Iceland

March 31th

I woke up at 4:30 am just because I couldn’t sleep and I wanted to make sure the house was clean, the trash was taken out and the cat was cuddled, plus I offered to open the shop before my trip. So I got to work, slung coffee and got so many well wishes from my guests as I mentioned I would be out for the next 2 weeks on my honeymoon. I am so lucky to have the guests I do. They are all really sweet. My boss let me go by 9 am, so I got on the road, turned on a good audiobook and drove from central Ohio to almost Syracuse, New York without stopping. Stopped, gassed up, stretched, stretched, stretched. And repeated this two hours later. It rained almost the entire ride.

 

…That is until Vermont…my GPS is dumb as shit…yeah so picture a Honda Civic driving by a sign that says “trucks chain up” on a state route (2 lane roads), up and down hills in the dark, white knuckling it all the way through a snowstorm….then my GPS drops me a block away from my final resting spot. So after getting stuck in one driveway (did I mention there are 4 inches of snow on the ground)? I finally make it to my Aunt and Uncles. My Aunt has a glass of Sonoma Pinot Noir and dinner waiting, I am so lucky.

 

April 1st

I get up around 7 am, clean off my car and get stuck on the road after having to rock my car out of my Aunt and Uncles driveway, then I get stuck sliding on their road…simple enough I dig snow down to the pavement, get traction and get moving. Again more white-knuckle driving until I hit Interstate.  It is very pretty for what little I see. I listen to NPR and then when I am half way to Boston, with a few hours to spare, what happens? Low tire light!!!!! I pull over, gas up and look at my tires. One looks low. So I find a tire place, they check it and say they can’t find any leaks…Wow…okay. I take it that this is my ancestors giving me a “send off” on my first trip outside the USA.

I stop at a Starbucks and park…$20 to park for one hour. Umm, yeah…to someone from Ohio with a poor public transit system I nearly puke at the thought of $20 for an hour of parking.  But I get the info I need from the web (again, I do not have a smartphone).  I pick up my fiance from her conference, we drive around Boston a bit, then head to the suburbs for lunch and we stop at another Starbucks to chill out before our flight.

After parking and getting to our gate, it is pretty smooth sailing. We get on the plane, toast with mini alcohol bottles and chill out.

 

 

Early April 4th

Day 3 in Iceland. This has been a major trip of ups and downs. We are learning a lot about travel, about ourselves, about proper clothing and about Iceland. The first thing learned, don’t rent a tiny camper van in the off-season of Iceland, as not many campgrounds are open.  2: don’t go with rent.is as they do not mention it on their website that their company is not marked on any sign and the information people at the airport don’t know who they are.  I am sure it would be better if it was the summer, but there are few campsites open and this “camping card” is nowhere to be found on the island. Furthermore, most stores don’t open until 10 am, so bring snacks and your first 3 days worth of food.

– If you try this route anyway be prepared for constant wind and rain. Live in your rain pants, moister-wicking base layers, and boots. Be prepared to be soaked to the bone as you drive around the island.

– We have both learned we can survive with less hygiene and on cold food and that we won’t kill each other over reeking. But on the plus side we stopped at a grocery store called Konna and I got some lamb steaks, bacon, butter, bell peppers, the famous Skyr yogurt, some cheese, chips, and paper towels, so I will at least be able to cook us a good meal sometime!

– Have I mentioned stuff is not open past 6 pm? For the ladies, my “go-girl” (aka silicone funnel that helps you pee) has been a real lifesaver, especially when we pull into camp-sites that were open on one website, but closed in real life.

– When they say the weather shifts…well Ohio or Alabama have nothing on this! In 3 days we have seen sun, wind, rain, wind-driven rain, snow, wind-driven snow and almost white-out conditions!

Lesson learned? Don’t go in April…just don’t….

 

Later April 4th

Now that I am done bitching for the moment, I must note how beautiful this country is. Ever seen the Rockies? Or the Appellation mountains? Or Hocking Hills? They have nothing on this country! The snow-covered peaks and the calm bays (some of which have fish farms), and the black sand beaches take me back to my childhood of long family road trips through the badlands and into Yellowstone. The high peaks remind me of pictures my father took of Alcapitan and his photo’s from Alaska. This is why photo-junkies come here, for the breathtaking, awe-inspiring views…

We summit-ed a steep peak in our camper-van on the 1 on our way to Egilsstadir (did I mention how pretty it is). Followed by a descent into a valley which took us to Egilsstadir where we stopped for fuel, to use the “water closet” (aka restroom) and have our breakfast of the famous “Skyr” yogurt (pretty tasty, definitely a must-try).  And then the shit really hit the fan…you know what a level 3 snow emergency looks like? Or for those of you not in Ohio, think of hurricane force winds, on a mountain with snow and ice.I am so thankful for my gear-head of a fiance/ wife (this is our honeymoon after all). She was so brave and so strong driving us up and down mountain passes through the almost blinding snow.

We passed one head-on collision of a van that was pushed by the wind across the road into another van. All passengers were safe. We drove by a bus on the side of the road that we have no idea how it got there and at some points were inching along behind other smaller vehicles through blinding snow.  Though for what it is worth we have a strong hypothesis as to what “cairns” (ancient square stone structures about a meter/yard high) are for. Since these rock stacks are evenly placed every 100 yards or so, we think they were used to navigate the place we went through and while we stuck to the road it was nice to see them as they pointed the way.

When we finally got out of the mountains, we started to see steam rising from the grounds near the road. Yeah, we are in hot spring territory! We finally made it to lake Myvtan and the spa. Talk about an oasis!  You get out of the snowy mountains in the east to turn down this road in the middle of nowhere to see all these cars, grab your swim gear, pay the fee, strip naked to shower (and look at the ground the entire time as it is not as much fun as it sounds), put on your swim-clothes and then run down bone-chilling stairs and hop in a concrete hot-tub!  But boy is it worth it, even as your head freezes, your body soaking in the hottest pool or the main feels amazing, your pores clear out, your bones and muscles release and you are left soaking in mineral-rich water that makes you feel amazing. Then getting out of the water for a cold run to the steam room. The Myvtan nature-bath is an amazing oasis in the snow for a sore, cold, stiff traveler who survived driving the 1 over a snow and wind-beaten mountain.

With help from the (assumed) Manager of the spa we found a campsite and were soon joined by other Americans we had met at the spa (all who had gotten camper vans by various companies). The “happy dance”-worthy feature of this campground was between a gas station and a pizzeria (as the spa manager described it) FULL KITCHEN!!!!!! We walked into the “dining hall” and I saw a stove, a counter, and a sink and practically danced and sang my way back to the van to grab the cooking gear and some lamb steaks, bell peppers, butter and instant mashed potatoes. So I seared the lamb in butter with my magic 3 spices (salt, pepper, and garlic powder), sliced up and sauteed the bell pepper the same and made the instant mash for a wonderful dinner! I love cooking for my beloved and this was a welcome chore after two days in country and barely being able to boil water. We sipped sparkling wine and relaxed leading me up till now when I can catch up on the blog.

 

April 5th

I canceled our trail ride last night because of the weather. We didn’t want to put ourselves, let alone some horses through the storm, snow, and cold. Though it seems the horses out in the pastures don’t mind. We slept in, relaxed, got up and I made us bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese and bell peppers. While I was cooking I chit-chatted with a fellow traveler from Canada who was snapping photo’s of everything and we talked politics, especially noting how Canada’s prime minister was a sweetie and a hottie! Breakfast was good, we finished drying our swimsuits from our time in Myvtan bathes and plotted our day. A simple day of driving and stopping as we liked.

We pulled into a convenience store to use the restroom, I bought some candy and noted to the cashier that the town was cute. He thanked me form the compliment and noted he had a farm not too far from here. Which just goes to show that farmers having part-time jobs is very common as agriculture sometimes does not pay all the bills.

Another stop we made was off of a smaller road for pictures near the bay. I walked down to the water and I can now say I have put my hand in the Greenland Sea. I also checked out a board that noted there was a seasonal living history village in the area that interpreted the life of the local Norse people.

We pulled into a campsite at Blönduos, where the gentleman at the desk was nice but the restrooms were gross, but we had our campsite. We drove on to see what there was and try and find another hot spring, only to have a truck coming toward us throw a rock at our windshield and cause a 35 cementer crack. My fiance nearly ducked, so after driving along, turning around we e-mailed the rental company and they said it should be okay but would double check with their safety-specialist. We stopped at a grocery store and got clear tape and dried the crack and tried to tape it so no water gets in, freezes and cracks it more. Did I mention it rained all day? Another day of being cold and wet.

But on the bright side, we came back to a clean restroom. On another downside, someone pooped in the parking lot next to us and it took me forever to get the stove to cook our dinner (taco night). A few things I learned though: if the stove has a hard time staying lit, change the fuel can and make sure you have a  good wind block. I ended up putting the whole thing in a sink beside the restrooms and soon my ground meat was re-hydrated, the seasoning packet was in and the cheese melted.  So at least we had 2 good meals!

 

Ashley Written by:

3 Comments

  1. VLZ
    November 11, 2017
    Reply

    As the aforementioned wife, I just want to say I really enjoyed Iceland. I went with appropriate waterproof clothing, which made a huge difference.

    • Ashley
      March 27, 2018

      From the photos, it looks absolutely beautiful! I hope to one day go myself.

  2. Ayleen
    November 9, 2017
    Reply

    Loving your posts!

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