August 3: Our First Step Towards Moving

A view of the Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee. Photo by Joshua williams on Unsplash
A view of the Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee. Photo by Joshua williams on Unsplash

For our second trip to our new home, we rented a 4’x8’ cargo trailer from U-Haul.  I found their trailers to be surprisingly reasonably priced, even once I added the insurance. 

I scheduled the trailer pick up for late afternoon, giving us the rest of the evening to pack it.  Then we left the next morning, drove most of the day, unloaded that night and the next morning, and then returned the trailer to our nearest U-Haul dealer – which was 30 minutes away.

Loading the trailer was far more time consuming than unloading because of the need to carefully fit everything in to maximize space and to load balance.  You want about 60 percent of the weight in front of the trailer and 40 percent on the back half.

I started by loading about 20 ammo cans and several wooden crates of .308 ammo, followed by cardboard boxes of 5.56 ammo.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there were at least 30,000 rounds of ammo in there. 

Amo cans in trailer
Ammo cans formed our first layer because you want to keep heavy things in the front of the trailer and on the bottom.

I had disassembled two sets of warehouse-style metal shelving from our store room, breaking them down into stacks of particle board shelving and the metal pieces that supported them.  They were surprisingly heavy so they went in the front.  I also had disassembled two sets of plastic utility shelving, which were much lighter, but surprisingly bulky. They went in the back.

Then I loaded more of the heavy boxes we had pre-packed when I took things off those shelving units.  Many of these contained #10 cans of dehydrated food and some contained traditional canned food.  This was followed by boxes of power tools, screws, bolts, nails, plumbing parts, and similar work-shop items.  I also had boxes of miscellaneous prepping stuff, like backpacks and MOLLE tactical gear, candles and oil lamps, water filtration and purification supplies, our first aid materials, and just about anything you can imagine for prepping.  Then it was time for lighter items: materials for the kitchen and the pantry so we’d have something beyond the two sets of silverware we brought the first time, more cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, more bedding and towels, and an assortment of things we needed so that we would be more comfortable in our new home.

We Underestimated

Surprisingly, when I had loaded all our pre-packed boxes and stacks of stuff, there was still more room in the trailer, most of it at the top.  This lead to a sudden need for lightweight, bulky items that would take up space and allow us to maximize our investment in the trailer rental without causing us to go over the gross weight or become top heavy.

We tossed in two Costco-size cases of 36 rolls of toilet paper, followed by two 8-packs of Kleenex and two cases of ramen.  Then we stuffed winter clothing into plastic garbage bags and packed them in there.  I even added an empty 55-gallon plastic drum from my garage. 

After we went to bed, I laid awake thinking of things we could add that didn’t weight much, like extra bedding and pillows.  “I thought we were leaving those for the moving truck?” said my wife. We’ve got the room, why not take them now?  We threw in things like empty five-gallon pails and the dog’s crate. (We don’t have a dog anymore, but we expect to in the future.)

A Long, Slow Trip

Driving there pulling a trailer took longer than normal because I stayed in the slow lane and stuck to the speed limit.  My truck has the dealer tow package and a Class III hitch, but it still slowed noticeably going up hills and especially over the mountains.  The trailer didn’t have brakes, so I had to be just as careful going downhill, gearing down in some places.  When we made it over the biggest mountain, we stopped at the bottom to let things cool down.

4x8 U-Haul Trailer
We rented this 4’x8′ cargo trailer and loaded it to the gills. It was slow going.

Finally, we arrived, but the biggest challenge lay ahead of us – backing down the driveway, which has two large turns and a small one.  It took a few false starts, but didn’t go too badly in the end.

Unloading went fast because we stacked boxes in rooms for unpacking later.  We had a pile of boxes in our designated store room, but we couldn’t put them away until we assembled the shelves.  I got a real workout toting everything around.  Those 1,000 round cases of .308 are damn heavy.

Four of the mouse traps we left during our last trip had mice in them, most beginning to decay and smell.  I tossed them, trap and all.  It just didn’t seem worth scraping rotting mice off the wood to save a $1.19 trap.  We put out more traps. 

The next day, I returned the trailer to a town I thought I had never been to, but once I got there, I recognized the main street.  We had driven down it at some point while looking at properties with our realtor.  On the way home, I took the scenic route home.  Curvy back roads and rolling hills are so much easier when you aren’t pulling a trailer.

Ammo Analysis

One thing about handling my ammo cans twice (once to load and once to unload) was that I got to get a close-up look at how much I have.  My conclusion: I have more 12-gauge shotgun ammo than I probably need.

For starters, I have 1,200 rounds of 7-1/2 shot, which I think is a good amount.  I have maybe 250 rounds of slugs, which is also a manageable amount.  I have some boxes of turkey loads and a few boxes of non-lead rounds for water fowl, all good.  But where I had gone overboard is 00 buck.  I figure I have at least 2,000 rounds of it in 12 gauge.

Shotgun shells.  Photo by David Leveque.
We moved thousands of shotgun shells. Hopefully, this is more than we will ever need, but it is better to have too many than too few.

I can see shooting thousands of rounds of 5.56 or .308 ammo in a world without the rule of law situation, but I have trouble imagining a reasonable scenario in which I need 2,000 rounds of 00 buckshot, which is most effective within 25 or 30 yards.  I never want so many bad guys so close that I need to fire 8 rounds of 00 buck, quickly reload my shotgun, and do it again and again.  Right now, I have enough ammo to fully load that gun 250 times. 

I’ve shot some three-gun matches, but I am no John Wick.  Who knows.  I hope I never have a day where I say to myself, “Thank God we have all that 00 buck!”

I also have calibers of ammo for which I do not have a gun.  For example, I have a Spam Can of surplus .30-06 ammo pre-packed in Garrand clips, even though I no longer own a Garrand, having decided I prefer the M-14.  I also have a couple boxes of .380, even though I don’t have a .380.  But that’s not a big deal.  You never know who will show up one day and what gun they’ll bring.  Having a couple spare boxes can’t hurt.

I also have enough .22LR ammo to train a squad of new shooters.  If it does become the wampum of the post-TEOTWAWKI world, I’ll be relatively wealthy.  In the meantime, there’s plenty of ammo to practice with, or to use defending the garden from little critters with big teeth.

.22LR for Barter

I know that many people believe .22LR ammo will be useful for barter after the SHTF.  Maybe it was Mel Tappin who said this, or maybe it was James Wesley, Rawles, author of Patriots.  (As I recall, his characters did trade with it at the local swap meet.)  In any case, I’m not so sure.  I think junk silver – pre 1965 dimes, quarters and half-dollars – will be more useful than ammo.  Also, I am uncomfortable trading ammo to folks I do not know well for fear that they will send it back one round at a time.

I think .22 ammo is more likely to have value a number of years down the road after people run low and the infrastructure to make more is unavailable.  But for those first weeks and months when things are really ugly?  I think .223/5.56 will be far more in demand.

I have a prepper friend that argues this point with me.  He believes there are lots of non-gun people out there who have an old .22 that the inherited from someone tucked away.  Perhaps they stashed it in the attic and tried to forget about ol’ grandad’s gun.  He is of the opinion that when the SHTF, they will pull out that gun for protection and say, “Dang!  I need some ammo,” and this will create demand for .22 cartridges.  My question is, why did Granddad leave them a .22 and not a 12 gauge or his trusty .30-30?  Are there really that many .22s secreted away in the homes of gun-hating liberal Americans?  I remain dubious.

I, on the other hand, think that demand will come later, when people who have a box of 375 rounds of Federal or have a brick of 500 rounds of Remington use up all their ammo.  My feeling is that there are really two schools of thought relating to ammo storage: People who buy a box or two and people who stock up.  This probably applies to all calibers, not just .22s.

Neither of us argue the effectiveness of .22LR.  It is an excellent round for small game, taking some meat for the stew pot, and defending the chicken coop from most predators.  It is not as loud as a centerfire rifle cartridge and less likely to attract unwarranted attention.  In the worst case scenario, headshots will kill deer, and it can be used in self-defense.  Semi-auto .22 caliber rifles are good for cost effective training and in an all-hands-on-deck self-defense scenario, they can be used by kids and even small statured adults who may be physically unable (or unwilling) to use an AR-15.  A .22 may lack knock-down power, but they can still intimidate.  After all, no one wants to be shot with a .22, especially when there are no hospitals.  And with a semi-auto .22 that offers little or no recoil and muzzle rise, you can pour lead down range at a rapid clip.

High Speed Internet, NOT!

The local cable company was scheduled to come out and install cable.  We got the basic package that gives you a phone line, a couple dozen TV channel and a cable modem.  I think we’ll be just fine with the 25 or 30 megabytes per second.  Hell, less than a decade ago, I worked in an office with a dozen other employees and all they had was a 10 megabytes.  Granted, no one was watching Netflix, but plenty of people watched the occasional YouTube video and listed to streaming music.

The tech shows up and is friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient.  Only problem is, there’s no signal coming into the house.  There’s a signal a ways down the road where the box is, but somewhere between here and there, the line has been cut.  This guy isn’t set up to climb poles or dig up cable runs, so he says he’ll put in a work order for the guys in the bucket truck, or what not.  So it looks like we have another weekend of peace and quiet.

It’s funny, when we head into town, we reach a point near town where the cell signal suddenly bumps up to two or three bars and our devices buzz, hum, beep and play various tunes as we get a weekend’s worth of texts, voice mails and email.  That’s when we know the vacation is over.  And we’ve found a guest network where I can upload blogposts from my car. 

The To Do List Grows

It was nice up there in the mountains.  Cooler than we are at home by a good 15 to 20 degrees.  We still lack furniture and the air mattress ends the night with less air than it starts with, but it is not unbearable. 

It is also quieter and much more peaceful.  I still haven’t turned on the TV or checked Twitter to see if there were more riots this weekend.  I think that can wait until Monday.

We did add to our To Do list.  Looks like the new place will be keeping me busy for a while.