leave you to go about your business.

Part Three: Food court and random Selfies

     This part is the one that frustrates me to no end. When people just abruptly stop out of no where for some reason. I find that younger folks (around my age) do this the most. It's just blatantly rude. The food court is the worst location for this. The easiest way around this would be to avoid the area all together, but when the family is hungry, duty calls! Find a table far away, scout the area before sitting down. Send out a family member to order the food (if available). Make sure to bring a laptop or a phone, preferably with hot spot capability because this op may take awhile. I try to bring my own snacks to eat to avoid the super greasy fast food.

Part Four: EXFIL

     After lunch, if frustration has caught up with you, it's time to pull the plug. If you made it this far, then you probably have a method of escape. Start er' up, and peel outta there like the place is burning down around you. Once you're on the road, take a sigh of relief because it's finally over.....until next time.

I wanted to have pictures with this post but could not bring myself to go to the mall again.

Hope you guys enjoyed the read, and Happy Holidays.

If y'all would like, I started a Notes of the Nomad Facebook page that you can follow for all updates to the blog.

Good luck and stay safe out there.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dreams about the West, Mother, Father and Family

     I haven't written anything in awhile and I'm sorry about that. I hit a wall when it came to writing, and not because I didn't know what to write about, with rabbit snaring, winter camping, fresh blankets of snow, a book even, and believe it or not a mall survival guide (which is still coming).

     It's because of some things that happened this year. Many of you who are closest to me know that on June 25th of this year, my mother passed away from a heart attack. She was just 47 years old. My family and I moved back East to Minnesota to be where our happiest memories of her are. She loved it here, she loved to watch the birds at the feeders she set out for them. Now whenever I go to write I'm hit by these thoughts and feelings and suddenly everything shuts down and I can't write anything. When I lay down to go to sleep every night, It's like I'm right back in the hospital and I relive everything that happened that night. It is only after doing this that I can sleep, I've tried not thinking about it but I end up awake all night. I opened up to a close friend of mine about these troubles and he suggested that I write about it, which leads me here, telling hundreds of people about what happened to my family.

     Last night was different.

     Last night I fell asleep right away and I dreamt of the West. I was standing in the pasture in the sweltering heat of a Utah July afternoon. I fired up the wheeled single spout, water gun to hydrate the pasture. And I'm staring up at Loafer Mountain to the North of my families 50 acre ranch. I turn to head back to the house, as I walk past the pig barn, tucking my gloves into my pocket I stop and I look to see my father splitting wood by the shed just past the riding arena and suddenly everything just stops and I think of my father. My father the one who taught me things I needed to know about the land, livestock, splitting wood, and working hard to provide for those for which you love, and cherish deeply.

     After the reminder of my father I am plunged back into that dark part of my life following the passing of my mother. When we got back from that Hospital I hadn't slept for three days due to the grief. We decided shortly after to move. The funeral, the trip to Minnesota, the goodbyes, the final move, the last hard push away from the West. In hindsight I believe I may have gone crazy, and if you ask a certain friend of mine in Utah, she can certainly attest to it.

     I began writing this post two days ago, and though the dreams of Utah happened every night since I started writing it, I am able to get my rest. Not a day goes by that I do not think about my mother and father, the rest of my family. When I think of my father, it gives me hope, despite the terrible thing that happened, he stays strong, for himself and his children and I really don't know how he does it sometimes. Most of all I think about my younger brother Caiden, who is about to turn 7 and how he won't get to know our mother aside from memories and stories from the rest of our Family. But he will grow up good and strong thanks to my Dad and sisters.

     I wrote this to maybe get some closure and start writing again because I really do love it. Thank you to everyone who read the whole thing, it was harder piece to write and I imagine it was hard to read.

As usual, good luck and stay safe out there!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rabbit snaring

     Happy Sunday guys! I'm not gonna post this weekend. I ended up sidetracked of today's goal and forgot entirely about what I was going to write. Next weekend however, I'll post about my scouting trips looking for good rabbit snaring spots. 

     But for now, good luck and stay safe out there!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

72 hours

    "Remember, the lessons that we learn are written on the tombstones of others."
                                                                                             -Reid Henrichs

     Say you're driving home from work or school or what have you, there's total whiteout conditions, and your vehicle slides off the road. You notice that you have no cell service and the closest gas station is thirteen miles away, and you're unsure of when the plows ran last. Your best chance would be to try and hunker down with your vehicle and wait out the storm.

     The vehicle doesn't start.

     What you have in your vehicle RIGHT NOW is what you have to SURVIVE on for the next twenty four to seventy two hours.

  Are you going to survive?

     Chances are that you'd say yes, you're going to survive. In reality somebody would drive past and see you stranded and help, it's in our nature to help one another. But why? Why not be prepared ahead of time? Its situations like this that are the reason our parents or spouse ask us where we are going every time we leave the house.

     I bring this up because many millennials and really people in general, are not prepared for things ahead of time. Now I'm not saying some are not prepared, but most young adults survival supplies in their vehicle amount to a fast food cup and a few Bic lighters and potentially a pocket knife. Some others who are more prepared may have road flares, a tinder box, jumper cables or jump pack, and a few blankets and a heavy winter coat.

What I keep in my truck:
My Truck bag with the usual W.A.I.F.E system
One mid-weight and one heavy weight wool blanket each eight foot by six foot.
Ten foot by Seven foot BCUSA Tarp.
450 CCA (Cold Crank Amps) with 900 peak CCA vehicle jump pack.
Small camp cook stove and a canister of propane.
Heavy Cover canteen and cup set to boil water.
Four cans of Fix-a-Flat
Four quarts of Mobil One premium synthetic motor oil. 
Ice and snow scraper.

      What I failed to have was a compass, road flares, space blanket, fire extinguisher, and food, food being the most critical miss. I started this post with a really powerful quote, one that hit me quite hard in particular. What can I do today, that my predecessors failed to do? Everyday we should strive to learn more, there is always room for improvement. Learn from failures but don't let them hold you down, and never let them be fatal. I encourage you to take this post to heart, winter is here and every year all across the world people are killed because they were not prepared for what can happen. In all honesty, the safest thing for person X in this scenario to do, would be to avoid driving at all, if possible. 

     You know the drill, good luck and stay safe out there!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The North: a Halloween special

     The year is 2023, a deadly virus broke out in the year 2016 and  has devastated the mainland of the United States. The survivors have no knowledge of the rest of the world. Shortly after the outbreak the power grid collapsed leaving all in total darkness.

    Despite best efforts by the National Guard, the country dissolves into total anarchy for a short while, cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago are hit hardest. Ninety three percent of the U.S. population is killed within the first year, due to the virus, rioting, and lack of food.

     After a few years, the surviving people form themselves into warring tribes. The mountain tribes control the North. The North, despite harsh seasons, presents the best chance for survival, with lower populations, lands for farming and plenty of fish and game.

     Few families who had been prepared for emergencies escape to an island on a lake. But thier supplies are dwindling and they must send some on a ten day expedition to the mainland.

     Among nine other men, Jedidiah Smith volunteers to go.

     Jedd's eyes shoot open, the day has come when he must leave. He sits up, it's been weeks since he slept more than 4 hours. He glances at his pack and his rifle, and thinks to himself "I pray I won't have to use it, but I know I will." He gets dressed and grabs his gear and walks into the main camp where he meets with his father and two sisters.

   Jedd's father Gregory erupts  "Are you sure you want to do this? Your brothers died trying hold back the rioters, are you going to leave me with no sons?"  "You have Willow, KylieAnn. It's better that I go than any others because I won't have someone else risk their life for me." Gregory ponders his statement for a moment, before he can speak, Jedd assures him that he has the most experience when it comes to survival. "The girls are not my son." Gregory adds. "It's time for me to go, father. I'll bring you back something from the mainland." Says Jedd. Gregory replies "Bring yourself back."

     Jedd drops his gear into his kayak, and turns to his sister KylieAnn, in tears she tells him that if the mountain tribes catch him, they'll kill him slow. He assures her that he'll be okay and that the tribes are just a myth. He hugs his sisters and his father and sets off. His father's words echo in his head, "Bring yourself back." He lands on the sleepy shore, stashing his kayak and sets off into the woods.

     It's now midday, and Jedd is still on the move, stopping at every building he happens upon, grabbing anything he can find, batteries, bullets, food, most of all food. All the while those words, words that cut deeper at him than any blade ever could "Bring yourself back." Jedd notices that the sun is droping even lower, he sets camp and gathers wood for a fire.

     Jedd lies there beneath his tarp, "Bring yourself back" he mutters to himself. He begins to run an inventory of his gear and the supplies he's gathered. "One candy bar, two cans of food, beans and corn. Three triple A batteries, a space blanket, and 14 rounds of 7.62×39mm for my rifle, and a pack of smokes for dad." And the words came again, "Bring yourself back." He mutters them over and over again before drifting back to sleep.

     He wakes up and begins cooking breakfast. He recalls of when he was younger, and the first set of rangers had gone on a similar run to the mainland to try and find settlements and one came back a year later. Mitchell was his name, he's gone mad. Rambling non stop of a group up in the mountains and how they killed the other two rangers and tortured him before he escaped. "All a story, he just went crazy." Jedd thought.

     Scavenging from town to town, Jedd had traveled 13 miles, or was it 14, he wasn't sure. That's when he reaches his childhood home. A 40 acre farm, he stops and admires the view before seeing a small fire in the distance. He watches through his binoculars. There's people, eight exactly, one standing head and shoulders above the rest. That's when he hears a click and someone shouts from behind "I have a range.." before he can finish Jedd knocks the gun to the side and stabs the tribesmen in the chest who fires his gun as he dies. Jedd panics, grabs the dead man's gun and retreats into the woods.

     "He was just a boy." Jedd's mind began to race, he thought of Mitchell the crazed ranger who may not have lost it after all. He runs out of breath, just beneath a ridge on the bank of a river. Jedd kneals, but before he can catch his breath two more tribesmen attack from above, Jedd shoots and kills one and wounding the other with a shot to the arm but not before she shoots Jedd in the waist by his hip. Pain. A searing, burning pain, and he takes cover in a nearby cove. The words echoed louder in Jedd's head, "bring yourself back." Thats when he hears the tribesmen above him.

     "Which way did he go?!"
      "Are you shot?"
       "It was the ranger, careful now he's armed!"
      "Looks like we're going hunting! You three come with me, you get back to the house and take your sister with you and patch her up."

     Jedd snuck around a large maple tree and silently moved east. He walked for a while, well past nightfall. He stopped at a nearby car shop. He built a small fire, and heated he's knife in the flames until it was red hot and stuck it against the gunshot wound. He roared in pain and blacked out.

     Jedd awoke around midday, unsure of his surroundings. Before he realizes what happened a voice boomed from outside, accompanied by three gunshots. "We know your in there! You killed Richard and Alex, and shot my daughter Brianna! Come out now!" Jedd peaks from the window, he counting three men, counting the big one. He wears a gas mask and carries a M1A rifle. Jedd answers"I didn't have a choice, it's kill or be killed!" The big one responds "We always have a choice!"  And gestures for the other two to infiltrate the building. Jedd fires his AK47 rifle and kills the two men and opens fire on their leader. His father's words came again "Bring yourself back" and suddenly his mission was no longer to scavenge, but to survive.

     The two exchanges gunfire for a few minutes before the man outside stopped, Jedd opens the door and proceeds cautiously towards an overturned mini van. When he's tackled from behind. The large man beats Jedd, punching him several times in the head. As Jedd fades from consciousness, the man looms over him and says "my name is Alan, and it's nice to meet you." And strikes him with the stock of his rifle.

     Jedd wakes up, hand cuffed to a bed. A young girl sitting next to him with a hand gun pointed at him. "Papa!" She shouts and Alan comes into the room. "You're awake, good. This is my daughter, the one you shot." Jedd just stares at him, "You rangers come up here, and you take what you like, kill who you like, and you don't care. I killed the two that came before you, after they killed my wife and brother."

     "What do you plan to do with me?" Jedd says firmly, but hiding the fear he's feeling. " for now, were going to have dinner, we were cleaning a buck before you attacked." Alan then pulls out a key to the hand cuffs and a 44. Magnum, unlocks the cuffs. "I don't imagine your stupid enough to try something but, I'll kill you if you do."

     The three make there way to the table and sit down. "Yesterday there were nine of us, and now there's only five. At the start of the collapse there were ten of us. So, you're going to eat, then I'm going to kill you." Jedd replies with a cold stare and a firm voice "I have no plans for dieing today, let me go and I'll never comeback, and warn all others to stay away from here, or your going to die today." Alan turns to his daughter and says, "go grab his gear."

     Before she can return the homestead falls under siege from a neighboring tribe, gunfire erupts and Jedd yells "Give me my rifle or were all going to die here!" Alan hesitates before handing him the gun "if we live through this, you'll go home." Alan says to Jedd.

     The shootout lasts nearly an hour, Alan and Jedd are hold up in the house with Brianna, Alan's other two sons are killed, along with his cousin. Jedd and Alan killed the attacking tribesmen.

      "My family." Alan is in total shock. "Alan we need to go, we don't know how many are left and the sun is dro..." Alan interjectes "aye you're right....but I can't go with." Alan reveals a gunshot wound in his stomach. "Take my daughter with you. Somewhere she'll be safe. She's only 13."
Jedd says "Yes. Yes I can do that." Life fades from his eyes and gunfire erupts miles from the homestead and Jedd and Brianna gather what supplies they can and head back to the sleepy shore.

     The two reach the shore and are treated by Gregory who is almost in tears. "You're the only ranger to make it back, and you have a guest?" Jedd replies with tears in his eyes "Her name is Brianna, and I  brought myself back. Let's go inside, we have a lot to discuss." People gather to help unload supplies.

The End

It took me a great deal of time to write this story and I had a lot of fun with it. I hope everyone enjoys it and as always, good luck and stay safe out there!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hazard 4 Second Front pack

     I've used the Hazard 4 Second Front pack for a few months now. I started using it around mid June just a few weeks before I moved back to Minnesota from Utah. In the time frame that I've used it, its been in hotels, the truck, the woods and just day to day use.

      Hazard 4 offers some incredibly durable stitching, not once did I fear of a zipper breaking loose, or MOLLE webbing ripping. The straps and belt are comfortable though I found myself wishing they were a but wider.  The Pack itself is not water proof but I found that it's water resistant for a short period of time in the rain. All around the build quality of the pack is great!

     The MOLLE webbing layout on the front of the pack is a bit awkward and I'm still not sure as to why Hazard 4 built it this way. As opposed to traditional webbing which is stitched horizontally, this pack runs vertically, meaning that any MOLLE attachable gear runs sideways as shown below. Really it's not a big deal, just different.

     The interior of the pack is spacious enough for a day pack, E.D.C. or car bag. I usually put three days of clothes along with my laptop, charger and phone charger in the pack along with the usual W.A.I.F.E system. There's three compartments, a smaller panel on the front which contains compartments for smaller items along with a transparent pouch for a map. The main compartment holds larger items such as clothes, laptop, or other gear. The third compartment is a flat section designed to hold soft body armor.

The front panel 

Sawyer Squeeze

The Main Compartment

The Rear flat with a sheet of Kevlar
     The pack itself is great all around, but with good quality comes price. They typically run for $130. Which is quite a bit for a back pack but a wise man once told me, "Buy once cry once." I feel it's worth it, yes there are better packs out there from companies like Maxpedition, Kelty, Kifaru and many others. So I encourage you to do more research and find the pack that works best for you and your needs, and as always, good luck and stay safe out there!