Thursday, July 11, 2013

Preparing for Next Time

Yesterday I awoke to the very welcome sound of rain falling on the metal roof of our house.  It was enough rain to turn the dog yard to a mess of mucky mud, and to instill enough confidence that would travel to town to pick up a few things that will make future evacuations more efficient.  This could be especially important if an evacuation is called while I'm away at work, leaving Trish to deal with the issues at home on her own. 

One of the things I wanted to accomplish was to get as much of the human-related camping gear as possible into one container.  Those cheap styrene storage tubs such as the one in which I had some of the dog gear would probably get the job done, but I was hoping to find something stronger and more weather resistant. 

At Fred Meyer, I found a tote that I thought would work out much better.  It has enough capacity to contain all of the gear needed for our camp, and has the added advantage of folding legs so it doubles as a table.  It's built similar to the "action packer" totes that are very popular among outdoors enthusiasts in Alaska so I think it can probably endure a few years of rough handling.  The price was also pretty reasonable.

Once back home I stocked the tote with the propane heater and camp stove, a good stock of propane cylinders to run that stuff, camp cookware (most of which are historically authentic reproductions), some Mountain House freeze dried meals and conveniently packed coffee. 

I made up some 'hygiene kits' containing things needed to keep a little cleaner and more comfortable in camp.  These included a bath towel and wash cloth, small bar of soap, new toothbrush and travel-sized tube of toothpaste, shampoo, and other hygiene products.  For example, mine includes a disposable razor and shaving creme.  I rolled the entire package up in the towel, enclosed it in a pair of 1 gallon freezer bags, taped it up to seal it and wrote the contents on the tape with a permanent marker.  Those also went into the tote so they are less likely to be forgotten.

For now, the tote can be lifted on top of the dog box on the truck for transportation.  Once I have my larger trailer back from the fabricator and build the new dog boxes for it, it should ride nicely in the center space between the boxes on that trailer, making it a lot easier to load and transport.

Feed and water pans for the dogs proved to be a bit of a headache.  In the kennel we use stainless steel dishes, and while preparing to bug out we gathered them up to take with us.  Having to set them out and then collect them again during twice-a-day feeding wasn't particularly efficient.  I was able to pick up two dozen aluminum "trail pans" at Cold Spot feeds, which are much lighter.  They are currently packed with picket lines and other dog gear, ready to go, and during winter they will go into sleds for feeding the dogs out on the trail.

It seems like I NEVER have enough drop chains around here.  I have a bucket with odd lengths of chain in the shop, so I picked up some new "S" hooks to make up some more drop chains, a project I'll tend to later today. 

Currently the logistics of moving out the dogs and gear is a relatively serious problem.  There is just enough room in the truck and small trailer filled with airline crates to get the dogs out, but not enough to also include all of the human-related camping gear.  I've been planning to modify the trailer I bought at last year's Alyeska Pipeline Service Company surplus auction into a 10-compartment dog hauler, but that is a project in progress.  In fact, it was my highest priority project for this summer.  Unfortunately, the fire came before I could get that project done.

In a way, that may be a good thing, because I've been thinking of some additional features I can include on that set-up that may make it even easier to camp with the team as well as doing other transportation related jobs that are sometimes needed around the place.  You'll just have to keep following the blog as I get more into that project, hopefully during my next R&R from work.

Meanwhile, yesterday's rain and cooler temperatures have allowed the firefighters to get more containment line around the fire, and I'm hopeful we won't have to evacuate the place again.  If we do, we are better prepared to do so.  Meanwhile, the day to day chores still need to be done, so I'm off to feed the howling horde and get some more work done around here.

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