Rich begins his story, about his recent travels around America…and why.

…Finally Back Home…

It’s been exactly a year since I began the job that took me across America, into the backest back roads, up mountains, down valleys, and across rivers, up the west coast from Mexico to Canada, down across the entire western tier of states, all around the parts of Texas I grew up around, and finally up into the Ohio valley.

Rich at Venice Beach, California, July 2017

It was exciting, intriguing, with unimaginably stunning landscapes…but gone from home for 4 or more months at a time, then home for a week, then back out again.

The “project” was not turning out to be what I had been told when I signed up for the job, and signed the contract for two years. In fact, it was going horribly awry. A lesson, and a blessing.

The precursor to the fastest and best spy plane ever built in the world, known far and wide as the SR-71 Blackbird, this A-12 (Serial Number 60-6927) Trainer is on Display at the California Science Museum, one of 9 A-12s left in the entire world – Picture (C) Richard Fleetwood 2017


What was I doing? Mapping…data collection…reconnecting with the heart of America, in a career that I really expected more out of, but actually redirected and changed my life and focus.

You know, kind of like the A-12 above….mapping…vast tracts of land…showing the world from an entirely new perspective.

Living On the Road, for real…

Suffering bed bugs, roaches, no microwaves or fridges, no laundry room, and living in a few places that literally were halfway houses for criminals and criminal activity…utterly depressing, and all too real.

THAT’S what I had to live in, 24 hours a day. It started great, and then went way downhill from there. I never in my life expected living conditions like that, but yet, that’s what we had.

I now have an ultraviolet flashlight that detects bugs and OTHER bio residue in rooms across this nation.  What the hell?  Why would I or ANYONE have to resort to that, for a company that promised to take care of us, while we were available to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time, before we could return home to recharge?

Sample Every Day Carry Kit…mine has a bit more than this

Practicing Real Skills, Thinking Real Problems…while thousands of miles away from home.

I practiced a lot of prep and survival skills with this job, and I’ll be sharing them here.

Also, over 4,000 pics from all over the country…some that will take your breath away.

I had hoped the job would lead to upward mobility, and worked my heart out. Not happening. I’m ok with that.

But…What if? Getting Home in a Grid Down….

A good friend, Mark, has asked me a number of times, this specific question, “How would you get home, if…”, directly because of this specific job.  Mark is an IRL friend, and we’ve met several times over the last several years. He’s from Pennsylvania. He’s also a long haul trucker, and a prepper.

Walking home?

“If”, could have been anything, in the world of prepping fears. EMP, civil unrest, asteroid, etc. Anything requiring getting back home with only what I have in my hands, my BOB, my brain, and my skill set.

I had lots of time to think about those kind of things, but thankfully, didn’t have to apply anything except ONE thing.

What one thing was that?  Losing my drivers license 10 days before flying home, from a major airport, and having to deal with gauntlet that is the TSA.

Dear Lord…never again. But, I got home…and this potential escape plan was hashed over and over, and will be discussed in the coming weeks., right here.

The World Has Changed…Oh My Gawd…

Learned alot about myself, and working with a team so different, so cliched, so…selfish…that I was taken aback nearly every day.

What we see in the news, on social networks, and all around us, regarding millennials and self absorption was dead center in and around me for most of the last year.

You’ll meet some folks from all walks of life…

Some upcoming stories of anonymized info will be types of people I worked with, some I worked for, and many I met in the day to day interactions of what I was doing in cities and neighborhoods, and alleys and intersections, and rural and backwoods areas all over the country.

I’ll be sharing locations, vignettes, landscapes, wildlife, and observations here in the coming weeks. I will be writing a book about these travels on a sister site to SurvivalRing soon. A blog to book project, in other words.

A new photography blog as well, with images like this stunning vista from the west coast of Washington State.

Deception Pass looking west into the Pacific Ocean, with the tide flowing out. From the Bridge going to Whidbey Island. Image (C) Richard Fleetwood 2017

For now, I’ll be home, and at physical therapy, and spending time with my wife, daughter, and grandkids. Healing my body and soul from one hell of a ride.

Pain has always been a part of my life, starting with a drunk driver literally running over me with his pickup truck at age 15 in 1975, while on my motorcycle heading to my paper route, just blocks from my home. 6 weeks in the hospital, hundreds of stitches, traction, a huge pin in my broken femur, etc. Just a flesh wound…I got better…and lost 40 pounds…because hospital food.

Since then, more accidents, events, incidents, natural disasters, and man-made mayhem in my life than ANYONE should have to put up with…yet I’m still here. Lots of aches and scars, but I’m still on this side of the dirt, AND still have all my original body parts, except for my right knee joint, which is a titanium alloy now, from melted down Blackbirds.

An recent accident on the job, away from home, while convoying across the central plains, hurt me. Doc has me off for a while, so I’ll be home until I heal, which is why I’m doing physical therapy. 6 more weeks, then back to the bone doc to see where we go from there.

Sometimes it just BEES that way…

My sincerest apologies for the downtime of this website the past few months.

One of the sucky things about the on the road job, were worse and worse motels provided by the job, and crappy internet service, if at all. Not much you can do, when the internet dies and goes away for hours at a time.

We’re back online now, and major updates are already underway, as you can see.

Home time right now (not spent doing physical therapy at the PT office, or at home, or hurting from the same) is being spent as thinking, writing, planning time.

Designing new sites, killing a couple, outlining a number of books and starting them, looking for a house to retire to, here in an area WAY to close to New Madrid fault lines, and developing closer relationships with my family, who I’ve been away from for a full year…way too long. I’m two weeks out from my 37th anniversary with my dearest Annie, my best friend in the world. Missed my anniversary last year. First one ever…won’t let that happen again.

Be the change you want to see in your life

Survival has ALWAYS been about lifestyle, right choices, at the right time, for the right reason. Helping others, whether they know you helped them or not. Being kind to every being that you meet…two legged AND four legged. BEING the change YOU want to see in your life and all around you.

Understanding THAT entire last paragraph is what I kind of really wanted to learn more about, and more about myself. BECOMING it, is the big takeaway in a journey away from my family, right back to it.

Digging Deep…

Bravery? Courage? Stepping into the deep end? Not knowing what’s over the next hill or around the next bend, but knowing SOMEONE has to go there? Having the tools at hand to stay in constant and daily contact with my entire family?

Yes…to all of it.

Being scared, when things go horribly wrong in a heartbeat, but stepping into the fray to take control, and run the response not just for me, but for my friends and coworkers?

Yep. Again…
Sometimes, some things…you just have to … Be That Guy.  

I have…it’s just naturally ingrained now. Instinct, reaction, gut response.

Go. Help. Always.

FINALITY…or not?

I’ve lost my oldest son this year as well.

No, he’s not dead, or even sick. He screwed up, went to jail, and then prison, and when he got out, demanded we respect his getting through that part of his life, never acknowledging the pure hurt, anger, pain, theft, abuse, and threats to me personally, his mother, and brother and sister, that he did while under the influence of drugs for years.

That story in and of itself will be told some other time. It hurts so much, with him telling us all “we’re dead to him”.

I pray that someday he’ll find his way back to us, fully understanding all of what he did… to us. HE has to forgive himself, and own what he did to us and he’s nowhere near that yet.

That’s all for now…

Updated: June 11, 2018 — 5:43 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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