A Doug's Life: Let's Get Back to the Basics

Several weeks ago, when I first moved here to Menifee, I had to explain to the locals where I had come from.

"Temple City," I would say. "No? How about Arcadia? OK, you know Pasadena, right?"

Today, I would wager that most everyone knows about Temple City. Unfortunately, that is the case because Temple City became national news last week when it was almost blown off the map.

My wife and I still own a house there. The day after the big windstorm, we drove back to check on things, alarmed by Facebook postings from friends about how bad it was. Surely they are exaggerating, we thought.

Reality set in as we reached the outskirts of town. Apparently, Temple City was ground zero. Hundreds of fallen trees blocked streets. We barely made it under a sagging power line with our vehicle. Crews were scrambling to replace power poles that literally had snapped in two during winds in excess of 100 mph.

Fortunately, our old house was still intact, with only minor damage. We did notice that the power was out in the entire neighborhood.

"What an inconvenience it will be for them for the next few hours," we said as we headed back east.

Well, "a few hours" turned out to be almost a week. We returned to Temple City Wednesday to learn that power had been restored just the night before. For six days and nights, our neighbors had shivered in the darkness, seeing by candlelight and using old-fashioned methods to prepare food.

Through all this, I believe there's a lesson to be learned.

For the people of Temple City, the lesson is obvious: Be prepared for anything and be willing to do whatever it takes to survive with as little complaint as possible. Have food storage on hand. Keep a reserve supply of fresh water. Find ways to pass the time and keep a positive attitude when you're without modern conveniences, such as television and the Internet.

For the people of Menifee, I think there's something else we can all take from this. Because of our surroundings, we have an opportunity to practice survival skills without the need to simulate conditions, virtually in our own back yard. In other words, we can experience what it's really like to "rough it" without having to drive two hours to reach the great outdoors.

Why wait until the lights go out to find out how you would get through the night or cook your food? Plan a weekend trip to a nearby campground, such as Wilderness Lakes, Lake Skinner, Lake Perris or even Ortega Oaks. Pitch your tent, set up a campfire, light the lantern and set up the board games. Get a taste of how your ancestors did things.

Why wait until a natural disaster strikes to figure out how you would get around without a car? Learn how to ride a horse. There are plenty of them around here. You can go somewhere like the Briarcliff Equestrian Center, right here on Briggs Road. Or just make friends with one of the local cowboys or stable hands. I've found them to be downright hospitable.

Horse riding not your thing? Gee, you could actually take a nice, long walk. Check out some of the many hiking trails around here. Yes, you can get from one place to another without a set of wheels. Someday, you might have to.

Ever wonder what people did for food before they had a supermarket down the street? Try catching your next meal. This area has ample opportunities for fishing. I'm a terrible fisherman, but trying to catch the big one gives me a greater appreciation for those who once relied on such skills to survive. It also helps me develop the patience I would need if those skills really came into play in times of emergency.

Sure, I'm glad our power didn't go out the night the winds came. Yes, I will continue to prepare meals in the microwave, drive my Toyota Camry around town and watch baseball on TV. However, I also plan to rededicate my efforts to experience the "basics" of life.

When disaster strikes, I want to know how to take care of myself and others. In the meantime, I just want to have some fun with the outdoor activities we have all around us.


  1. Love it Mr. Doug !!Everyone needs to know how to keep yourself and your family safe and secure in a situation like this...and I am most definatly sure that we can make do with all of our resources that we have out there.

  2. You still write a great column, Doug.

  3. Thanks, Steve. I didn't know you would see this. It's good to hear from you again.

  4. Dough, I also live in San Gabriel Valley. We live in El Monte and have a house in Menifee. Great place and great potential.