Tag Archives: Globe Trekker

sLOVEnia: the little things we remember


I remember somebody once telling me… “Sometimes it’s good to be alone. As long as you never feel lonely.” I’ve been alone for the past few days. Home sick with bronchitis and a nasty sinus infection. Sorry for the ugly visual. But that leads me to my point. At no point do I ever feel lonely, and yeah… it has been good to be alone. No wife. No kids. No work. Very little stress (other than being ill). It has allowed me to contemplate on the importance of life. Love, family, friends, health (not so good right now), a place to call home, a job, and no matter what… you’ve GOT to have a hobby. Me? I have three hobbies. Dreaming of the next travel destination (if you haven’t guessed this by now), pretending to be a writer, and attempting to be an amateur photographer. A valiant effort on all three, because I’ve done what I’ve always set out to accomplish… I’ve joined the conversation. That’s how you start.

Lake Bled Slovenia 2011
Lake Bled Slovenia 2011

So, as I lay there alone, contemplating the world… actually just trying to figure out if I wanted a cinnamon raisin bagel, or a bowl of frosted flakes for breakfast (I went with the bagel), I thought about my recent travels through Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy for my 5yr wedding anniversary with my wife (Anna). I couldn’t help but laugh to myself about “the little things we remember”.

"Schnauzer vs Swan 2011"
“Schnauzer vs Swan 2011” – View of Castle Bled from Lake Bled Slovenia

Our first night in Slovenia, we took a walk around Lake Bled before dinner. The sun wasn’t even close to setting; but, it had this magical glare across the lake. The Pletna boats had docked for the evening, the wind was calm, the clouds mysteriously eerie, and the waterfront was an evening stroller’s paradise. I took my camera out to capture the lake and Bled Castle (Blejski Grad) perched upon a cliff’s edge in the background, and that’s when it happened – My favorite moment“Schnauzer vs. Swan”. A Slovenian man, walking his miniature German Schnauzer was dragged into my frame. No worries… I have an 18-250mm lens, I can just zoom past him. A swan calmly approached the bank, then ding! ding! the match was on! Yeah, I’ve gotta get a picture of this! What you see above this text is the before shot. I didn’t feel like shooting pictures of an undersized dog picking a fight with an over sized white bird. Plus, sometimes you have to come out from behind the camera lens and enjoy the reality of the time and space you are within. SO, that’s what I did.

View from Belvedere Pavillion of Church on Bled Island, Lake Bled, Slovenia with Mala Osojinica Forest Behind

In my previous blog, I wrote about the morning I woke up entirely too early, and watched the Sunrise on Lake Bled. I completely forgot that I had my old beat up Canon Elf digital camera lodged in my pocket, and actually captured 30secs or so of that incredible moment – alone down by the Pletna boat dock. Like I said, the great thing about TRAVEL… “the little things we remember”.

The thing about SLOVENIA… It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world that most people don’t even think about… or even know about. Each year, we try to find a travel destination that makes our friends and family say “Where?” or “Why?”. The kind of  backdrop that tells me, Jason… you’re not in Austin, Texas anymore. May 2011 – Slovenia was that destination.

Bled Island (Blejski otok), the only natural island in Slovenia.

We learned about this fascinating small country in Central Europe through National Geographic Traveler Magazine. Bordering Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary, this small country is packed with unbelievable beauty, incredible people and culture, captivating history, and a surprisingly amazing cuisine.

Ljubljana – Capital City of Slovenia

Mountains, lakes, wine country, farmland, rivers, coastline, forests, and caves. Slovenia has it all. There’s a reason the word LOVE is in the middle of sLOVEnia! Truly a place to be discovered.

view of Church of St. John the Baptist
Lake Bohinj (Bohinjsko jezero) and view of Church of St. John the Baptist – Triglav Lakes Valley

I’ve also uploaded all the photos from our Europe – May 2011 – 5yr Anniversary trip to Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Slovenia, and Venice, Italy on my Flicker page. If you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, or your stuck in a waiting room at a Dr.’s office or the DMV, then check it out: Europe 2011 – Austin Globetrekker

Cloudy Day in the city of Piran, Slovenia – Karst & Coast Region on the Adriatic Sea

I’m sure I’ll have more MUREMindless Useless Random Entertainment about my travels for you soon. Stay Tuned! Until then… TRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

“The Path” – Villa Bled on Lake Bled, Slovenia
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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…”?