How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 11

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 19, 2017

Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

The dinner with Kirsten had really thrown Kenny for a loop.  He still couldn't quite believe she wasn't playing a practical joke on him, but when she offered him to come back to her dorm room and kissed him goodnight, he had to start thinking it was for real.  He didn't take her up on the offer, not because he was any kind of prude, and even though he hadn't dated much in High School he did have some experience with sex so it wasn't nervousness.  He first "did it" with one of his cousins on a float trip down the Clark's Fork River when they snuck off to go wild berry picking.  Since taking up the landscaping business, he had "got lucky" with a couple of bored housewife MILFs, so he wasn't doing too bad as a Lothario.

The main reason he turned Kirsten down was because of the plans he had made with Karl for the weekend.  He wasn't 100% certain of her yet, and he thought Karl probably would not be comfortable about him bringing another person to see his doomstead yet, even though they had discussed the need to start developing a group of people to occupy the land after TSHTF.  He needed to brainstorm with Karl how to do this but not have it get out of hand.

Prior to heading out to the doomstead, Kenny stopped in at the coffee roaster and bought 5 lbs of a Costa Rican blend he really liked as a gift for Karl, and gave him a call to see if there was anything else he needed from town.  Karl said he should stop and pick up some Dog Food, which seemed odd because Karl hadn't mentioned having a dog when he told him about the chickens and goats and horses.  Why would he skip over the dog?  He also told Kenny he had some really important news for their plans, which really got his curiousity up.  Karl sent him the GPS coordinates for his place so he could come straight over, and they could use that as Home Base for the weekend and he could park there.

Kenny looked up the location on Google Earth to scope it out for an idea of the layout before the drive in, and from low magnification it pretty much just looked like the rest of Lolo National Forest.  Zooming in though, he found the logging roads and then found what appeared to be a clearing on the beginning slope of one of the smaller mountains, and what appeared to be a fence line.  He couldn't make out a cabin though, but figured Karl probably had it hidden under the trees.  Panning around the area, he spied an array of solar panels and 4 large wind turbines.

Following his usal pre-trip checklist for vehicle inspection, Kenny checked the pressure on all the tires on the van and trailer, checked all the lights and signals and made sure all his supplies of fuels were topped off and all the equipment tied down and secure.  Never know when TSHTF would come, and after so much prepping Kenny didn't want to be caught with his pants down at the wrong moment.

The drive to Karl's place went very smoothly, it was almost the same as the drive to his own place, just a few different turns at the end.  The logging roads into Karl's place were a little wider and in better shape than Kenny's, probably they were still used periodically and maintained by Weyerhauser.  Turning into Karl's own road, compared to Kenny's road in it was practically an interstate highway and quite easy to negotiate.  He finally came up on the clearing, and wedged under the trees were a couple of carports, constructed from full logs with a green roof, and covered by the tree canopy basically invisible from the Google Satellite.  Parked under the larger carport was a HUGE Chevy Pickup, another HUGE Chevy SUV and then a small and old Ford Escort which looked really out of place next to these two monsters which were quite new, although the pickup had a few dents.  There was another couple of open ports where he could fit his Van & Trailer, but before doing that he wanted to check with Karl in case he needed them for some other purpose.

Over in the smaller port were Karl's EVs, two small off road scooters, a larger one that he had been on when he visited Kenny, a really massive one that looked like a road racing bike, an electric trike with a dumping bed on the back and an electric Polaris Ranger with a trailer.  They were all plugged in an charging off the Solar PV panels and Wind Turbines Kenny spied up the mountainside.

Kenny whistled to himself, then said to nobody, "Jeezus, what a setup!"

Karl came walking around the pasture fence and waved.

"Yo Kenny! You made it!"

"Yea, not too hard, I scoped it out on Google Earth before I came.  How did you know I was here?"

"Cameras and Motion detectors" Karl replied, pointing at one of the cameras on the carport roof.  Got em everywhere."

Kenny nodded.  "Yea I just ordered some of those from Alibaba.com.  After you sneaked up on me last week I figured I needed some early warning."

Karl laughed.  "Yah, e-toys are an essential for the paranoid doomer."

"Here, got a present for you." Kenny said opening the back door of the trailer and taking out the bag of Costa Rican coffee beans and handing it to Karl.

"Woa, nice bag!  That should last a few weeks!"

"Also got the Dog Food." Kenny said pointing to two large 50 lb bags.  "You didn't mention having a dog last week."

"That's because last week I didn't have one.  My old Labrador retriever died a couple of years ago.  Just got a new one, sort of anyhow."

"So is that the big new surprise you mentioned?"

"Umm, well part of it.  My daughter is here also.  She's up in the house."

"WHAT?  I though you said you weren't ever married and didn't have any kids!" Kenny exclaimed.

"That's what I thought last week.  I found out about her right after I left your place.  I went over to my favorite hangout Quinn's Lodge.  She's the daughter of a waitress there I used to have a relationship with back in the day, when the hormones were still a driving force."

"You're sure she's really yours?" Kenny asked.

"Oh yea, I'm sure.  I really knew it all along subconsciously, but I wouldn't let myself admit it."

"Well that does make things a little different, that's for sure. " Kenny mused, wondering to himself if he should bring up his meeting with Kirsten.  Since he still wasn't sure of her yet, this probably was not the right time, so he held off.

"What about the Dog Food?  Should I bring a bag up to the house?  Where IS the house anyhow?  I couldn't find it on Google Earth."

"Oh, it's not very visible from the air.  It's an Earthship."

Kevin nodded, he was quite familiar with the technique, it was discussed often on the Doomstead Diner.  He even considered building one of these on his own property, but if he was going to put a permanent structure there, he had decided ona Monolithic Dome instead.

"Earthships are very cool." Kenny said, hoisting one of the dog food bags onto his shoulder.

"Throw the dog food on the trike Kenny.  You can sit on top of it in the bed and I'll drive us up to the house.  Bit of a walk for carrying 50 lbs, even for somebody in your physical condition."

"That sounds good." Kenny replied, throwing both the bags onto the bed of the ZEV Trike.

Karl unplugged the trike and they headed quickly around the pasture and up toward the Earthship.  Kenny thought how good it would be to have one of these on his landscaping jobs.  He could probably pull a 60" mower attachment with it and handle some bigger properties.  They arrived at the front door in about a minute, and Kenny had to whistle again as they came up on the huge expanse of glass and the house embedded carefully in the side of the mountain.

"Holy SHIT Karl!  This place is HUGE!  How long did it take to build?  That's a LOT of excavation work!"

"I built most of it over the first 10 years." Karl replied. "I didn't dig it out by hand, I cheated on that one and used a Caterpillar backhoe and front end loader.  I did a lot of finishing work afterward though, and there's always some new project to undertake.  A prepper's work is never done!" Karl laughed.

Karen came out of the house along with Huckleberry, and Kenny instantly knew that she was in fact Karl's daughter.  She had the same piercing blue eyes and the same high cheekbones and jaw.  About the only thing different was her hair was jet black and Karl's had gone gray, but he surmised that in his youth Karl probably had that same hair color.

"Hi Kenny!" Karen said with a big smile.  "Karl has told me a lot about you!  Seems you turned his whole attitude around and that's what got him over to Quinn's."

Kenny nodded, and kicked the dirt a bit.  "Meeting Karl changed my thinking a lot too.  Seems like things are changing for all of us really fast."

Karen spied the dog food on the bed of the trike, and so did Huckleberry.  "Hey, we better get these bags into the pantry before Huckleberry tears into them!" she exclaimed, easily hoisting one of the bags onto her shoulder.  Karen had the powerful arms and strong shoulders and lats that came from years as a whitewater kayaker.  Kenny was impressed with the ease with which she lifted the uwieldy 50 lb bag, and then himself lifted the other one, trying to make it look as easy.  His work in Landscaping and his daily workouts pumping iron at the Fitness club had built a lot of muscle as well, but Karen had a good 4" in height on him, looking close to 6' tall.  Testosterone made up the difference there though, and they were about equal in strength.

Once the dog food was safely in the pantry and away from Huckleberry's inquisitive nose, Karl set about brewing up some Java in the kitchen and Kenny and Karen sat down in the living room to chat.

"So you're another doomer like my dad, he told me."

"Yea, I've been a doomer since Junior High, when I started reading the Doomstead Diner."

"Dad told me about that blog.  Said I had to read up, so I've been reviewing it the last few days.  What a load of reading material to work through!  There's more in there than my whole college reading list!"

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, you won't get through it all in a few days, that's for sure."

"What I did read is pretty sobering though.  I mean, I knew we were in bad shape economically and that we elected an imbecile for President, but I had no idea the whole of Industrial Civiliation was teetering on Collapse."

"It's pretty depressing when you first realize it.  Lots of people become very nihilistic and misanthropic once they get it.  Reading RE's philosophy helped me stay out of that trap.  Once I started prepping up, it gave me a purpose and something positive to be doing.  Maybe it's all gonna end, but it won't happen overnight and in the meantime I would like to live a while longer."

Karl came over with the coffee and sat down on the large Italian leather recliner Kenny and Karen had left open for him, sitting themselves on the matching Italian leather couch.  The whole living room set faced the large open fireplace, and above that was a brand new 72" OLED Monitor and TV.  Although Karl spent most of his researching time in his office, often before going to sleep he would sit in the recliner or lay down on the couch and do a little more net surfing, or watch one of his favorite old movies from his DVD collection, like Last of the Mohicans or the Outlaw Josey Wales.

"Yup, even I would like to live a little longer, especially now that you two showed up in my life!  Now we have at least a start on a community!" Karl said, his eyes sparkling with a glow that had not been there the last week when Kenny met him.

"I've been thinking about that all week Karl." Kenny said."There are a couple of folks I landscape for who I think would be good additions, and some people I know from High School also."

Karen chipped in as well.  "I think there are good people at Quinn's too that we could bring in. Big John for one, Roger who runs the rafting adventures and a bunch of the kitchen and wait staff."

Karl mused.  "I'm concerned though about moving too fast on this.  Even if all these people are good people, if we let on too early about our Doomstead, the location will get out to many other people.  This land area can only support so many, 200 or 300 with my land and Kenny's possibly, and more if you count National Forest land.  I don't want to be inundated with 1000s of people showing up when TSHTF."

Kenny shook his head in agreement.  "Yea, I think we only want to tell people we are very sure of right now that we even have a place, and if we bring anyone here, they shouldn't know exactly where it is…"Kenny's mind was racing now, thinking about how to bring Kirsten out to the Doomstead.  "I could bring some people out in the back of my van, it doesn't have windows.  They wouldn't know exactly where it was."

"The problem with that is though, if we don't tell people about it NOW and they don't know how to find where we are when TSHTF, even if they know we want to establish a sustainable community, how will we do it?  They won;t know how to find us or how to contact us." Karen questioned.

"Karen is right about that. We have a Catch-22 problem here.  If we tell too many people about it now, and information spreads via the net and social media, we could be inundated.  If we don't pass out information now and TSHTF, the right people won't be able to find us." Karl added in clarification.

Kenny frowned.  "That problem is a real bear. I'm not sure how to fix that."

A few minutes of silence ensued, and a few refills of coffee were undertaken as Kenny, Karl and Karen contemplated on this problem.  Karen finally spoke up.

"Maybe we should contact RE on the Diner?  Maybe he will have an idea.  From what I have read so far, he thinks outside the box all the time and comes up with some pretty novel ideas to problems like this."

"That's not a bad idea at all Karen. " Karl replied.  "Kenny, do you want to contact RE or should I?  Send him a PM maybe."

"I'm not sure Karl, which way do you think would be more secure?  I can send off an encrypted message and use a public Wi-Fi server in Missoula, and route it through some Proxy Servers.  RE put up his Public Key for GPG4USB 256 bit encryption, I can send him my Public Key and get a communication going." Kenny suggested.

"That sounds better than what I could do from here Kenny.  You should make the contact with RE."

"OK, I'll do that next week." Kenny agreed. "Now, I've got some projects for this weekend.  I want to go up to a Lean-to I built in Lolo National Forest and see how it is doing and get it spruced up for Hunting season.  I want to go for a Big Horn Sheep this year."

"Big Horns are tough to get Kenny, and even tougher to pack out the meat.  Getting it all back to the Doomstead is not a one person job."

"I figured to do the butchering and smoking up at the lean-to, then just pack it down a bit at a time." Kenny replied.

"That might work, but still a lot of trips if you want to get the hide and bones and make the most use of the animal possible.  I'm no good for packing out that much meat, my knees are too messed up.", Karl said.

"I could help pack it out dad." Karen offered.

Karl brightened considerably with this suggestion.  "Yes!  That could work.  I could also ride up about halfway there on Mr. Ed with a travois, so you would only have to pack down to where I can still ride to.  How far do you think it is from where you have the lean to set up to where a horse and travois could make it?", Karl asked, even though he already knew.  He didn't want to let on to Kenny that he had been up to the lean-to and improved on it.  Mr. Ed was able to negotiate the trip there to within 500 feet of the climb up.  The last 500' were tough on Karl's knees, but with some icing each night and some ibuprofen and occassional percocet, not intolerable.

"I'm not sure.", Kenny replied.  "Maybe within 1000' I guess.  I haven't done any horseback riding, so not sure what a horse can negotiate on these slopes."

"I can ride Kenny.  Why don't we take a trip up to it this afternoon to see about planning for this hunt." Karen said.  "Where is it?"

Kenny pulled out his Samsung Galaxy Mega and brought up Google Earth with his encrypted & stored location information for the lean-to, then zoomed out to show where Karl's place was relative to the lean-to.

"Oh, I know that area." Karl said.  "The horses can make it most of the way.  The off road ZEV electric not quite so far up.  Karen can ride Mr. Ed and I will ride Quick Draw.  You can ride my ZEV.  You'll have to foot it a ways longer than us, but not that far, maybe a 1/2 mile.

"AWESOME!" Kenny replied.  "I sure hope it held up since I left it.  I have some sutff in the trailer to do improvements."

Karen was excited about the trip.  Even though she was brand new to doomerism, anything in the outdoors was a great pleasure for her.  Kenny was also really cute and smart, even though he was a few years younger.  Very likable guy, unlike most of the guys she had dated in college.

Karl and Karen went out to the barn and got Mr. Ed and Quick Draw saddled up for the ride, and Kenny got his tools and hardware out of the trailer.  They loaded the stuff onto travois pulled by the two horses and a small trailer that the ZEV could pull along the route.  They also packed along some sandwiches of Goat Cheese and Hardboiled Eggs for lunch while on the mountain, and got underway.

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