After we left New Orleans, we continued West and we were determined to make it to Austin, Texas as quickly as possible! There just wasn’t much to see between NOLA and Austin. With work schedules, we would have had to stop for a week if we did stop for more than one night, and I am generally not a fan of spending an entire week where there is nothing to see/do. Another factor is the weather – the weather didn’t look good, and bad weather is not fun ever, but especially considering we have a toddler who needs to burn off some energy! So we decided to experiment with our driving limits and drive the furthest we ever have in a weekend.
First driving day:
Fairview-Riverside State Park to Niblett’s Bluff County Park: 223 miles, 3.5 driving time (Google Maps – so more like 4.5 hours for us). As we’ve mentioned before, our ideal driving days are approximately 150 miles, so this was pushing it for us.
We did a one night stopover at a county park in Louisiana, right near the TX border, called Niblett’s Bluff. We were there so briefly that it’s not really worth it’s own post, but it was nice – right on the river – and seemed peaceful and low key. It had full hookups. There were lots of little playgrounds, perfect for a toddler, maybe not so amusing for an older child. It didn’t seem like there was much near it other than a casino, but that is par for the course for our one night stopovers. At least we weren’t missing much by moving so quickly!
We spent some time letting Calla play on the playgrounds and walking around the park, which was pretty small. One of the locals told me that Niblett’s Bluff routinely gets flooded and they often debate whether it is worth it to rebuild. Unless something changes, it very well may not exist in the future!
The next day, we packed Trudy up and hit the road again. We really try not to do 2 driving days back to back, especially not 2 long driving days – but we wanted to see if we could make it to Austin in a weekend.
Second driving day:
Niblett’s Bluff County Park to McKinney Falls State Park, Austin: 282 miles, 5 hours driving time (Google Maps – so more like 6 hours for us).
This driving day pushed our limits even further – and to do it right after we already drove longer than we like to the day before. Sometimes you need to re-evaluate your limits and that’s what this driving weekend did for us.
Since the drive was about 6 hours, we decided we need a stop about halfway so Calla could run around and stretch her legs. We decided to stop at a Cracker Barrel outside of Houston because my grandparents thoughtfully got us a gift card for there for Christmas. It was the perfect place to stop because it was exactly 3 hours into the drive.
We had heard many horror stories of the traffic in Houston, but we came through on a Sunday around noon and it was fine. We called ahead of time to make sure the Cracker Barrel had RV parking and they assured us that they did. When we actually got there, we found that cars had parked in the RV parking spots and there were none left. Luckily, the restaurant was in an office park type of area, and we were able to park Trudy across the street in an empty parking lot. It can be very stressful to do stops with a big rig because usually there isn’t anywhere to park. A lunchtime stop on a car trip would be a no brainer, but it is a whole other story when you have 38 feet of motorhome + a car behind you! Thankfully, the alternate parking arrangement worked out just fine.
Three hours later and we safely arrived in Austin at McKinney Falls State Park, which I will blog about soon! To date, this weekend of 2 long drives back-to-back remains our longest stretch of driving yet. It went better than we expected, with no major hiccups, but it was still far from enjoyable. It’s not really how you want to spend your weekends – when the weekend is Tim’s only time off from his job, and he has to spend it driving a big rig, what kind of break is that?! So with this in mind, we have managed to avoid a long driving weekend since.
For anyone interested in the full-time RV lifestyle, I’d encourage you to think about how your driving days will match up with your working days. If you work during the week, you will likely want weekends to do some sightseeing and to relax, not drive. Know that in time you will find your limits – but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of them to get somewhere you really want to go.
Date Traveled: January 2018