Thursday, May 7, 2015


Pecan Grove RV Park on Barton Springs Road in Austin Texas is all about location, location, location.
A reviewer on this site described it as "an endangered vintage park that is within walking or bicycling distance of 98% of everything you'd want to experience in Austin".  I would say that's a perfect description.  Map screengrabbed from Google. 
A consummate boondocker, I was intrigued by internet reviews of this park to the extent that I booked two nights to see what the experience would be like ($40/night cash or check only - no credit cards, and they close at 5 so make sure you call ahead and retrieve your check-in package from their office door if you are arriving late).

I traveled to Austin to attend an event at the Austin Convention Center, and much to my delight, Pecan Grove proved to be the perfect logistical venue for this trip, as the following series of photos will illustrate.
View of the front of the facility, facing east along Barton Springs Road. 
Pecan Grove is well-known for its full-timers...
...many of whom are Airstreamers.  You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an Airstream in there. 
Of course, these days, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an Airstream no matter where you are in Austin.  They are being used as food trailers, commercial kiosks, you name it.  I suspect that this trend was instigated, or at least accelerated, by well-known Austin businesswoman Vicki Faust and her partner (Vicki's particular Airstream now sits atop their boutique hotel).

There is a superb collection of eateries, both trailers and fixed facilities, on Barton Springs Road just west of Pecan Grove RV park. 
I did all of my urban trekking on foot, but if you prefer a bicycle, there is also a B-cycle city rental bike stand just outside Pecan Grove. 
All of my urban trekking on foot, not necessarily with shoes on the whole time.  Barton Creek in Zilker Park, which is the first place I headed after checking into Pecan Grove. 
It is an extraordinary area.  This is the view toward downtown and the lake from the bridge over Barton Creek Road.  
Another view as I was hoofing toward Barton Springs Pool.  
This one. 
Philosopher's rock, outside the entrance to the pool.  
After I got done with my Zilker Park hike, I headed back to the RV park.  I stopped at the well-known restaurant Baby Acapulco (apparently it is now known primarily as Baby A's) for some pork green chili tacos.  Again, places like this are just steps away from Pecan Grove RV park.  
My first night in Pecan Grove was so quiet that I could have heard a pin drop (it was cool enough to sleep with no a/c and all windows open, which I vastly prefer).  In fact, I got myself into a bit of a pickle because it was so quiet.  More accustomed to boondocking, I had forgotten to hook up my city water before going to sleep.  Then at 2:30 a.m. I realized - oh, heck!  I can't flush the potty at this hour because the racket from my infernal on-board water pump would wake up the entire park!  Rest(room) assured that I did not make the same mistake the following night!

The next morning, I set out on foot for the 1.8-mile hike to the Austin Convention Center.  You might be wondering why in the hell I would choose to walk when there is perfectly good mass transit available in an area such as this.  This next series of photos will answer that question.
I picked up the hike and bike trail where North Lamar Street crosses the lake.  Here is the hike and bike bridge at that location.  This is not for cars.  This is just for people.   
Assuming the weather is cooperating, why would someone take a car when they could instead see the likes of this?!  North side of the lake, heading east. 
Without question, the Butler trail is one of the most beautiful and most mysterious urban hikes in the world. 
This is a view in the opposite direction, hiking 1.8 miles back "home" again after a day at the Convention Center.  
There are also interesting things to see off-trail, including urban architecture, such as this construction on North Lamar.  Giant blocks of Austin limestone boldly incorporated into modern design. 
After my second overnight at Pecan Grove, I moved my rig to a carefully pre-researched commercial surface parking lot on Driskill Street.  Logistics are everything when RVing in an urban environment.  I actually left the RV park around 6 a.m. and drove directly to this surface lot in order to ensure that I would get a navigable parking spot.  Because if I were to get there too late in the morning, there would literally be nowhere else in the urban core that could lawfully accommodate my Interstate. The conference did not open until around 8:00 a.m. but I used the intervening time to make my breakfast and watch the morning news on TV.  And then after the conference concluded, I jumped from this surface lot straight onto the freeway to return home to Houston.
The Interstate is obviously too tall for the types of parking garages that dominate urban areas.  I've gotten in the habit of taping parking payment tickets and receipts on my windshield so that they are extra-visible (see above)...
...and also photographing my rig before I leave it.  I'm finding from experience that a vehicle as large and conspicuous as the Interstate is "ticket bait" in the urban environment, not necessarily in a city such as Austin but it has certainly proved to be the case in Houston (full story omitted).  So I don't want to leave open the possibility of anyone accusing me of having my nose protruding into a travel lane, or my rear end impinging upon a municipal sidewalk easement, etc. etc.  So I now photo-document exactly how I left the Interstate just in case conflict arises when I am not there to defend myself. 
All in all, this was a fabulous trip, with only one inconvenience arising:
On my second overnight in Pecan Grove RV park, the area experienced a record rainfall.  This prevented me from doing additional hiking and exploration after business hours, and it also fouled the operation of my newly-shielded Fantastic roof vent.  With that kind of rain intensity, very little will be capable of successfully shielding a vent.  But it could have been worse - the rains could have hit as I was hiking the 1.8 miles back to the park!  Fortunately they did not commence until after I had already made it back.

The picture above was taken of my TV set.  So far, we have availed ourselves of over-the-air TV only, and I've found it to be sufficient for my needs (I just want to see local news and weather).  
Last but not least...
There we have it - the next engraved aluminum place-name plaque went up on the wall!  See this post for a description of how and why I developed this overnight commemorative tradition.