On the other end of the phone, my buddy Tom — your archetypically squared-away retired Recon Marine — was validating my decision to bug out of Los Angeles due to the COVID-19 situation. As we discussed the sense of panic that was still brewing in the city, his words weighed on my chest like an overloaded plate carrier: "This was bugout practice." Though I was now sitting safely on the deck of our secluded mountain getaway house, the fact that I’d recently thrown my rifle, dogs, and loved ones into the truck to get the hell out of Dodge was finally sinking in.

If the COVID-19 virus itself blew across the world like a gentle summer breeze, the winds of fear that preceded it were a hurricane-force gale. In my hometown in L.A. County, grocery stores were overrun and cleaned out, hospitals were in full panic mode, and rumors of martial law simmered as people began to hunker down in their homes with their Netflix, 10-round magazines, and mountains of toilet paper. While the situation had all the trappings of a powder-keg scenario, things (quite fortunately) calmed down in the weeks and months that followed. But by that point, my family and I were 1,000 miles away at our place in the woods. In the weeks that followed (and with an

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