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Migratory Powturns Pt 2 – Waking Nightmares and Undercover Cars

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I was waiting in the train station in the dark.

For some, it’s a waking nightmare to be in a train station in the dark, watching three other absent travelers, presently watching me in unison before talking amongst themselves. Somehow, they seem as skeptical of my night as I do but that’s the travelers paranoia, I tell myself: they are on their way to some idyllic Salzburgian homes and families that speak their native tongues and they pontificate with one another in what sounds like the dialect of woodland nymph mixed with a young Shwarzenegger. (Main image credit Tom Winter / Liberty Skis).

This is loose. They don’t care about me. Nor do these cold walls in this dark, empty train station that gets more frigid as more and more snow falls outside. Schnee. And in the train station in the dark, as the three other locals ascend into the collapsing doors of the last train of the night, one wonders if he can trust the good will of a skier he met on facebook six months ago who promised that they’d pick him up in this very place, a yawning fifteen minutes ago, a engorged twenty minutes ago, an inflating forty-five minutes ago and counting. Forget it… you’re losing track. Just pace and keep your eyes on your bags, never mind there´s no one else here.

The bahnhof (train station) of Zell am See, Austria emptied faster than my pocket full of Haribo bears, eaten as comfort food to kill time, add plaque and combat the unnecessary lack of confidence in my Osterrichian connection…. just as the devil burst through the automatic door. He led me and my ski bag – bindings erupting through the shoddy vinyl at this stage of the trip – into the back of his company car and we were off as the snow stacked up around us.

It’s on. Everything was unnecessary and the breadth of his open arms was astounding. He had everything prepared for me and more.

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Earlier that day I drove my skis through snow that should have stayed in the sandbox, 3000m above sea level. It was a strange sun-bake that was forgiven only in the wind-lips. And all over the off-piste was suspicious fresh that concealed core-shot starved great white sharks of sharp earth in Ischgl.

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Trackin’ it at Ischgl, Austria. Photo credit Tom Winter / Liberty Skis

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The goods at Ischgl, Austria. Photo credit Tom Winter / Liberty Skis

But those fears are unwarranted now.

The road to Zell am See and finally Eben with my connection was filled with welcome flakes of fresh snow and the next day I woke to swine popping in the pan high on the shoulder of a mountain side in central Austria in a thirty year old hand-built home. Nearly sleepwalking, I stepped over a golden retriever named Bode (after Miller), hand-made shoes with wooden soles from Grandpa, a pair of traditional, heavy and heavily inscribed leather pants and an all too novel jagerhud (hunters hat) in the corner. The home was holistically constructed, as organic and 3D as the innumerable aspects of the alps and the only semblance of four walls and a roof here may exist in the psychological realm, notably regarding a gross distaste for certain EU nations.

Some things will take some getting used to on this leg of the trip, but the overwhelming majority of new elements and hand whittled details in the wood above the breakfast table – as flakes nuke down in the harmony of a silent army – are as welcome as my new crew have been to me.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

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Undercover car. Photo Ben Wannamaker.

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