Tag Archives: Nickerson

Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!


Every once in awhile, I refrain from correcting people. Even when I know they are wrong… or stupid. Instead, I prefer to select sarcasm as my weapon of choice, and see how far I can go with it. Not too long ago, somebody overheard me talking about my upcoming trip (at the time) to Europe. Something like “blah blah blah Germany… yada yada yada… Austria… yickety yackety castles and beer… “ Then in all its glory came the comment I will never forget – “Did you say Austria? Oh man, are you gonna see some kangaroos? Always wanted to see one up close. Austria’s like super far, right?”

Austria Lake District - Salzkammergut - on the way to St. Gilgen, Austria - May 2011

Although sarcasm is just one of my many skills, sometimes the prey is soooooo easy, that it makes it overwhelmingly difficult to restrain oneself. As the corners of my mouth began to curl to a warm grin, all I could think was “where should I begin!?”. I was about to make the error of actually correcting the individual, and clarifying “no no no… not Australia. Austria.” Unfortunately for them, my friend sarcasm took over. Granted, we were in a bar, it was late, and a bit loud; however…

  1. you can see a kangaroo in most primary zoo type establishments, right here in the USA. Or, if your name is Oprah, then I’m sure a kangaroo would willingly come to your estate.
  2. unless you are Jamaican, named Usain, with a last name of Bolt, and you happen to have a couple of pieces of gold laying around your home that you got in China during your Summer 2008 visit… it’s not likely you’re going to get “up close” and personal with a kangaroo in the wild.
  3. Maybe I did say Australia instead of Austria. Who knows! But, Australia isn’t even IN Europe. In fact, last time I checked an encyclopedia… or Google for that matter, it was a continent.
  4. My 3.5yr old is scared to death of kangaroos (don’t ask me why, I have no idea) so why would I be going to see some kangaroos up close and personal?
Modern Art Exhibit - Mozartplatz - Salzburg, Austria - May 2011

It was so stupid that I questioned a few more things while I prepared for my sarcasm.

  1. Why am I scared of clowns?
  2. Does it really need to be so hot in TEXAS?
  3. Why is there a GIGANTIC gold ball with a mannequin looking man on top of it in the middle of Salzburg, Austria?

These are the frightening things that keep me up at night.

I have no idea what this is - Big Gold Ball? - Salzburg, Austria

Regardless, the whole experience brought back hilariously fond memories of an all-time classic movie, “Dumb & Dumber” (1994):

Lloyd: That’s a lovely accent you have. New Jersey?
Lady at bus stop: Austria.
Lloyd: Austria! Well, then. G’day mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbie!
Lady at bus stop: Let’s not.

After sorting through the buffet of sarcastic responses, I chose to go with “Yeah, you’ve gotta love those Australians in Austria”. Don’t remember anything else from the conversation. What I DO remember… is my time in AUSTRIA. I’ve blogged and blabbed about Germany and our time we spent with The Bavarians, and I apologize to all of my friends in Austria; because, I’ve gotta tell ya… I absolutely LOVE those AUSTRIANS in AUSTRIA!

St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut, Austria - May 2011

We made our way from Munich through the Bavarian Alps via the Deutsch Alpenstrasse up to SalzburgerLand and made our stay in the beautiful city of Salzburg. I did a LOT of research (too much mind you); but, well worth it, because we found a super cool hotel just outside the Alstadt (old town) called Hotel & Villa Auersperg. If you’re thinking about heading to Salzburg, save yourself some time, and book this place. Clean, updated, nice size rooms, good service, clean, GREAT breakfast (get the package), and did I mention clean? The only thing they didn’t have was air-conditioning in the rooms. It’s Austria… not Austin, Texas. You can survive over there without AC. Just open a window. Besides, we were a nice, safe, casual 5-10min walk to the center of Mozartplatz – Mozart Square; however, what I really appreciated were the recommendations by the staff. 1st night, we were tired after driving in from Germany. I know… a lot of you are saying “but, Germany is like an hour away!”. Not when you’re going through small villages, stopping for coffee and hiking up and down the Bavarian Alps lookin’ at castles. Continue reading Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!

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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…”?