My Dad, the King of Prepper Improvisation
I am going to talk about my dad who introduced me to the wonderful world of Off the Grid Living. The best day and the worst day of my life fell on the very same day. It was without any doubt, the day that not only did I discover how much my dad knew and how right he had been all along, but also how much I was like him … though in deference to his skills, never quite as good as he was … in so many ways.
When it comes to the world of Prepping and Living Off the Grid, it is imperative that you are capable of being able to improvise in any given situation and adapt to the ever-changing realities you will face out in the wild. If you are like me, your next door neighbors will be literally miles away, generally through some very harsh terrain and ground that is difficult to cover, even on horseback or in a good 4x4 … or even an old and trusty VW Beetle. My dad never ceased to amaze me with the contraptions and concepts he could come up with when we found ourselves lacking out in our desert prepper paradise.
The high desert of Northern Nevada is an interesting and unique world, with temperatures steadily hovering between one hundred and ten and one hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and minus twenty to minus forty in the winter … with very little middle ground save those days when hundred mile an hour winds would whip through the Honey “Lake” area around our homes.
This tended to make it feel substantially cooler in the summer, but would make conditions extremely dangerous in the winter, and make traveling virtually impossible. Thus, if we ever found ourselves lacking or in need, as anyone who lives off the grid has, it was up to us to resolve the situation if we were to ever get back to “civilized society” to “enjoy” their modern conveniences.
When we first began acquiring local properties through the tax auctions, we started out with a relatively modest sixty acres of desert. Needless to say, it was not very hospitable or conducive to a comfortable lifestyle and if something went wrong, our closest neighbors were nearly five miles (eight kilometers) away if we forewent the luxury of utilizing what passed for roads in the area at the time.
Our first misadventure came with a dead battery on our vehicle. Lacking as we did any charged batteries at the time, or the benefit and relative luxury of the solar and wind systems that we would install later in our construction. This presented something of a challenge for us as we both needed to get back into town for work in those days.
I knew better than to interrupt as we walked back to the car, him with his weed-eater safely tucked up under his arm like a rifle, a handful of rope in his other hand. He would merely go on about me spending too much time talking and not enough time watching, or hack on me relentlessly for spending too much time thinking and not enough time paying attention … it was a lost cause to even ask what he had in mind, so I merely continued to walk alongside him in silence, wondering just what it was I would see.
When we got back to the car, he opened the hood, looked around for a bit, poked, prodded, pulled and pushed at a few connection points, picked up the weedeater and the rope and began tying it to the engine. By this point, I was definitely intrigued, I must admit. I was not sure exactly how a weedeater was supposed to drive a full size engine, but it was going to be interesting to see exactly what would happen when we tried … until he was just about done, and began loosening up the alternator.
When everything was said and done, the alternator was securely attached to the weedeater, and with a few minutes running that, the generator was operating as intended and we had a fully charged battery. There was never any sense of panic or concern from my dad, he just accepted it as part of life, living off the grid and away from the civilized society that neither of us ever fit in very well.
At the end of the day however, his ability to see solutions that others could not, and to think outside of the box, saved us a great deal of grief and a very embarrassing trip to our neighbor. Our very next trip, he took a fifty-five gallon drum, an alternator and the rear-end from one of the old vehicles we had laying about, but I will save that for another article to tell you what he did next. Improvisation is not only king, but the key to survival for those who choose to live off the grid.
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