We were pretty excited to get to San Marcos for a couple of reasons. First of all, we would be meeting some friends in nearby Austin. Second, we knew some other RVers we follow online would be in the area as well. We called around to a number of RV parks around Austin to find a spot for our month long stay. It seemed as though most of the parks in the area had pretty convoluted booking processes for monthly stays. We finally settled on Pecan Park Riverside RV Park, even though they did have a complicated booking system which I will touch on later in this post.
Pecan Park is just outside of the town of San Marcos, and only 40 minutes south of Austin. The park is fairly large and offers over 100 RV parking spaces, with many situated under pecan trees. Since we were there in the winter, the trees were bare, so we didn’t get any pecans fresh off the trees. The sites were pretty spacious and level, most having gravel parking and a concrete patio.
Some amenities that we took advantage of included the laundry, shower house, and propane refills on site. Our space was located very close the the building that had the showers and laundry, but many spots had a long walk to take advantage of those amenities. The only time we had to use the shower house was when the temperatures dropped below freezing and our RV pipes froze up. We were caught off guard by the extra cold nights, but fortunately no damage was done to the RV. We have since purchased a heated RV hose and pay better attention to the weather. Pecan Park also has a heated indoor pool and hot tub, but we didn’t get a chance to enjoy them. We are always disappointed when an RV park does not offer recycling, but luckily we found a local company called Green Guys in San Marcos that accepts pretty much any recyclable material.
The greatest feature this RV campground has to offer is its river access. We loved our spot that overlooked the river. If you have your own canoe or kayak you can launch right from the property. There were a handful of warm days that we wished we would have had our own kayak to get out on the water. If you were to visit in warmer months, there are a number of outfitters in the area that do rentals or organize canoe or kayak trips on the San Marcos River. When it was quiet at the park, we could hear the river, especially when it was moving a little more swiftly after some rain.
Another thing we loved about our time at this park was the community. We’re not sure if we were just there at the right time, but this was the first time we really got to enjoy the young full-time RV community that we had heard so much about. People have been friendly everywhere we go, but generally full timers that are retirement age seem a bit standoffish. I can’t necessarily attribute the sense of community to the management of Pecan Park, but it was the thing we enjoyed most about staying there. We got to meet some other full-time RVers that we had been following online like Heath and Alyssa (RV Entrepreneur Bloggers and Podcasters), and Rachel and Chris (It’s a Wanderful RV Life, RV Bloggers). We also met a number of other people who have helped expand our network quite a bit.
I mentioned the reservation process at the beginning of the post. We hadn’t stayed anywhere a full month before we came to Texas, so it was a little bit of uncharted territory for us. We had stayed at a campground in Massachusetts for three weeks, and they offered us a monthly rate to save us money. Perhaps we naively expected something similar when we were looking to make a reservation in the Austin area. We contacted a handful of parks in the area to find out their availability and rates. We were surprised that these parks asked us to fill out what amounted to a lease. One of them was even going as far as wanting to do a background check. This was the first time since we have been living this lifestyle that we had encountered anything like this.
We ultimately chose to book our stay with Pecan Park because we thought their rate was reasonable, and their paperwork was the least intrusive. What came to be in dispute later on with the management of the park was the actual length of our stay. When we made the reservation, we made it known when we booked that we’d only be staying for 29 days. Since that was just one day short of a month, they told us they would charge us the monthly rate. We thought it was confusing that they asked for two separate deposits. When we booked, we gave them a deposit to hold the the reservation, and when we arrived was had to give an additional deposit for our electric consumption.
When we got there and went through the paperwork, we reminded them that although they had booked us for a full month, we would be leaving one day short of that. The woman at the desk, Audrey, helped us check in said that since it was just one day early it wouldn’t be a big deal. She did inform us that their policy was that anyone on a monthly rate had to give notice in writing if they’d be leaving early.
A week or two into our stay, we decided we would like to leave a day earlier to drive down to Big Bend National Park. So, I went back to the office to get clarification on the policy about leaving early, and once again Audrey reminded me that they had policies about leaving early, but now the owner would have to sign off on it. So I left a note for the owner to give me a call to discuss.
It was nearing the end of our stay and I had not heard from the owner so I made another stop in to office to find out if we could get this whole thing resolved. This time, the owner was in, and I was able to discuss it with her. As confusing as all of the other discussions with Audrey had been, the owner made it pretty clear. Since we would be leaving after 28 days instead of the contracted 30 days, they’d ask that we give up the original $150 deposit. While giving up that deposit was not ideal, the total of the deposit plus the monthly rate was still going to be less than getting charged at their weekly rate. To me that was reasonable, so we went ahead and sent our email notification to the office that we would be leaving early, and thought this whole thing was settled.
Fast forward to the day we are leaving. We had already packed up everything and had the truck hooked up. We went to the office to check out. (By the way, this was also the only place we stayed so far that requires a check out.) Sure enough, Audrey seemed to have no recollection that we intended to leave early, and said she wasn’t authorized to make any changes to the account without the owner’s permission. She was going to charge us at the more expensive weekly rate, nearly $400 extra to leave 2 days before the month was over! This is also when her attitude became unpleasant. She called the owner who also seemed to have forgotten the conversation. At this point we were all frustrated, but I will say that I found Audrey’s attitude toward us incredibly insulting. Eventually, they grudgingly relented. With plenty more attitude from Audrey, they agreed to honor the spoken arrangement we had with the owner, that we would just be giving up the security deposit.
We learned a good lesson here. When someone offers us something that is outside of their normal policy, we need to get it in writing. We have to be vigilant in documenting everything. Pecan Park certainly had their contract to fall back on, and we only had our word to go on. Aside from the frustration of dealing with the management, Pecan Park was actually nice place to stay. We were comfortable, and enjoyed our view. As I mentioned, this would be a fantastic place to be in the warmer months. However, we won’t be back. With all of the choices out there, not just of campgrounds, but destinations, they will certainly have to do a better job of customer service to justify repeat visits.