Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
TopHatFox
Posts: 2093
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:07 pm
Location: FL; 25

Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by TopHatFox »

So I finished my MPA, and I'm still waiting to hear on funding for my second MS. I'm also sending out networking emails to find a geology job in the Mountain States out west. The US also sent me a "free" check of $1200. So...

Why not use that money to fund a significant part of a multi-week road-trip out west? Right now, car rentals are cheap, gas is cheap, occasional lodging is cheap (although who am I kidding, parking or campground sleeping is in), and all parks are at least open to visitation. I can at least drive around major cities. It's also mid-May, so not too much snow or ice, if any. Sounds perfect to me.

Itinerary: I'm thinking I'd like to rent a car in South Florida, then follow the road from this map here: up through FL to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, west to Tennessee's Great Smokey Mountains, north to Kentucky's Mammoth Cave, west-south to Arkansas's Hot Springs, west-south to Texas's Big Bend, north to Guadeloupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, then west to the parks in Arizona, north through the parks in Utah, east through the parks in CO, north through the parks in South & North Dakota, west through Montana, slightly south through Wyoming, north through Idaho, and back down to Utah to return the car and fly home in SLC.

Timeline: 1 month? An alternative is to take a flight directly to a Mountain State and drive from there; the flight would probably cost about the gas I'd use to get there.

http://www.randalolson.com/wp-content/u ... d-trip.png

theanimal
Posts: 1524
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK
Contact:

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by theanimal »

Dang man. That sounds like a lot of driving and a lot of places for one month. What places are most interesting to you? Why not focus on spending all your time there? I have no doubt that what you proposed is achievable. I just question if it'll actually be that enjoyable. But hey everyone's different.

User avatar
C40
Posts: 2505
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by C40 »

-- That's a ton of driving. Even spread over a month
-- If you're going to rent a car for a month, and you were already wanting to buy a car, just buy it before the trip. Renting a car for a month is a lot of money

** If the main purpose of the trip is to explore the west, cut out the far north (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and all of the Northeast)
** Make sure you're consider the weather at elevations. Some parts of your trip would be really hot and some (like Colorado) still cold
** If you're driving the length of California, go on the PCH for at least a significant portion. Perhaps take the PCH north from LA to (near) San Francisco before going over to Yosemite.
** Your path through Utah looks good. There are some other spots I could/would recommend for a great place to drive through, explore, and camp... but there are like a million places in Utah that could be recommended.
** Is that spot you have planned in AZ along I-40 the petrified forest? I've never been there, but I drove through that area once and I don't really think it's worth going out and back to. Better to instead incorporate the far north of Arizona up along/near the Colorado river. Like Marble Canyon (great places to camp for free right on the west side of the Colorado, where you can camp right near the edge of the canyon walls. And you can go to Horseshoe Bend which will be full of people but it's still pretty neat to check out.. From the grand canyon, you can go east on that highway and then north on the interstate through part of the reservation... If you do go up there, you're not far from southern Utah and Zion...
** Going out of phoenix, I'm not sure if you're going along the Beeline (hwy 87) or the Apache Trail (89).. Either one is pretty cool. The apache trail is a really neat drive from the city out to lake Roosevelt. You may want to consider instead just going north from Phoenix on the interstate and hanging out near Sedona. The city isn't much.. Go camping west of the city on those roads like 525c(XX), and go hiking around the area. Check out Flagstaff. You may like the vibe and the people there a lot. I think when you previously mentioned imagining Utah as place to live out west and meet hippie girls - Flagstaff is actually the place for that. If you're camping, there are many places just a bit outside the city.
** Basically, that whole drive you have planned going East-West accross AZ on I-40 is not a very good drive or route (unless you're going to Havasupai.. but you're not). It's Better to go more north/south through AZ - going to places like along the salt river.. to Sedona... the Grand Canyon if you want (though if you really want to experience the G.C. I believe the way to do it is to hike down to the bottom).. to Marble Canyon/Page/Lake Powell area.. and Into Utah from there towards Zion....

Here are some great places to camp in AZ:
  • Marble Canyon (pretty close to Page) 36.776421, -111.659179
  • Sedona - 34.868282, -111.903841 (around here.. not just that specific spot)
  • If you do go west on I-40, there are nice spots at the south end of Lake Mohave, like here at Telephone Cove (35.230119, -114.596300)
  • If you dispersed camp near Zion, be careful about where. They control things tightly around there and you're only allowed to camp in some specific parts. You'd have to call or stop in at the Ranger stations or BLM folks to find out exactly where. In my experience, the east side is less populous and less controlled. Last time I went through, I camped at a spot just off the highway just a little bit outside the park. It was way easier on that side.

    Also.. I saw that some places (within National Forests or BLM land) have stopped allowing dispersed camping because of something related to the virus impact. Check on that.

    If you get more sure about going on a trip, I can give you some more advice about nice places to go and specific great places to camp. Particularly in Utah and AZ as I spent a lot of time there
Last edited by C40 on Mon May 11, 2020 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TopHatFox
Posts: 2093
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:07 pm
Location: FL; 25

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by TopHatFox »

Most interesting? Probably Utah & Colorado, with secondary interest in MO, ID, AZ, WY, NV, and southwest SD, and least interest in NM

@C40, yeah, I pulled that map from an article with all national parks, but I'm mainly interested in exploring the Mountain States. This is a reconnaissance mission first and a scenic trip second; it's primary goal is to find out where to live in the Mountain States for the next few years! :)

Trouble with buying a car is that it'd cost 7.5K + insurance, and I have no place to park it. Not to mention time required to find a good used car and fix little things before a major road trip.

---------

PROJECTED COST

Renting for a month doesn't seem to be more expensive than $1000? I do already have health and auto insurance

Avis has a Corolla for $780 with a 30% discount = $546, from May 13 to June 19. That leaves $600 for fuel. I'll be dirt-bagging the sleeping arrangements, and can get simple food from grocery stores.
Last edited by TopHatFox on Tue May 12, 2020 12:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
C40
Posts: 2505
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by C40 »

Don't focus so much on the Parks. They're cool, but they aren't all that big of a deal. And for some parks (like Zion and I'm sure Yosemite) it takes more work around there to figure out where to camp.

IMO the ones that are a big deal are:
- Zion
- Yosemite
- Yellowstone
- Canyonlands(?) havent been
- Capital Reef (nice to drive through at least)

There are a lot you should skip. Some are:
- Bryce Canyon (unless you really like seeing eroded dirt)...
- Joshua Tree (since you're going through AZ and UT which have much better. Joshua Tree is just great compared to Los Angeles.
- Saguaro (west of Tucson)
Lots of others.

In Utah, there are tons of areas designated as BLM only where you can go out and not have crowds (maybe only see a few other people in an entire day) but be in amazing places. One that stood out for me is in San Rafael Swell. Like around here (38.957389, -110.636929) and you can go camp at the edge of the "Little grand canyon".. [Edit - but if you're trying to decide what area to live in... you don't need to go to the little gems like that.. they are out of the way for general exploration, unless what you want is to get an idea of the extent of nice places to go/explore)

theanimal
Posts: 1524
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK
Contact:

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by theanimal »

If you are looking for places to live, you'll want to spend more than a day or 2 in the place if you want to get a good feel. Why not fly to Phoenix, drive north through Sedona/Flagstaff to southern Utah and east into CO, flying out of Denver? You'll be in AZ before temps get ridiculous and give more time for the snow to melt out in CO. That's 2 of your favorite states and another you're interested in and you can spend over a week in each.

TopHatFox
Posts: 2093
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:07 pm
Location: FL; 25

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by TopHatFox »

@theanimal, agreed. I found a flight from Miami to Denver that's only $99. Phoenix sounds even better, that way I can zig-zag up the Mountain States. I think your plan makes more sense since I definitely don't see myself living anywhere east of the Mississippi at this point in time, and driving through the east will waste multiple days + 2000 miles worth of fuel. Next steps:

1. Find cheapest flight to cheapest ideal starting airport, such as Phoenix
2. Identify best rental car to sleep in (probably one where the rear seats or passenger seat go down)
3. Confirm with auto insurance, health insurance, and CC companies about liability, health, collision, and other coverages
4. Drive to Walmart and get sleeping bag & pad & other nice car-camping things like an inverter or big portable charger for a laptop
5. Finalize driving itinerary through AZ, UT, and CO, and likely WY, south-west SD, MO, ID, and Las Vegas
6. Start! Focus on car camping in Walmarts/rest stops or campgrounds. Buy cheap food from grocery stores or Subway/Chipotle.

User avatar
C40
Posts: 2505
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by C40 »

I agree. If you're trying to decide a specific city to move to, I recommend you narrow it down beforehand to select a few specific cities you want to check out. You can tell how a city looks in a day. Sometimes you can tell that you don't like the people within a day or two. Usually, for me, it takes at least a couple weeks.

If you want to live in a medium or large city, the states you have in mind have a low number of cities. Most of them are:
AZ - Phoenix
AZ - Tucson
AZ - Flagstaff (fairly small/medium city)
UT - St George
UT - SLC area
UT - Maybe Cedar city. But I think any city in Utah smaller than the two above, you should only move there if it's for the terrain, not the people.
Maybe Vegas since it's close.
CO - Durango
CO - Pueblo
CO - Denver area
CO - Colorado Springs
CO - various front range cities. (Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Ft Collins, etc..)


If you plan to drive through any of the parks, check to see if they are open. If they're closed, you won't be able to use the road that goes through the park, and in a place like Utah, you'll want to know that in advance to plan your driving route.

User avatar
Dream of Freedom
Posts: 494
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Nebraska, US

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by Dream of Freedom »

Just a few practical issues. Make sure you won't be running afoul of any shelter in place orders. If you are flying you might not be able to take all of your camping gear for reasons of space and TSA. So make a list of what you have to buy when you arrive. You might put some feelers out for a place to crash for a change from all the camping..

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 12222
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by jacob »

I think it's a terrible plan at this point in time, but who am I to judge? :P Consider a contingency plan in case you get sick, test positive, and are ordered to quarantine (where?!) a thousand miles away from home. Consider that the locals, park rangers, etc. (probably about 2/3s of them, more in the cities, less in rural areas) might not be too, uh, enthusiastic about encountering distant travelers (out-of-state license plates) at this particular time in history. And avoid public restrooms and extended indoor "events" (restaurants, hanging out, ...) as much as possible.

sky
Posts: 1043
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am
Contact:

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by sky »

Freecampsites.net

The west slope of the Rockies is very cool. Take a look at Durango, CO.

I would put together a lightweight backpacking kit so you can say you are traveling to backpack.
Try to walk as many hours as you drive. Out west its easy just to drive every where to the point where all you do is drive. There are better ways to spend your time.

I would pick two or three cities of interest, find a good boondocking spot in the area, and spend time hanging out meeting people in town. Learn what is interesting to see from the locals and do day trips or overnights from home base. Meeting people will be more valuable than seeing national parks.

My brother travels across the west for his sales job, and he thinks Boise ID is the place to live at the moment.

Flagstaff was one of the cities that I could have settled down in.

sky
Posts: 1043
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am
Contact:

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by sky »

This time of year you will want to avoid low elevation areas which are getting too hot. Maybe target 4000 ft now and in summer 8000 ft.

Alphaville
Posts: 478
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Walkscore 92, Bikescore 93

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 8:40 am
I think it's a terrible plan at this point in time, but who am I to judge? :P
Doctors Without Borders has now sent a team to the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, because the place is a covid-19 hotspot and medical care facilities are slammed.

https://news.yahoo.com/doctors-without- ... 00530.html

Maybe he could join the organization and score a free trip. :lol:

Alphaville
Posts: 478
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Walkscore 92, Bikescore 93

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by Alphaville »

Dream of Freedom wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 8:25 am
Just a few practical issues. Make sure you won't be running afoul of any shelter in place orders. If you are flying you might not be able to take all of your camping gear for reasons of space and TSA. So make a list of what you have to buy when you arrive. You might put some feelers out for a place to crash for a change from all the camping..
REI has been closed for a couple of months but is rolling out curbside pickup in *some* locations.

https://www.rei.com/h/curbside-pickup

Arizona shops show still closed as of today but Colorado has several.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1475
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

sky wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 8:50 am
I would pick two or three cities of interest, find a good boondocking spot in the area, and spend time hanging out meeting people in town. Learn what is interesting to see from the locals and do day trips or overnights from home base. Meeting people will be more valuable than seeing national parks.
I don't think it is responsible to travel and meet locals right now as that would be a good way to spread covid. Some towns have even asked tourists to stay away (for example Moab and Colorado ski towns).

CS
Posts: 544
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by CS »

I agree it is not a good time to travel. Really not - for you or these towns you might want to be a part of someday. Don't do that to them.

ZAFCorrection
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by ZAFCorrection »

A friend of mine has a similar scheme to visit me from out of state in June so we can do the national parks. Horrible idea which I will not be a part of. This thing spread in the first place because the well-to-do would not be prevented from their globetrotting.

The Old Man
Posts: 438
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:55 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by The Old Man »

It is a terrible time to travel right now. Wait a few months. Areas are just opening up now. If opening up goes badly then more restrictions are likely. Only travel if you must.
Last edited by The Old Man on Tue May 12, 2020 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Frita
Posts: 397
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by Frita »

Tourism is/was big where I am. The feds have closed down trailheads, etc. due to out-of-state visitors. We still have some secret recreation opportunities, though they are more just for locals and hardly anyone it out. It’s still freezing overnight so plan accordingly. Also, note that some mountain communities do not allow overnighting, to include Walmarts. I would encourage you to hold off until later in the summer, like July/August, for your trip.

steelerfan
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:33 pm

Re: Now that I'm done with Masters, time for a cheap road-trip out west paid for by government hand-out?

Post by steelerfan »

FWIW I think doing this now would suck. 30+MM are out of work and you are blithely touring the west. I would be cautious how you explain yourself as your experience with the locals may vary. Most of the restaurants are closed. Most of the businesses that you are looking at are likely working remote and are struggling to keep their existing employees on the payroll. I would be leery of renting a hotel and would worry about being arrested for vagrancy if I boondocked it. Hygiene would be problematic unless you want to wash up in a stream. The eligible ladies will likely not be impressed.

I live in Denver and technically they want people not to travel more than 10-15 miles from your front door. We went hiking locally and there were a lot of people. I generally hike to get away from people. I would not expect to be hugging the locals LOL. Even my neighbors that I have known for 20 years keep their distance. Maybe better luck in the redder parts of the state so you can contract COVID with the freedom lovers in the Springs or enjoy a cup of Joe in Castle Rock. I would avoid Greeley or other hotspots. Sarcasm so don’t take it personal. I want to eventually be able to leave my home.

Regarding transportation, have you considered renting from someone locally where you land? I am not considering doing this but if I were as an example I have a 2001 CRV with 195000 miles on it. AWD fold down seats, a trunk floor that is actually a folding picnic table. Write a contract to buy a car for say $3000 with the option to sell back at $2000 within certain mileage limits. You would then have local tags and not be locked in to the hassle of selling. If you like the car, you could keep it. Otherwise it would cost you 1K and be low profile. Not sure how this would work out but it seems there are people financially hurting enough that are sitting home with no job that might go for such an arrangement.

I wish you luck - to you and the people you encounter.

Post Reply