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  • Writer's pictureNgoc X Doan

Visiting Three National Parks in One Week

Updated: May 21, 2020

We traveled along the Mexico border to El Paso from Big Bend National Park. We were covered in sand and dust. A nice shower was much needed. Planet Fitness is happy place. We got to work out and took nice showers. We decided to stay in El Paso for a week. We visited Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands and Saguaro National Parks!

"There was a whole lot of nothing" Mark said.

The last leg of the trip, we went to Phoenix for the weekend. We needed to spend the weekend to prep for our camping trip at the Grand Canyon for week 6.

Map of Week 5

Common Question - How much does your Tiny Home/Camper Trailer cost?

A lot of people have been asking us this question. Mark compiled an excel with almost all expenses - see below for a short summary!

Category Cost

Trailer $3,400.00

Composting Toilet $1,064.00

Internet/Electronics $587.79

Electrical $577.30

Finishing/Insulation $560.95

Refrigerator $496.01

Climate Control $401.10

Water/Plumbing $176.82

Laundry $159.22

Security $136.35

Grand Total $7,559.54

Wow! More than I expected.

Week 5 - Tiny Home Adventures Highlights

1. We stayed at Thuan's home, my childhood friend from Vietnam. Thuan lives in Phoenix with his beautiful wife, Thoa, and daughter, Mia. They treated us to delicious food. We had our second homemade meal away from home. They made us pho and grilled kalbi! We got to meet their friends. We gave everyone a grand tour of our tiny home. Also, we did our laundry which was a huge help. We didn't have a chance to do laundry since Austin, TX! They even packed my favorite Vietnamese food, canh chua and rau luoc (Sour soup and boiled vegetables) before we headed to the Grand Canyon. Luckily, the weather was nice and beautiful during our stay in Phoenix. We did a family photoshoot for the family and their friend's son.

2. Mark rescued a cat. We visited Cattleman's ranch in El Paso, TX. The cat was being strangled by its own collar after jumping out of the car. It was caught on a leash. It was hanging on to its dear life when Mark found it. The owners were nowhere in sight. They had a MA license plate! Sadly, we never met them. Mark got a cut on his hand while trying to put it back through the window. We missed our chance to pet the zoo animals. The ranch's dog barked at us as we were pulling into the parking lot. It knew that this cat was in trouble. What a smart dog!

3. Mark helped a stranded family at White Sands National Monument by jumping their car. It was getting late. We drove by a car with the hood open. We realized they needed help.

Week 5 - Landscape Highlights

1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico

The caves at Carlsbad were unbelievable! These pictures don't do them justice. This is a must visit!

2. White Sands National Park in New Mexico

We first heard about this place while we were in Cusco, Peru. A retired couple from the US recommended it. Ryan, Marci's fiance also recommended it when we were in Austin. We knew we had to visit it! We took Friday off to go sand sledding! We bought 2 sand sleds from Facebook market at 2/$10 plus wax. The book store sells it for $18 each. We recommend getting an actual sturdy sled if you do visit White Sands in the future!

3. Saguaro National Park in Arizona

We have never seen so many giant cacti! We only spent 3 hours at the park, but we managed to do a very short hike about .7 mile before we headed to Phoenix. It was definitely worth a visit.

Week 5 - Most Memorable Restaurants

1. Kiki's Restaurant in El Paso, TX

The oldest restaurant in El Paso that serves really good machaca!

2. Los Tacos Apson in Tucson, TX

One of the best tacos of the trip so far.

3. Cattleman's Steakhouse, Fabens, TX

One of the best steaks we've had and the price was affordable.

4. La Nueva Casita Café in Las Cruces, NM

Random Tidbits

1. We stopped by Prada art exhibit in the middle of the desert. I never thought I'd visit this place since it's so far from major cities!

2. We thought this was an art installation piece.

3. I finally saw the beautiful sunset view! Before the trip, I thought this would be the typical view but...we often drive late at night. This was a nice treat. Another car accident on the opposite side of the highway...

4. We got free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts! And Mark ended up buying a dozen...

5. We got pulled over by NM cops after leaving Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The speed limit was 75 mph. We were going 60s mph to save petrol. They said we were going way below average. They searched our trailer with a dog. I guess, I can't blame them...our trailer is sketchy...

6. A man came up to me while I was drying my shoes and sand sleds at a rest stop. He asked, "Where are you from? California?" I said, "Boston." He didn't know where Boston is so I said near New York. He replied, "Oh! Democrat!"

Another old man also came up to me to ask if if I went to White Sands and if I needed a ride...

7. Big brothers and sisters at NM rest stop.

8. Random rest stop morning sunlight.

9. We have a lot of dead bugs on our car. It's hard to see but our windshield is full of bugs. A bird flew into our trailer and left a mark.

Our next stops are Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Zion! We'll be in pretty remote areas. We probably will not be able to upload as often, but we hope you enjoy reading about our tiny home experience!


Ngoc + Mark

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