at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Category: Adventuring (Page 1 of 3)

Alps Adventuring: Crossing Hell – Höllengebirge, Upper Austria

Sometimes, you just have to go through hell… or cross its peaks, when the hell you are talking about are the “hell mountains,” the Höllengebirge of Upper Austria.

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Blood Moon 2018

Microexploration: The Longest Lunar Eclipse, Not Far Away

When there is a lunar eclipse, a.k.a. a blood moon, and the longest one of the century at that, do you go out to see it?

Can you have a (micro)adventure, take a chance for microexploration, with something so simple, in a landscape that you are more than used to?

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Alps Adventuring: The Traunstein Over Night

Little adventures can sometimes be the hardest to come by:

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Out Winter Running: 24H Burgenland Extreme-ly Different

The 24 Hours Burgenland Extreme has, from its inception, been a fun extreme.
Walking, running, crawling – whatever you have to do – around the Neusiedler See lake in the middle of winter is definitely quite crazy.

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#GetAtHome adventuring: Re(dis)covering Civilization near Rotholz in Tyrol

My adventuring this spring continued with a last time out to help with the spring plant sales of Arche Noah (Noah’s Ark, Austria’s society for the preservation of heirloom plant varieties).

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#GetAtHome Work: Arche Noah in Schiltern, A Lesson in Time

Another year, another May 1 I went out to support Arche Noah (Noah’s Ark, Austria’s society for the preservation of heirloom plant varieties) in their spring plant sale.

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#GetAtHome Work: Unwillingly Discovering the Fascination of Biology in Marchegg

Marchegg.

The area around it, the Marchfeld, may be important for Austria’s vegetable growing.
We may have been enjoying the asparagus from there, but I didn’t want to have to go there.

I’m still, aside from current freelance work, pursuing a teaching qualification, though.
This semester, want it or not, this study program finally had me taking the outdoors / field didactics course.

I was just in the middle of a nicely creative – and nicely paying – freelance project (analyzing whether a new technical bureau in a larger city could help a company entice more technical staff to join them, and if so, where the best location for that would be).
So, it was with hesitation that I went out there.

Almost Home, Way Out There

Out, that is, to a former train support staff’s house on the border between Austria and Slovakia.

Again, out with a train to Bratislava… this time, the other line from Vienna, not the one I (finally) took to get to the Bratislava Marathon. But still, a train line to a place within visible distance from the mountain that hides Bratislava from where I live, just to the north of it.

Where I (usually) live, Parndorf (Southwest of Bratislava) and where Marchegg is (Northwest of Bratislava). [Map: Google, via screenshot because I don’t want to save this as a “My Map”]

Not exactly much of a journey, and not a place likely to be of interest to too many travelers.

Especially when it comes to the biological station that this house was turned into.

Marchegg Biological Station

Marchegg Biological Station (Smartphone photo + Google Photos’ interpretation makes for quite the fittingly old-timey look ;) )

It used to be a place where steam trains changed their water, because only here in all of the east of Austria could they get calcium-poor water that wouldn’t settle in their tanks as badly.

Which is to say that the house is a little bit old.

With only wood stoves.
No electricity.
No running water.

Very basic.

Not exactly good while feeling that a well-paying freelance project, which requires online research, needed continuing…

Then again, in the middle of way too much time in front of a computer, increasingly suffering neck pain from it, maybe just the time-out needed?

Well, it was.

Thinking Makes It So…

The universe won’t care about anything at all that you wish, but there is one way it bends to your will:

When you decide to see something as a worthy adventure rather than a drag, there is a chance you can make it so.

I decided to see this course as a bit of an adventure, and so it became.

We all worked together pretty well, all the students who went there.
We got a bit more experience teaching; carried, cut and chopped wood; cooked for the group over small gas flames; spent time around an open fire; got to know more about this landscape.

It amazes me.

I don’t know why anyone would still be reading this, but imagine:

You have an area here that mainly looks just like fields.

It is mainly just fields; this area of the Marchfeld is a major vegetable, and especially asparagus, growing one.

… and Knowing Helps a Lot

The Marchfeld is also, at least in part (with dams regulating the river and such), a place where the March river flows and regularly floods quite an area.

Therefore, one finds an alluvial forest here, which are places that are quite interesting to biologists in their species richness and as ecosystems that are quite wild.

March Alluvial Forest in Early Sunlight

… and yes, very basic conditions still didn’t mean we could do without smartphones ;)

Here, something is added:
This is an area where Triops and other crustaceans which have existed since paleontological times still occur.

And to imagine that these fields, those little depressions, contain eggs of ancient species, just waiting for a flooding to let them hatch and reproduce yet again…

That is something.

If you take the time to think about it, at least.

If you don’t have to have the greatest and most extreme of excitement alone to stir your emotions.

Stirring Primal Emotions

If that kind of biological (species) survival isn’t your thing… We also got our thrills learning to handle the snakes that live there.

They aren’t poisonous and hardly bite, but snakes certainly do stir something primal in us human monkeys.

We quickly visited the area around Marchegg Castle, which is interesting to see, too.

Marchegg Castle

There, white storks still breed the way they originally did, with immense woodstick nests built into great dead trees.

Marchegg: White Stork Nesting in Trees

Marchegg: White Stork Nesting in Trees

(Mainly, the area where I live is known for the storks which build their nests on village chimneys, which is how most of them now breed.)

To keep the meadows there intact as the meadows that the storks need, and that used to be quite common, horses related to the wild Przewalski horses are kept there.

With them, a certain call of the wild is added. Especially as there were some battles over the proper hierarchy between the herd and an upstart stallion… and we had to pass right through that group of horses.

Wild Horses in Marchegg

Wild Horses in Marchegg

With them, also, the meadows have a certain look which is unlike that of meadows cultivated by machine…

Horse-Grazed Meadow in Marchegg

Horse-Grazed Meadow in Marchegg

And then, some of us students also spent way too much time socializing into the night, around the fire.

Which is primal, too, if ever there was something primal to us humans… as is the sight of the stars above:

Stars above the Campfire #adventuring

#adventuring, After All

In the end, though I could have done without it, it was a nice little adventuring, a good time-out from just working in front of a computer, indoors.

You don’t have to go all primitive for days, but…

  • How often do you still satisfy such primal emotions as sitting around a fire?
  • Do you know such an “eternal skill” as how to make a fire?
  • Are you aware of the hidden species around you and the life history they hold?
  • Do you get out at night, and to looking into the starry sky?
  • Is the night sky even visible where you are anymore?

Questions over questions, and themes on which much more could be written. Has been. And still needs to be.

Better yet, not to be written.

To be pursued.

#GetAtHome Challenge 01: “Bad” Weather? Get Out Anyway.

[This year, I want to do some things a little different.

One of those different things: Monthly challenges around different topics I find relevant to the overall challenge that it is to “Get At-Home”.

I’m more Digital GenX than Millennial, but in the stereotype of Millennial fashion, everyone (who participates) is a winner :-p

(Note to companies: If you want to sponsor a challenge, though, you’re welcome to get in touch…) ]

Weather.

It’s the hardly-recognized reason for good feelings and the obvious reason for many a complaint.

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A380 Business Class Boarding Pass

adventuring deluxe: Emirates Business Class in the A380

When I speak of “adventuring,” it is often microadventures I talk about.

Going bivouacking somewhere you’d usually not sleep outside, trying to run-hike what would amount to an ultramarathon, moving through the night… That sort of thing.

But, it is also other things that tell something of the world we live in, help us make ourselves more at home in this world.

Like airplanes?

What matters is just that we approach these things with a spirit of adventure.

Otherwise, we tend to not even notice them as something to do/experience rather than set aside as the usual and boring we already know.

Our recent trip to / family visit (and wedding celebration…) in China ended up, well, ending on a nice serendipitous case of such an adventuring that I had hoped for, but only ever in the way one hopes to win the lottery…

I really wish I could tell you – and therefore, know for myself – how to get upgrades to business class.

Alas, even with scores of travel hack websites around, most tricks don’t do anything if you are not a US-American flying on a US airline offering lots of different ways to earn bonus miles on an associated credit card, for example.

Those airlines fielding more complaints than anything, Emirates having offered good rates and a 30 kg checked-in baggage limit (and operating great planes – the A380 is the best I know even in economy class), that was our airline of choice for this summer’s trip to China.

Last leg of the flight back, Dubai-Vienna, we simply seem to have got lucky.

So, things went ‘adventuring’. Deluxe.

Emirates A380 Business Class Lounge

Emirates A380 Business Class Lounge

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