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Exploring Texas: Austin Greenbelt Sculpture Falls

After a short, 15 minute drive from downtown Austin, you can reach the head of the trail in a suburban neighborhood. Technically, parking there as a non resident is not allowed but even a vehicle as much out of place as my camper van did not get towed.

From there its a short gravel path (keep sticking to the right) until you see a more overgrown path following the power lines. Follow the power lines into into a ceadar tree forest that will then turn into a downward slope towards the river. The path turns right and follows the bank all the way to the falls pictured above. Its pretty much a straight shot. Check out the map below:

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There is ample deep water down stream from the falls for some swimming and jumping off ledges. If you get lucky you might even see some kayakers attempting to ride the 4 foot falls.

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Exploring Texas: McKinney Falls State Park

Only twenty minutes from downtown Austin lies McKinney Falls State Park. Even though the park is fairly small, there are ample opportunities for hiking, swimming, fishing, and camping. Its also a great place to take your dog, even though he is supposed to be on the leash at all times. Due to how close the falls are to the parking areas, McKinney Falls makes a great weekend day trip.

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Both the Upper and Lower Falls provide great swimming, each with rocky beaches facing the respective falls. The trail runs along the top of the falls following the ridge line. Further along the trail, there are some additional paths that take you away from the water and into the hills that makes for some great hiking where you feel like you have the area to yourself as most people stay near the water.

 

 

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Let In More Light And Fresh Air Into Your DIY Campervan For Around $60

One major concern when converting a van into a livging / sleeping space, is ventilation. I did not want to end up with oxygen depleted air when keeping the windows shut due to rain or bugs.

A roof vent is ideal to solve these problems. I sucks the hot air out leaving you with a comfortable interior. My van came with a roof section designed to be cut out and have an air conditioning unit fitted which made it relatively easy to cut into the roof, fit the fan unit, and waterproof the whole assembly.

Checkout the Full DIY Roof Vent / Fan Instructions

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Exploring Texas: Marfa

Marfa is a crazy place. You have to go there to understand what that means. Its a town of less than 2,000 people and yet a center for contemporary minimalist art. It is located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, not far from the Texas / Mexico border.

The combination of remote country and arts attrackts excentric people that have made the town their own when they decided to stay. Talk to the locals and hear the stories of how they ended up there. Some are locals, others from far away who decided to stay.

The city has some beautiful buildings that were built in the 50s and 60s and have been preserved perfectly by a combination of the dry climate and people who care about whats theirs while right next door is the ruin of what used to be a small home.

The Cosmico is a infamous campground that is worth staying at. You can stay in your own vehicle or opt for a restored vintage trailer or even a tipi if the mood strikes you.

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The Thunderbird Motel is a great place to stay if you are there during the hot summer months and cannot survive without air conditioning.

Also do not miss the farmers market for some amazing breakfast burritos and freshly brewed coffee that will get your day started.

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Exploring Texas: Fishing and Floating

Somewhere in the Texas Hill Country is this almost perfect spot with one of the most beautiful campgrounds that allows for hookups if you are so inclined. If you are looking for a quiet and isolated spot, give up the power sockets and there are a few tucked away spots alongside the river.

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Exploring Texas: Hamilton Pool

I decided to take the van for a weekend drive out to Hamilton Pool and I could not be happier with my decision. Once you get off the highway its nothing but two lane roads weaving through Texas Hill Country. When you get there, the short hike leads to the collapsed grotto. Its a great spot to just sit back and watch the waterfall.

Check out this timelapse I took while I was out there.

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Getting Ready for any Weather with an Offroad Awning

When you are out camping, rainy days are inevitable (so are extremely hot sunny days here in Texas). So to still be able to enjoy some outdoor space when camping in a downpour or extreme heat, I recently decided to get an awning for the campervan.

I had a few requirements for my use case:

  • easy to mount on my existing roof rack
  • needs to cover the entire barn doors when open
  • enough room to fit 2 people & a camping cooker comfortably
  • easy to set up (in less than 5 minutes)
  • all parts must be self contained
  • ~$300 price range

To find out more about what options I had, I hit Google and ended up on a few 4×4 forums. The consensus seemed to be that the ARB and RhinoRack Awnings are the ones with good overall reviews.

I ended up ordering the Rhino Rack Sunseeker 2 (6.5ft) from eBay. If you want / need more space, there is also an 8ft version. As you can see from the pictures, the size is just right to cover the side doors. Mounting it to my cross beams took about 15 minutes using the provided hardware and pre-drilled mounting points.

Setting it up is super easy and you can do it on your own without any major problems, but it is definitely much easier with 2 people.

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