My Vacation, My Wake Up Call, and My Resolution for 2013

This guest post by MattLBS and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

Hello Wolf Pack. First, I owe you all a HUGE “Thank You” for all of the information you have provided to me free of charge. I have learned a lifetime worth of knowledge in a short time from all of you, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without reading The Survivalist Blog on a daily basis. This is the first write up of any kind that I have done, so I guess I should start by telling you a brief bit about myself. I have been preparing myself and my family seriously for general “unknown” for about the past two years now. I have found however, that I have spent my whole life preparing without really knowing it, or knowing what to call it. I’ve always picked up extra things “just in case” and stashed away things because I knew I’d need them one day. I have a loving (and tolerant) wife, and two mini-me’s who are 5 and 9. I live in the urban South, but have a rural South background. Now onto my latest adventure!

This past week, our family took a break from it all and headed down to the happiest place on earth to see the mouse. Since reading this site is now a daily part of who I am, I tried to be more prepared for the vacation. I opted to leave the tactical 3 day assault pack with MOLLE straps behind and instead carry an old black LL Bean backpack with me instead (how very “grey man” of me) to blend in with the crowds. For the most part, the week went great, better than anticipated. I was really beginning to think that by the end of the trip, they’d want to do a Discovery Channel show about me, and how well prepared I was to survive the urban wilds.

While at the parks, I was Johnny on the spot when it came to having juice boxes, water, snacks, band aids, etc. I had travel blankets to sit and watch the parades and fireworks on, and to keep the chill off at night. I had mole skin for blisters. I had lightweight jackets for all four of us. I had ear plugs in case the noise level got too loud for the mini-me’s. I had handkerchiefs to wipe sweat with, and for the millions of other uses I’ve heard they can be used for. I had disposable ponchos to keep momma and me dry on the water rides, and to build a shelter in case the need presented itself (it did not).

I had a small, very bright flashlight to light the paths to the hotel room each night. I had a mini Bic lighter, even though I don’t smoke, just in case. I always wear paracord bracelets, so I had cordage if I needed it, and had more stuffed in a pocket in my backpack. I had candy to prevent TEOTVAWKI (The End Of The Vacation As We Know It) from occurring during a tantrum from standing in line too long to ride Space Mountain. All this, and I still had room in the pack to carry around die cast monorails, Buzz Lightyear blasters, Jack Sparrow swords, , and light up things galore. I was quite pleased with myself and how well prepared I was to tackle things inside “The World”.

Fast forward to our last day before heading home. We awoke in the morning in the same fashion as we had all week and headed out to enjoy our last day at the parks when I discover, much to my dismay, that the car is DEAD!!!! The battery has completely drained and given up the ghost ( I later found the culprit to be an overhead interior light in the back seat being left on all night that the littlest mini-me was using to try to stay awake on the ride back to the hotel). Now, I am not a mechanic, but I did my best manly duty and raised the hood, shook a few wires and hoses and had my wife try the ignition again while praying for the car to magically come to life again (this is a place full of magic after all).

No dice. I remembered that being the ultimate prepared man inside “the kingdom” that I had a well stocked car kit in the back of our SUV (thanks to my reading TSB everyday and paying attention to the valuable information that it contains), so I pulled it out and began to go through the contents. I had a lot of stuff that could come in handy one day, but not needed for this situation. I had things in there I had completely forgotten about, but also not required for the problem at hand.

The one thing I did not have on hand, probably because I raided the car kit at some point and forgot to put things back where they go, was an adjustable wrench, open end wrenches, or any kind of socket set. I know that I was the guilty party for raiding the kit, because the wife and mini-me’s DO NOT USE tools. Ever. Now, I’m no mechanic, as I’ve already stated, but I know that I have at least a half dozen of each of these things between the cars (well they’re supposed to be with the cars), the garage, the house, and the tool shed.

I did have a small multi tool with some pliers on it, but it was going to make for a long morning of turning all those bolts using a small set of pliers, with a wife who was frustrated with me, and probably wondering why she married me in the first place, and kids who were ready to go have fun at the park and did not want to sit in a car that didn’t run all morning and watch dad peek out from underneath the hood every few minutes, with no success.

I called the front desk of the hotel and they offered me a shuttle ride to the local Wally World, where the problem was easily taken care of with a new battery, and a set of open end wrenches. Remember when I said I had a half dozen sets of such things before? Make that MORE than a half dozen sets now. Battery changed, car running, and off to the parks we go. My prepping ego, thoroughly deflated. I learned a valuable lesson last Friday morning. You can never be too prepared. It also got me thinking about resolutions, since it is a new year, after all.

Here is one of mine. I’ve got to get better organized. You see, I am a slob. There I admitted it. My wife thinks I’m going to end up on a future episode of Hoarders. Bug out bags, still a work in progress, but I could put my hands on them quickly. Other things for the more likely bug in situation, not so much. I am working on food preps, but they are all over the house. The first aid kit is generally in one spot, but still spread out. Important paperwork, it’s everywhere. Necessary tools, I know I have them, but can’t tell you where they all are.

My workbench is a mess of half finished projects, random parts, and just junk in general. Things are not hung up or put up where they go, or at least are supposed to go. So for 2013, I’m going to keep reading TSB every day, and learning everything I can, teach the wife and the mini-me’s how to do some things on their own so they aren’t totally dependent on Super Dad, and I’m going to get myself better organized, so that when the TSHTF next time, I’ll be ready (or I’ll find something else that I had never thought of before, but wish I had to fix the problem right then).

This contest will end on April 22 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…  Armory consolidation a marriage of practicality and survival.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Glad you had a good vaca. We all could use a little more organizing.
    Good luck!

  2. Mystery Guest says:

    Great article to show us well laid plans can go awry.

  3. Mary in mn says:

    Jumper cables would have been good. Cheaper too. Cute story. My husband has more tools than anyone one I know and I can’t find what I need. He can but I cant. Organization is important.

  4. It’s always nice when we learn things that don’t really cost us much. Put that into an metropolitan evacuation situation, on the road with thousands of scared, angry people and you can see what I mean by “cheap”.

    Good job and congrats on the vacation.

  5. worrisome says:

    ok…………….what would have been the answer if there had been an EMP and the car would never start……..?

  6. Petticoat Prepper says:

    My goal is to get more organized this year too. I did pretty good with food preps (even managed an inventory that I’ve kept up with!). I’m starting soon to empty the house room by room. See I said ‘soon’ gives me a bit of wiggle time. :)) Lord help me when I get to the photo section!!!!

    Cute story, we too had visited the mouse when our DD was small. I was the keeper of the pack, doing the prep thing without knowing that’s what it should have been called.

  7. Great article and very well written. I enjoyed the reading of it. You seem to have come a long way in two years. Keep working on the food storage, we may need it soon.
    I am an old man and it seems that through all the years when I needed a simple tool in the care it was never there. It had been there, was there at one time but almost never when needed. I stil haven’t learned to keep tools consistantly in the car.

  8. Even though you’ve been reading TSB everyday, this is your first post, so….Welcome to the Pack!
    I enjoyed reading your story. It brought a smile to my face as I recalled similar issues with my car battery suddenly being dead. Glad that was the only problem of your vacation, and you still got to enjoy yourself.

  9. Organization is an issue for me too, but I have a method – everything with a pile and everything in a pile. That said, I have some piles that need to be sorted and filed. I also need some more shelving in my utility room. I’ll get there but in the meantime, I’m doing what I can.

  10. Lauri no e says:

    Great post. That is what I am working on at this time being more organize.

  11. oldguy52 says:

    Congratulations on getting through your situation. What you did worked and at least you weren’t paralyzed by the problem.

    However, a 20 dollar battery charger would have done the same thing for considerably less expense and trouble. You may want to learn how to do this simple operation for the future.

    Just sayin’.


    • Or a pair of jumper cables. Have the shuttle bus jump you off… drive to your destination and you’re battery will charge along the way.

      • Petticoat Prepper says:

        Or a battery charger with a “jump start” feature that you leave in the back. Although, we all could end up with a small utility trailer behind us with all our just in case stuff!

  12. MattLBS,

    You missed one important thing in reading this blog. Being prepared is also a learning process. You may find that you are unprepared for many things, and sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know. That has happened to me, and every time it scares me half to death, knowing one of the things I didn’t know, could cost me the life of one of my loved ones in a true EOTWAWKI situation.

    But we do the best we can do, and we keep learning, and I’m glad for you (and all of us) that we keep getting little wake up calls to help us get better prepared.

  13. Tactical G-Ma says:

    And remember, necessity really is the mother of invention. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

    Keep prepping.

  14. Getting organized is what hubs and I are working on! I do not have very much in the way of food preps because we are about to remodel the kitchen! YAY! Less stuff to move out of the way. But I have been working on other preps for the home and garden. Hubs has been working on organizing the garage and turning part of it into a shop that he can earn some money. Because of his inability to walk very far and because of where we live we think more in terms of bugging in. Our BOB’s are for when we are not at home and SHTF to help us get home. 🙂

    • Encourager says:

      GHB. Get Home Bag. I had always called our ‘bags’ BOB’s and then I realized we had no where to bug-out-to. So I reorganized them and they now will get us back home.

  15. FarmerKin says:

    “My wife thinks I’m going to end up on a future episode of Hoarders.”

    LOL. I worry about myself in that respect too.

    At what point does one cross that line between being a prepper and being a hoarder? I’m not sure, but I tell myself the difference is being organized.

    • FarmerKin
      You become a Hoarder when you never use the supplies that you have purchased for the “what if”, otherwise you are just like the rest of us. Covering all your bases for the day we will need them. The biggest thing we all face is making sure to rotate our supplies.

      • oldguy52 says:


        Personally I don’t see the difference between having enough everyday stuff to last a year and having enough long term storage stuff to last a year.

        Seems like a distinction without a difference.

        Quite frankly, you are likely to be accused of hoarding by anyone who hasn’t seen fit to put back some things for themselves.

        • Encourager says:

          “Quite frankly, you are likely to be accused of hoarding by anyone who hasn’t seen fit to put back some things for themselves.”

          Yep, oldguy52, and then they want what we have.

          Actually, to me, hoarding is when you throw NOTHING away, not the magazines for 20 years, the newspapers for 30 years, not one toilet paper tube or paper towel tube…you get the picture. You can’t even walk through a room without walking on top of stuff. You can’t sleep in your bedroom because even the bed is piled high. Can’t take a shower because the stall is full, too.

          Hoarders have an illness. Preppers have a need. Preppers know what and how to store the stuff they need and they should know right where it is when they need it. I am sure few of us are at that point all the time, but it is a goal to obtain. Right?

    • Old Guy,

      People who hoard collect things compulsively and they don’t have a good reason for collecting the things they collect. Preppers think through what they will need in the future and put quite a bit of thought into how much of each item they are likely to need. So the difference is that hoarders hoard because they have a compulsion to hoard. Preppers prep because we realize we live in an uncertain world, and we would rather take responsibility for our own welfare and the welfare of our families and neighbors than push off that responsibility on the government.

  16. axelsteve says:

    I would get a serious set of jumper cables.(well I did) Road service would also be nice.Maybe a solar battery charger.That way it could charge when you take shuttle to m land.Get quality tools they will pay off in the long run. Getting prepper stuff is not hoarding. Hoarding is a violation of op sec.

  17. Hi everyone. I should have clarified and did not in the original article. I did have a quality set of jumper cables, and tried that first, to no avail. Turns out the battery (which was only a few months old) had a bad cell and had to be replaced. Glad everyone enjoyed the story. My hope was to add a little humor to the situation, and give us all something to talk about. Mission accomplished.

  18. Hey, if you have more situations like this, let us learn from them!

    • Donna, my whole life is full of situations like this. Sometimes I think I’m a Grizzwald (National Lampoons).

  19. I once had a job where I had to carry a toolbox. It taught me so much, that I bought my own toolbox for home use. I keep it nearby, and always put my tools back. I also loaded it with more tools than most tool boxes have. Husband has learned this. While he can never find his tools, he can find mine. He uses the tools in my little tool box nine times out of ten…I keep wondering why we have all that expensive toolery and large wheeled chests to keep it in within our garage, since it is rarely used…just sayin’.

  20. Thanks for the awesome articel!
    I took my daughter on an amusement park trip in the left coast last year that we lovingly call the “Death By Amusement Park Trip”.
    I discovered that I have a horrible case of prepperphrenia. I HATE being away from home, but I want a vacation. TO get away.All those people in my head.
    The last day I drove 13 hrs straight to get home again ASAP.
    Good job on getting the car fixed so quickly. I have a huge problem with my grown (one is the DH) and half grown children getting into tools and not returning them.
    I can’t help you on the organizing. I have found that the people who do, do. The people who don’t, usually find what they need in the piles. I am tediously organized. The queen of the rubbermaid and the boxes with nice lids, marked, and stacked neatlly. Even my junk drawers are meticulous. It is a sickness. LOL.
    My motto. Improvise, adapt and keep your sense of humor.
    Great article.

  21. I’m a slob too. For a girl I have a lot of tools. I have at least 4 tool boxes. One is the one I can take with me that has the hand tool basics. One has more bigger things like extra hammers (I once acquired an actual box of hammers from tenants who abandoned their apartment, and yes I made the joke about dumber than a box of hammers at the time). One has electrical doodads in it. And one is for jewelry and metal working tools.

    I keep more tools and supplies in bankers boxes organized by plumbing, electrical, tile, locks, painting etc.

    A separate box for very small tools is a good thing.

    I keep too many things. I’m in the process of going through them because it’s getting a bit much.

  22. SurvivorDan says:

    Nice article. Glad you took the kids to Mouse World. Every kid should go at least once.

    That said….now that it is just just me by my lonesome, I chose to sit tight on my 2 week vacation and work on physical self improvement. Normally, it would have been an expensive vacation to Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, etc. I chose not to even go up into the mountains cuz I can’t justify the expense with so many threats on the horizon. So for a free trial at the gym I worked out every day and now have a $8.95 thirty day trial at another gym.
    $2,000 and more spent on a fly-away vacation would have been a lot of supplies I couldn’t stock up on.. I could have used a trip to the South pacific but i need other stuff more. Priorities.

    Don’t misunderstand, I wholly approve of taking the kids to an amazing adventure like DisneyWorld. Good for you.

  23. I was at Costco the other day with my 2 and 8 year old. I had picked up an outfit that was all held together with a flimsy hanger and plastic threads. The 2 year old had managed to twist her finger in the threads to the point of turning purple before the 8 year old noticed and told me. I tried to untwist it, to no avail and realized what a stupid idiot I am for not even having some nail clippers, never mind a pocket knife in my purse. I had to yell to get someone’s attention and luckily the man standing next to me had a knife and the crisis was averted. I appreciate what Michelle wrote about preparedness being a learning process, and I have definitely learned from that one

  24. SurvivorDan says:

    I learned the same lesson about vehicle tools/emergency-gear when i broke down in my ex-wife’s car to discover that my son-in-law had once again appropriated the jumper cables and flashlight. Fortunately I always carry several small lights on my person but I did not have a set of jumper cables in my trousers (No jokes – I’m sensitive). Had to wait forever for someone with cables (and willing to help) to come along.
    After that i checked her car periodically to make sure all emergency gear was in the trunk.
    A hard lesson learned for me. You are not alone. Good article.

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