Welcome Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
Welcome Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival

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Fundamentally, my own view of things is that the end of the world as we know it has come and gone.  That happened during the crash of 2009, an event that forever changed the course of life for me and many others.  Years have now passed and instead of lamenting that which I cannot control, I stay focused on self-reliance and on moving forward with life, the best I can.

Choosing the path of preparedness is analogous to a journey with no ending.  There are many twists and turns along the way and decisions to be made.  What I like is that there is no right or wrong, and no one to pass judgment on your choices.

Welcome Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival | Backdoor Survival

Let me take that back.  I personally pass judgment on those who choose to prey on your doubts with panic and fear.  With a national presidential election coming up, my email inbox is brimming with threats of riots, urban chaos, and civil disobedience of unparalled proportion.  The solution?  Pony up some dollars and your woes will resolve themselves like magic.

Okay, I admit to being a bit facetious and I do not deny promoting certain, well vetted offers myself.  But inciting panic and fear?  That is not my thing and I hope you do not buy into it.

Getting back to those twists and turns in the path of preparedness, I would like to share with you a fictionalized version of one of those paths.

This path describes how a group of well stocked RVs headed out to their survival platform in Arkansas.  Each RV had a purpose, and the caravan heading down the highway was akin to the wagon trains that headed out west oh so many years ago. It was written by my BFF George Ure many years ago and yet the scenario is timeless.  It was published in his Peoplenomics newsletter and is shared with his permission.

The New Wagon Train

by George Ure

The dream crystallizes as a caravan of four RV’s coming down I-40 toward Springfield, Missouri.

It’s the modern analogy to the wagon trains that headed West. Down the gently rolling hills of Missouri 65 and a night in Branson, Missouri before heading out highway 76 east where they pick up Arkansas 5 heading for a piece of property the four families had picked up on the internet and bought site unseen.  It was not too far from Mountain Home, AR.

The price wasn’t bad…about $5,500 per family when it was all said and done.

Their RV’s were packed to the gills.  Each one had an assigned purpose that each family had contributed to – and since each was a diesel pusher-type bus, they each carried two 55-gallon drums of diesel inside in addition to 100-gallon tanks they’d agreed would be needed.

The drums were an interesting decision, since while not strictly legal to move around that way, the drums would be very useful at the new property.  A couple of barrel stove kits and some flattened stove pipe to be assembled, assured the families they would have heat in the winter.  Their choice was in that peculiar band of Arkansas where winter ice storms were fierce and they had plans for small underground homes.

It was this decision that drove some of their other decisions, such as how to spread the load around the modern ‘wagon train’ to the hills of the unpopulated Ozarks.  Each family had a particular focus and while the property had cost each family only $5,500, the rest of the outfitting had cost nearly $10,000 each.  But the land was paid for, taxes good for a year, and prospects were high.

They were coming from Michigan – near Ann Arbor.  Their home prices had all collapsed, there were no jobs, and the violence from Detroit was spilling out  to the West quickly. Interstates once a blessing were now cursed.

Government was cracking down on everyone.  There were rumors as they pulled out in late October, taking the eight kids they had between them out of school to leave in the predawn hours of a Wednesday morning, that gas and diesel rationing would come within a month.  Keys to their homes were dropped in the mailbox with notes explaining it was keys in lieu of foreclosure.

They’d all bought their homes in the late 1980’s and thought they’d be immune to the housing meltdown, but when the next rounds of layoffs started in August of 2011 the pink slips came home and they knew it was time for swift and decisive action.  Cards maxed out on supplies, they’d never pay them back.  Just desserts for the bankers, they thought.

One RV was “the tool rig”.  It carried everything they thought they might need, short of a small diesel tractor, to get them started.  There was even a small gas welding rig. A couple of chain saws, 2-cycle oil mix, and they’d buy some av-gas at one of the local airports which didn’t have methanol in it so it would be sure to last a while without gumming up.  Hand tools mostly, including cross cut saws, spokeshaves and the kind of hand tools not seen for a hundred years.

The second RV was set up as the Housing Rig.  It carried everything from boxes of linens to dishware (they opted for Corel since it was tougher than the designer pieces they had previously).  Silverware, kitchen gear and several tents of the outfitter type, complete with a tent stove, and sleeping bags for everyone. Candles, cases of toilet paper – which along with some pencils and tablets were the only paper products on the trip.  The time of paper towels was done.

The third RV was the food rig.  It included seeds for two years of intensive gardens, a large collection of canned goods, spare canning lids for the future, more buckets of wheat, corn meal, and rice, plus spices, mixes of this and that plus vitamins, first aid kits, and even snake bite gear, since the area they were moving to had copperheads, rattlers, and the odd scorpion and brown recluse spider. There was also sprouts, fishing gear, flour grinding equipment, butchering books, canning gear, the whole lot.

The fourth RV was Coms and Power.  It carried 10-deep cycle batteries, a couple of solar charge controllers,  a 24-volt sine wave inverter, a pair of 30-foot towers to mount their two wind generators on, and cabling, LED lighting and more.  Packed onboard were 10 200-watt solar panels they’d found on sale.

With the extra diesel they were bringing, the saved money for a well, or two, plus the RV’s to use as their starting point, the first winter or two shouldn’t be too bad.  Each rig now carried four 40-pound propane tanks, and they wouldn’t freeze to death.

Sheets of Lexan didn’t take up much room, and with kid labor – and very excited about actually ‘going back to the land –  putting in some hot boxes to bring in some broccoli for winter shouldn’t be too difficult.  Winter cabbage?  Maybe.  They knew farming would be tough, but the area had plentiful game, deer, birds, and good fishing.  They wouldn’t get fat, but they would get by.

A couple of sacks of Portland Cement and they figured a simple wood-fired stove could be built.

Each of the rigs was armed.  They’d decided each should carry a shotgun, a 7.62X39 long rifle and a 9 MM handgun.  Defense if needed, but out in the woods, they would become tools of survival.  A good supply of ammo and cleaning gear, it went without saying, and since they’d agreed up front which guns to buy, the parts were interchangeable.

Water filters and some large plastic water containers were in the Housing rig, some charcoal and filled refrigerators and freezers.  A good stock of pints of booze as trading stock, a few dozen cartons of cigarettes, but an equal amount of chewing tobacco since they’d read that was as much a local favorite in that part of the world.  And when their trading goods ran out, the local moonshine was pretty good and came in genuine Mason jars; no warning labels needed.  The jars reusable.


The phone rang.  My nap was over. As the vision faded I looked at the screens and reassured myself it was still just June 12th, making a promise to keep my eye out for that place up near Ann Arbor when we head to the newspaper columnist’s convention in Detroit in two weeks.  I seriously want to meet these people and talk ‘wagon train planning” to ’em.

They were onto something.


The Final Word

I loved this piece when I first read and I still love it.  Whereas I no longer aspire to owning farmland and raising chickens, I still am shopping for the perfect survival retreat that is within two to three hours commuting distance from my home.  I am hopeful that my chosen retreat will allow for a few chosen friends to join us and share the workload of living off-grid in a sustainable manner should the SHTF.

And if it doesn’t hit the fan?  Then no one will be happier than I am.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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I have done something I have never done before. I only got through half of the list before calling it quits.  There were too many items for just a single post!  Hope you enjoy this peek into my personal “waiting to buy” list.

Blocklite 9 Volt LED Flashlight:  You might be wondering why I have another flashlight on my wish list.  Believe it or not, I am still finding pockets and other hidey holes that have not had a flashlight handy when I needed one.  The reason I want more blocklites is they use a standard, 9V battery.  My smoke detectors start hollering when the battery is barely used up but they work perfectly in a Blocklite.  Not only that, 9V batteries are extremely easy to recharge using the Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger.

SE Emergency Sleeping Bag with Drawstring Carrying Bag: I stumbled upon this low cost emergency sleeping bag as I was renewing the  Top 10 (still working on it).

LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Gravity-Fed Water Purifier:  This one really needs to go to the top of the list.  When the stem on one of my black Berkey filters broke off and my backup filters failed right out of the box, I realized I wanted a filtering system larger than the Lifestraw Family for backup purposes.  The LifeStraw Mission is good for 4,755 gallons and there are no replacement filters to deal with.

MTM Ammo Can:  I love these ammo cans and as soon as I am ready, plan to make up an Ammo Can Sewing Kit.

SABRE Red Pepper Gel Police Strength with Wall Mount Bracket:  I had forgotten that these were on my list.  I need to order them to keep at the front door and also in the bedroom in the event there is a nighttime intruder.  You won’t end up in the slammer for using Red Prepper Gel!

Plumber’s Siphon Pro – Universal Gas, Oil, Potable Water:  I want want of these so I can siphon gasoline from one vehicle to another (and presumably my own vehicles).  Although we try to keep both fuel tanks topped off, if we ever had to evacuate, we could do a final top-off before leaving.

Tayama Energy-Saving Thermal Cooker:  I am not sure this would be considered a prepping item but anytime I can save fuel while cooking, I am all in.  You kick-start the cooking on the stove, then slow cook without any additional power in the thermal cooker.  Can’t wait to try it!

Dorcy 180-Degree Wireless Motion Sensing LED Flood Light:  I had two of these at the Roche Harbor house but they are packed and on hold until I find the perfect mountain retreat.  I swear by these wireless floodlights and need one for my garage.  I find that the three D cells last about a year and are easily recharged in my alkaline battery charger.


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4 Responses to “Welcome Aboard The Wagon Train to Survival”

  1. Even the pioneers had of 150 years ago had civilization get advanced items from. According to Dave Canterbury around that time saw blades and files were imported from Europe, as not were made in the USA. If worst case happens, there will not be support from civilization for many years.

    I grew up in farm country. Some years gardens produced more than you could eat or can. Other years you got almost nothing. How much land would be needed to support a group of five families? Count how many cans of vegetables, potatoes, bread, and meat you use in a year. The look up on Government database how much is produced per acre. So then calculate how much needed per person. How much meat do you eat in a year? How many acres to raise a cow, and how many acres to raise the corn and hay to feed a cow in the winter, and to fatten it up. I would say have enough food before hand for two or three years. It is unlikely that your first harvest will be great. I hate to rain on your parade, but things seldom go as planned. Preparing is good. I have made some preparations. My camping gear and practice served me well in a local disaster. Just be aware that self-sufficiency even just for food, requires a lot!!

  2. Great story! How I wish I could meet others like this! We have an RV, plus a flat bed trailer to hook to my truck to tow our tractor. The Ozarks call my name, and we discuss taking a trip there with the RV to find some property.

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