Refuge – Beyond the Settlements

Blog Post
Fellow blogger, Raven, asked what criteria I used to find a place far from the home of elite progs. This is my effort to explain the variables that I plugged into the formula. 
I need to point out that I am not a “prepper”, waiting anxiously for civilization to collapse, or for the sun to go nova. At the same time, there are only two kinds of people – prepared and unprepared. Even in my nice neighborhood in Southern California, I currently have stored potable water in 10 gallon stackable jugs, and a large swimming pool with filtration to make that water potable if needed. I have enough food to get me through a few weeks of privation and enough arms, ammo, and skill to stack up some of the hoard (think ‘Grave of the Hundred Head’ – Kipling) until I’m overwhelmed. 
Preparation comes from the Boy Scout Motto and it comes from living a life where expecting the unexpected kept me from an unplanned six-foot drop and a mouth full of dirt. For me preparation also means keeping out of debt to the extent possible, and living a prudent life without excesses that might cause me to crash and burn. It’s worked so far. And I have toys, but not nearly as many as some of my peers who enjoy a much closer relationship with their banker(s).

Inner city people rarely are seen out in the wild and they never live there. Self sufficiency is required and the inner city types prefer to be cradled by the taxpayers from birth to death (with institutional terms in the prison systems interspersed where they’re still cared for at public expense). There are wilderness churches but I have yet to see a wilderness mosque or synagogue. That may have to do with the traditional practice of eating bacon with your waffles (in turn covered with butter and maple syrup) at breakfast.

Most people who live beyond the settlements are private people living on their own land, and they value their privacy. Disturbing people who live on a compound as a matter of choice requires impeccable manners and a reason for showing up. There is the inevitable problem of having savage, feral dogs tear you to pieces before the owner (taking their sweet time) calls their hybrid wolf-dogs off. People have been known to end up as wolf-dog manure, recycled as God intended. Inner city people avoid those situations instinctively.

1. Distances
  • 2 hour drive from a major airport. I may not need to consult forever, but for the time being I can fly to work, wherever that may be. Flagstaff (commuter airport) is closer than Sky Harbor (where Loretta Lynch met Bill Clinton) in Phoenix but either will work.
  • 6 – 7 hour drive from children/grandchildren. Two of my four daughters live in Southern California and are unlikely to leave due to their husbands appropriate career choices. That equates to five grandsons. 
  • 40-50 miles from a city of any size. I can drive to the city when I need to and I don’t need the city when I don’t need it. 
  • Help. I wanted to be near enough to some sort of paramedic assistance that I might be reached in the event of an emergency. I’m not getting any younger and despite what I think in my heart of hearts, I’m not bullet-proof.
  • Bandwidth. There was no cell service when I bought the White Wolf Mine property, but they installed a cell tower a few miles away adjacent to a ranger station last September. Imagine my surprise when the phone rang when I was out on the property – three bars. I was content to use sat phone contact, but I have three-four bars on Verizon. 
  • Weather. I wanted to be no more than a two hour drive from warm weather. Having lived in areas where the winters are cold, and the drive from there to warm is —- considerable, it needed to be fitted in. I’m not old now, but it will be an issue in the future. It’s nice to be able to thaw out if you need to, and maybe swim in an outdoor heated pool for a bit at a hotel if that’s called for.
2. Elevation and Location
  • It had to be the mountains or the ocean. I like the desert, I really do, but that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.
  • In California, the ocean means unwanted progs living near. Because of the 6 hour drive radius, I couldn’t get far enough north or to Oregon without making a visit to the grandkids a two-day drive with an overnight in a hotel on each end of the journey. I had some land picked out in the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon not all that far from Grant’s Pass, but I’d never see the grandsons grow up. (note- my three granddaughters live in Arizona)
  • The California taxation system and the general oppression of the liberal government made a move to either Arizona or Nevada a 20% reduction in cost of living – significant.
3. Other
  • I had to be able to afford the land and a reasonable house. I couldn’t find what I wanted with a structure on it that I could live comfortably in, so I went for land in the ponderosas with a view and a meadow that was perfect for a home in the 3,500 square foot range (sufficient to have room enough for guests in addition to space for my own basics). Remote locations mean that if you are going to rely on the skills of others to build/help build a house, it will cost more because they have to drive there and back to wherever. Time and fuel cost.
  • Sweet well water. The water needed to be of sufficient quantity and quality that it wouldn’t be problematic. North-Central Arizona gets snow but it also has a summer monsoon that reliably drops 8-9 inches of water every August.
  • Near lakes and streams with abundant wildlife.
  • Live in an area of light regulation. Some government footprint is a good idea, but there are limits. There is a County Sheriff but they don’t patrol the area near the WWM. I’m on my own. I can live with that. Walk softly and carry a big stick.
  • I have electricity on the property, and can use that, propane or pine (not as good as hardwood, but it’s an inexhaustible supply) for power. Likely I will use a combination of the above with a propane generator to kick in if the electricity goes out.
Armed with the general criteria set forth above, I embarked on an 18 month journey to try and find someplace that fit what I was looking for. 
Those of you who follow this blog, may recall that I expanded the search far and wide, but ended up coming back to the Coconino National Forrest area in Northern Arizona because it met all of them.
I have the luxury of no longer needing a “day job” to make ends meet, having made good decisions in my youth. That gave me much more flexibility.

There have been some surprises. Not many but a few:

  • The price of an alternative septic system and the time that it takes one designed, excavated and installed.
  • The large numbers of bobcats and mountain lions in the area – a good thing from my perspective, but there are a lot of them. Naturally, there is a lot of game for them to eat.
  • The summer monsoon surprised me, but as with most mountain showers, you have a clear morning but afternoon thundershowers. Time to get the fishing in, and back to the place before you get soaked. The EXTENT of monsoon in Northern Arizona was surprising. Two inches of rain per week is significant.
  • The lack of an insect problem that you’d normally find in lower altitudes in summer.
Note: California just passed another 12 cent-per-gallon gasoline tax increase raising it to $1.00 per gallon. No, it won’t be used to repair roads and bridges – it will go for ‘social justice’. This is the first of a sweeping round of tax increases. It confirms to me that I made the correct decision. 

18 thoughts on “Refuge – Beyond the Settlements

  1. The plan is taking shape. Best of luck to you in this very worthy endeavor. Oh, by the way, is there any place nearby to land a float plane?

  2. I posted it up at your request. Finding the right spot is the more difficult problem and everyone has a different perception of "right spot".

  3. There's a lake 6 miles away that you could land a float plane in…I think. I don't know what the regulations are – if there are any. No more than a 10 HP outboard, but the float plane is a different breed of cat. There isn't a dock, but you could snub it up to a pine tree or something along that line. I'll e-mail you a picture of the lake.

  4. Holy smokes, LL. What a list of must haves. The WWM must be a heaven on earth, with the minor exception of the teeming bobcat and puma populations, the diamond back rattlers under about every footstep, and the place is probably got its fair share of scorpions (big hairy ones).

    My criteria for where I plan on dying: it doesn't suck too bad. We'll see how Kerrville TX works out, we have our hopes up.

  5. I like the sound of this mountain redoubt and, like you, I'm not a prepper. But I'm always prepared for Blue Mischief to make a stealth move to the sofa or the fried pie.

  6. The lure of both the sofa and the fried pie is overpowering – even though he is a super dog.

  7. Our property is on the top of a ridge that looks over the Guadalupe River valley to the east, an approx. 50 mile vista. To the west, it drops off into the vastness of the Permian basis, another 50 mile view. We have an approx. 100 mile view. Mountains? We doan need no stinkin' mountains….We got Hill Country.

  8. You have certainly chosen a beautiful place! I can hardly wait for the photos.
    I too have a long list of criteria for my dream place, but it's looking more and more like a camper shell on Hank, on a small piece of ground in the back of beyond might be it… lol

  9. You have spent considerable effort in selecting your ideal location. I hope everything turns out well for you. We're also in the process of considering a move. NY is becoming even more New Yorkish (somewhat Californish), we can't seem to get the criminals out of the capital and Kim Jung-un will never have a missile that will reach NYC.
    Maybe southern PA? NC is too hot and humid in the summer unless we go up into the Appalachians. We'll see.

  10. Yes, it's very pretty country. I was through there last year and liked it very much.

  11. Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Pi$$ Poor Performance (there is a seventh P, but you are too much of a gentleman to have mentioned it — however since I'm not, I can wedge it in).

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