Iceland – Day 12-15

Day 15 (July 5)

At the airport in Reykjavik… and one last photo of food.  It’s only because this one was just so "beyond expectations" as Steve said.  This was breakfast.  $35.00.  And it wasn’t very good. What was good at the airport was the free Wi-fi connection to the Internet.

Iceland Air charged me 6,000 Krona (expected) for my extra 20 kilos of baggage.  I don’t think at this end they are counting 3 pieces, just weight, so I was glad that in lieu of my bathroom scale to weigh me and my bags, I just loaded up my Lowe Pro Computrekker AW (rolling bag) with all the heavy items I could get into it.  I am sure I moved 10 kilos out of the checked baggage for the return trip.  What was all this stuff you might ask… a short list, of Canon equipment: a XH-A1 HD cam, 1DsMkII, 5D, SD800, 15mm FFF, 16-35mm, 24-105mm, 70-200mm, 400mm DO, 1.4 extender, 2 tripods, 1 monopod, heads/pano brackets, Steadicam Merlin, rain slickers, lots of batteries, parts, and cleaning equipment.  Oh, and don’t forget the notebook computer and parts.  I should have left the Merlin at home, I forgot a rain slicker for the 1DsMkII, but most of the rest was used.

All & all it was a lovely time for sure.
Almost 4100 km. in total over 14 days.  Thanks to Steve for all the
driving.  A great trip.

cheers, Rusty

Day 14 (July 4)

Click here for the Google Map (then zoom out, and click on "Hybrid" in the upper right)

The last day.  We hadn’t that far to travel to our hotel in Reykjavik, so like days before in similar situations, we got creative.  Loops, odd roads, going places no one except locals would ever go.  We dashed to the coast just south of Selfoss, the somewhat large town of 6,000 souls that was between our hotel and the sea.  We were heading for the harbor town of Eyrarbakki, where in 985 AD., Bjarni Herjólfsson, a young merchant, sailed for Greenland, but instead reached the shores of North America along the way. Upon his arrival in Greenland, Bjarni told Leif Eriksson of his discovery and sold him his boat, which Eriksson used for his own journey to North America.  I wanted to see where this stroke of incredible bad luck started.  Unfortunately we had our own bad luck when we got there and the museum would not open for another 45 min. after we arrived in town.  So we pressed on to Þorlákshöfn and watched the ferry from Vestmannaeyjar arrive! R200707041007182704 This is exactly the ferry I want to ride on my next visit to see this group of islands (16 in all, newest being Surtsey). 
Along the way we caught a few shots of some swans (Steve said they were swans)… very beautiful.  I wished I had a little more time to photograph them. 

Our energy spent from all this tourist activity we were famished yet again and on the prowl for one last super expensive lunch.  We found it at the Hotel Rangá just east of Hella.  The wait staff was outstanding, the food delicious (salmon on lettuce and herbs), potato soufflé and a nice glass of white wine (standard Spanish import I recall).  Best $120 lunch you can get in Iceland.  Highly recommended if you have no other choice like us.

Starting on the second of these somewhat large impromptu loop tours we could see from many kilometers away, a white streak on a very large cliff.  Being experienced would-be-saga-loving-Norseman-wanna-be’s we of course struck out straight for it.  No sooner had we arrived and deployed our digital assets to the field as it started raining, really big drops… with some thunder even.  Steve went left, and I went right, we both managed a few shots before being changed back into our Mitsubishi mud-mobile.  This is Seljalandsfoss falls.  Certainly one of the most beautiful of the hundreds in Iceland.

We ended the day back where we started at the Iceland Air hotel in Reykjavik.  It was noisy this time with many bus loads of tourists arriving and departing at all hours of the day and night (well, early morning, it was never dark).

Day 13 (July 3)

Click here for the Google Map (then zoom out, and click on "Hybrid" in the upper right)

We were heading north again, R200707031541432648after fueling up in Vik, which is pretty much at the southern end of Iceland, we headed north to circle the Myrdalsjökull ice cap
To Landmannalaugar in the interior.  It has a rich history of tectonic activity and it is still very active today with steam vents, hot springs, colorful hillsides, and rocks that have not been there that long!  R200707031438102593It is an exciting passage over rivers and pot holes, the roads are fairly well marked but the GPS was a definite help a few times.  R200707031227172508
It is all a one-track dirt or gravel road, sometimes over riverbeds, crossing and re-crossing streams.  A few times we even had what could be called a traffic jam and had to wait a few minutes for everyone to ford the river.

By this point of the trip our car was pretty trashed.  Dirt flying in the back hatch back was a problem every time we opened it.  We just learned to live with it.  Think of it as "good dirt".  We had lots.

We arrived early enough at our last hotel-on-the-road, the Hotel Hekla/Brjánsstaðir, R200707040905072674
where I was destined to meet one more new friend, EMMA.  She is a 3 month old Border Collie.  And full of trouble for the hotel employees.  The hotel was comfortable, but not lavish.  The ADSL Internet connection was almost non-existant.  Steve and I had both had dial up connections that were faster in the "old days".

Day 12 (July 2)

Smyrlabjörg to Geirland (thanks again to Steve for the spelling!)

Click here for
the Google Map (then zoom out, and click on "Hybrid" in the upper
right, Google Maps lacks data for much of Iceland)

I have to throw away all concepts of phonetic spelling and study the map two or
three times to get these place names typed correctly.  Much like memorizing a
password, pronunciation, it’s always a shocker when the locals speak to
me in their native tongue and says something that does not remotely
come close to permutations that dance around in my imagination.  We had
a room here on the end of the building, closest to the stairs and hot
tub, the latter which we did not use, and the former we heard a bit too
much.  We are continually surprised to find Internet access almost
ubiquitous around the island, which means we can get updates from the
world, and for me, telecommuncation via voice as well.

Cloudy again, we did our usual roll out (that means in the car, gone)
about 10 a.m. and immediately headed up the mountain behind us to the
Skalafellsjokull glacier.  Climbing up a steep, crumbly road we mounted
the lateral moraine of the glacier to almost 800 m.  This was higher
than any other point thus far in Iceland, about 2500 ft.  R200707021045052139
Our arrival at the top coincided with the departure of a
follow-the-leader group of snowmobilers across the glacier and the
icecap beyond.  Such activities can only be done with a guide due to
the always present danger of falling into a hidden crevasse.  A quick
look about, some video, a 360, many still shots, and we were off down
the mountain again.  R200707021130192154edit
My favorite shot of the day was taken on the way back down.  I spotted
the location on the way up and nailed it coming back  down the
mountain.  The lateral moraine of the glacier is bounded between the
thick ice in the center of the glacier with many transitory zones of
ice.  One of which, just before the ice goes away, is an almost
blackish boundary of progressively thinning ice.  It looks like SEA

Continuing our circle we stopped oh-so-briefly at Jökulsárlón.
It was likely once a nice place to see the terminus of a glacier in a
lagoon.  However it seems to have morphed into a tourist rip-off with
surly help.  The thinnest, smallest, and most expensive bowl of
self-serve-seafood-soup-from-the-pot (850 Kr. about $15 USD) from a
not-so-friendly-tourist-jaded-employee.  R200707021333042221
Only because we were VERY hungry did we pause here.  It was the worst
place in Iceland I saw.  It is just so sad places have to turn out like
this sometimes when they become "over trafficked".  Don’t go, keep on
driving…. you’ll pass over this bridge next (right).  R200707021508362234
Then onward across one of the many one lane bridges in Iceland.  We
speculated that retrofitting these to be two lane bridges would be very
expensive.  Since many of these bridges are long, they, like the one
lane tunnels, have extensive pull outs, for stopping to allow traffic
to continue in the opposite direction.

Next after skipping the masses of tourists at Skaftafell National Park
(looked interesting, but we were running out of time) we stopped at Núpsstaður, a UNESCO World Heritage siteR200707021610312306
Stop here, be patient, wait for the tour buses to leave.  It is a wonderful place.  Nestled beneath the cliff of Lómagnúpur, known from the Njál’s saga, built sometime before 1200 AD, was the original church.  It is small, still used, and very uniquely preserved.  Check Steve Ginn’s web site for interior views.

We arrived at Geirland in time for dinner, and I met a new friend (self portrait of both of us).

were a few bus loads of tourists that arrived here, with high clearance
vehicles for interior travel.  Something we were about to find out
about tomorrow with a few dozen rivers to ford.

We were leaving the "ring road" again, and we were happy about it.


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