#16 – Michael Joseph – 7000 Miles for Under $1000 Challenge – Week 1

It’s been quite a busy week so far… The first night away from home, I drove a short distance down to South Lake Tahoe to meet up with some friends.  They were planning on camping along the Carson River.  I figured it was perfect timing for me to tag along. 

We left my car at my friend’s place and began making the trip.  It was really nice.  According to the map it was only an hour away and then were told by some people “beware of the road. It takes way longer than you think.“ Needless to say it only took an hour to drive the 40 miles to “the road.” Once we hit the road down to the river, we were overwhelmed with how rocky it was.  I’ve been on bad roads in my life, but nothing like this.   In an FJ cruiser it took us roughly 3 hours to navigate a 17-mile road. 17 miles!  It actually took 4 plus hours because we got into a pretty tricky situation.

After facing the brunt of the rocks, we emerged into an open meadow with mountains on either side. We couldn’t believe how beautiful this area was.  Then we approached” The Puddle”, and by puddle, I mean 2.5-foot-deep watering hole.  We had crossed all prior water features on the trail with little issue, but this one deceived us.  As soon as we entered, we came to a sludging hault. We all looked at each other and said “uh oh.”

 I look down in a panic, and see water coming in through the passenger door.  We both rushed and got out as fast as we could and unloaded all of the gear to make sure the FJ wouldn’t continue to sink.

After we got all of the gear out, we were relieved about two things.  The FJ’s Engine wasn’t submerged, and we still had a little day light. So, we made a plan.  We decided that two of us would hike up the trail to hopefully find the campsite and see if someone could help us or worst-case scenario if we didn’t find anything, camp where the car was and hike back out.  So, one of my friends stays behind and the other goes with me to find camp.  To our relief we had made it 15 miles before hitting “the puddle.“ We made it to camp just before sunset, and to our luck, a giant truck was leaving at the same time.  He told us he would give us a ride back, and tow us out.

We got back to the FJ, towed it out, and made it to our camp site all within the next hour.  It’s funny how obstacles and tricky situations make for the best stories.  It tests your leadership and validates your success! 

Long story short, we had a blast on the Carson River.  We camped, we cooked, we hiked out to hot springs. It was the longest 24-hour trip of my life. 

This was only DAY 1 OF WEEK 1 !!!!

I left that night after getting back to my car completely exhausted.  I made about four hours up I-80 before pulling off in some BLM land in Carlin, Nevada. I found my campsite using a free campsite app called iOverlander.    It was dark and I was dead tired, so I didn’t really pay much attention to my surroundings.  When I woke up, I realized I had found a super nice spot with beautiful rolling hills “For Free.” 

After that, I was really motivated to find cool, free camping spots every night for my trip.  After waking up I hopped in my car, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed straight to Bryce Canyon National Park. 

I’m in Colorado now, but so far, Utah has blown my mind.  It’s the most unreal landscape I have ever seen.  The entire state could be a national park. Seriously! 

So, after camping a night outside of Bryce Canyon, (found another cool spot!) I made my way up to Arches and Canyon Lands National parks for the day.  Again, HOLY CRAP am I on another planet? Where am I?   Standing on the overlooks of Canyonlands, I thought to myself, “this looks fake.”  How can something be so beautiful that you think it looks fake?  Blew my mind for the rest of the day.

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Canyon Lands 👌🏼👌🏼

A post shared by Michael Joseph (@sustainable.savings) on

And that brings us to today, Wed 6/3. Today I got up and drove straight to Eagle county to hopefully receive an email that I could ski at one of the last open ski resorts in the U.S.  Unfortunately, you can’t just show up and ski.  You have to request a reservation and they pull names, like a lotto. And I got the Email saying….. drumroll, “ sorry try again”


So, here I am in the Arapahoe National forest trying to figure out what to do next. As I was reading my national parks book, I saw there Is a park in southern Colorado! Great Sand Dunes NP.  I think I am going to make my way there tomorrow. Then off to New Mexico and Texas! 

What a week!  I have only spent $110 going 1500 miles. 

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