The Everest thing…


“Two asthmatics are on a mountain…” It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke you’d hear in an English pub, or down at Ginny’s Little Longhorn – one of my favorite dive bars right here in Austin, Texas. But, that’s how TRAVEL starts out… Right? Storytelling. Reading a blog (like this… hopefully), spotting an exotic location in a magazine, seeing some beautiful backdrop in a movie, talking to somebody about their vacation, watching a TV show that inspires you to seek life’s adventures – The Amazing Race, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Dhani Tackles the Globe, or my personal travel inspiration – Globe Trekker w/Ian Wright and Megan McCormick  (Pilot Company). No matter what the medium… Find your Everest thing…

Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming USA

I’m an enthusiastic fool when it comes to TRAVEL. Add a sucker who is willing to be a partner in crime and help me push beyond my physical limitations as an asthmatic, and you’ve got my fellow asthmatic buddy Nickerson. We were working together for a large technical corporation named after the owner. No… there’s no Mr. Google, Mrs. Apple, or Sir Facebook, so you’ll figure it out (if you don’t already know). He moved from Chicago to Texas, then realized that wasn’t a drastic enough culture shock for him, so he and his wife moved to Singapore. He even found time to start up his own TRAVEL company – Beyond Travel. After what seems like 5 or more years, they’re are moving back to Texas in June 2011. As a proud Texan (more specifically… Austinite), I understand; however, I’m incredibly annoyed with myself for never making the trek East to visit them and explore Asia (one of the continents I MUST see!).

Sunset - Gulfo de Papagayo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

The Everest thing… So, how did the conversation start? I don’t remember. Wait… sure I do. I was running my mouth on Facebook, because my wife was away on business in Costa Rica. LOVE that place! Spent a week there for our honeymoon up in Guanacaste, Costa Rica – Gulfo de Papagayo (May 2006). That has absolutely nothing to do with this story. Anyway, I was looking after my sons (Cameron and Jordan). A little adventure I like to call… KIDWATCH 2011. Somewhere between Day 3 and Day 9, I finally lost all rationale and sanity and blurted out that the 17mo old was conspiring with the 3.5yr old, and swore the cat was in on it. It led me to this now famous statement…. “I think I might move to Nepal and train with the Sherpas. Everest 2020 baby! Who’s in?”

The rest of the exchange went something like this…

  • Mark NickersonCount me in! Trying to find time to get out to Kathmandu this spring

    February 25 at 9:43am ·
  • Jason CookeCrazy or not… I’m really serious about Everest. If I get this bronchiothermoplasty surgery for my lungs this year (or next) then I want to set a goal to reach Everest Base Camp @ 17,000ft before I turn 50 in 2020. Nickerson… let’s do it! Going to test myself in Bavarian / Austrian Alps (Austria/Germany) and Julian Alps (Slovenia) this May.

    February 25 at 9:56am ·
  • Mark NickersonI also have a goal of getting to base camp! Yea we WILL do this! Two asthmatic old wheezing fools risking an embolism just to go sit halfway up a mountain. Sounds about right!

    February 25 at 10:00am ·

Nickerson has it all planned out for 2020 (or sooner so it seems). In his words, the biggest expense is the flights – getting to/from Beijing. From there, taking the train down through Xi’an and on to Lhasa in Tibet. The nice thing about the train is that you start off at sea level and at its highest point reach about 16,600 feet above sea level. The journey takes about 3 days. Should help with altitude adjustments necessary for the trip. From Lhasa, we would then want to fly to Kathmandu, then hire a truck to drive us BACK to Lhasa; but, with stops along the way at monasteries, and of course, Everest Base Camp (17,000ft).  Factoring in time for sightseeing in China, Tibet and Nepal, plus, the fact you have to apply for special overland permits in Kathmandu (which takes a couple of days) and the transit time itself, the estimate is a solid two weeks round trip from Beijing to Beijing. Then he finished up his statements by saying “much jealous of your trip to Slovenia. I’ve been wanting to get there for donkeys ages. See you guys soon!”. Really? Really? See… Nickerson inspires me! You never know who you will meet that could change your life… for the better.

The Lone Star Flag
TEXAS! The Lone Star Flag - OX Ranch

In reality, that’s what this blog is all about. TRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER. Sharing stories, meeting crazy cool and interesting people, building relationships, and in the process… hopefully learning a thing (or two) about the world we live in and the amazing cultures that make up this smorgasbord /ˈsmôrgəsˌbôrd/ we call Planet Earth. It’s a fascinating place! We’ve sent people to the moon… Doesn’t it only seem fair we discover a bit more of what’s in front, behind, next to, and all around us?

Join the Conversation! What’s your “Everest thing…”?

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TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?


So… What exactly is it about TRAVEL that makes the corners of your mouth curl north into an inescapable smile? Is it the similarities we share with the places we go? Or, the differences from the people we meet that set us apart? Why not BOTH? For me… It’s the similarities AND the differences that make me HAPPY. That’s what drives me toTRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Groucho Marx said “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, TODAY , and I’m going to be happy in it.” That’s my approach to TRAVEL. Whether it’s getting soaked while hiking out on the Isle of Skye in The Highlands of Scotland… Peacefully strolling along the canals amongst narrow row houses in Amsterdam… Playing “Where’s Waldo?” in Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain with 2 idiot drunk friends… People watching with my wife at a bar in Whistler Village, British Columbia, Canada… Or, 2:47am chillin’ with a hazelnut mocha (no whip) at Strange Brew 24 Hour Coffee Shop in South Austin, Texas. Whatever it is… TRAVEL is fuel for the heart, soul and mind. It makes me HAPPY.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’m not a writer. I’m not a photographer. But… I am a traveler, dreamer and explorer. So, here I am with a novice appetite for photography and an uncontrollable hunger for TRAVEL. A state of mind I like to call TRAVEL.i.CIOUS. And still… I’ve barely scratched the surface of this vast world.

Sunset in Christchurch, New Zealand

It was November, 6th 2005 and my “girlfriend” and I were in Queenstown, New Zealand on the South Island. We found ourselves stumbling out of a frozen ice palace of absolut wonder called “Minus 5”. Yes, the pun is intended. It WAS -5 C inside, the bar was made of ice, the glasses were made of ice, and the beverage of choice was absolut vodka. They gave us HUGE thick Eskimo looking coats to wear, since nobody could have possibly prepared for the elements in that joint. No… This was not at all similar to any bar I’d ever been to back in Texas. As my “girlfriend” and I proceeded to toss back the blackcurrant vodka, we surveyed the bar with our magnificent people watching skills, only to realize that we were not the only ones in pure amazement at our surroundings. “Pretty cool, huh?” said a tall man with a German sounding accent. I responded, “Never experienced anything like this in my life. Fantastic!”.

Friends from Germany and Austria in NZ
Minus 5 Ice Bar, Queenstown, NZ

We continued to discuss the ice bar, then struck up a conversation about Queenstown, and swapped stories of our time on the South Island of New Zealand. The surprising comfort was that we were two globe trekkers talking about TRAVEL. There was no mention of “what do you do for a living?”. Only the age old travel question… “Where are you from?”. My response… “We’re from Austin, Texas”. His response… “I’m from Germany, my wife is from Austria; but, we are living in Switzerland”. They laughed about the fact that people from Texas, first and foremost, ALWAYS say they are from Texas instead of from America. Then they proceeded to tell us that Austin, Texas was on their list of “places to see”. Unbelievable! A proud and exciting moment in travel. Lance Armstrong, SXSW Music Festival, the Texas Hill Country. Impressive. They knew about my home town – AUSTIN.

Sunrise - Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ

From what I recall, there was a time limit on how long you could stay inside the ice bar, so we proceeded to make our way back to the hotel when a loud ruckus came from across the waterfront. It was already after 3am, and I had already blown nervous plans that evening to propose to my “girlfriend” and ask her to be my “wife”. That didn’t happen. Somehow… Some way… We ended up in another bar watching Tana Umaga and the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team playing Wales in the 2005 Internationals in Europe on TV at 5am with a German, an Austrian, and a bunch of passionate Kiwis. WHAT? 

Church of the Good Shepherd
View inside Church of the Good Shepherd - Lake Tekapo, NZ

That evening, I learned more than I ever thought I would about Germany and Austria. Inspiring info for an Austin GlobeTrekker. The All-Blacks went on to beat Wales 41-3. Three days later… on November 9th, 2005, I had the PERFECT opportunity at Lake Tekapo, NZ to ask my girlfriend to be my wife. She said… YES! On May 15th, 2011 we will celebrate our 5yr Wedding Anniversary. WHERE in the world are we traveling? Almost 2 weeks in Europe – Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.

So ask yourself the question… TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?

Hello World!


TRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER
Austin GlobeTrekker is all about sharing TRAVEL stories, photos, and experiences from my hometown (Austin, TX) and trekking around the globe with others.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… TRAVEL is the catalyst for my non-scholastic “Theory of a Better Life”. To put it simply – TRAVEL makes me HAPPY. Whether it’s around town… or around the world… being happy makes life MUCH better.

MISSION: Create an active, open, non-judgmental and vibrant blog where my friends (and friends of friends) can share TRAVEL stories, photos and experiences with one another. In the process… hopefully discover new places, cultures, and meet new friends from around the world. So enjoy! Join the conversation! CHEERS!

“Be the change you want to see in the world”
~ Ghandi

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
~ St. Augustine