Sunday, July 26, 2009

American Preppers Road Trip To Self-Reliance

Probably one of the most important parts, if not "the" most important part of self-reliance is getting out of debt. And just like losing weight, getting out of debt involves two parts to the equation. When losing weight you can either be on a very strict diet, exercise rigorously, or to be more efficient, do a combination of both. Well, when getting out of debt you can either cut the fat out of your expenses, work harder and earn more money to pay down your debt faster, or to maximize your time and effort, do both.

Three years ago I was making over four times as much income as I am now, doing the same work for the same company. While we were living within our means at the time, we weren't preparing for the eventuality that would soon come with the collapsing economy. The trucking industry took a dive and soon I found myself stuck with two mortgages, tons of taxes and bills and no income to maintain it. Quickly, we lost all savings and racked up over $40,000 in debt. Now before we were buried in this landslide, and with the money I used to earn, I could have easily paid that debt off within a year had we been living a modest lifestyle. But now with my current income, we are looking at decades, unless I make drastic changes now.

In the last 7 months we have been learning how to go on a strict diet and cutting out all fat to reduce our expenses as much as possible. We're almost there in our goals as far as reducing wasteful spending as we've cut our expenses to a third of what they used to be. But that still hasn't solved the problem. I also need to "exercise" harder to bring in more income so that debt can be paid off quicker. That's what led me to this American Preppers Road Trip To Self-Reliance. I decided to turn my truck in and return home so that I can start a new job to earn more. But this time we will continue to cut expenses even as I bring in more income.

So at noon on Thursday July 23rd, I dropped my student off near Chicago Illinois so that he could go back to his home near St. Louis, MO and so that I could head to Cedar Rapids, IA to turn my truck in and rent a car to return home to northern Idaho...Sorry no pics of the Sears Tower (I hadn't thought of it at the time)

I arrived in Cedar Rapids at 5:PM, picked up a mini-van at a rental agency and loaded up all my cloths and gear into the van. By 8:PM I hit the road and drove all night across Iowa, southern Minnesota, and South Dakota and decided to take a detour through Badlands National Park.

When you first begin to cut out all the comforts of your old life, Satellite TV, Movies, Eating out, Music, Fun and entertainment, things may seem a little "desolate" in the beginning....

But as you can see below, just because something seems desolate at first, doesn't mean you won't find great "Beauty and Peace"
Badlands National Park: Friday July 24th 8:00 A.M. 850 miles into my trip

Now just because you've decided to cut out all the wasteful spending, it doesn't mean you can't take a little time and a little money to enjoy yourself from time to time, and to see and experience things you've never seen before. I'll show you just how affordable and frugal this road trip was by the end of this post.

When I rented the mini-van I had only 48 hours to return it to avoid a full extra day charge plus I had things to do at home on Sunday before starting my new job on Monday, so this was going to be a quick trip anyway...but to add to that, I wanted to see MT. Rushmore and Yellowstone National park before sundown....I had 640 more miles to go and 12 hours to do it in in order to snap a pic of Old Faithful before sundown. Just like this trip, getting out of debt requires a great deal of efficiency, determination and no time or money to waste....Now on To Mt. Rushmore.

Pictures do not do this monument justice. Like Self-Reliance, you just have to see for yourself. You'll NEVER get near the quality or liberation that you can experience by having someone else do for you.

Mt. Rushmore: Friday, July 24th 11:00 A.M. 110 miles from Badlands National Park, 960 miles into my trip.

George Washington

The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Never spend your money before you have earned it.

Theodore Roosevelt

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.

I don't pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.

The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.

With self-discipline most anything is possible.

Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Sometimes you have to give up on less important things in life to achieve your most important Goals.

I had also planned to stop at Devils Tower, but decided not to in order to make it through Yellowstone and get a picture of Old Faithful erupting before dark. I had also seen Devils tower before, but not as close as I wanted to this time.

Devils Tower: I took this picture last year

With Great Determination you will achieve your Goals

Yellowstone Lake: Friday, July 24th 7:00pm (500 miles from Mt. Rushmore, 610 miles from Badlands and 1460 miles into my trip....Sorry for the quality of the pic, I got better ones on the disposable camera)

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone national Park

Kepler Cascades

Sometimes, even when trying to get out of debt, no matter how hard you try, things don't always work out like you planned.

I had hoped to see Old Faithful erupt before Sundown. I had arrived at about 8:30 p.m just before the sun went down, only to see a few small spurts, and thought "great, as hard as I tried to make it here this is what I got to see in the end."

Old Faithful: Yellowstone National Park Friday, July 24th 8:30 P.M.

But no matter how hard you try, if things don't seem to go your way...Never, Never, give up on Faith...Old Faithful sure didn't.

Old Faithful: Friday, July 24th 9:00 P.M. 150 ft eruption

Determination and efficiency allowed me to see 3 National Parks and cover 650 miles all in the daylight hours of a single day.

After leaving Yellowstone, the adrenaline and excitement had worn off enough to bring tiredness upon me so I stopped at a rest area in Montana for about 7 hours of sleep and finished my trip to Spokane WA the following morning and turned in the Mini-van at 3:00p.m, Saturday, July 25th. From there, my wife picked me up and brought me home.

I covered over 2100 miles in 2 days and saw 3 national parks on less than $750. That included 1-way rental car fee, gas, food, park fees and disposable camera. The rental car fee was about $450, so if I had used my own vehicle, it would have only been $300. The trip had to be done anyway, so I figured the detours through the parks only cost me about $70 for park fees and extra gas....There's no reason you can't have a Ton of Fun doing things you've always wanted to do on an affordable budget....and yes, I did it without anyone's help.

So what did I ditch my old job and cross over 2/3rds of the country in 2 days for?

better work, and better pay to climb out of debt faster so that I can achieve Self-Reliance

over 1 hundred foot wind tower blade.

Hauling Wind towers pays very well and is steady salaried work. Now, before you go slapping my hand and telling me to get out of the Cap and Tax cookie jar...there are no cookies in this jar.

1.) I've been a proponent of wind energy all my life and wanted to haul wind towers long before Congress was discussing Cap and Tax
2.) While a few more jobs may be opened up to haul wind towers, there will be far more trucking jobs lost as a result of Cap and Tax making competition to get these kinds of jobs very difficult as well as driving down the pay that a person could otherwise make.
3.) These trucks may haul wind towers, but they still burn diesel, use over 10 gallons of oil per oil change, plus all the extra tires, not to mention 5 - 6 miles per gallon on fuel. Cap and Tax will drastically cut back the potential pay that these drivers could make on an industry that was already in demand and growing before the FedGovs decided to scam us on Cap and Tax.

It will be a great job...but first I have to acquire the experience needed...I'll be starting out in the refrigerated division. (no matter how bad the economy gets people still gotta eat.) I'll be delivering meat and produce until there is an opening in the flatbed division. From there I will get into over-dimensional and overweight hauling. With my existing safety record and experience, hopefully within a year, (provided we still have a country and an economy left), I will have gotten enough extra experience that I need so that I can move into the wind tower division....I can do it. As a matter of fact, anyone can do it. With determination, you can achieve your goals

So what's next? Ditching the homestead. Wife and I have decided that the $175,000 mortgage on our homestead is too much and actually impeding our ability to be self-reliant and debt free. So we will be putting the place up for sale and my wife will live with me on the truck until all of our bills are paid off and we've saved up enough cash to buy a homestead with acreage free and clear.

Don't give up, and most of all, GET OUT OF DEBT! You CAN be self-reliant!

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