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  • Writer's pictureNgoc X Doan

Social Distancing During Coronavirus Outbreak in Tiny Home

Updated: May 21, 2020

We finally made it to California! We are still deciding what to do next since most of the National Parks and restaurants are closed because of coronavirus outbreak.

We have been receiving a lot of questions and concerns from friends and family. The most common question is what are you going to do next? It is not easy to answer since we do not have a our own place in Boston. We would still have to self quarantine for weeks before we see our parents again. The weather is still too cold to live in the trailer for weeks. Additionally, we do not want to accidentally infect our parents since we might be COVID-19 carriers. Thus, we decided to stay in California for a few days and re-access our situations.

Most concerned resources:

1. Access to shower

Solution: We bought a camp shower from REI. This was an option before we got our Planet Fitness membership. We shipped it to a friend's home because REI stores are currently closed. We will be testing it next week! One catch, we are limited to warm weather areas because we would have to shower outside. It's not going to be easy since we would have to wait until it's dark to shower. And when it's dark out, it's cold!

2. Access to water

Solution: For drinking water, we bought a case of bottled water from Costco as a backup option. For more sustainable option, we will be purchasing drinking water from Whole Foods. Hopefully, they continue to offer this service. For cooking and cleaning water, we will try to refill at rest stops that have spickets.

3. Access to power

Solution: We will run our car when we need to charge 12V battery in the trailer. Another option is to drive for a few hours to charge. Our friend, Angeline, has offered to let us charge outside her home near LA whenever we need it! She's so kind.

Would be nice to have:

1. Laundry machine

We can do small loads with our laundry equipment, but we have yet to try doing big loads. We have been fortunate to be able to do most of our laundry at our friends' and relatives' homes.

2. Free Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is much harder to find since social distancing has been enforced everywhere. Gym, library, Starbucks, Chic-Fil-A, Whole Foods, coffee shops are no longer available.

3. Takeout order/Dine In

We have a few restaurants that we would love to check out in LA. Some food are not meant for takeouts. Some places already closed.

4. National Parks

It is both heartbreaking and understandable that some National Parks are closed to all visitors. I was looking forward to visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. I hope these parks will be open again for pedestrian and bikers! If only they allow me to pick up trash and/or take photos for commercial usage in exchange for a few hours of visit, it would be amazing.

5. Public Bathroom

Our composting toilet is meant for emergency only! We need to be able to use public bathrooms for #2!!! Oh boy, we are going to have to start digging a lot of cat holes now...

Map of Week 8

Week 8 - Tiny Home Highlights

1. Self oil change accomplished

We did an oil change in Palm Springs, CA. We had planned to drop our truck at a Honda dealership, but we decided we want to save money. We (I meant Mark) did an oil change. Did Mark have all the tools? He did not. He ordered parts from Amazon. He shipped them to Whole Foods. We had to wait in line, 6 feet away from others, to get our Amazon orders because of the pandemic outbreak. He also bought a few items at local shops. It took us two hours to do the oil change. Luckily, the weather was beautiful. We started around sunset. We finished when it was dark. It was a good thing we have a headlamp. We just bought it because we needed to cook in the dark. And, it came in handy!

Mark tried to teach me how to do an oil change, but I think only 20% of it stuck in my head.

We are glad we don't have to worry about doing an oil change for now!

2. Showering everyday until Planet Fitness closes

We knew sooner or later Planet Fitness will close because of COVID-19 outbreak. We took long showers everyday, for three days straight. We treated each shower as if it was the last time. As we predicted, all locations near us were closed on Wednesday night.

3. Cooking at BLM campground

Since most restaurants are doing takeout orders only, we ended up cooking most of our meals while camping outside of Joshua Tree. We decided to test out campfire cooking. It was fun and exciting at first. First step, we wanted to see if we could boil water with the campfire. We needed to keep feeding the fire and not let it die. There was no such thing as low, medium, or high heat. When it was windy, it meant we got high heat. If the heat was too high, we just took the pot/pan off the fire. Eventually, our eyes were burning and stinging from the smoke. Nonetheless, we're glad to know we did not need to use propane to cook. We made pasta and Thai curry again. We finished our last batch of pasta from Italy. Our campfire food tasted amazing. Soot got to our hands and clothes. Our pot and pan are also covered in soot. It's not easy to clean, but it was fun to cook with campfire. We went to sleep with "smoky" hair for days.

We're going to need to get more creative with our campfire meals. Please send your favorite recipes!

4. Campfire Yam and Sweet Potato

I tried cooking different types of root vegetables with campfire. While we were cooking, I threw in 1 or 2 yams in the fire. Once the skin turned black, I took them out and let them sit to cool down before eating. This week features purple yam, sweet potato, and taro. They do not look edible on the outside, but they smelled and tasted amazing!

5. Biking at Joshua Tree National Park during lockdown

Joshua Tree National Park is closed to vehicles but pedestrians and bikers are welcome. I took my bike out for a short session. I spent an hour biking 2 miles uphill. I took breaks to take pictures. The nice part about biking uphill is going downhill requires zero effort!

6. Vegetation at Joshua Tree National Park

7. Visiting an important friend

Our friend, Angeline, took us in toward the end of the week. We were able to shower, do laundry, sleep in a home, and watch Westworld. It felt amazing. No hugs (darn coronavirus), but we had nice meals together. We also went on a walk to pick lemons. I love picking fruits. I'm glad to check this off my list! We became friends with Angeline in high school. She was my tennis doubles partner. Most importantly, if it wasn't for Angeline, Mark and I probably would have never started dating in high school! We are so grateful because she is a wonderful and sweet person. A photoshoot session is available for Angeline when she is ready!

Week 8 - Memorable Restaurants

1. In-N-Out Burger

What can I say? They have tasty burgers for such a good deal. The only problem was we had to unhitch our trailer to do a drive thru order.

2. Meng's Filipino Cuisine in Cathedral City, CA

Our first Filipino food! We supported a family owned restaurant. They were lovely people and the food was delicious.

3. Krispy Kreme in Cathedral City, CA

We got a dozen of green doughnuts on St. Patrick's Day. Sadly, they no longer let customers use their bathrooms...

Week 8 - Random Tidbits

1. We finished showering for the last time at Planet Fitness. As we were packing our things in the parking lot, a man stood next to a van asked us, "I'm homeless. Can I rent that?"

2. Costco gas stations hired people to wipe down pumps and shopping carts.

3. We saw a group of people towed a vintage car to Joshua Tree. Probably for a photoshoot, Mark said.

4. In-N-Out Burger only take drive thru orders because of coronavirus. We had to unhitch our trailer to order food! As I was waiting in the parking lot, I saw a lot of people touched the door handle bar and touched their phones after. There was a sign on the door that stated they no longer take orders inside, but people still tried to go inside...

5. Eating in the parking lot is the new normal.

6. Palm Springs, CA has a lot of windmill farms.

7. Google navigated us to Corona City...Should we check it out?

8. We saw people started waiting in line for groceries on Tuesday, March 17.

9. Our neighbors for the week.

10. Cathedral City, CA is right next to mountains.

11. We almost bought this scooter from Home Goods.

12. Trailer is getting messy...

13. We cannot seem to stop buying snacks. Grocery stores are out of canned beans, eggs, etc. We need easy meal ideas!

14. When we are not cooking, we eat In-N-Out Burger in our trailer.

Week eight was supposed to be our halfway mark of the trip. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak situation, we may be heading back much earlier.

We really appreciate friends and family for offering their resources to us. We are sad that we will not be able to visit some of our closest friends and family on the west coast during this trip because of the lockdown. Stay healthy everyone and be kind to others!

Until next time!


Ngoc + Mark

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