I interrupt my narrative of our years putting the place together because I have noticed that there is something we have done of which I have seen no discussion on the board, and that makes me wonder if we actually had an original idea. As noted before, I am a bit more "defensive" minded than most and, in spite of my preparations, recognize that there is no way to absolutely assure that we will be able to protect our home base from a dedicated large mob. If the digestive waste were to strike the oscillating blade cooling device at this time, and assuming everyone could get to our place who plans on it, we would have 10 people capable of defense (with 2 more reaching the age where they could be of assistance within the next few years). Given the defensive features built into the house and landscaping, that gives us a decent fighting chance against small bands and poorly led medium sized bands, but a large mob could only be slowed and hopefully discouraged. Not being one who wishes to leave survival to chance, I felt the need for an alternate plan, should we be forced to (at least temporarily) abandon the property. I have mentioned that I built an "escape hatch" that lets out in the woods near the house, but the question then is where to go and how to survive with what we are able to carry in retreat. What we decided upon is an interesting option for those of us who live on our "BOLs" and those who live relatively near wilderness land but have been unable to purchase land for a refuge...gold claims. While gold claims have some inherent problems...such as the inability to build a permanent structure or prevent recreational access to the land by others, one can cache supplies, make "mining related" improvements that have the added benefit of making the land more livable and defendable and (in many cases) may have natural caves or abandoned shafts that can serve as the basis for at least temporary shelter. The cost of a mining claim runs from $10 to $150 a year depending on whether you make improvements or pay an improvement fee (of course, making the improvements will normally cost more than the improvement fee amount...but they also make the claim more livable). When the time does come that they are needed for refuge, the regulations against structures, fences and the like will obviously be unenforceable by the government. We have also found that a combination of the claim postings warning against prospecting and the fact that we tend to do quite a bit of shooting when we are using the claims recreationally tends to discourage others from exploring the area a lot. We have 3 40 acre claims within about 15 miles of our home...1 on USFS land and 2 on BLM land. Since I have a son who chose at an early age to "opt out" of a traditional home and career...and who enjoys the life as a prospector, we actually have a regular presence that rotates between the claims so that they are all occuppied on a regular basis...this is a benefit, but not a requirement. An added advantage is that he manages to make about $1K a month at current gold prices with pan and sluice, in spite of the fact that the claims were selected on the basis of location and controlable access rather than the likelihod of locating substantial amounts of gold. There are numerous resources available on the internet regarding how to locte a claim, file and what one can do on a mining claim...they vary from state to state, and are mostly an option for those of us in the west, but the list below should give one a decent start to figuring out the "prospects" in your area. Prospecting for Gold in the United States Laws, Rules, and Regulations to Follow When Staking a Gold Claim | Gemologist Sam General Mining Act of 1872 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Mining Prospecting & Claim Staking < Exploration < Technology | MINING.com Library A mining claim is not "the answer" to a quest for a BOL, but it is a great option as a secondary location for caches and a place to regroup and prepare for further action if needed. In the meantime, they are a great thing to have for recreational purposes...ours are all on creeks and we have made areas for recreational camping...not to mention the potential for limitted additional income for an activity that can be great family fun.