Sunday, November 24, 2013
Sunday Reading - Fed Route One
The light drizzle and cold North wind blowing into the position really sucked. He wished there had been a better location for this particular observation and early warning post but that simply had not been in the cards.
There were many ways in and out of the county by road. Paved and gravel roads were everywhere, or so it seemed at first glance but the rugged terrain and frequent creeks meant that 99% of them went only a short distance off the main roads. If you looked at only the main arteries, the roads with well constructed and maintained bridges, the numbers fell dramatically. If you counted the small county maintained gravel roads and low weight limit bridges or low water crossings that connected the main roads, keeping track of the coming and going might seem impossible. Until those connecting roads were destroyed that is.
It was doubtful the Fed teams operating in the area really understood just what had been done to the local infrastructure. It had taken weeks for each Militia unit to work out and a few residents had been a bit inconvenienced but arrangements had been made.
There were more than a few farms and isolated houses which could now only be reached by four wheeler or tractor and many of those required the vehicles to traverse over their neighbors private property to get past damaged sections of road. It had taken a bit to work out permissions and explain the need but everyone agreed to the need before the damage had been done.
Besides with the gas rationing so many locals were using their feet or horses to travel a road being impassable to vehicles hardly mattered to them. Only the bridges were really an inconvenience.
A few blown bridges here, trees felled there, some backhoe work that looked like a wash out and any wheeled excursion into the county was limited to a very few major choke points. Major choke points that were also corridors miles long with century old oaks and hickory trees pressing close in many places. Over looking these long corridors the Militia then placed the observation posts.
This particular post that Jason was assigned to along with a partner in three day shifts was situated along a State maintained secondary single lane highway designated Highway Y. It ran roughly East/West but snaked along like a serpent while doing so. About ten miles to the East it met another two lane road designated Highway MN and Highway Y ended while MN now went North/South. Five miles to the West Highway Y left the county and within about a hundred yards crossed over a major US Highway before entering a bedroom community town of the Fed's regional stronghold city. Now mostly abandoned.
Highway Y was one of only four vehicle entry points into this half of the county and it's positioning made it the primary entry point for most raids. The Militia quickly began referring to it as "Fed Route One". It's fifteen mile length had perhaps two dozen gravel roads crossing it North and South as it ran along the top of a ridge line before ending at Highway MN. However most of the roads that crossed it only went a mile or two before ending at either a major impassable creek to the South or another ridge that had never been breached to the North. Only three roads (One North and Two South) crossed the natural obstacle in either direction and all three of them had been destroyed basically turning Highway Y into a fifteen mile corridor the Fed teams had to travel to get into other parts of the county.
The same destruction of similar side roads in other parts of the county meant that a Fed team had to travel miles into the county and then back out along another route just to cover only a mile or two in actual distance. It also gave the Militia response teams time to mobilize and move to prearranged ambush sites. It wasn't fool proof of course but over the last few months the Militia had gotten better at guessing the approximate destination of the Fed Teams.
The observation post was placed inside a tree line facing Northwest as Highway Y came around a long right turn dropping about ten foot in elevation as it traveled along the other side of a ten acre hay field. After about two hundred yards the road then hit a long sharp left turn and disappeared as it looped around the wooded area.
Inside the tree line the "Op" was a hand dug pit about four and a half foot deep shaped in a "T" the front of which had been built up with sand bags hidden behind a fallen tree that had a convenient branch coming off it at an angle heading up. This top portion was the support for the overhead cover and contained a papa-san pillow cover stuffed with old insulation sandwiched between dead limbs and covered with leaves, dirt and sticks. This insulated cover nestled inside the oak thicket which didn't drop their leaves in Winter blocked any heat signature of the men from overhead. The front observation slit and the back entrance also had emergency foil blankets sewn into camouflage material hung over them to block lower angle thermal views.
Out the back of the OP ran about four hundred yards of commo wire which lead to a basement of an old farm house off to the Northeast. On a top shelf seemingly discarded with dozens of old phones and radios the commo wire came in and connected to an ancient field telephone. Below the shelves at an old scared and battered desk sat an even older, scared and weathered man.
He was rolling a cigarette of home grown tobacco using paper he had pulled out of a phone book dated 1972. On the desk in front of him set a device that looked like something out of a wild west movie with wires that ran up the opposite wall from the field phone.
The old man finished rolling his cigarette and lit it with the candle he had burning on the desk. As he pushed himself away with more strength than he looked capable of producing the wheel chair he sat in became obvious. He rolled over to the small pile of wrist sized logs and tossed one into a potbellied stove then while picking up a "Popular Mechanics" magazine dated almost two decades earlier he said out loud.
"It's going to be another long day, might as well get comfortable"