Monthly Archives: May 2006

Rushing water and people!

Got up again at 6:45am. Packed up and ate breakfast. Set off for the places missed yesterday. Started by journeying out to Pingvellir. WOW! SO breathtaking! Pinvellir (which is mispelled but I don’t have the key with the first letter that looks like a misprinted P on it so the P will have to do!) is a National Park containing Iceland’s largest lake. It is also, coincidentally, where the North American and the European tectonic plates meet. The ground in this area seperates and moves, on average, 2 cm a year. Which may not seem like that much but over hundreds of thousands of years it has caused dramatic changes in the landscape. There are deep fisures where it looks like the rocks have literally been ripped apart from one another. And this is a good place to have earthquakes as well.

Off to Geysir–Icelandic for…geyser–along the way to the left was one of the biggest glaciers I have seen. It spanned horizon to horizon. Off to the right was mostly flat tundra plain. Geysir is so named due to the numerous geysers in a very concentrated area. Some are so close together that they can’t measure the temperature because they can’t get past the superheated ones to get to them. Most of the geysers in this area are a pleasant and balmy 120 degrees C. Take your skin right off! Unlike in the US where this area would be all roped off and no one allowed within distance to get sprayed…in Iceland they trust people to be smart enough not to get too close. Looking at the ground and seeing where it was wet it was possible to get close without being in danger. I watched the biggest one which goes off every 5-10 minutes go and it as neat. Then I got closer, not where it was wet mind you, to watch it front and center. I have been to Old Faithful and was unimpressed and frankly, a little bored. And this is sort of what I was expecting from this one. Well the ground starts shaking and I think, “hmmm…this is going to blow soon.” And then in a great whoosh! There is suddenly water hundreds of feet in the air and steam everywhere! I jumped away and shrieked. Then as a suprise, right after it was finished, it went again! This, I learned, it actually pretty rare for this particular geyser. So a double treat. At that point a group of school children ran up so it was time to go. Couldn’t resist walking backwards to watch them shriek and squeal as they were all too close. He, he, he.
On to Gulfoss across what seemed to be another expanse of flat tundra prairie. Arriving where the Gulfoss Falls are supposed to be there was nothing special. Simply a parking lot and 2 little buildings apparently out in the middle of nowhere. Skeptical I walked down the path…and WOW! Better than Niagra Falls, better than the Great Falls of Virginia, better than Seven Falls of Arizona. Spectacular (I know, I’m tired of that world already too.) multi-cataract (like 27?) DOUBLE falls that I couldn’t even see the bottom of. Basically there is about a thousand foot drop from the river down into this gorge but none of this is visible from above because the river goes from maybe 30 feet across and VERY deep, to about 3 times as wide at the bottom of the gorge. AMAZING!
The lady at the shop there said that Mt. Hekla was only about 30 minutes away from there and then only 2 hours from Keflavik. Well, she was correct about the 2nd part but after driving for 45 minutes through spectacular scenery (I kid you not that around every corner and over every hill was a picture perfect postcard worthy view) I was no closer to the volcanoe, altough I could clearly see it off in the distance there was the small matter of this 90 ft river to cross. I found a tall hill and hiked to the top for more spectacular views. Deciding that I would miss the plane for London I turned for Keflavik. The drive there was uneventful and gorgeous. At one point it became clear that I was headed up a big steep incline. At the top I stopped and turned and GOODNESS! Streched out before me was the plain that I had been crossing. With Mt. Hekla and the glaciers off in the distance to the left, the vast plain, and then the crashing ocean off to the right. The view was so expansive that I could even see the islands (Faroes and ?????) which are about 15-25 miles off the coast. Incredible!
Arriving at the gas station near the airport I discover that they won’t accept foreign debit cards or credit cards. And I don’t have nearly enough cash to fill up. This is when things begin to get tense! Driving like a madwoman back to town to fill up, filling up, turning in the rental, and then struggling with what seemed to be multiplying luggage through the small, yet convienently under construction airport to the check-in counter. Only to learn that the time they put on the ticket for the plane leaving is about 30-40 minutes early because everyone dashes in at the last second. So although according to the ticket we took off about 45 minutes late we were actually, according to the airline, right on schedule! Very strange.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Summer 2006

Dicotomies

Iceland is small (as big as Maryland) but seems incredibly vast.
There are NO people in Iceland but yesterday in London if one more person bumped me on the tube I would have gone ballistic.
Glaciers and Volcanoes

I had more but I’m in a hurry to get going for the day…

Leave a comment

Filed under Summer 2006

Midnight Sunset

Got up at 11pm and went to a place called Perlan. Essentially, it is 6 hot water towers which were really ugly so the city built a glass geodesic dome on top and put a museum in the bottom along with trees and then on top is a rotating restaurant and outdoor terrace. The view was just incredible. Unfortunately, the clouds had rolled in and although the sky turned all kinds of interesting shades of blue, yellow, green, and hot pink, the sun didn´t ever show itself so as far as sunsents go was not that great.

After watching the sunset, hunger had set in. Unfortunately, Iceland does not run on my time, wherein, if it is light out, things ought to be open. So convience store fare was all that was available. As always, the adventure makes things that would otherwise be sickeningly unpalatable manageable. Next time I am here I will remember that things close at 9-10pm. That way I can enjoy some delicious Icelandic cuisine like grilled puffin, dried salt fish, or rotting shark fin. Mmmmm. Delicious!
At the guesthouse, the jacuzzi was available and I enjoyed a leisurely soak marveling at the fact that althought the sun had “set” it wasn’t close to being dark. More like a hazy, but bright sky. Then I decided to take the risk and try out the outdoor shower. At first the water was ice and I wasn’t sure I was going to be brave enough to experience this tradition. But then the water got nice and warm…forgot that all the water is free even the warmed, mineral geothermal water. And wound up enjoying one of the best showers in my life with perfectly heated water in the cool air. A delight for the senses. Off to bed!

1 Comment

Filed under Summer 2006

I think this is a road…

So…I´m not sure what time it is back in the States or really even what day it is.  It was very confusing to try to figure out this AM when we landed that it was 6:15am here but 2:15pm in the states.  I realize that it is tomorrow here which would mean it is yesterday there but does that mean that I landed before I ever left Baltimore because I didn´t leave Baltimore until 8pm on Sunday so if the time when I landed was 2:15pm that was Sunday, rightÖ (that is supposed to be a question mark but evidently it is not looking like one). 

Anyway.  Other than the confusion between here and there everything has been more than wonderful.  I cannot believe how gorgeous it is here.  I did 2 of my top 5 coolest things here today…and the weather is perfect…just about 40 degrees F I think (I know it is 10 C so whatever that conversion is…)

Customs and immigration was no problem whatsoever which is fine.  The stamp in my passport isn´t pretty but it is functional.  The rental car place had run out of cars when I arrived at the counter and it wasn´t going to be until afternoon that they would have one.  When I asked what was going to happen he asked if I would accept a 5 place upgraded to a jeep for no charge.  “Gee…let me think…I guess…but only to help you out not because that is SO cool.”  🙂 

So, the jeep is great and has more than enough room.  Left the airport for the Blue Lagoon which is a Geo Thermal Spa.  The water IS ACTUALLY blue!  A light, opague blue due to the algae, silca, and minerals.  They weren´t open yet so down to the coast.  At the beach you can see where the lava was slowly (or quicklyÖ) cooled by the ocean and then rubbed round and smooth over the thousands of years.  The frolicking lambs were VERY cute.  The houses here remind me of Eastern Europe.  The stark, modern, minimalist design ONLY they are a zillion different colors and almost all have either a brown or a white picket fence.  I just loved driving through the hills along the coast and not seeing one single person and then all of a sudden there is a little cottage\cinderblock home with a turquoise green roof and bright pink paint\siding all be itself jutting out into the ocean.  If it didn´t snow here 329 days of the year I could see myself here.  Essentially drove around in a circle seeing the steam from different geo thermal sources, lighthouses, and then back to the airport.  I know, I know, how could I skip the SaltFish Museum and 3D experienceÖ  Well, I could lie and say it wasn´t open, but you know that SaltFish is what keeps the Iceland economy humming so that couldn´t possibly be true…the real reason is that it STUNK to high heaven of rotting fish 🙂

Upon arriving back at the Blue Lagoon, WOW WOW WOW!  What bliss!  The water is perfect with patches that are very warm and patches that are very cool.  The water has a very high salt content so it is actually more hygenic than a chlorine pool.  I think I got a little bit sunburned on my cheeks.  They provide you with silca mud to exfoliate with while in the pools.  That was pretty cool.  The place is open at night and I can imagine how beautiful it must be all lit up, under the stars, the steam rising over everything due to the difference in the air temp vs water temp.  Blue Lagoon is second only to hogmany in Ediburgh for coolness. 🙂

After that the plan was to head to the Pingvellir which is a national forest.  But I never made it there.  Figured out what the signs that said Folksvablahblahblah meant historical stuff and stopped BrogarHoll which was a highpoint\hill with about 500 rock stacks covering the top.  It was pretty cool and easy to see that they were probably some type of memorial or worship thing.  I just love stone stuff.  (Oh, speaking of, leaving Keflavik there were 4 standing stones with there lead stones still balancing on top.  I have no idea what they were called but they were also neat.)  So having figured that out, enter the 3rd coolest thing I have ever done.  There was a sign for a Folksvablahblahblah and an arrow, oh and mind you this showed up only after spending 45 minutes going down an extremely bumpy road (like driving over those stop sign rumble strips continously whilst going up and down hills) so turning onto what seemed a smoother road was no big deal.  Almost all the roads outside of the 3 cities are just dirt tracks…most not even gravel…anyway…so the new road to the antiquitity seems better and smoother.  After driving for what seemed a long time a car passed and I asked if there was anything down there.  The guy indicated the horizon and said, there´s the sign.  Okay.  So at the sign are about 2,000 seagulls nesting on cliffs.  The road continues and I think, sure! This is breathtakingly spectacular.  Well, the road went from bad to worse in just under 3 minutes (Grampa the Ruby Road has NOTHING on this road…) but I pressed on, because to turn back seemed like cowardice.  I actually lost the road several times because it was so “rustic” that is was hard to tell which rocks people before me had scraped there cars over ((no way this could have been done with what I had rented…thankfully the jeep did wonderfully)) and around.  Cliff after cliff edge kept appearing over every hill.  And then a tiny lighthouse.  Eventually the road disappeared into thin air and I had to turn around.  I feel very confident in saying that any jeep off road competition anywhere in the world I could be a competitive driver in after this experience.  Wow.  It was amazing.  Exhilirating. 

At this point no where near the national forest the decision is made to head to Reykavik and a bed.  Yawn.  On the way Christ Church (1857) and Lake Kleifarvatan was were both beautiful in their own way.  More dirt roads with deep ruts. 

I am on my way to sleep now because I want to get up at midnight and watch the sunset, soak in the jacuzzi for an hour, use the outdoor spring fed (read cold as heck) shower, and then watch the sunrise and go back to sleep.  Tomorrow I will head up to the glaciers and active volcanoes.  As well as the viking digs.  I cannot believe how spectacular this place is.  It is a sensual (meaning delighting the senses not anything sexual) experience.  The air is so fresh, the weather just a little chilly, the ocean, the cliffs, the people so friendly, the stones and natural environment.  Everything just comes together in this spectacular place. 

Location: Guesthouse 44, Reykavik, Iceland 

Weather: Perfectly cool

Interesting Fact: I can speak, well read, Icelandic which is a modern form of the viking language and so can you!  Translate these words: nord, sud, pastasa, kirkja, tunafiskr, holl, fjordur, lyf, bakerai, gazole, diesal, laek, and blind haed (hint it is a driving thing).  If you get confused just say them outloud…

3 Comments

Filed under Summer 2006

Just over 12 hours to departure!!!

“They change their sky, not their mind, who cross the sea. A busy idleness possesses us: we seek a happy life, with ships and carriages: the object of our search is present with us.  ”

                                                               –Horace

Wow!  I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified.  I am mostly done with everything but the last few things on the list seem to be big ones–patch my fence, plant the garden…you know, those things that everyone worries about prior to leaving home for 6 weeks.  I would have gotten both of those things done today but I couldn’t find the sunscreen and the thought of sitting on a plane for 12 hours sunburned beyone belief was just not that appealing.  The fact that it was almost 100 degrees didn’t make putting it off too difficult. 

I think I may actually cry over leaving Molly and Pete for so long.  I doubt they’ll even notice my abscence other than the treats are better when I’m gone. 

 6 weeks is a long time but I know it is just going to fly by.  Okay, I have to get back to getting ready to go…

Put me in new direction.
Point me to the edge of the world
With a warm heart and cold complexion
Strong and burdened with a flag unfurled
Where to today?
Miles away
And as I sigh the long goodbye,
what will be found wandrin’ around? 
Where you going?
I have one question, maybe three 
Is it showing?
We race away from who we used to be
Where to today?
Miles away

Weather: Hot as a bear!  Humid like steam!

Location: Upstairs office, Hermitage, TN

Interesting Factoid: Not only can I not get everything to fit in my pack but I was able to withdraw $400 from the ATM.  Go figure…I didn’t think I was packing too much and I thought I could only withdraw $200 a day.  Color me befuddled.

1 Comment

Filed under Summer 2006

4 Days and counting!

It was an exciting day…I have secured a rental car in Iceland as well as in Ireland.  Funny the 4 days rental car in what is supposed to be SUPER expensive Ireland is $20 less than the 1 and a half day rental in Iceland.  Huh, things being expensive on a frozen island…go figure 🙂 

To further the excitement today I found out I have a cracked tooth which probably means it will have to come out 😦  Yuck.  Especially because I don’t particularly want to start my trip with a whole in my mouth.  But I go back to the dentist tomorrow so he can peruse my teeth and make a recommendation.  Unfortunately, I doubt he will give me a discount on pulling the tooth even though I just paid him last month to patch up the cavity that was there.  All that $$$ and work for nothing!  I’m sort of in a bind because I don’t really want to have the tooth yanked but I don’t want to have problems during my trip either.  We’ll see what doors are opened regarding this issue…

Time is ticking down and I can tell I am becoming more and more anxious (not necessarily in a bad way) because I am doing less and less to get ready.  I did make a list tonight of what needs to be done.  Hopefully, that will be motivating enough to get things done.

I wish there was an (800) number I could call and for $10 an hour hire a personal assistant to do the things that need to be done that are driving me crazy like installing the last 3 feet of chicken wire so the dogs can’t escape from their fenced in run, or to plant the raspberry bush and the 2 rose bushes that are sitting in my driveway, or type up my information sheet for my trip.  So much to do–so little time and energy to complete any of it…

Location: Upstairs office, Hermitage, TN

Weather: Cool and calm–Quite lovely

Factoid: I still haven’t mailed out the Mother’s Day cards that I bought a month ago, which are only partially addressed, and riding around in my car in a Kroger bag. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Summer 2006

T Minus 6 And Counting!

Well…time is really flying…working 14 hour days will do that though…

I saw the Da Vinci Code tonight.  It was good but needed help with editting.  I am firmly resolved to see the Rosslin Church and the Rose Line both of which I believe are in London. 

 I have secured a rental car for Scotland and England as well as tickets for the ferry from Ireland to Scotland.  Tomorrow I’ll get the rental car for Ireland as well as the vouchers for the rooms there.  I bought my journal for the trip tonight as well as a book for the flight(s).  My backpack is finally done and just waiting to be loaded up with my ziplocked clothes and junk.  I ought to buy stock in ziploc since I have bought so many boxes this past week.

Location: Upstairs office, Hermitage, TN

Weather: Unseasonably cool for late May

Interesting Factoid: The soap I am taking with me is “Bed and Breakfast” scented

Leave a comment

Filed under Summer 2006