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Monday, December 26, 2011

Ancient Christmas Bugout Wisdom


This week’s newsletter is on the lighter side, and is brought to you by my “40 Days and 40 Nights” survival course.

The core of it comes from an article I wrote last Christmas called “Mary and Joseph’s 90 Mile Bugout” that I added to this year.  Even though it is light hearted, there are some great lessons, so enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!
Like politics, the desire to prepare to survive crosses religious lines.  I’m fortunate enough to have readers and get feedback from people from all religious persuasions. That being said, I’m a Christian, and Christmas is my 2nd favorite holiday of the year (after Easter.)  In the spirit of the season and preparedness, I was in a conversation about how far Joseph and Mary walked when they made their trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census and Jesus’ birth and what supplies they might have had with them.
I’m not trying to be exact with the numbers and assumptions below.  If you have researched any of this, or have first hand knowledge, please share by commenting below.
As the crow flies, it’s about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Walking, it’s between 80 and 90 miles, depending on which route you take.  Mary could have been one tough cookie and walked 39 weeks into her pregnancy, but I think it’s safe to assume that she rode on a donkey.
A good rule of thumb for a sustained walking/hiking rate of travel with a light load is 3-4 miles per hour.  If Joseph and the donkey kept up 3 mile per hour pace for the whole trip and walked 7 hours a day, it would have taken 3 ½ days.  People had to be more hearty in those times and I have no doubt that Joseph could have made better time, but I’m assuming that he stopped frequently to tend to Mary.
Again, this isn’t a technical account…just trivia…so let’s assume that a donkey uses roughly the same number of calories and water as a person.  If you know a lot about donkeys, please chime in with the facts by commenting below.
On the water side, we can estimate that all 3 consumed a liter of water per hour while they were walking and at least another 4 liters for evening drinking, meals, and hygiene for a total of 33 liters or just over 8 gallons per day and 25 gallons for the trip…minimum.  If they would have carried all of their water and not gathered any, it would have weighed about 210 pounds.  More than likely, they would have had a few water containers and tanked up themselves and their containers repeatedly during the journey.
For food, let’s assume that all 3 of them burned up 1500 calories per day while resting.  In addition, Joseph and the donkey would burn up about 100 calories per mile, or another 9000 calories apiece for a total of 9000×2+1500×3 (2 people+1 donkey)x3 ½ days=18,000+15,750=33,750 calories for the trip.
Flat bread contains about 100 calories per ounce and whole wheat is approximately the same, so if they ate nothing but bread, they would have needed 337 ounces or just over 20 pounds of bread/wheat for the trip there and another 20 pounds for the trip back home.  It’s likely that they could have taken only 20 pounds of bread and enough coinage or oils to buy another 20 pounds in Bethlehem.
They probably didn’t JUST have bread.  Figs have about 80 calories per ounce and fish have 30-50 calories per ounce.  Figs and fish may not have as many calories per ounce, but they do pack more calories into a smaller package.
They didn’t have electronics, so they didn’t need to carry batteries.  They didn’t have guns, so they didn’t need to carry ammo.  They probably had some reed mats, blankets, some extra clothes, a knife or two, a staff or walking stick, cups, cooking materials, something to make fire, cordage, and some leather tools to fix their shoes if necessary.
I have a theory that due to their anti-viral/bacterial/fungal properties that frankincense oil and myrrh could have been worth more than gold at the time, so they could have had a couple vials of them as well.  They probably had a few extra supplies along in case Mary went into labor, but probably nothing too heavy.
If part of your disaster survival plan involves bugging out, you really need to work out similar numbers…
How many miles is it? How much fuel will you need, if you can drive? How long would it take to walk? What’s your pace with no load? What’s your pace with a load? How much does that load weigh? Is there food, water, and materials for shelter along the way, or do you need to self support? If you can’t carry all that you need, should you cache supplies? Are your shoes/clothes rugged enough for the trip? Do you have lightweight repair supplies with multiple uses? (My grandpa used to use Shoe-Goo as a cure all…and he was proven right more times than not :)
Similarly, do you have triggers in place so that you know when to leave? Once one of your triggers gets tripped, do you know how quickly you can be on the road?
Last week I did another 10 minute drill. A 10 minute drill is when you decide that you’re going to leave for an overnight trip (or longer) with only 10 minutes notice. 10 minutes is an INCREDIBLY short time. It’s basically enough time to take bags from your house that you already have packed and put them in your vehicle.
There’s no time for deciding what to take.
There’s no time for packing.
There’s no time for planning.
10 minutes only gives you enough time to grab and go.
One thing that I didn’t bring with me was important documents. I did open my safe, grab my pre-sorted pile of documents and act like I was putting them in a bag to take, but I put them back in the safe and only had digital versions with me. The reason I went through the motions was to account for it from a time perspective.
This was a good drill for me…I’ve had 10 minute drills take 45 minutes. This time, from the time I decided it was “go” time until I was rolling was 9 minutes. I don’t say that to brag…just to let you know that it is possible.
Every time I do a 10 minute drill, I forget something. (For me, this is just like camping.) Usually, “forget” isn’t the right word. It’d be more accurate to say that I realize that I used something from my go-bag without replacing it. This time, it was my coat. Fortunately, I had a fleece and insulated coveralls, if needed, to keep warm and both a real poncho and an emergency poncho in case there was rain.
It may interest you to know how my supplies worked out…
I have a small toiletry bag that goes in my checked luggage whenever I travel. It has vitamins, supplements that I take when I start feeling ill, my toiletry items, a couple of knives, multi-tools, and fire starters. I don’t use items out of this kit when I’m home…it’s strictly for travel.
Next, I have my backpack set up for both camping/hiking and as a 72 hour kit. I know that is going to be a “Master of the Obvious” statement for many of you, but it’s worth saying. My backpack is always ready to hit the trail. I store it with enough emergency rations for my wife, me, and our 2 boys for 3 days. When we actually go camping, I pull out the rations and put in more palatable food. That doesn’t mean that the pack is ideally set up ideally for a survival situation, but it does mean that I’ll have the basics of fire, water, shelter, food, minor medical, and limited toiletries taken care of. In addition, rather than having a backpack that I use and a 72 hour kit that just sits in a closet untested, I’m quite familiar and comfortable with my gear.
In my truck, I’ve always got some water, food bars, my car 72 hour kit, my EMT med kit, as well as extra clothes. Most of the items in my backpack are well built. They’re high quality items that stand up to repeated use…in some cases over 10 years and hundreds of nights of use and abuse. Most of the items in my car 72 hour kit are compact, lightweight, and intended for one use or a handful of uses.
What did I do on my 10 minute drill? Drove my truck out in the middle of the woods and camped out overnight. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fun.
Something to keep in mind is that you can break this drill down into it’s component parts to make it easier to do. As an example, if you’ve got kids you might want to plan your first 10 minute drill so that you spend the night at a hotel with an indoor pool rather than adding in the additional complexity of camping. There are several reasons for this, among them being that you’ll be more likely to get your family to buy into doing another 10 minute drill if the first one is fun. Another is that the fewer obstacles you put in the path of doing a 10 minute drill, the more likely it’ll be that you actually do them.
And, with that, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you to each and every one of you for joining me on my mission to make the country more resilient by helping as many individuals as possible become more self-reliant.
So, if you can, take a breather for a few days. Soak in time with your friends and family. Enjoy the moment and try to completely ignore as many problems as you can. And, as you’re enjoying time together, remember to stop and take mental snapshots to lock in as many happy memories as you can.  I like to visualize putting these snapshots in a safe in my mind that I can go back to in the future when I need a pick-me-up.
God bless, stay safe, and have a very Merry Christmas!

David Morris

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