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Old 04-17-2013, 01:52 AM   #1
Frostback OP
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Oddometer: 235
Austria, Slovakia, Volcanos and Badger Butts

Volcanos, a Motorcycle and a Badger’s Butt; A Biologist's Ride

The best motorcycle trip reports generally start with a rider and a motorcycle. I have half of that combo but come Thursday morning I will subway, train and walk to an area of Southwest Vienna, Austria (They call it Wein) to rent a bike in a transitional area near the light industrial zone. This is not in the upper class shopping area where I am ensconced on someone else's expense account for work. The plan is to get into some wilder, remoter areas of Austria such as the Wild Alps, see some country and wildlife.

I am in Austria 7-17 April for a scientific conference and a week eating other people’s nice food and staying at decent hotels. This will be followed by a step-down in accommodation meaning eating roadside food of my own foraging, staying at hostels and motorcycling around the Austrian Alps.
Which of the two following photos looks like the most fun?

Week 1

Week 2

I vote for week 2. Still, some funny stuff going on at that meeting.

I am also a long term member of the CBOA (Cheap Bastards of America). Oh, I suppose I can afford nicer hotels but I would rather camp or hostel and put the savings toward my children's education fund, or my next bike.
So I like to buy and prepare my own meals sometimes:

These are TRUE Vienna sausages and you know what? The US Hormel version got it right regarding the flavor. They taste exactly like the ones that come out of the KY Jelly stuff. You remember, the ones with the ripped off lid that threatens to cut your fingers off as you extract their miserable little flaccid, skinless tubelets of livery meat with just enough end protrusion to resemble a circumcision event. Is it any wonder “weiner” has so many implications in English? How the hell do they get them in there in the first place and of what are they not made? Oh, I expect lips, noses, udders and testicles but dayam . . . that jelly goo- what part of a cow pig or chicken produces THAT stuff?
The crackers shown here are called Knackerbrot Kase & Kurbiskern which I interpret to mean “Roofing shingles infused with pumpkin seeds, sticks, small pebbles then embedded into cheese burnt to a Rockwell hardness of 68. These things are designed for motorcycling and won’t break in a violent high-side onto soft luggage. I think the Germans sent them to Austria figuring the Rotax boys could make valve guides out of them. I am gnarwing on one as I type and I fear the neighboring room is going to complain to the front desk about someone taking a ball peen to the bathroom tiles.

The Viennese are a highly sophisticated, cultured, and well-heeled crowd. Reigning in my CBOA motorcycle trip tendencies, I observe that a $6.00 cup of coffee and $5.50 per gallon gas require some adjustment and planning. The profit margins have an interesting specialization effect on the shops; I window-shopped and found stores that exclusively sold pop-up cards, leather clothing, a Justin Bieber store, a store that sold nothing but protein supplements, another leather clothing store (hmmm . . .), a tiny shop that sold only grooming devices like Czech handcrafted combs made of horn, boar-bristle hair brushes, 29 Euro nail clippers (!). I might have paide 29 Euro for something called a Nagelzwipper but not for a flippin' toenail clipper. Gimme a break!

There was also some wildlife parts; a genuine 139 Euro badger-hair shaving brush but then again, how much would YOU charge to pluck a badger? I could rent this bike for two measly pairs of toenail clippers per day or 3.5 shaving brushes per week.

Hey, I am on vacation! I am [soon to be] on a bike wandering aimlessly through the northern foothills of the Alps! A good friend and avowed atheist contends " The purpose of life is to collect good stories". I would leave the door open for more existential dimensions of meaning but he has a good start.

However,I have 3 more days of sitting through conference presentations about volcano plumes, climate change effects on deep sea brine currents, carbon cycling, plate tectonics, glacier calving into the ocean and some peatland management (my part). The droning on of nervous engineers makes me want to bite the back of my own neck! . .Why can't these people learn how to engage an audience? The content is there, the delivery sucks.

There are 13,500 people at this one conference, they have their own newspaper, 11,000 talks, wireless (hey hey hey.. . ), photo contest and with a nod to the Germanic appreciation of lower gastronomic products, a museum display of petrified poop.

Did I mention this crowd was a little different?

There was an infinitude of virtual pocket protectors but also a fair share of the dreadlock crowd. Of course they probably think me a pinko socialist because I gave two talks about policy and oil sands reclamation. I also chaired a session, served as a judge of some student posters and went out to eat with the VP and a few big wigs.

This convention is well . . . so conventional. I am adopting the conventions and conforming as best I can but I am not all that a conventional thinker so I find it tiring. It is not really my field either.

I wandered around Vienna by subway, train and bus for free and stumbled into a Steyr festival with dozens of guys with leather pants, accordions, Fraulein in poofy skirts, dozens of wine stands, sausage makers etc. Badger tails were everywhere in men’s hats too.

One for the girls, or whomever likes this sort of thing -

Let me say, I speak essentially no German and the websites and operation was not very English-oriented suggesting this place is for the locals mostly, but we got by. Only later did I discover that I can click a switch and translate the web materials. Nice.

Language. Being here is humbling and humorous. I botch all the names, people laugh and my coarse literal translations get me in trouble.

OK, going to post this and add when I get a chance later. There really is some nice mountain riding coming up and even a little offroad illegal.

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