Category Archives: Overlanding

Vehicle Based Survival

111There wasn’t the violent surge of the vehicle as one might expect. There was a subtle thump of the rear tire that signaled something was wrong. A quick inspection proved a flat tire, further inspection the spare tire was also flat.

With the light rain turning to snow they jumped into action. In an already cramped Jeep cab they couldn’t huddle together, and the steel of the rig would only rob them of precious heat. While one quickly collected firewood, the other two set about making a shelter from a tarp found in the back of the Jeep. Soon the three were bundled close, as a roaring fire projected heat under the small tarp. The next morning a passing truck stopped to help. They survived a night where temperatures plummeted into to single digits and light snow filled the forest.

Nearly 80% of the recreationist that find themselves in a survival situation did so because they did not take simple precautions. They did not tell someone where they were going. They failed to check the weather. They completely disregarded the need to carry survival gear. Are you prepared or know what gear you should keep in your vehicle for a survival situation like this? Let’s break this down into six categories; Fire, Water, Shelter, Food, Signal, and First Aid to make sure you are prepared the next time you venture out.

Fire

The ability to get a fire going in any condition is a vital skill that provides not only warmth when temperatures drop, but has the additional benefits of providing motivation and a resource for heating food, purifying water, and serves as a source of light. Learn how to prepare a fire pit, complete with reflective wall, in all conditions including rain and snow. Master at least two methods for creating fire, the first with a striking tool such as a metal match and the other a primitive technique (i.e. bow drill) so you are ready in any situation.

Always carry emergency fire starter in your vehicle. Great options include egg cartons (paper) with saw dust and candle wax, fire pucks, windproof matches, striker, and windproof lighter. Additionally, keeping a small phonebook, stuffed somewhere dry, is a great source of tinder as one can easily tear out a few pages. Keep a small hatchet in your vehicle for splitting wood into smaller pieces or to get to dry layers when the wood is wet.  It is critical to have your materials ready when you need to get a fire going.  Gathering enough dry tinder and wood, ahead of getting your fire started, is a great way to ensure your success and get you on your way to improving your situation.

Water

Most people walk around everyday dehydrated. When in a survival situation we do not have the luxury of rehydrating at a drinking fountain or simply stopping in at a convenience store to buy a cool bottle of water.   Water is one of the key factors that leads stranded back-country enthusiast not making it through survival situations. Finding, filtering, and consuming water is a must when you find yourself stranded. Too many people have succumbed to dehydration when a simple day trip turns into a multi-day struggle to survive. Instead of resorting to techniques sensationalized on popular survival shows, it’s better to go prepared. Filtering your own urine through rattle-snake skin is not the answer to resolving dehydration.

Basic rule, carry enough EMERGENCY water (minimum 1 gallon per day) in your rig for 2 days multiplied by the number of seat belts. For most rigs, with two seat belts in the front and three in the back, this should be around 10 gallons in reserve. If you wind up alone, you have more H2O, if the family is along you have enough to get you through the first 24 hours at least. A pot for boiling water and gravity filter are great additions.  Boiling is great if you have large quantities of water that needs to be purified and you have large quantities of fuel accessible for you fire.

Shelter

Some rigs are large enough that you can crawl up in and you may be able to snuggle in your vehicle and keep yourself warm by using the heater. Be careful though, and ensure you have enough fuel, no exhaust leaks, and your vehicle’s body is sound enough that exhaust doesn’t enter the interior. However some rigs aren’t comfortable to sleep in and the surrounding metal body can quickly sap away body heat. In summer months, the heat in the vehicle can amplify to unbearable temperatures. In most cases it’s good to get out and build shelter and control the climate around you the best that you can.

In winter months keep a tent or, at minimum, a space-blanket tarp with you. If you have to set up new residence, staying dry and controlling the immediate environment is important. In summer months add a mosquito net to keep you comfortable. Don’t overlook the advantages sleeping bags and foam pad for the ground. In areas with lots of things that wiggle on the ground, consider a hammock. Remember to keep nylon cordage wrapped around tarps for set-up.

Food

You need calories so take them with you. Think of all the hunters who come home each season with little in the freezer. Berries have short seasons, the wrong mushrooms can be unforgiving, and most weekend recreationist can’t tell the difference in what is safe to eat. The best plan is to keep a few things on stock as you venture out.

Most vehicle-based recreationist keep an ice-chest filled with a few sandwiches and snacks. A few years ago a family stranded lived for two days on what was in their picnic basket until they were rescued. The rule here is keep enough food for three-days multiplied by the number of seatbelts or passengers your vehicle holds. Canned spam, dried fruit, cereal bars, jerky, and bags of oatmeal compact nicely in a small satchel in your rig.

Signal

At some point you may need to call for back-up and in fact shucking your pride could save your life. Whether it’s a buddy, the Sheriff’s department, or an entire army of strangers, calling for help might be what gets you back alive. Keep in mind that even though we are a connected world through our smart-phones, when you’re 75 miles from the nearest pavement your device is almost certainly useless.

Your vehicle should be your mobile communications center. CB radios are good for rig to rig communication, if you know others are on your frequency. Better, is the 2-meter amateur radio. You will need a license to be legal, but getting your ham ticket grants you access to repeater systems that increase the network of help when needed. Keep road flares handy if a rescue has been instituted your review mirror can be popped off to get the attention of air or ground searchers. The tire that was ripped to shreds earlier in the day can be burned to send a dark and oily smoke that gets much needed attention. Also a PRB is great item when you need to call out for help.

First Aid

The method of injury usually dictates the size of first aid kit you want onboard. Since you are working with machines in the 4-digit weight category, you are going to want to cover many of the bases. Common opinion is to carry only what you know how to use, however if you are hanging with a group of guys that have advanced care training, they can always dig into your kit. Also, if you are hours away from a hospital, you are going to want something comprehensive. Don’t forget about training. Consider going beyond the basic first aid course and signing-up for a Wilderness First Aid course through institutions like N.O.L.S.

As a basic kit, look at what EMTs carry in their kits. You are going to want to cover the full spectrum. Think trauma when building your kit. Winch lines break, rigs roll over, guys get scalded by broken radiator lines. You will also want to keep a small kit for simple cuts/abrasions accessible with all the small stuff so you don’t have to dig into your bag. Side-note, if you are not trained to perform something, the main rule is “do no further harm”.

Summary

In surviving a catastrophe there are really three groups to look at using the 10-80-10 rule. The first 10-percent of people simply don’t survive an accident. The last 10-percent seem to just make it through no matter what. The middle 80-percent are most people who, if prepared to survive and if not, become a detriment to others. Go and explore the world, but be prepared if you wind up in a real world experience. Train now, pick your gear, and learn how to use it. Keep simple rules in mind like letting others know where you are going and when you will be back.

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Bannock Bread

Nate is very happy about Bannock!

Nate is very happy about Bannock!

In our FireCraft class we teach this to fulfill the requirement of cooking over open flame. Bannock is a great mix that you can take to the woods and it will last several days before you need to actually bake it. I even carry it with us on our overland trips to make a quick staple to go along with the meals we cook on the back of the Jeep. When traveling you need to maintain a balanced diet and Bannock helps us maintain the need for grains.

Baking Bannock is easy once you have done a few loaves.  At first you are going to “blacken” a few loaves and leave the inside runny or gooey.  It only takes a few runs and you’ll have it down. I keep a small cast iron skillet in my bush pack for making bannock. Yes, its extra weight, but I don’t mind since I’m usually setting up a hunting or fishing camp for several days in the back country.

A baggie makes it easy to mix and then place on a warm skillet

A baggie makes it easy to mix and then place on a warm skillet

.Here is the recipe we teach in class. We place this in a zipper baggie until we are ready to use it, then simply add water (varies) and mix. Once mixed we cut a corner on the baggie and squeeze it out and on to the skillet. Come out to one of our FireCraft classes and we’ll get you on the right path to making Bannock. The finished product should look like a pancake. You can add sugar and cinnamon to the mix for a different flavor.

What you need:

  • 1 zipper bag
  • 1 cup flour (substitutes can be made for those who cannot tolerate flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
    1 tbsp. shortening

We can make the mix before we leave on a pack trip or even pick up materials while out on the road. I can make up a two-week supply and throw into individual zipper bags to last me on a two-week trip. I learned pretty quick that sifting the dry ingredients is an important step to not forget. If you don’t follow this, the cake gets pretty uneven and / or won’t rise. Also, keeping your skillets is essential for successful loaves. Olive oil works well for this.

It takes a few batches to perfect you Bannock cake

It takes a few batches to perfect you Bannock cake

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Day Nine- NW Overland Rally

So on day nine we awake at the North West Overland Rally in Pine, Washington. The growth this rally has had is incredible. Last year camping directions were “go find a spot out there”. This year we were given a defined space, and we really stretched our boundaries with tent-trailer, shelter, and Abby’s tent.

The rally is an opportunity to meet other overlanders, take a few classes on living and traveling out of a 4×4 vehicle, take group drives with various skill levels, and attend workshops on recovery, cooking, driving, and other related topics.

I am always glad to meet up with old acquaintances and meet new ones. Abby quickly found Jack from Adventure Trio. They are both close to the same age and have tons of miles in remote travel. While Abby has spent her time in a Jeep, Jack and his family work from motorcycles. I ran into John Reid who we have had contact with at other events.

There is also the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their travels, equipment, etc. once again this year I have great neighbors and last night enjoyed good conversation around our Little Red Campfire unit. Henrik who I will interview on the podcast just finished two-years on the road with his wife and owns a company that has designed a security drawer system for full-sized oick-ups. We spent the evening talking travel, business, and equipment. I used to feel out of place at the events because I am often surrounded by retired CEOs, highly successful business owners who have either sold their company or can work from the road, or self-made men who live off their previous success. I now see it as opportunity to learn about success and gain nuggets of truth from hard-working individuals who also know how to enjoy their triumphs.

One of my goals is to find storage solutions for our rig. I want to either buy or build a drawer and storage system that helps us stay organized while on the road. I’ll be talking to allot of vendors and DIYers.

I can’t sigh off today without mentioning some the equipment being demonstrated and sold here. Adventure Trailer of course has the rig I will build someday, a fully livable JK. I will be doing an interview with them as well. AEV is also out here and brought there 4-door Wrangler along as well.

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Day Seven….Heading in to Olympia

Day Seven….hard to believe we have been on the road for a week. Having the ability to sleep in on Lopez Island and use it as a base was a good option. The island is very friendly and a far cry from the hustle and bustle of San Juan Island. It was also great to let my guard down and not worry about bears for a change on this trip. Instead there is an infestation of rabbits.

I really want to understand more about how this place has become a safe haven for the bunny population. Its seems there are no natural predators, never saw a single sign of coyote, fox, or even feral cat. Hawks and eagles were spotted, but not in enough numbers to diminish the population.

We did venture to San Juan island for a few hours. To ferry the Jeep over it cost about $24 for a round trip ticket. Once on the ground we decided to find sea food. With limited parking, dogs in tow, and a tight budget, finding a spot was difficult. We eventually wound up at a grill on the main drag. We picked up an order of crab sliders, beef sliders, and some sweet potato frys. The tab still came in around $40, but it made the wife happy….so I was happy.

We cruised around to the state park area to do whale watching. We had to buy a discovery pass, which is required for all Washington parks. A trip to the gift shop and $30 later we had a pass for the year, we will never use again. Glad I could chip in….

We saw a few porpoises but no whales. Still a good trip. We headed back to the docks, parked the rig in line, then used the two hours to walk around with my wife.

In our early dating life, we often hung out in harbor and inlet towns. Often she would tag-along when I was doing a class or working a wreck. After long hours of working a dive, I would decompress with her walking allot of the shops in places like Barnagate, Strathmere, and Long Beach Island. It was good to shop with her again. I even got real seafood. While she watched a glass artist, I scored BBQ clams. I slurped down two baseball-sized crustaceans while she looked on in horror.

Today it was on to Olympia to see Melissa’s cousin. This put us on the only interstate we have done on this trip (except 95….but its a two-lane road anyway). Going through Seattle was a nightmare. I was pretty shaken by the time we checked into a cheap motel for showers and down time.

At Kelly’s the pups had an opportunity to run free. Kelly has three young women who rent rooms, all highly intellectual and very conversational. We talked travel, lifestyle, education, environmental issues, and raising meat rabbits, etc.

More later….time to crash…..
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Day 5 Lopez Island and the Ferry Ride

Made it to Lopez Island today. The ferry ride was a great new experience for the crew. I have been on several before, but driving an expedition rig and a trailer was new. Since Melissa and Abby had not been on one this size, I stayed with the pups close to the Jeep and let them go to the upper deck.

The ferry service cost us just shy of $90 for a round trip. The upper deck area offers a full cafeteria style dinning. Since we got the ferry with a little over two-hours to spend, we ate lunch off the tail gate as we waited. A two-hour wait normally would stress some people out and by some of the conversations around us, most were still in the “hurry-up and wait” mode. For me it was a mandatory decompression time. I took the opportunity to sit with my pup, eat from the back of the rig, and catch a quick cat-nap.

I was also able to watch the protest of an out-of-control 10 year-old as he was telling his mom that he “could not support her decision to not allow him to go to the wharf” and that “he was frustrated with her for bringing ham and cheese and not turkey and cheese”. Some people should not be allowed to procreate. It really made me wonder how a kid gains so much power, let alone the vocabulary to express him self like that. I’m thinking there has been more counseling and less butt-whipping going on in that house. It also made me very proud of my own kiddo and though sometimes she can pull a few stunts here and there, for the most part she is a great kiddo.

A 45-minute ride and then off the ferry and into our base camp for the next few nights in the beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. Melissa picked this place from our research work the weekend before. She found a great campground for us and probably the best site in the whole park. On top of that it was a pull in spot so getting the trailer in was easy.

The site is surrounded by lush greenery and plenty of room for us to set up a full base camp for a few days. We are testing a new sun screen on this trip that came from Cabela’s, and due to the light rain and bug population, I think we are going to be pretty happy with it. It took about 20 minutes to put up, including time to read the directions. Will have a full summary of it after the trip.

So taking a much needed break now, with plans to drive and explore the island. There are other islands to check out- such as San Juan, but I am fighting the urge to leave camp. I need time to just do nothing. I’m not even breaking out the RC truck I brought along. Instead, I need time to be quiet and still to allow God to renew my strength and spirit.

Taking the opportunity now to just sit in silence….so signing off for now….

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Day Four- Mike and Ruth

Day Four. Took off from Bonners Ferry this morning from the worst Best Western I have been in. Avoid the Best Western unless you want to be treated with mediocrity.
We left around 6am with the plan to stop off in Quincy to see long time friends Mike and Ruth in Quincy, Washington. Mike was not only a good friend, but later on he hired me for my first job as an instructor, which was key to putting Adventure IQ on the map.

We opted out of boing US 2 so we could make good time. As luck would have it, 30 miles from Spokane Interstate 90 was shut down. We detoured over to US 2 anyway.

Mike is now a pastor and I enjoy not only our frequent trips down Memory Lane, which always seem to get better, but also our spiritual discussions. Mike has been a bigger influence than he knows and Ruth has always provided insight for me.

As a young instructor, Mike showed me the ropes and guided me around obstacles that could have derailed me. He also gave me the freedom to explore and learn. I owe him a debt of gratitude for giving me a shot to be where I am today.

After a great lunch, good conversation, and Ruth’s apple pie, we headed down US 2 towards Lopez Island….6 hours away. Knowing we were not going to make that far, the plan was to get an hour or two outside of Quincy to make the drive on Monday easier.

We found a spot in the hardly populated NFS Thousand Springs Campground, about 90 minutes from Quincy. After paying our fee and setting up tents, we realized why there were so few residents. The place was overrun with mosquitos. There are enough of these pest to start another malaria epidemic. Using my last check, I bought three bundles of wood. I figured between the smoke and the cans of bug spray, I could protect Clan Anderson from any assault. I was wrong, they were persistent in their attacks.

Still, Melissa fixed a great meal and we spent the evening playing drums together and a few rounds of Zombie Dice.

In the morning we are waking early to hit the road to make the ferry to Lopez Island. A bit nervous since I have no idea where it is and need to be there by 1230.

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Day Three of our NW Overland Expedition- Glacier to Bonner’s Ferry bwo Canada

Third day on the road. Great overnight in Glacier. Really wish we could have seen more– but so much of the park is closed due to snow. We picked up our yearly pass, paid $23 for a camp ground and $23 for wood. Melissa cooked up her awesome pita pocket meal. Note to self- make sure the pita pocket bread doesn’t freeze or it will break apart when re-heated.

I got some hang time in my hammock, played with my pup a bit and we got to weather a short thunderstorm with lightning hitting as close as three-hundred meters. It was great hanging with Melissa by the fire while we both wrote in our journals.

This morning we were up and out of camp and on dirt by 8am. We attempted to take the dirt road just out of Fish Camp, but it came to an abrupt end around the 8 mile point due to snow. We turned around and made tracks for Bonner’s Ferry with lots of dirt road stops along the way, which also included a stop-off for Huckleberry Pie for breakfast. We also stopped at the middle fork of the Flathead to let the pups run crazy.

Part of this trip was to explore old US 2. Once west of the hustle and bustle of K-town it was everything I hoped for. Windy turns with mountains, lakes, and beautiful scenery. Taking our time we made the 4-hour journey to Bonner’s Ferry in 6-hours.

I got us checked into a hotel so I could drop girls and guns off- grab a quick shower, let Melissa hit the laundry mat and then I dashed for a quick crossing of Canada. Because I am short on time (for dinner) I will cover that in another blog when I can dedicate time for the “incident-free” trip….hope you get the sarcasm.
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