In Search of Level Campsites & Epic Rides: Volume 4

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Back when my two kids were little, I caught them having a philosophical conversation about Mother Nature. My daughter Mackenzie was sharing her theory.

According to her, there’s not only Mother Nature, but there’s an entire Nature family lording over Planet Earth. Mother Nature encompasses the rolling valleys and all its inhabitants, while Father Nature makes up the mountains. And then, there’s their daughter, Sister Nature, who embodies all the Earth’s flowers.

As she went on to identify a Grandma and Grandpa Nature (who were in charge of weather and moss), her older brother Tyler snorted and asked, “Well then, what is Brother Nature?”

Mackenzie stated, “He is the rocks.”

Last time I wrote, we had left White Sands and were on the road headed east.

… East and out of the warmth.

It was pretty much the end of our time with the Nature family, and from here to Tampa, we were RVing urban. With the Cement family.


Next stop: Austin, the City of Weird, and Pecan Grove  RV Park.

In our RV travels over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of cities … high mountain ones, beachy oceanside ones, desert cactusy ones … and while they all tend to have their own feel, overall they’re what they appear and what you’d expect. A city.

And then there’s Austin.


This was my first visit to Austin. I’d heard all the Austin hype before, and looked forward to experiencing the “weirdness”.



While the locals would probably tell you it’s their music scene that sets the weird vibe, I was most enamored by the unique foodie scene. Here’s a few things that stuck out for this first-timer:

  • Coffee houses that double as breweries.
  • Patio hang-outs everywhere with parents kicking back having a beer midday while their kids play out front.
  • Hip bars and restaurants in quirky old houses and buildings.
  • Weird names for their eating establishments (Odd Duck, Lucky Robot, Salty Sow, need i go on?)
  • Breakfast tacos!!!

There’s a Tex-Mex vibe, but not totally in the traditional sense, well, unless soy chorizo is traditional for you. The vegan scene is loud and proud in Austin, and I had some incredible vegan breakfast tacos while lounging on the heated patio of a coffee house slash brewery one weird and chilly Austin morning. Even though it was 9am I could have just as easily ordered a beer instead of a coffee, because, after all, it’s Austin! Get weird, grow facial hair, and have a beer for breakfast!


Pecan Grove RV Park was very uh, fitting, with the whole weird thing going on in Austin. It’s shower house terrified me. Seriously, if you’re a producer in search of the perfect setting for a horror movie, put this shower house at the top of your list. But hey, if it’s good enough for Matthew McConaughey, it’s good enough for me.

(Full disclosure.  I did not actually see Matthew McConaughey in the shower.  Unfortunate, I know.)

There it is, down the road on the left. If you’re brave enough to enter, your Showa-flops will suddenly be your most valuable possession.

And besides, with its stellar location you can’t help but completely forgive the cobwebbed, rusty, things-growing-off-the-walls shower scene at Pecan Grove.


It’s only about a mile from downtown Austin; a lovely walk over the Colorado River on a scenic pedestrian bridge.

James showing off his kung fu grip.

We had holed up in Austin for almost a week at the RV park, so we walked downtown frequently, and even found a hip urban gym brimming with the “Austin” vibe right on our route:


The RV park is also adjacent to a fantastic network of trails that run along a creek that branches off the Colorado River. Here’s one of my Strava runs I did out from the park. If you’re super bored you can click the picture to go to my Strava and see the map and the pictures I took:


As for riding in Austin, we got lucky. We met up with a local couple who owns a Safari Condo van and also happen to be avid cyclists, Carrie and Shawn. We got to tour their sweet van… our first time seeing a Safari Condo live! And then Carrie played cycling tour guide and rode out with us, showing us some of Austin’s best hills.


While she got us 3,000 ft of climbing in one ride, James and I were chuckling afterwards at some of the death defying moves out in traffic she had us doing.

Carrie: “Oh hey just so you know there’s a few tricky bits where we have to hop across some traffic.  No biggie though!”

Oh really Carrie.

What she meant is that she’d have us riding on basically an interstate that has on-ramps of steady and speedy traffic merging into it. And we’d have to cross those on-ramps at rush hour to get back to the shoulder. We ended up having to sit out there in between the interstate-type road and the on-ramp and then sprinting across whenever we saw a rare opening, praying for our lives.

It looked a bit like the game Frogger, that is if you watched the game while in 16x fast-forward mode.

We chalked it up to more Austin weirdness where even the cyclists have a bit of the Austin-cray-cray in them.

Click to go to Strava details!

The ride was apparently a normal cycling route ridden all the time by the local cycling scene, and we really did have a blast on it, though we’re so happy Carrie was with us or we’d have turned around at the first sign of dying.

The shoulders were great, though!


And then there was this bucket list moment:


Lance visits Lance’s bike shop!

Say what you want about Lance Armstrong, he’s got a kick-ass bike shop.


Upon walking in, look left and you’ll see a huge ride board. There are plenty of rides on it but they mostly started WAYYYY too early for our internal clocks with overactive snooze buttons.


Still, it’s a great resource if you’re visiting from out of town. One thing we’ve learned, riding with the locals who know the best routes is the way to go when traveling.

Carrie told us the tradition behind these annually decorated roadside trees. Austinites have been doing it for years.

I was initially surprised to see the coffee house within the bike shop, but then I remembered where I was, doh. This is Austin! Nothing should surprise me!


Since I stalk follow Lance on Strava, I knew he wasn’t going to be there during our visit, as just that morning he’d completed a 7 mile run (in well under an hour, the freak) in Colorado.

As a consolation prize I did get to see lots of  Lance’s old Tour de France jerseys displayed on the walls.  (They may try to take back your title, but they’re not so eager to take back a sweaty, used jersey… go figure.)


At the end of the week we packed up camp, and continued our trek east. Honestly, I was disappointed to go. Very weird, because I usually prefer visiting the Cement family in small doses, and am mostly drawn to the Natures’ house.

So be warned RV friends, when you visit Austin, the weirdness has a way of growing on you.  I can’t wait to go back!

After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    22 thoughts on “In Search of Level Campsites & Epic Rides: Volume 4

    1. Shawn

      So glad you enjoyed your stay. Just dawned on us that you didn’t get to see the new 1,200 bicycle sculpture on the other side of the running trail. Next time we can surely find quieter roads to bicycle out in the surrounding Hill Country. Enjoy your Birthday celebration in Mallorca. Wish we could join. Cheers to the 5-0!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Interesting… I likely ran right by (or very near) that sculpture, durnit! Oh well more motivation to come back, and hopefully this time ride with both you and Carrie!

    2. Smiley

      Mellow Johnnies is a stop any cyclist must see when visiting Austin TX and yes don’t forget to go down stairs to see the Lance collection of bikes. Once you have been to Mellow Johnnies NO BIKE shop in America can ever compare to it.
      Since you were in Austin I am surprised you did not drive to Fredricksburg and HILL COUNTRY and that is GREAT riding. BTW best BBQ I have ever had was in Austin TX.
      Keep driving and come to the DMV and park in our drive way and let us show you some great routes here in our Nations Capitol. Hope your training for Mallorca which is fast approaching.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        We originally had Frederickburg on the agenda, and then decided to spend the whole week in Austin instead… it’s definitely on our bucket list, especially now you’ve said the biking there rocks! And careful what you offer up, lol. Now that we’re all about meeting up & riding with locals, don’t be surprised if we really do hit you up when we’re rolling through the DMV area.


    3. Gordon Yaghjian

      Hey guys. Just put a deposit down on a 2016 Pleasure Way Plateau TS . Had to step up with $$$ but this has all the options plus 2 solar panels. It’s the anniversary model , first year with Ion lithium batteries. So now I can stop banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how to put all that stuff in an older rig. Now have to shop for insurance. Any short cuts there ?

      1. James

        Congratulations, Gordon! You’re going to love your new rig.
        As far as insurance, we don’t really have any connections or anything in that space.
        I know some manufacturers, like Winnebago, offer RV insurance through partners. (And I don’t think those policies are brand-specific.). Beyond that, it’s the usual suspects for insurance.

    4. Gordon Yaghjian

      Go on you tube and look up comedian Bill Burr routine on Lance. Months later Lance head about it and joined Bill on his blog

    5. Alain


      I’m on a business trip to Holland. Talk about level ground and bike paths. You just trip over them there are so many.

      What model of Safari Condo did you finally get to see?

      1. James

        Oh man! Cycling in Holland would be one of those bucket-list experiences.
        I don’t know my Safari Condo models that well,, but I believe it was the ProMaster XL Flex – with the second refrigerator. Very nice rig!

        1. Alain

          You would love the bike culture here, but most of the urban bikes in the downtown area would not impress you. Most look like refugees from a 50’s movie. Single speed and quite a few with rust. Then again, it’s flat and if the bike theft is an issue, no need for an expensive bike for day to day use. Almost nobody wears helmets, except for small kid. Maybe the long distance riding scene is different.

          If the Safari Condo has the elevator bed, it’s probably the same model we have.

          Enjoy your birthday trip to

    6. CJ

      As always enjoyed your trip report and also your daughter’s story about nature, how adorable and fitting, she is so deep and creative!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        LOL! Don’t be too impressed with her love of nature. She’s also the one who created our inside joke about the Cement family. We’d try to coax her into liking camping, “Come on, Mackenzie, aren’t you excited we’re going camping and will get to see the Nature family this weekend?!?” Her, pouting in all her 3rd grade glory: “I don’t like Nature, I like tall buildings and cement.”

    7. Thomas E Calabrese

      Wow! Stef, your write-up definitely has us wanting to add Austin to our list for next time Linda says “Let’s Go West, Old Man, Go West.”

      1. Stefany - Post author

        OK now your comment has me pondering if, when we visit next, I could only meet up with one, Lance or Matthew, which would I choose?????? Things that make you go hmmmmm…

    8. Sandra Thornberry

      Looks like Austin was a blast! I still think that Lance Armstrong got a raw deal from sore losers. He was always a winner in my book. His bike shop looks fantastic!
      Personal note: I am having knee surgery at the end of the month. Evidently the “new” knees are ready to go right after the doctor installs everything! () The recommended course of treatment by my physical therapist? Bicycle riding before and after-so folks get on those bikes! It helps!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Sandra I’ve heard great things about the new knee procedure and how amazing the recovery time is. Here’s hoping you’re pain free immediately following! And yep, cycling can be excellent therapy for knee issues; in fact many runners switch to cycling for just that reason! xoxo

      1. Stefany - Post author

        LOL! Well yes, but are they walking distance to Lance’s bike shop AND the Whole Foods motherland??!! 😉


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