You can see all of the chapters (in descending order) here.
After Steve and Ned finished testing the solar generator switch without any issues, they rounded up Jeff and Sammy to go over gun safety tips and do some target practice.
Ned instructed Jeff on loading and using the handgun while Steve introduced Sammy to safety, cleaning, and use of the rifle. After about an hour, Jess called them all in so the kids could leave with her parents.
“Make sure you listen to Gram and Grandpa” Jess reminded the kids.
“You know it, mom.” Jeff gave his mom and dad a hug and shook hands with Mr. Crankston. He picked up his backpack and headed outside.
“Don’t worry mom, we’ll be good.” Sammy promised. She hugged her mom and then her dad. After a moment of hesitation, she hugged old Mr. Crankston too. “Thanks for helping us Mr. Crankston.” Sammy said.
“Aww, no problem at all Sammy. Good folks need to stick together, right?” Mr. Crankston said. Sammy nodded and smiled as she picked up her backpack full of clothes.
“Right!” Sammy replied.
“I’ll miss you Mommy.” Delia threw herself at her mom and gave her a big hug. “You too dad.” Sammy said as she hugged her dad tightly. “I’m gonna miss you a little too, Mr. Crankston.” Delia said with a grin. She hugged him tentatively and he smiled.
“You have fun with your grandparents. I’m gonna show your mom and dad my place and then send them off so they can make sure your house is ready for you to come back to.” Delia nodded and reached for Sheryl’s hand.
“Ready Grandma?” Delia asked.
“Ready as we’re going to be sweetheart. Let’s get moving.” Sheryl hugged Jess and Steve with one arm and then picked up Delia’s bag. Don hugged Jess and shook hands with Steve and then Mr. Crankston.
“Stay in touch. Be safe. We’ll see you all soon.” Don said. He took Delia’s bag from Sheryl and headed out the door behind Jeff.
“See you soon.” Jess replied. Sheryl, Delia, and Sammy followed Don out the door. Jess waved from the doorway as they backed out of the driveway a few moments later. Jess came back inside and shut the door to the cabin. Steve and Ned were seated at the table. “Okay, so what’s the plan?” Jess asked.
“Ned and I were just talking about that.” Steve said with a smile. “I’m thinking we follow him to his place, make sure everything’s kosher there. Then we head home and see how bad things are at the house. If we’re lucky, there won’t be structural damage but we’ll definitely have some clean up work to do.” Steve said.
“Okay. I’ve got some things to button up here before we leave. How long until we take off?” Jess asked.
“About an hour?” Steve said. “I was thinking Ned and I could do a walk around outside and make sure things are a bit more secure. Just in case we have intruders come by again.” Steve said. Jess nodded.
“Okay, sounds like a plan.” Jess agreed. Steve and Ned headed out to walk the perimeter and check the garage and Jess headed back into the house to finish storing away the leftover supplies and to repack for the trip home.
“Good little woman, ya got there Steve.” Ned Cranskston said as they walked. “She reminds me of my Mary Lou when she was that age. I suggest you hang on tight to that little lady.” Ned advised.
“Don’t worry, I intend to. She’s a keeper for sure.” Steve winked at Ned and the two men chuckled as they headed into the garage. “I really wish I had this stove further along.” Steve said running his hand over the old stove. I’m kicking myself now for not getting it done last year like I wanted to do.”
“It’s really not in that bad of shape at all.” Ned said. He bent over to look a little closer, then opened the door and peered inside. “I’ll tell ya what, Steve. I’m probably going to hang at my bug out place a couple days. I’ve got what I need there to clean this up for ya. If you help me get it loaded in the truck and help unload when we get to my place, I’ll get it fixed up. You can pick it back up the next time you’re up this way.” he offered.
“Oh wow, I couldn’t ask you to do that.” Steve said. “You’ve already been such a help to us. We should be helping you in return.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. Jess already helped me out with her tips about how to store the eggs long term and the powdered eggs idea. And I’m definitely going to try that meatless chilli she made up, that was mighty tasty. Besides, working on this stove will give me something to do, make me feel useful again.” Ned insisted.
“Well, okay then. We’d be mighty grateful, that’s for sure.” Steve said.
“It’s settled then. Let’s finish checking the perimeter and go get my truck and get this beast loaded.” Ned said. Steve nodded. The two men walked the rest of the property.
A short time later, they found and fixed a broken fence post behind the garage. They finished walking the property and then headed for the truck so they could load the stove.
“What are you two up to now?” Jess called from the front porch as they walked to Crankston’s truck. She came off the porch and started walking toward the driveway. “
Ned offered to clean up that old cookstove in the garage and get it working for us. We can pick it up next time we’re here.” Steve told her.
“Wow, Ned, that’s very generous of you. You sure we can’t pay you something for it? It could be a big job.” Jess said.
“Nah now your hubby and I already settled this. I’m doing it and I’m not taking your money. I wouldn’t mind that meatless chilli recipe though.” Ned grinned at Jess. “It was pretty tasty.”
“You bet. I’ll write it out for you right now.” Jess said. “Really Ned, thanks again for everything.” Ned grinned sheepishly at her.
“I’m glad to help good people. You two just stand strong together, you’ll be able to weather any storm that may come. This world’s just getting too unpredictable. Now is a good time to get prepared. You got to take care of those kiddos.” he said.
“We will. Let me go write up that recipe for you.” Jess headed back into the cabin and Steve and Ned drove the truck out to the garage and loaded the stove. Just a bit over an hour later, the trio was on the road and headed for Ned Crankston’s bug out property, just a little over 60 miles away.
Steve had decided to ride with Ned, just in case anything went wrong with the stove in the back. That meant Jess was driving the Durango solo but, since she could turn up the radio and listen to all HER favorite tunes for a change, she didn’t mind it at all.
She had a map with the location of the BOL on the seat of the Durango, just in case they were separated along the way. Jess stopped the Durango at the end of the drive to check for traffic and then pulled out onto the road behind Ned and her husband.
Her plan was to just follow along behind them and keep an eye on the stove in the back of the truck. It had been awhile since she’d been in the car for any length of time by herself, she craned up the radio and grinned.
In Ned’s truck, the mood was a bit more somber. Ned was filling Steve in on all the events and potential events that led him to become such a die hard prepper.
As Ned listed off the different reasons, Steve shook his head in disbelief. “I knew things were getting bad, I guess I just always figured I was preparing for more natural disasters and stuff like that.” Steve said.
Everything you’ve told me has really opened my eyes. I guess I should pay more attention to world events and politics if I want to keep my family safe.”
“It’s definitely worth keeping an ear to the ground, I can tell you that.” Ned said. “Now, I’m sure you don’t know this but I’m part of a group of folks that are committed to surviving whatever is coming together. We get together once a month, we share news we’ve heard, compare notes and try to sort out the truth.”
“That sounds helpful. I do try to pay attention to the news but I don’t always see the threat I guess. Some things just don’t make sense.” Steve said.
“There’s a lot to keep track of and sometimes all you get is one piece of information that doesn’t really make sense until you hear a piece of news someone else heard about. We have an online forum, we share skills information and stuff there too.” Ned explained.
“That sounds like a great resource.” Steve said.
“It definitely helps. Plus we all get to know each other better. But at our monthly meetings is when the real activity happens. We plan how we’re going to communicate with each other, practice how to defend what’s ours, and basically run drills on how to survive the initial impact of different scenarios.
But we also are working on how to rebuild and thrive following any kind of long term SHTF-type event. We’re very selective about who joins the group. The idea is that we plan now and we would rebuild together, as a group.” Ned said.
“It sounds like a great idea. I’ve tried talking to Jess’ parents a couple times about doing more to be prepared for something bigger. But even Jess isn’t totally on board so it’s hard. I mean she’s good at the food prep stuff, sure.
And she doesn’t oppose me teaching the kids to defend themselves. It took her quite some time to start coming around but she’s getting there. Our evacuation plan worked great to get us out of the hurricane path quickly. I think she was glad I’d been such a pest about planning.” Steve said.
“It happens that way usually. One person is gung ho for being prepared and the other merely tolerates it. She seems to be open to tolerating it. Her food preps were amazing.” Ned said. Steve nodded.
The two rode along in silence for a few minutes before Ned turned the truck into the driveway of his property. “Well, this is me. Like I said, it’s not company ready.” Ned chuckled as he stopped at the gate.
“Well at least your gate looks intact.” Steve observed.
“Yep, that’s a good thing. I’m pretty isolated out here. Some of the group have locations within a hundred miles or so. Got a couple neighbors up the road a bit, one in our group, but the other is still in denial about the state of this country.” Steve nodded.
Ned got out of the truck and went to open the gate. “Alrighty then. Let’s go see what the cat drug in.” Ned said climbing back into the driver’s seat. Ned drove the truck up the driveway.
Steve turned to make sure Jess had followed them into the drive. He grinned. To unfamiliar eyes she looked a bit like she was having a seizure behind the wheel. But Steve knew exactly what his wife was doing, he’d seen her rock out to her favorite tunes before.
“Whoa!” Steve exclaimed as the long narrow drive opened up into a large clearing with a house, a barn, and several outbuildings and cabins. “I didn’t realize you had this kind of setup out here.” Steve said.
“Well, yes, I guess it has grown over the years.” Ned admitted. “I’m an old man, I got nothing better to do than tinker around out here.” Ned admitted. He pulled up and backed up to the garage door of a large outbuilding. “Let’s get this stove unloaded, first, huh? Then I’ll give you and Jess the grand tour. Ned suggested.
“Sounds like a plan. I can’t wait to see all you’ve got here.” Steve said. “Is that a wind turbine?” Steve pointed at the tower he could see in the distance, closer to the house.
“It sure is. That’s my latest addition actually. It works great too.” Ned said with pride. The two men got out and motioned to Jess who had parked and was headed toward them. Ned opened the back of the truck as Steve walked to meet Jess.
“Wow, can you believe this place?” Jess said as he Steve hugged her. “This is so much bigger than I thought.” she admitted.
“Yeah, I was surprised too. I can’t wait to see the rest. Let’s get the stove unloaded so we can get the tour.” he suggested. Jess nodded and followed Steve back over to the truck. Ned was coming out of the building with a winch and chain and a large flat utility type cart.
“Ready to do this?” he asked Steve.
“Yep, let’s get it done.” Steve responded.
(continue reading chapter 10 here)