Book One - Reality Bites
Chapter 2 - 21st Century Mountain Man
ďExcellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.Ē
George Johnson was divorced. His wife had left him when he was in the Navy for an officer. Their two children, George Jr. and Alicia, stayed with their mother. The court gave her custody and told him he was free to pay child support. It was a rotten deal as far as he was concerned. He would rather have his children. He didnít get to see them or talk to them much anymore. They were always too busy doing other stuff. He missed them. Fortunately for him, he bought his ten acre hunting property before they were married. This was his salvation, his peace on earth. With thirty-five percent of his pay taken out for child support, he was left with only nine hundred ten dollars a month to live on. He was a retired Chief Mechanic. Luckily, he had a plan. He had been preparing for the end of the world his whole life.
His property was in Northern Wisconsin. It was prime property in his eyes. It had plenty of oak trees to keep the deer in his area year around. But his cabin was really great. It was built into the side of a hill with ten yards of gravel and drain pipes to pull the ground water away from the cabin. It had double walled ten inch logs, with sand filled in between. He smiled and thought Ole Ned Kelly from the ĎFifty Most Dangerous Mení would be proud of him. The roof was metal and covered with 6 inches of topsoil, then grass seed was planted on top. He built it in the late 1980s as a hunting camp/nuclear fall out shelter. The front was hidden from view with a huge brush pile. He had his solar power panels set at the correct angle to catch the sunís rays, but you could not see them if you were just walking past. To see them, you had to be almost on top of them.
George had a great life. His small twenty four by twenty foot camp had everything he needed to survive. He had a propane cook stove with twin one hundred pound cylinders, which provided all his cooking needs for about fourteen months. Four spare cylinders stored in the garage. But being part boy scout, he always refilled the empty cylinder as soon as possible. Always be prepared was his motto also. Nobody knew when the SWHTF (Shit Would Hit The Fan). He was smart and had a thirty foot well dug right under the cabin lined with 3 foot cement culverts. A twelve volt DC water pump provided the cabinís water needs. He didnít need much water just for the shower, toilet, washing dishes and clothes. He had a small apartment-size washing machine. He dried his clothes on a clothesline in the summer, and over the woodstove in the winter. Not that he needed much wood for winter. Three cords was more than enough to keep the cabin toasty warm. All his doors and windows had built-in double steel one quarter inch plates welded together. A trip cord was set to drop these into place from the inside. Once dropped down in place, they could be bolted from the inside into the reinforced logs of the cabin. It could be secured from just about anything.
Above each door and window was a steel pipe with small holes drilled in it to spray liquids out to soak any person trying to break in with homemade lye. His wood stove had eight inch heavy walls, with one quarter inch thick piping that ran underground out the back and up to a fake hollow tree. Amazing what a person can do with paint, glue and scraps of bark. The ground cooled the heat and the smoke was all but invisible when it came out the top. When it was sealed up, the cabin would be invisible to the world. You could walk right by it and not notice a thing.
He was still bitter about the divorce. The old saying that rules and regulations were only for the enlisted and not for officers sure came true for him. His wife was having an affair with an officer, a Lt. Commander.
When he tried to press charges against him, the military turned on him like a shark at a feeding frenzy. You see, officers are above the rules in the military. Any E-7 that stood up to them was quickly reminded it is not about right and wrong, but about officers couldnít do any wrong. He was sent to anger management classes. The military reviewed his travel records. They transferred him to a new base. He was to be given no responsibilities and to be watched every second. He was not to be trusted with anything now. They even tried to force him into alcohol rehab. It was not alcohol that
was the problem, it was the fact that his wife was sleeping with an officer and they were not doing anything about it. All they did was keep him moving around and treat him like he had a disease.
In the end, he was given a choice; take retirement or press charges against the Lt. Commander. He mightíve won that case, but he was told in no uncertain terms that he would be targeted and they would make sure he ended up in Leavenworth. He knew all about the corruption in the Military. He had seen and heard about bogus charges brought against those that didnít play the game and go along with what they wanted. So, he took his retirement. He felt that he really didnít have a choice in the matter. He had to be around to protect his children.
You canít live in the past, he kept telling himself. He had been betrayed by his wife and the military. For the first few years he tried to get his head back on straight. He had to start thinking about the future. The past was dead and gone. He felt he learned a very valuable lesson in life. You canít take anything for granted. Life can change in a blink of an eye. You also canít live in the past; there is only today and the future. He was determined that he would not be an embittered man and go around blaming others for his misfortunes. It happened, leave it in the past and get on with life. Bad stuff, unfair crap happened to people all the time. So, he concentrated on that. He would make whatever effort he could to stay as close to his children as possible. He was firm in the decision that he would not lose his children, too. He still had his health and the cabin, so he would be okay.
He met a woman named Marion. She was a widow and he visited her in town once a week. Her husband had managed a cattle ranch. He had been killed by a bull in a freak accident. He was moving the animal into a new field during breeding season. The bull must have been mad about being taken from the cows that were ready to breed. The bull charged the poor man, who was on a four wheeler trying to get him into the new field. The engine stalled and the bull ran him and the four wheeler over. The bull, the man and the machine went down in a confused heap. The bull ran off. The man was left pinned under the four wheeler. The bull came back and charged him again. They think it was the second charge of the bull that killed him. The bullís hoof hit the man in the head, which killed him instantly. The other workers tried to get to the man, but the bull was just too fast.
Together, George and Marion made a great couple. They helped each other through the emotional time of mourning. She helped him to understand that he was mourning the death of his marriage and career. She explained it would just take some time and to talk about it and not keep everything bottled up inside. He told her the same thing. She could talk to him about her husband, too. They understood each other. He helped her to see life is for the living. She told him everyone needed someone to talk to. Someone that you could say whatever was on your mind to. Not the polite chit chat that most people go through, but the real honest sharing of feelings and thoughts.
He thought about what she said and came to realize that was something he really missed. Someone you could speak your mind to. He didnít even realize how much and what he had lost with the divorce. He was really glad that he had met her and that they were together. She had a depth to her that his ex never had. He also came to realize that his marriage hadnít been all he thought it had been. All his married life he had been gone for long periods of time. He thought about how little time his ex and him had really spent together. They had never just sat and talked by the fire like Marion and he did. They had always been busy with other things. His job and the children took all their time. He was starting to understand how much had really been wrong or missing with his marriage. Before the divorce, he had just been too busy with everything to have time to think about stuff like this. None of this would have ever crossed his mind. He was coming to understand that in many ways he had a much better life now than he had before. This life was much more real and rewarding.
In the fall and winter, he set steel traps and professional grade cable snares. It was a hobby, a supplemental income. Not that the furs were bringing in much money these days. He tanned the furs himself over the winter and sold them under consignment to the Native American smoke shop on the reservation. He put beaver pelts on a wooden hoop in the old Mountain Man style. He steamed alder branches to make a nice round hoop. It was a favorite souvenir to the tourists and hunters who used them for cabin decor.
He also had coyote, fox, mink, muskrat, otter and weasel pelts. It gave him something to do on the long, cold winter nights. Plus, he was in the woods each and every day. What a way to enjoy life. He learned the deer patterns and found the bear dens. He helped out a few local farmers to thin out the deer herds that were destroying their crops. He hunted them on block permits issued to the farmers. He took four deer a year. It was his main source of meat. He also had beaver, raccoon, duck, goose, ruffed grouse, smoked muskrat, smelt, walleye, trout and pike to round out his meat supply. He ate better than he ever had before. He thought with a smile, yes, this was the good life.
With his trapping and snaring skills, he knew he could weather just about any economic storm that hit this country. He remembered a lot of the tales of the Great Depression. He sewed his own fur hats and mittens. He lined his coat with beaver furs. God created the warmest coats in the world, he thought. In those cold January days when the temperature dropped way below 0 with wind chill making it minus twenty, minus thirty, or minus forty degrees outside, he sure was glad for the warmth of the furs.
His gun collection was modest. He had a 12 gauge Remington 870 shotgun for bird hunting, a Ruger 10-22 for varmints, a Browning .22 Buckmark pistol for the trap line, a 30-06 Remington 700 topped off with a Leopold 3 x 9 scope, and two semi-automatic SKS with ten thousand rounds of ammo for it. He had twenty thousand rounds put away for his .22, most were his favorite small game round, the Remington Yellowjacket. It was an amazing round for small and medium game animals. It took a few years of losing wounded rabbits and grouse before he understood the solid point bullets were just ripping through the animals and not transferring the energy to the animal to bring them down. Once he switched to Yellowjackets, his take of birds and rabbits went up. Now, he was almost guaranteed to bring home the meat.
He was rich beyond money; something people who lived in the city never could understand. Their judge of success was fancy cars, big McMansions and ten credit cards. Most people were living way beyond their means. Many were learning a very hard lesson in 2008-2009 when the economic crash came. They lost their jobs, houses, and then their fancy cars. Some people ended up living with relatives. Many ended up living in tents. Obamavilles were popping up all over the country. Like the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. The grand American experiment was coming to a close. The American dream had died. The U. S. dollar was about to collapse.
Little did George know how vitally important his lifestyle was soon to become. Georgeís job now was to get his children there to the cabin and protect them. It was a job he took very seriously.
Grid Down: Book One Reality Bites
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