Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Courtesy Parking in Austin, TX

There are four different ways to live your life on the road. The first, and most obvious, is to utilize local RV Parks along the way. Even with discounts such as AAA, Good Sam, Passport America, Golden Age Passport, or utilizing Escapee Park membership discounts, it can be quite expensive even if you are paying as little as $15 per night using one, or as many discounts as you are allowed.

The second option is to utilize "courtesy parking" opportunities as often as you can. Courtesy parking is parking on, or near the property of a friend, or relative where you are able to get an electrical outlet providing 15 amps of power, and maybe a hose bib connection for water. A really good courtesy parking option also provides access to a sewer "clean out" so you can pump your waste water (gray and black) out of your tanks and into the city sewer system, or the property septic system. The later requires some thought as you don't want to add hundreds of gallons of waste water to your friend's/relative's system that it can't handle.

The third is dry camping. Dry camping can also be done in the courtesy parking situation, but means you have no water, electric, or sewer options and must manage your consumption of water and electricity to be sure you don't exceed the capacities of your fresh water tanks, your waste tanks, and your house batteries. If you have installed a solar charging system such as we have, then managing the electrical part of your dry camping experience is much easier, because you can replace each day what you have used the prior evening. Dry camping also takes place often in large parking lots of the big box stores such as Walmart, or in restaurant parking lots that provide RV parking, or in Rest/Picnic areas along the Interstates, or secondary roads.

The fourth option, and one we are looking forward to exploring more in the coming months, is boondocking. This is a situation where you may park your RV on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in some cases for free, or up to $20 for 2 weeks. Of course you have to have the ability to replenish your house batteries. Batteries only store so many amp hours of usage. You can replenish the used electricity by using your on board generator, or a portable one, or by utilizing your solar charging system. Another option for managing electrical consumption is a wind generator. These are becoming popular in the desert regions of the Southwest.

So far in the first month of our fulltime journey we have utilized (in Jojoba Hills) the Escapee discount for 4 nights, the Passport America discount (Benson, AZ) and since then courtesy parking. In each of the courtesy parking situations we have had access to 15 amps of electricity (Mesa, AZ), 45 amps (Bullard, TX), and now 100 amp service in Austin, TX. We have also had access to water, and sewer clean outs. None of these courtesy parking situations have cost us anything out of pocket. Of course, depending on the situation, and duration of stay you might feel obliged to leave a monetary gift behind. So far any offer of compensation has been refused. Our total costs for parking our coach for the month were $95.

After we leave Austin we will be on our own until we hit Louisiana a couple of weeks from now. We have already been offered a courtesy parking opportunity there. It will provide a great base of operations for visiting New Orleans, and other sites within driving, and biking distance. The same can be said when we get to Alabama. So, in between those times we will utilize dry camping, boondocking, and on occasion an RV Park.

We plan to be in the Austin area until Sunday when we will depart for the Gulf Coast. We plan to head directly to Corpus Christi where we will turn east and meander along the Gulf Coast until we hit the Florida Panhandle, or the end of April arrives, which ever comes first.

The weather the past two days has been overcast, with brisk winds yesterday afternoon, and quite humid. As our Austin host said yesterday, "Clarke, it's always humid in East Texas, you just don't notice it as much in the winter." Well, OK, I notice!

Today we will get the bikes out and do some riding. I have a couple of "elective" projects to work on today. By "elective" I mean nothing is broken, but I'm going to try and fix it anyway.

Thanks for stopping by!

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