Today is day our 68th day in Austin, TX. When we first arrived, we thought we might stay for awhile, but I don’t think we ever imagined it would be for this long. Why did we stay so long when we’re purposely trying to travel around the country for a year? “Shouldn’t you be moving on soon?” was often heard from friends or family or people we gave interviews to. To be honest, I would have thought the answer to be yes, I never would have imagined we would have spent so much time in one place.
After all of this time here, though, I’m completely satisfied. Austin is one of the best cities I’ve ever been to, up there with Portland OR and Brighton UK, which are meccas in my mind. What makes the city so spectacular? Everyone might have their own opinions about what makes a place great, but in particular I loved three things about Austin.
- City meets nature. Austin has embraced its river, creating hike and bike trails on either side for miles, parklands abound, from large green spaces to smaller parks of only a few benches and some trees tucked between buildings at times. Austin is also building up, not out, so the city can continue to grow into the sky while still providing nature just a few miles away. For example, only 8 miles away from downtown is McKinney Falls State Park, a gorgeous mix of woodlands, waterfalls, rivers and caves.
- Austinites. I’ve met more people in the two months we’ve lived here than I did in 2 years in Pittsburgh, in 5 years in Erie, PA. Our fellow RV park residents to random people I’d meet and become friends with at the bar, people here are genuinely welcoming and it’s a huge part of not only what makes Austin wonderful for us, but the reason for why the city as a whole is such a cool place.
- Pecan Grove RV Park. I don’t know that our experience would have been nearly the same if we had stayed in one of the other parks which are a few miles away from downtown. We enjoy liveable, walkable communities and barely drive the RV anywhere except for to hit a new campground. This park is a mile from downtown, two blocks from the river and surrounded by a plethora of parkland and nightlife. It’s an RV park right in the middle of a major city, and you won’t find that in many other places. The park is also a neighborhood all unto its own, a little wooded hideaway surrounded by skyscraping condos and the other workings of a bustling city. The people truly did become our neighbors, not just people parked near us, and much of that was due to Tristan and his new social butterfly status.
I can’t recommend this city highly enough for anyone who’s into progressive, liberal thinking and enjoys living in a city while still being close to the outdoors. Austin sets a great example for other cities, particularly my own Pittsburgh, who are looking to take advantage of their natural surroundings while still trying to grow.