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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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!