You know… it’s funny…
All things really do come back around!
When I was a kid, my parents (“Gawd fearin’, man-killin’, shoot–em-up and eat the entrails”) US Marines, had us convinced that the world was going to come to an end in our lifetimes.
So, while most kids grew up on Bambi movies and trips to the Ice Cream Shop (does anybody remember “Foster’s Freeze?”) we grew up on “Bambi Burgers” and instead of settling down in front of the TV every Sunday night to watch Walt Disney…
We found ourselves forced to watch John Wayne, Audey Murphy, and “Tora, Tora, Tora” kinda stuff… and as we got older, we saw post-apocalyptic action thrillers… because “someday we’d be forced to speak Russian or Chinese and work as slaves, if we weren’t careful!”
You’re old enough to remember stuff like “Mad Max,” and “Red Dawn…,” right?
Well, we watched stuff kinda like that. After all, the point of post-apocalyptic movies was that people did survive, even if they had to endure horrible things in the process. Oy!
Other parents took their kids on camping trips to the beach where they played in the surf, they BBQ’d, and the boys spent the entire weekend, looking at girls. Not in MY family. We went to places like Joshua Tree (out in the middle of the CA desert) where we got dropped off miles before the spot my parents would camp, equipped with a knife (a Kabar), a canteen full of water, some beef jerky, a couple of Hershey Bars, a length of rope and some fishing line, and a thermal blanket. We roasted sinewy rabbits (that we snared) over a small campfire (small enough to remain “unseen” in case “the Chinese were actually watching”), suspended by green twigs.
And, if we didn’t make it to the campsite (“HQ”) by the time my parents were ready to “bug out…” we were in serious trouble! You think I’m kidding, but I’m not!
BTW: My older brother and I used to smuggle small .22 caliber pistols into our “gear” when Dad wasn’t looking. Rabbits are smarter than you’d think!
Ever since the bailouts, I’ve started listening to the people around me, whining and complaining about the decaying state of politics… and America, in general.
And it’s increased in decibel level, since President Obama started going on TV to describe the Stimulus Bill, and all the debt that America is taking on.
The natives are getting restless, folks! Although I grew up thinking that my parents were insane (they WERE Marines, after all!), now, it’s all starting to make sense… and that’s not good.
(Now, before you start in on me… I love Marines. L-O-V-E them. “God Bless ‘Em, every single one of them.” Nothing makes me prouder than hearing about “our boys” (be they “man” or “woman” – I’m talking “serious” terms of endearment here) out there doing what has to be done. Regardless of where you stand on the “current state of war,” you have to admire and respect people who are willing to fight and die for things they believe in. America needs Heroes. The US Marines grows them. Semper Fi! ‘Nuff said.)
Years ago, we built a home for some friends who decided to “dig in and drop out.” They wanted to build an “earth sheltered house” that you couldn’t see, unless you were standing right on top of it.
And you wouldn’t be, because “the Daddy” was an extremely bad dude. I grew up in one of “those families.” You know the ones… We had a “war shrine” in the living room. We had an American Flag hanging in the front yard. We have ancestors buried at Arlington National Cemetery. We had “weapons of mass destruction” hanging on all the walls. (Okay, in our case it was “huge calibered, high powered, bust a cap and kill everyone in the room” kinda stuff…) My father was an honest to Gawd “Korea and Vietnam Legend.” (His friends called him “Colonel Killzone…”) We were constantly surrounded by “really bad dudes” fresh from the fight. I’m not talking about street punks with AK’s. I’m talking about guys that, when pushed, could change history wherever they found their feet… Guys who KNEW death by it’s “first name” and weren’t afraid of anything… much.
We heard all the stories told late at night, spoken softly over bottles of Scotch, with softly playing radio designed to drown it out, so that we couldn’t hear it. Tales told by “men made of iron – with tear filled eyes,” guys who were honoring the “cherished memory of the fallen…” And, most of them would have traded places with those heroes in a heartbeat. Sometimes it hurts more to survive…
(If you don’t understand this, you’ve just never been there, and you should thank your lucky stars for that. Some of us aren’t so lucky.)
As a result, we had really, really, high “fear” thresholds.
And this guy… well… he scared the hell out of us!
Okay, that’s not his “real” picture. But in my defense, he said if we ever dared take his photograph, he’d hunt us down like dogs… and kill us… two times! And we believed him!
I’d been “summering” up in Northern California, in a remote cabin on a river. It was good times. The DEA and ATF were on the loose, trying to run off all the guys growing “pot.” We had a “Hari Krisna” temple right down the road.
And surprisingly, they were about the nicest people you’d ever want to meet (the Krishna’s… not the DEA)! If you ever needed help doing anything at all, the Hari Krisna’s were always right there, ready to pitch in. And, everybody knows that Krishna girls don’t wear bras… or evidently underwear. So, we ALWAYS needed their help, for something… 🙂
There were naked hippies in the river, just about 24/7. (And confidentially, some of those hippie girls were HOT…hot…hot!) The beer was always ice cold (we kept it in the river), the fish were jumping (we drank the beer while we were fishing… duh!), and an early morning bowhunt always put game on the table.
And then… HE showed up.
That guy. The one I was telling you about. And once he got there, he decided that he wasn’t leaving. We’ll call him “Uncle G.”
At first, we were “apprehensive.” I mean, we knew “Uncle G” wouldn’t kill us… because we were “kindred.” Hell, we’d had nightmares about him since we were kids! “Uncle G” had “war wounds.” WE had “war wounds.” We were “isolationists who just kept to ourselves.” “Uncle G” was just antisocial. I mean, the kind of antisocial that they criminally prosecute you for. The banjos playin’ in the background, “Deliverance” kinda antisocial… 🙂
(Just kiddin’ “Uncle G!” Now put the gun down… I’ll just back out of the room slowly, okay? I mean, nobody needs to get hurt, right?)
He was “Married with children.” And I’m not talking “Al Bundy.” More like “Ted Bundy.” And his daughters were… um…er… breathtaking… all 4 of them.
As in, if you looked at them twice… he’d take your breath away, permanently.
So, we bribed him with fish, freshly killed deer, some jerky when we had it to spare, produce from our garden, and several good bottles of 10 year old single-malt Scotch.
(Because, campers… Giving a “mountain dwelling serial killer” bottles of good Scotch will keep him from killing you. I know it sounds crazy, but evidently it’s true!) 😉
Anyway, they were living in two old school buses that they’d converted into RV’s. So after about 3 months of this, Momma wasn’t having fun anymore. Nuh-uh! So, “Daddy” decided that he’d better find new digs, or he’d be “flying solo.”
Imagine our shock when he showed up on our porch, wanting to “talk.”
Now, we immediately started stammering about how we’d never even looked at his daughters!… and that we’d never do it again!… and that if he’d spare us… (“please, please, oh gawd… please!”)… we’d gouge our own eyes out with dull wooden spoons, so he wouldn’t have to do it… We pleaded with him not to kill us! We said he could just “hurt us a little bit and we’d never tell!” We cried like schoolgirls who got their best shoes all muddy!
(Hey, don’t laugh! It was the only plan we could come up with! This guy made Rambo look like one of the “Village People!”) 🙂
And he just started laughing…
It was one of those “Muuuuwahhhhhaahhhaaahhhaaaa!” laughs so bone-chilling that even thinking about it to this very day, sends more chills running up my spine than… um… er… never mind… why should I tell you?
It turns out that he just wanted our help.
He’d seen what we’d done with a couple of shipping containers that we’d hauled up from the coast. And he wanted to do something similar, to make a home for his family, before his wife “helped him wake up in the morning, dead as a stone.”
A year before, we’d gone down to Crescent City, and acquired a couple of shipping containers. Now folks claimed that we’d absconded with them, but we don’t see how that could have possibly been true, because it’s not like you can actually steal a big steel box that sticks out like a sore thumb, and haul it off into the wilderness, without someone seeing you do it… unless it’s really dark.
Seriously, we’d hauled them up onto flatbed trailers (using a tractor and a few winches) and then we drug them behind pickup trucks, up and down several miles of pretty difficult logging roads, to reach their final destination. Once we arrived and covered up our tracks… we set those containers up on concrete blocks, slapped roofs on them, built porches around them, and then… well… never mind. It’s not important and I don’t remember exactly how “the statute of limitations” actually works! 😉
But the “fast and dirty” of it is that they became “1 room cabins, with a view.”
Unfortunately, the “view” was of the local bears pillaging around at the “dump,” but it WAS a “view…” just not a very good one… And if the bears got too close, you could just run inside and slam the double steel doors closed! Bears can’t get thru Corten Steel… can they? Gulp!
Anyway… They (the “Corten Cabins,” not the bears!) had small “Swedish Stoves” inside them (for heat and cooking), the bed folded out of the wall, we built “skylights” (that leaked like a waterfall for a while), and even a “real” window or two. We insulated them with fiberglass batts, and then we put paneling over it. The bathroom was a hike outdoors to the “bunkerfied” port-a-potty, until we could build a suitable “outhouse.”
“Uncle G” decided that he wanted to do likewise, but he wanted to further fortify them by pushing dirt up around them. Voila! Our first “Underground Corten Castle” was born!
And that… is the guts of this post… I bet you thought I’d never get to the point, huh?
With all this talk about “survival, succession, and suffering…” It made me remember that home we built him. And it looked something like this;
It was about 2500 square feet, a three bdrm, 2 bath home (although one of them was in the “basement”), with all the amenties that you’d expect in a house, but it was “underground.” Okay, the basement was mostly underground. The rest of the home was covered in dirt, after we covered it in rigid insulation and concrete.
It took us the better part of three summers to build it. “Uncle G” lived with his family in the central section while it was being built. There were no “Planning and Zoning Nazis,” and even if there had been, he’d have just killed and eaten them. 😉
If you could get close enough to it to actually “see” it, you looked down into a submerged courtyard, that we used to call “the crypt.” Why? Because if you were stupid enough to try and climb down into it, he’d bury you! That’s why.
We built retaining walls off the main structure (we had literally TONS of river rock at our disposal, and Hari Krisna’s who would “work for food…”) and they (the walls, not the pony-tailed crazies) ran out about 25 feet, to another pair of containers, that were converted into a 16’x16′ 2 story greenhouse on one side, a 16’x16′ “office” on the other, and an 8′ path down the middle that served as a “steel bailey.”
It was basically just a fortified entry door gauntlet. Trust me… you didn’t want to sell Amway to anybody at this house (or even a vacuum cleaner) unless you wanted to disappear, forever.
It was one of those places where the signs that were posted said:
“If you can read this… You’re already DEAD.”
And “Uncle G” wasn’t kidding.
You know, I kinda miss old “Uncle G”. I’m gonna give him a call…