I bet my friend a burrito that I could road trip at least 10,000 miles with only $250 in my pocket. The only way I’m allowed to re-up my cashflow is by volunteering to help people and hoping they donate for my time. If they don’t then I’ll just shake their hand and thank them for the experience, but if they do then I’ll use any money donated to further the trip!

My name is Anthony and I’m a freelance software developer. This is a personal project that I’m doing and I decided to create a blog as a way of tracking as well as communicating the events back to my friends and family, or anyone else who wants to join in!

I’m going to go for as long as I possibly can on this $250 and once I hit any sort of emergency where I need to use my card or if I run out of the cash in hand then it’s game over and then time to head back home. Even worse, I’ll owe my buddy a burrito.

Saturday 10.29.2016, 3:41 PM
Cash Remaining: $0
Total Distance: 2,748 Miles 
Current Position: Home base

Well, one burrito is owed to my friend.

I made it to Fort Lauderdale (FL) where I had a hotel reserved for $35. This was going to leave me with plenty of money to find a camp site the following day, or look into other no/low-cost lodging options and figure things out from there, but the hotel nickel-and-dimed me to death. By the time they taxed me, added a ridiculous ‘resort fee’, then charged me $20 to park my car (no other cheaper parking options in the area) I had no money left. They would also charge me a cancellation fee if I were to cancel and there being no cheap alternatives in the area put me in a bind. Furthermore, I had some business I needed to attend at home base (which I should have taken care of before the trip), so accepted this fate.

The previous two nights I had slept in my car and maybe got 4 hours of sleep total. The hotel experience and the lack of proper sleep as well as having traveled many miles to get to Miami plus being having eaten little the previous days and having been completely exhausted from working put me in a sour mood, so I just went to bed, then woke up the following morning and drove all the way back home (19 hours of driving – these miles are not part of the total)

I made it a total of 12 days and 2,748 miles (10,000 miles was the bet). However, don’t think that this is the end! In fact, we’re going double-or-nothing, that’s right, TWO burritos will be on the line, we’ve even agreed on extra guac.

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Aside from the double-or-nothing run, I have plans for weekend-warrior trips, gear reviews, and much more in the works, so… please don’t leave me! One such event coming very soon will be the haunted nomad tour. It’s October 29th as I write this so it’s a bit late getting this in for Halloween, however, in the coming weeks I will be visiting a few well known haunted locations nomad-style, that is, completely solo and hopefully overnight. I’m looking for the best locations within a day’s trip from home base and have been trying to contact a few of the super-besties (hopefully they get back to me!). I have some good quality recording gear so I’ll definitely try to catch something, though I very much remain skeptical, so the only weird noises will probably be coming out of me.

I’m going to take a few months off from the big burrito bet so that I can fully recover and think about what I did wrong, what I did right, and next time go at it with a bit more smarts. I clearly made some big mistakes which cost me at least a few thousand miles. For example, starting the trip by staying in a hotel and eating Waffle House was probably not so smart when distance is the overall goal.

I’ve got to say, the trip was super fun, very eye-opening, and definitely worth the $250-ish invested! That being said, It really did take a lot out of me. I even lost near 7 lbs, which means I’m now at 216. I found that by the time I was done traveling or working it was hard to keep up with fixing website issues and blog posts, which is why I’m still behind on Georgia and still have yet to post more on Jacksonville and the Miami area, but it is coming, especially now that I’m in recovery mode.

Stay tuned! I’ll be posting on the daily or every-other-daily.

Hey guys! Lots of updates coming soon, I know I keep saying that but it’s true!

Unfortunately the fishing trip in the Florida Keys isn’t going to happen. I talked to Sarj and his contact is already out on a 14-day run which had just departed. I was really thinking this adventure was about to end (had $12 left at one point) when I was contacted to help clean a residential property which was damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Much more on this very soon.

I also found my long-lost Sis! I had heard within the last couple years that she was in the Florida area and it just so happened that she was only a couple dozen miles away when I learned where she resides! We got to hang out a little bit and cruise around downtown Jacksonville but unfortunately the clean-up work had totally wiped me out. I’m going to head toward Miami so I can experience that area of Florida then I’m going to head back up the coast and spend a proper day with my Sis.

Today I’m going to try to find a reasonably priced hotel to stay in so I can sit down and make good on my update promises. Thanks to the hard labor cleaning up from Matthew and sleeping in my car the last few days I’m quite beat and can barely structure sentences. There’s so much I’ve been itching to talk about, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do such and furthermore being clear-headed enough to write these things out coherently-ish!

Hey! If you’re reading this then thanks for stopping by!

I’ve only got about $50 left on this experiment, so something needs to happen soon. I’m currently stationed about 40 miles SW of Jacksonville, FL. I haggled the price of the room I’m in down to about $30 and it still wasn’t really worth it. This room is bad. I took some pics that I’ll save for a Halloween special or something, seriously this room is that bad.

I’m not having near the same luck finding work volunteering that I did in Nashville. When I advertised in Nashville I received hits immediately and while my post was active I continued seeing interest throughout the day. Unfortunately I’m not having the same luck here, maybe people are just more cautious about these things in FL. So far I’ve only received two hits and neither one are contacting me back.

I’m going to keep pushing toward the Keys and hoping that contact from Sarj on Day 4 actually pans out. Otherwise, I’m going to stretch this $50 as far as I possibly can and keep hoping for a call back regarding the volunteer work I posted yesterday.

Check back real soon, or better yet… subscribe!

Sunday 10.23.2016, 2:35 PM
Cash Remaining: $79
Total Distance: 1650 Miles (currently an estimate, will update)
Current Position: Savannah, GA

Savannah and the surrounding area is just as beautiful as the people that inhabit it, which is to say quite beautiful! More on this area in a future post.

However, finding a cheap camp site is so much more of a pain than I originally thought it would be. I’ve learned that when reservation offices say they close at 6:00 (which seems to be a majority) that means they stop answering the phone at 4:00 and none actually call you back after leaving a message. This means you have to physically drive around looking and hoping.

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I started chasing campsites again last night and right around five minutes before Red Gate Campgrounds locked their office I managed to nab a site. The big issue here is that they charge $35/night for a tent campers! I thought $18 at Lake Jericho was bad, at this price I might as well get a room but I decided to stay anyway because that seems to be about the going rate around here. In Colorado you can camp for free in many areas and there are plenty of sites that use the honor system where you cram $5-10 in a slot and find a place to pitch a tent. There are also sites that require reservations, but finding free/cheap camping is far less cumbersome. I am unable to find such in Georgia, unfortunately.

At Red Gate they have plenty of amenities like wifi that you can access anywhere on the entire site (which is fairly large) and plenty of things to do like outdoor volleyball and such, but I just wanted a place to sleep. If you’re looking for a cool place to camp party-style a mere 4.5 miles from Savannah proper then Red Gate is the place!

I slept pretty well though I woke up really early, much like I did in Jericho. The only real problem here was that I woke up having to pee BADLY but my stupid sleeping bag decided to become a straightjacket. I nearly pissed myself as the zipper kept catching every 2 inches, which then required very precise alignment before it would budge any further. If I hadn’t forgot my multitool then I would probably be out a sleeping bag because I would have knifed my way out of that cocoon from hell. I finally exited and while hobbling toward the restrooms I saw a cool layer of fog covering the grounds adjacent to the camping area.

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I have much more to say about Georgia! Last night I walked around the heart of Savannah where a fair was going on at Forsyth Park and this morning I drove around the nearby marshes and even dipped my toes in the ocean. Right now I need to concentrate on finding someone to help because my funds are really starting to dwindle. At this moment it seems like the continuation of this trip hinges on the connection Sarj has in the Florida Keys. I also need to figure out my next camp site ASAP because it’s already 2:35 in the afternoon and these places seem to love closing super early and not answering their phone.

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More to come shortly!

Saturday 10.22.2016, 1:54 PM
Cash Remaining: $121 (going broke!)
Total Distance: 1,480 Miles (currently an estimate, will update)
Current Position: Starbucks near Savannah, GA

Last night was definitely the most difficult thus far. I drove from Murfreesboro TN to Muscle Shoals AL. I intended on taking pictures of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and writing up a bit of history on it because it’s the birthplace to an amazing number of music hits (especially Motown and was resident to my favorite bassist of all time, James Jamerson) but by the time I arrived it was too late.

Instead I looked for camping nearby but most of the sites I visited were closed. I traveled probably 200 miles all around the area looking to no avail, they were either closed for the season or reservations were required and the offices were closed. I really wanted to camp near Muscle Shoals so I could take pictures of the studio and nearby area.

I wasn’t a fan of it, but I was tired and decided to try and renegade-camp at an established campsite. I really try to be an honest guy, so I was just going to get a few hours of shut-eye and wake up as early as possible, then I was going to jam some money under the office door and bail out. The problem was that this place is primarily an RV campsite and the tent section is smack dab in the middle and has room for maybe five two-man tents comfortably, and I really didn’t want to be in the middle of that.

After circling the surprisingly tiny yet hilly campsite a few times I found a vacant parking spot that was near the entry/exit of the site which seemed discrete enough. I backed into it and aimed my car in the direction that would afford me the quickest getaway in the event aliens or Chucky dolls tried to do something funny. I cracked open a couple windows in my car and shut everything down as not to be the only thing glowing onsite.

It was freaking DARK! I think the RV campers may have been more like inhabitants rather than weekend warriors as most of the sites looked very lived-in.

I tried to settle in and get comfortable but after a few minutes of not doing that, a light on an RV to my left popped on! They were far enough away that I could monitor for a few moments before bailing out. Suddenly out of the windshield maybe 50 yards out I saw the light from a flashlight bobbing up and down. It was hard to tell exactly what direction they were walking but I had enough of this “The Hills Have Eyes” scenario, so I bolted out. As I drove out on to the main street my front passenger-side tire rolled over either a dead raccoon or a Chucky doll, I couldn’t quite tell which.

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Something horrible lies behind that window, probably

I then went to the nearest Walmart (which was 30 miles away!), walked around inside and bought absolutely nothing. I filled at a nearby gas station and decided I would get as close to Savannah GA as possible.

I drove until my eyes had hills, at which point it was about 4:00 in the morning. I pulled off at a rest stop and slept for about two hours, then finished the trip to Savannah. I’m currently fueled purely on coffee and a multi-grain bagel as I write this. I’m probably going to settle in Savannah for two days so I can recoup as much as possible.

Thursday 10.20.2016, 2:01 AM (wee hours of day 4)
Cash Remaining: $202 (makin’ money!)
Total Distance: 704 Miles
Current Position: Secret Hideout (somewhere within 250 miles of Nashville)

Alright, more catch-up time. First, I don’t even have the actual blog itself up at the moment I started writing this post, as of right now this is all a journal, but I will keep within the spirit of the blog therefor no take-backsies on rewriting or starting over. The first few entires in the blog itself are going to be a bit confusing. This particular post is going to be a bit biggie-sized so I can catch up on everything, then hopefully things will even out within the next post or two.

Anyway, so I was at Lake Jericho, which is a nice family-friendly campsite. I ended up there because I searched on the web for cheap/free campsites and found Jericho for $2.00/night. It has showers, hookups, it has it all! Well, that’s what I thought, it’s $2.00 to get in the gate and an additional $16.00 to camp overnight in a tent. I read the webpage wrong (which was my fault, the information is correct). It was already getting late so I ponied up the cash.

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Lake Jericho turned out to be worth the money though because the people were nice and as far as campsites go I felt like I was at the Hilton. I’ll take niceties when I can get them, but to really stretch my dollar I’m going to have to budget a bit better. I met a kitty-buddy and a local lady who uses an RV as a home away from home at the site gave me a bag of marshmallows! Can’t turn down free food when you’re stretching the dollar, even if it’s just pure fluffy sugar.

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Kitty-Buddy!

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Kitty-Buddy is not impressed

I slept really well for tent camping (usually I sleep poorly in tents), though I did get up really early. I ate a Cliff bar, packed up, and started heading toward Nashville. I stopped in Bowling Green Kentucky to fill both tanks, the second one I filled with two $0.99 junior cheeseburgers and a value fry from Wendy’s (water to drink).

Not even 10 minutes after posting an ad for labor I received a text. I received this hit so soon after submitting the ad that I almost ignored it. The man (who I will now call Sarj) seemed to be addicted to exclamation points and wanted me over there in a hurry, I was just settling into my Starbucks and trying to get this site going (this thing is taking a bit more work than I anticipated, despite being a developer for the last 14 years).

I’m not exactly sure what drew me into working with Sarj but after a (very) brief conversation I headed over there to help him do some work in the yard. Sarj is not the type for goodbyes when it comes to talking on the phone.

Sarj and I come from completely different backgrounds. Sarj is very well traveled and has been a very hard worker his entire life (which is roughly double my own in length minus a few years). I very much respect Sarj’s privacy so I’ll have to keep things a little vague, but think military brat (yes Sarj, you’re a bit of a brat!) mixed with a roughneck oil worker. Sarj is very direct and wants things done a very specific way, but he is also very honest. Real honesty is such a rare trait in a person, and I’d rather deal with an honest pain in the ass than some fake ‘nice guy’ who beats around the bush.

According to Sarj I only did about two hours of work in five hours, but he paid me $10/hour for the full time. Sarj is a bit past his prime and since his background consists of honest hard work some of his bones and joints have paid the price, but the man could still probably run circles around me when it comes to hard manual labor so I think he might have been generous with his “two hours” comment!

At first Sarj annoyed me a bit. He has a very particular way of doing things and if you stray from that way of doing things then he will let you know in a hurry! I’m not at all the type to leave work like this unfinished so I committed to doing things his way and planned on jetting out as soon as I could.

After doing the job Sarj and I sat down for a bit and started talking. As I mentioned earlier, we have vastly different backgrounds – I’ve been sitting at computer desks my whole life, very much unlike Sarj who has been to seemingly every country in the world. After talking for a bit about our different life experiences it became apparent that we do have a lot in common. Our way of seeing the world is quite similar in the most important ways, even if the exact perspective we see these things comes from differing angles.

Originally I was unsure if Sarj was just the type to tell tall tales because he has so many wild stories, but he showed me some home videos and I can attest that the man can back up his word!

I don’t know exactly how to explain it and this post is becoming way too lengthy as it is, but I’ll say that after spending an evening with Sarj and getting to know him as well as sharing my own life experiences I found a real friend. I was even able to teach him a thing or two, though I think the lessons I learned from him are far more valuable.

I’m not the type of person to just call anyone a friend. In fact, I have very few friends in life as I wouldn’t even need a full hand to count them all, but Sarj is one of those fingers. Thank you for all the valuable lessons Sarj!

Sarj knows a lot of people and word has it that a special 7-day job is coming up in the Florida Keys area and I’m really looking forward to it!

After having dinner (a beef stew Sarj made which was awesome) we had some fantastic coffee that he brewed up and we talked a bit more before heading off to bed. Sarj upgraded my living quarters from a makeshift campsite to a room undergoing heavy renovation and a bucket to piss in.

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Wednesday 10.19.2016 (late evening)
Cash Remaining: $182
Total Distance: 453 Miles
Current Position: Lake Jericho (~30 miles NE of Louisville)

…$2.37 for a tall iced coffee. Throw some half-and-half, a few dashes of chocolate powder and you’ve got a mocha baby! Well, not really, but it’s good enough for me. Refills are about 50 cents.

Ever since I saw Waverly Hills on Ghost Hunters I’ve wanted to check it out. I’m not sure I believe in ghosts, but if they were to exist then Waverly Hills is about the best candidate in the US to party with a few, or at the very least get creeped the hell out! This is one of the most infamous haunted hotspots in the States which is hidden away just outside of downtown Louisville (‘Loo-uh-vohl’).

I really wanted to schedule a tour but reservations must be made and the cheapest way I saw to get in is $20. The sanatorium is on private grounds and it’s hidden away so access is extremely limited. I crawled all around the area and the only way I could catch a tiny glimpse was from a tucked away road which branched off another small road that circled a golf course. I could find no other vantage points in the area, they really did a good job hiding this place!

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Facing away from the gate, I should probably make a run for it!

… Which is a very good thing because so many people died in this sanatorium that they had to use a body chute to move all the corpses.

Waverly Hills opened in 1910 to service 40-50 tuberculosis patients. Soon after it opened a TB outbreak happened (aka the ‘White Plague’). By 1914 the sanatorium was expanded with a children’s pavilion which after a previous expansion in 1912 allowed the hospital to hold around 130 patients at max capacity.

Due to the rush job building the place it became a maintenance nightmare. In March of 1924 construction on a new building began which was finished in mid-October two years later. This is the building we see today, which had a capacity of 400+ patients. An antibiotic for tuberculosis was developed in 1943 and by 1961 the sanatorium was no longer needed so it was closed.

The total number of deaths remains a mystery, but some researchers suggest that the death-toll could have reached over 8,000!

Waverly Hills has quite a rich history that extends beyond the sanatorium. Today it’s used as a tourist attraction (especially thanks to Ghost Hunters and the like) and apparently plans are in the works to convert it into a hotel.