September 2014 to March 2015
I spent 6 months in the Austin area, which is an incredibly long time for a nomad. The time I spent there between September 2014 and February 2015 was for a single reason – Kathy.
I am no fool, and when I get the opportunity to spend quality time with a beautiful women to see if a long term relationship is a possibility, I definitely take it.
Where I stayed
Kathy has a friend who lives about 3 miles to the south of her house. Said friend has a 50+ acre piece of land and was gracious enough to allow me to stay there. In one area of the property he has a few rental homes and his office, so this made a good area for me to stay. I had a 30 amp power outlet, water, and sewer hookups while being next to his office (that he rarely used).
This setting was much nicer than any commercial RV park in the area and offered the added benefit of being just a few minutes away from Kathy’s place – something no RV park around could offer. However, I did feel like a guest there and it was a bit weird staying in an area of people’s homes, so after 6 months, I was ready to move on. Though I definitely would stay there again for a (much) shorter length of time.
Another downside is that it was about a 30 minute drive into Austin. Sometimes less and sometimes more – traffic dependent, and traffic in Austin can SUCK!
Overall it was the ideal location to be able to spend the most amount of time with Kathy, so I am grateful she was able to make this location happen.
Food. Austin. Two words that go together oh so very well. Not only is Austin deeply entrenched in the Texas barbecue scene, but it has a plethora of excellent food trucks. And let’s not forget that a huge number of excellent restaurants are found throughout the city. A person could go to a new place each day of the year and only be scratching the surface. No joke.
I did my part in exploring the Austin food scene, both by myself and with Kathy. I soon realized it was a futile effort when my list of places to visit was growing much faster than I was visiting them. My waistline and wallet could only take so much, but I made a gallant effort.
I tried my best to visit most of the top BBQ joints in the city, including some very good food truck based establishments. However, I was unsuccessful getting into the #1 rated BBQ restaurant in Texas – Franklin Barbecue – despite trying for a second time. The first time played a pivotal role in meeting Kathy and someday I might even write about that. But for now I have given up on visiting Franklin Barbecue, and I am OK with that. Fortunately there are some very good alternatives that I did visit. Multiple times.
While I certainly didn’t visit nearly all the food establishments on my list (and said list is just but a fraction of the good places to be found in Austin), I am happy with what I was able to accomplish in my 6 months stay. And the good news is there will be plenty of places to hit up the next time (times?) I am in town. Good to have choices!
Austin has a thriving beer scene, which I explored a bit. I actually didn’t hit many breweries as most don’t offer food. Being very much a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, I need to have some food in my system if I am going to be out having a beer. So this narrowed down the Austin brewery choices greatly.
Fortunately you don’t have to go to the actual brewery to enjoy their beer. There are plenty of places in town that have Austin (and other Texas beer) on tap and also serve food. One of my favorites is Craft Pride which offers and awesome beer selection in a very chill setting. While they don’t serve food, there is one of the best food trucks parked in their backyard patio – Via 313 pizza. I am not the type of a person that seeks out pizza, but OMG, I would seek out Via 313’s pies. The best pizza in Austin, IMHO. And some of the best pizza I have every had. Awesome beer and awesome pizza makes a brilliant combination, even for this non-pizza guy.
Another thing that Austin doesn’t lack is local coffee shops. I like local coffee shops and seek them out when I am on the road and need a place to work for a bit. I continued this tradition while being stationary in Austin, as a way to get away for a bit from my palatial 175 square foot house.
I curated a list of coffee shops in Austin that I should visit and ended up going to many, but I eventually gave up for a few reasons:
- There were just too damn many.
- They all started looking the same after a while.
- Most were uber-crowded, many of which filled with the stereotypical Austin hipster types (which could be a blog post all by itself).
- One of my favorite coffee shops was about 8 minutes down the road where the Austin purveyors were 20-40 minutes away, so I ended up visiting the local place most frequently.
I started calling the local coffee shop that I ended up frequenting most often my “office” for obvious reasons. I would spend many hours several times a week having a coffee and “borrowing” their Wi-Fi. My “office” offered the perfect combination of convenience, cool setting, good Wi-Fi and (normally) smaller crowds so it was hard justifying heading a lot further north to try another spot (though I definitely did this many times).
Friends are good to have. Friends that are also friends of the person you are seeing is another plus. I was fortunate enough to have Kathy introduce me to her group of friends and I hit it off with several of them.
I started going to yoga (yup, yoga!) with one of them. And trail running (OK, more like trail walking) with a couple of others. It was very nice to know someone else besides Kathy in the area since I was there so long. This way I didn’t have to rely on myself or Kathy to provide entertainment for me all the time. 🙂
I was also able to meet several other fulltiming RV couples when I was in the ATX, which was nice as well. They were my link to the nomadic lifestyle while I was stationary, giving me a taste of the road while not actually being on it.
No matter what area I happen to be in, I like to check out the sights. See what there is to do for fun. What the locals do when they get out of the house. Austin was no different. So I explored. By myself and with Kathy. Exploring is a good thing. Get out there and do it!
While my memory of every single thing I did in the greater Austin area is a bit vague, I will briefly mention some of the activities. I have previously written posts about a couple of other things we did. But rest assured, one can spend a lot of time in Austin and not be bored. If you actually get off your ass and go exploring.
The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a nice chunk of city owned land that runs along, wait for it, Barton Creek. It is a popular hiking, biking and trail running area, and one that we went to at least a couple of times a month. Barton Creek is usually dry, but as the winter went on, Austin got some rain and the creek came alive. Kathy kept telling me how abnormal this was. Guess I just got lucky! 🙂
Lady Bird Lake splits Austin in half and is what happens when you throw a dam on the Colorado River. It also is a very popular place for outdoor recreation if you are an Austinite (or like me and just pretending to be one). For those not wanting to get in, or on, the water, the Butler Trail circles the lake. We jogged (which means I walked and tried to keep up with Kathy) the trail several times, and even managed to get around to renting a canoe to do some exploring from the water side.
Zilker Park is a 350+ acre park in the heart of Austin, right on Lady Bird Lake. We spent a lazy afternoon hanging out on its expansive grass lawn, doing what all the true city folks do. Zilker Park is also the home of Barton Springs Pool, a spring fed, manmade swimming pool that is a constant temp in the upper 60’s. It is a very popular place for Austinites to swim, but I only visited when it was a wee bit too cold for me to dip my toes.
We did the Austin Trail of Lights which is their version of putting up a bunch of Christmas lights in neat displays. This being Austin, there were plenty of food trucks spread along the trail to get your food fix. Kathy had never been to the Trail of Lights, so I was happy to take her. It was kind of a meh experience. Once is enough…
We also managed to attend one live music event in a city that claims to be the live music capital of the world. As an Xmas gift, Kathy bought us tickets to a show at the Moody Theatre. The Moody is the current home of the Austin City Limits, the PBS show that has been broadcast since 1976. It was awesome to be at this venue. The acts were enjoyable. And I was glad to get a small taste of the Austin music scene.
It was cold in Austin this winter. Damn cold! Kathy kept saying that it was an abnormally cold winter (but, hey, climate change isn’t a thing, right?). Figures I would pick the cold year to winter in Austin. I hope she is right cause I am not sure I can do this cold year after year. 😉
Interspersed with the “OMG, I am freezing my ass off” days were some very pleasant days. A week of 70’s followed by another Arctic cold front that left me wishing I was wintering in the US Virgin Islands.
OK, I am done complaining about being cold. For now.
Wrapping it up
It took me a while to write this post. I wanted to do my 6 month stay justice but wasn’t sure how to do this. Not sure I was successful.
I did a lot. Saw a lot. Forgot a lot of what I did and saw.
Austin is a great town. One that holds the potential of being a home base. Time will tell. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves… 🙂