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(29) Iceland Dreaming… Drinking Deep: A Final Reflection

Iceland dreaming…

and what a dream it’s been.

But as I sit here, knowing this is my final Iceland entry, I’m keenly aware that no words, no pictures, no holding of breath or wishing on a star can ever really describe a waking dream…

and yet it seems to be in our blood to try to describe them anyway.

So I set here hoping desperately that somehow, some way, the dream of this trip will not vaporize with the morning sun.

 

Yet with that said, I never meant for this online journal of mine to become a ‘travel’ log – one of those day to day chronology of events and scenery. I had -from its beginning – intentioned it to be full of thoughts, reflections, and ideas that might never be ‘captured’ in any other way. I guess it’s fitting, then, that I end it with some of those reflections I wrote down halfway through this journey.

. . .

 

. . .

 

As we circle this beautiful island, finding adventure, surprises and joy around each and every corner, Chris and I keep hearing the advise of a wise traveller whispering persistently through the breeze:

 

“Drink deep.”

 

Take it all in. Every bit of it. Be present.

… Drink deep.

 

As I sit now, looking out over this beautiful fiord and breathing in this amazing (three hour long!) Icelandic sunset I feel time stop. Literally stop. And in this Forever Moment I am keenly aware of this:

As much as I love photography… this trip, these moments of my life, this journal, they are not about getting the perfect shot, or writing the perfect words.

As much as I love reveling in all this grandeur that floods every cell of my being…it’s not about stuffing myself to the gills with the beauty, and dogging for more.

As much as I have loved this last year of planning the “perfect” trip and planning each “perfect” day,

… it is not about the plan,

and it is definitely never about perfection.

 

I am smack dab in the middle of living a dream.

With ever fiber of my existence, I know it. Really know it

And that reality boggles my mind more than just a bit… It is rattling me to the core.

 

There is no way to capture this dream – no pictures, no words, no perfectly designed plan. It can only be lived.

 

So many mental snapshots I’ve tucked warm and cuddly into the archives of my memory.

The laughter.

The cool breeze.

The twinkle in Anna’s eye as she presented us with chocolate cake

The patience (and amusement) of Einar to help this aging American woman muddle through a single Icelandic word.

The look of Siggie’s approval and his pat on the shoulder struggling to communicate through the constraints of language his love of his land.

 

 

“Drink deep.”

 

So many moments are embossed on my heart

Our first midnight sun date night, the puffin’s encore performance just for me, Chris’ comforting hug in a weary meltdown

 

 

There is no image

for the spicy after-rain scent of the fragile, fierce arctic hillside.

 

There is no expression

for the Wonder that floods a heart being surprised again and again around every. single. turn.

 

 

There is no seventh sense that can fully embrace all the contrasts of this fierce land-

the pulling and tugging of fire and ice,

the light and the dark,

the quiet peace juxtaposed against such rugged severe beauty.

 

This trip, this journal, is about seeing with new eyes, listening with new ears, and feeling with a new heart.

 

This place where I’ve chosen to ‘capture’ a taste of heaven is a crude memorial – but a memorial nonetheless. It is my attempt to remember “lest I forget” that I am loved by an unbelievably amazing Creator – a good, good Father – who loves to give good gifts to his children.

And He does.

All the time.

But more than anything, right now, I am reminded that I am living my dream every day. Everything I have, and all that I am was once a dream.  These dreams don’t always play out the way they may have been imagined … but they are still the dream. Maybe my parents dream, or mine, or God’s… but, a dream nonetheless.

Everyday, in the midst of all of its wonderfully messy goodness, I am living a dream.

I live with a man who loves me fiercely, a family that loves each other just as they are, friends who make life rich, a career I love, a country based on freedom, a house filled with contentment … a world still in His hands.

 

Life itself is the dream.

 

It is about living

Here.

Now.

… Drinking in each moment

Slowly

Deeply.

 

Takk, takk, sweet and fierce Iceland.

Thank you for filling every pore with a thankfulness too big for words, and beauty too immense to capture

Thank you for helping me find the tender balance between living a dream and recording it… I did my best to live it.

 Thank you for giving me a deep drink of this precious Life.

I will continue to raise my cup, and take a long, long sip.

 

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(28) Iceland Dreaming … Just when you think it’s over

We left our last Iceland home at 8 am.

We drove through pouring rain, bursts of sunlight and a tunnel that led under the sea for 3 miles.

1923.7 miles we drove – more than twice the Ring Road

… We had come full circle.

 

At 17:15 (5:15 pm), we left Iceland.

For 7 1/2 hours we flew

and we arrived in Portland

 

one hour later.

We were no longer “Chasing the Sun,”

we were meeting it

head on.

Starting time over.

Waking up from a dream

 

… or were we?

 

All the way home, memories of our trip rose like morning mist spotlighted in the sun’s rays. “Lord, I SO want to keep fresh eyes and new heart when I get home. Please help me keep that part of the vacation alive.”

More than anything, I didn’t want to go back to ‘status quo’ … not after such a vacation as this one.

 

… And then, “one hour” later,  we are greeted by this guy. Mr. Fresh and New himself.

He calmly announces that our vacation is not over, nor has to be. In fact, we are going to a bed and breakfast!  (our house) and he is going to be our tour guide for the next day and a half.

 

He continues to inform us that he is in total charge until the end of the next day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner – all taken care of – and he is going to take us to some places near and dear to his heart.

 

Can a mom’s heart get any more full?

 

He starts the tour with taking us the long way home…

through The Gorge he loves

… and he ends the evening’s tour

with Home.

There’s always that magic moment of coming home – much like seeing a vacation rental for the first time. It’s that moment where for just an instant you see your home with fresh eyes – new eyes – as if you’ve never seen it before. Familiar, but brand new. That moment when you ‘size it up’ like a well-researched Airbnb, and wonder, “What surprises will this place hold? Will it come to feel like home. Could we be content here?”

This time’s ‘coming home’ experience, however, was unlike any other…

 

As we pull up, our exhaustion is palpable but Brandon’s evening tour is not done yet…

“So, I’ve done a few things around the house, spent a bit of money. I’m not always good with words to express who I am, so I decided to show you. Here. Wait. Let me get things ready for you.”

And then we are led through our new ‘bed and breakfast.’ Our home, revisioned through his eyes.

Each heartfelt, artistic change is explained. Each detail displayed in quiet strength and enthusiasm. New patio lights cast warmth on it all:

“Form and function”… (art with purpose.)

New dishes, new furniture arrangement. Newly created art testifying of time and effort – care and purposeful intention. New lighting. New vision… A new start.

Home.

 

“Lord, I SO want to keep fresh eyes and new heart.”

Could there have been a more perfect answer.

 

Morning brought sleeping in, homemade jam (!) and deck time.

Afternoon brought a river’s source and soaking

and evening brought us steaks, a stunning sunset and starlight

New eyes. New heart.

We were home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(27) Iceland Dreaming … our last full day

There is something surreal when you “wake up” from a dream, but find that you’re still dreaming.

I woke up the next morning in the ever-present day, knowing it was the last full day. Yet even with the ‘end’ in sight, there was palpable peace.

When you know that you’ve had not only one perfect day but 16, there is a glow of thankfulness that permeates contentment into every moment… even the last ones.

The window revealed the rain was back

and last night’s journey to the center of the earth…  🙂

…was still marinating deep in our hearts,

so we were definitely not in any hurry.

 

We were tired.

We were full.

And as much as the rhythm of the road had become our own, we were ready to embrace this last day and hug it tightly goodbye.

 

With that said, we took a drive to see the backdrop of Ben Stiller’s famous skateboarding scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

 

Took a small ‘hike’ above the town

Then had to see one more Iceland waterfall up close and personal … for ol’ time’s sake. 🙂

Then on to lunch back home

until our landlords recommended a fish and chips food cart, featuring fish caught fresh that morning (or the night before).

Ummm… yeah! (duh)

And it turns out, this fish cart was right where we had watched the fisherman the day before. We might have even seen our fish!

Spitting rain, and a bit chilly, they offered blankets to eat on their picnic tables. And having finally lost all coyness, I went up to ask them if I could get a picture. But funny, because when all the other seated customers heard me ask, they all stood up in a barrage of “Us too!” Ha. (And I get the one looking at everyone else but me! 🙂 … Such is life – and photography. 😉

 

Then, there was one more lighthouse on my bucket list  and a yellow sand (unheard of in Iceland!) beach.

 

This is the cliff they rapelled for eggs.

 

And down below is the yellow sand beach… no explanation given for its color. None needed.

Difference is always beautiful.

 

And it seems fitting that my last Icelandic landscape is looking southwest

… looking toward home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(26) Iceland Dreaming… Journey to the Center of the Earth

New Day. Sunshine gone. Light showers return. And nearly the end of our trip.

 

Today would be a full journey to the center of the earth… no thinking ahead. No thinking behind. Just soaking in the present and drinking deep.

 

No better time to walk the neighborhood.

 

Neighborhood park. Neighborhood sculpture.

A pretty typical neighborhood.

We found a few of these proud artwork displays posted around the neighborhood.

And, yeah, can’t pass up a school yard.

 

Then, at the end of the neighborhood/town (which was all toll about 3 streets deep and two streets wide) we came to a hiking path!

Sorry no horses though…

 

This little guy was harmless. (I think he was chirping a warning to us, though, because of what lay ahead.)

Because  what lay/lie? ahead were THESE guys!

Arctic tern mommas.

And they are dive bombing maniacs!

(Not even zoomed in!)

We had to wave our arms, cover our heads, and dodge the incoming.

The ruckus sent us (and their real enemy) packing!

 The nonplussed sheep simply showed up to see what all the fuss was about.

 

But, honestly, how could you not defend these cute little guys?

Turns out the biggest colony of Arctic terns reside here in the summer. They migrate each year from the South Pole …arriving on the same day every year. I wish I could post the sound they made as they bombed us. It was a cross between a screech, a cackle and ends with a click, click, click – like you are being bombarded with every trick in a mommy’s book to be scared, scolded and mutilized.

Fun times.

(After that experience, I won’t view Hitchcock’s “The Birds” in the same way ever again.)

 

Heading ’round the last curve of the arctic tern ‘s our neighborhood, we get a chance to see our hood’s coastline:

 

The tower is a radio tower, once the tallest structure in Europe, erected during WWII (so we were told)

 

and as we kept walking got to see life through the eye’s of an old ruin

Waking up in the morning… I wonder if they every imagined a town out their window?

 

Then it was back to homebase, and more adventures for the afternoon, or was it still morning?

 

We headed to another beach that was used for measuring the strength of prospective sailors. (It later became a leisure activity)

“Big rounded stones are still laid on the shore as testament of the old ways people used to measure their strength, each stone has different weight and the heaviest weight 154 Kg. (That’s 339.5 lbs!) Each stone also has a name. So if you were able to lift a particular stone onto the rock ledge (behind the rocks… which is not has tall as it used to be), then you were called by that rock’s name. Each sailor used to demonstrate his power in order to be hired to work on the ships.”

Not a great picture of these massive stones, but hopefully you ‘get the picture.’

Loved how this looked like a black and white photo all in its natural glory.

 

Then one more stop for us on this amazing adventure… a play!

I think I mentioned earlier that this Snaefellsjokull peninsula ‘claim to fame’ is that it was the setting of Jules Vernes “Journey to the Center of the Earth” … so this play was a comedy based on that book, adding in more cultural threads along the way.

And here’s the best part… it was performed in Rif,  a small fishing village (even smaller than the one we were at… only 150 people) by a small troupe of professionally/classically trained actors/singers at a working hostel!

There were only about 40 seats max (stools), and we sat in the back because Chris doesn’t like to block others view. At least we thought we were sitting in the back, but turns out the play was performed in a 360 degree mode (hence the stools), and so half the time we were front row! I didn’t want to take too many pictures. Just couldn’t be “that” guy. So I only snuck in a few that I thought would not be intrusive.

Taking a journey in their ‘ship’ to get to the volcano which they would soon descend.

 

There were 4 main adult actors and then about 10 kids. It was 3 acts long. Each time an act changed, we were ushered out into the bar area while they changed the stage setting. When we came back for the 2nd act, all of our seating had been changed! We were all now seated across from each other lengthwise, spanning the room, with curtains at our backs opening up the center to be the ‘stage’ between us.

(Act 2) Heading down to the center of the earth

I wish I had gotten a shot of Act 3, because when we were ushered out after the second act, we were told that the third act we would be standing! (but it would be short). Sure enough, we went back in and now all the actors are standing on an island (our stools) and we were told to mill around encircling them. (All of the children actors were in fun sea creature costumes.) As the play ensued, the main actor was looking all around pointing out all that they were seeing with their scopes (attached with lasers). Then he abruptly stops, “Look! Over there! Do you see it? An old man!” (and points to Chris!… who waves. 🙂 ) … He’s my old man, folks. It’s official now. 🙂

But then, it’s obvious that the play is coming to its conclusion and all of a sudden all the child actors are milling all around us. One comes up to me and starts herding me onstage! Wait, what?! No! But there was no stopping it. Then I noticed we were all being herded on stage! The play ends with the actors all singing a song to us. A funny song, A moving song. A magical night. Truly magical. All of our adventures wrapped up in the arms of wonderful Icelandic comedy musical.

Perfect night.

Perfect trip.

 

One more day to begin the “winding down.”

 

 

 

 

(25) Iceland Dreaming… part 2…again

Leaving the visitor center we came upon this guy stacking a cairn.

and maybe even leaving us this wonderful piece

 

But we couldn’t stop and join him because we were hungry! So we were off to redeem yet another “two days for one”  deal. Man, I love Iceland.

 

Heading down the road we found another place to park (need I say, with a view), roll out the sandwich making assembly line, and eat our now famously familiar ham sandwich.

Then for a walk. Pure awesomeness.

Not a bad view for a late lunch… 🙂

And this lay/lie/sat/… WAS on the other side of our car picnic lunch. Ready and waiting for us to stroll.

No docks to walk out to your boat! Wait… what?!

See the fisherman?

This fisherman (above) was waiting on ice from this forklift operator (below). He didn’t have to wait long. Geez! This guy was FAST! Scary fast. Get-out-of-the-way-but-you-don’t-really-have-to-worry-cuz-he-knows-exactly-where-you-are-and-isn’t-worried-about-you-in-the-least fast.

Meanwhile …

the seagulls are nesting right around the corner…

The glacier still sleeps behind her veil…

And it was time for home.

 

 

(24) Iceland Dreaming … Once upon a time

Part one, who am I kidding. I already know this will be a two parter! Ha.

 

Woke up to sunshine! And saw the glacier, Snaefellsjokull, out front. Five minutes of beautiful glory!

Then she retreated behind her mountain-made cloud curtain for the rest of our stay. (Just as well, don’t think I could have handled the camera taking frenzy that would have ensued at every turn. 🙂 )

 

As it was, this area (and day) brought sights, sun and all things spectacular all their own (and the camera-taking frenzy was fully frenzied.)

Starting with a way cool visitor’s center. (Which is saying a lot when it’s sunshiny outside!)

 

And how can a teacher resist a display meant to teach kids?

 

… and if you really want to geek out, I found the daily life stuff so interesting, but I wanted to get outside. So I grabbed these shots to read later. ( Your welcome (or not) 🙂 )

Ouch! Poor girl.

 

Turns out this peninsula is where most of the Icelandic Saga originated, so yeah, had to take a shot of one of those (to read later. 😉

But then on to the outside blue and the see-for-yourself stuff.

And yikes how much stuff to see just outside the museum’s door. ! (Warning: photo congestion ahead.)

 

Right behind us this beauty:

An old zipline!

 

And to the left and up over a small rise THIS:

 

And just when you really think you have seen it all, you stumble on an old shack. Turns out it’s an “exihbition” that was totally done by kids/students. Please someone get out the salve for these bruises I have – too many pinches to remind myself I’m not dreaming.

Trolls and elves. Elves and trolls. The folklore is immersed in them.

Best tiny museum ever.

Still walking the grounds, we headed toward the pinnacles. They are said to be the remains of an old volcano.

Along the way, I realized that I wanted to document some of the flora I was seeing. Tough plants these arctic plants.

This arctic turf is so, so, spongy fluffy.

And then Chris braved the side of a precarious hill to get me a flower shot. What a sweetheart.

and here it is. ❤

Yep, not even lunch time yet.

 

 

I told you this was a two parter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(23) Iceland Dreaming… our last stop

The rain finally came and engulfed our 6 hour drive to our last 4 night stay in Iceland – the Snaefelsjokull peninsula. Jökull, means glacier or ice cap and this volcano with its icecap was made famous by Jules Verne “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

The rain seemed a bit fitting as we drove, because I was just so sure that this leg of the trip might be the one the left us wonting for home. If you remember, because I like surprises, in all my planning of places to stay, I never investigate the scenery around the area. I like to be surprised. I mean seriously nothing that contains the countryside that might ruin the surprise: no movies, or docus, no coffee table books. Crazy, right? So, I go in blind… that’s how much I like surprises.

So inside I was wondering: after so much amazingness, how could there possibly be more? And not that I was feeling whiny or complainy, in fact just the opposite. Full disclosure: I will often steel/prepare myself for “the worse case scenario” to help me be truly thankful for each moment along the way, embracing the abundance I’ve already had, knowing full well: I’ve had everything and more. Rain or shine, views or no views, I’ve been lavishly dumped on with everything Good. I’ve gotten to live a dream. I am still in the dream. I am content.

… and also my puny brain just simply finds it hard to envision more.

City limits

 

So you know it’s a rainy day when I don’t take a single picture!  (Except, of course, for that infamous turning the key moment.) But just to let you know what I was thinking: “We are heading into an austere land. Gone will be the green mountainsides. We will be out in the middle of the lava fields. It will be harshly beautiful, and it will show us the brutal reality of living in this land. I know I planned for a view, so four days holed up on a windy, rainy, forlorn land will be awesome… because You are awesome, Lord, and I am 100% thankful and ready to embrace it all.

 

But before that “unveiling” moment, there was one particular incident I suppose I need to share:

We came within inches from a head on collision.

Driving in Iceland can be a bit tricky sometimes to say the least (mostly because of tourists.) They say that Icelanders, (except for the occasional visits to momma) only drive in the urban areas. They rarely venture. We talked to so many local people who had never even been around the whole island. It is the tourists that are on the countryside roads, and almost all fatal accidents are vehicular. And though they are strict about their four main speed limits: 90kmh, 70kmh, 50kmh and 30, when you find out that 90km converts to approximately 56mph, all of a sudden it feels like you are just creeping! And since many tourists come from the land of the autobahn (130 kmh -80mph), it is easy to understand the impatience. It also makes driving here a very defensive (and sometimes exhausting) activity: there are long stretches of straight where passing is easy, but the leap frogging that occurs is sometimes just plain ridiculous, so you are always watching the oncoming traffic for signs of such. This one particular car coming my way should have seen me several kilometers back. I had spied him, but that critical span of time and highway where you’re watching carefully, “Are they going to make a go of it? Are they going to show signs of “peeking”? Do they see me?” had passed.

Until it hadn’t.

This driver didn’t just peek a little, he full on entered my lane, not more than a hop, skid and a radical swerve away.

I have never felt a straight shot of adrenalin laced in fear before. Even when I jumped from an airplane, the adrenalin was spiced with excitement, not fear. Chris, who never unbuckles, had unbuckled and was turned, searching for something in the back seat. To him, he says, it was over so fast and just felt like a small jerk. For me, there was nothing small about it. I think if he had seen it all unfolding, his kneejerk reaction would have been to grab the wheel himself – which could have been worse. Either way, we were safe, and I felt the tingling of adrenalin for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

which made coming to this refuge, pelted by rain and wind,

even more of the blessing that it already was

and yes, a smile, taking the mandatory bathroom shots…

 

Then what a better way to christen this stay than finally eating the lamb, butter, and bread recommendation of a sweet bakari customer from a lifetime ago.

Yum. Smokey, brilliant Goodness. (Also tried it with cheese, just in case we American’s might be on to something. Nope, butter only. The Icelandic way. Turns out she knew what she was talking about. 🙂 )

 

And then, as if on Someone’s heavenly cue,  😉 the skies parted…

and we were home again.

 

 

(22) Iceland Dreaming… Rain? Part two

With one hour to spare, we got Chris to his motorcycle museum. And I went down the road to do some more exploring on my own on this “rain, rain, rain” day. Ha. (Not that I would have minded seeing the motorcycles, but alas, the museum required a bit more cash than this casual uninformed onlooker wanted to pay and, well, … solo exploring as an alternative? It was a no brainer.)

And since this is Chris’s trip too, in the spirit of all things fair I will share about his motorcycle museum adventure.And try to find out what’s cool about them:)

(We joke that he’s on MY vacation, because Iceland wasn’t exactly top on his bucket list. Um, probably not even in the bucket at all.)

 

 

 

 

This is an Ariel Square Four. (I guess it has a cool engine.   🙂 )

 

 

 

 

 

A rotary engine in a motorcycle…. whaaat?  Hercules Wankel

 

 

 

 

The “pioneer of urban mobility”  Matchless 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there is this cool one, that Chris insists anyone who is anyone will know about. Ha!

History 101: Henderson Motorcycles

And back to the basics… my Harley man meets his ride’s beginnings.

Then there is this lovely

… finally, a motorcycle this novice can truly appreciate!

 

In the meantime, while my hubby is loving his exploration, I set off to explore down the road…

and in looking for a picnic spot, I found me a school!

 

What school doesn’t need one of these in its backyard?! (I imagine it would make after school programs a breeze!)

 

But even better… check out this “Jungle gym”!! The Vikings would be proud.

I approached these ladies enjoying this beautiful summer day. I explained to them that I am a teacher and I was wondering what kind of school this was. Was it just for young kids or… In broken English, they explained that it was for all the grades, for all the kids in this valley.

In the distance, is just some apartments in this block long ‘hub’ of camping, local swimming pool, ‘football’ fields, disc golf and school. This grouping of activity gatherings seemed to be common in Iceland.

Looking back at the school.

 

And a summer casualty… abandoned and left for dead, or for the elves maybe. Wonder what the story to mom and dad was?

 

If you look down toward the river, behind the school and swimming pool, you’ll find this ‘football’ stadium… a big deal here.

 

And then back to the car to go pick up my hubby, I snuck a couple more shots of these kiddos. But I’m gonna have to air some ‘dirty laundry’ here. In all my sneaking, I was finally caught. And mama bear came after me.

“Please, do not take pictures of my children.”

Red-handed. I think I may have even lifted my hands in surrender. Seriously. As I back pedaled and diffused immediately in remorse.

“I am so sorry. I understand. I am a mother myself. Here, watch me, I will delete the pictures.”  She softened, as I opened my phone and began the process while continuing to apologize.

“I am a teacher from America.I am soooo sorry. I really do understand.  I was just getting pictures of the school with children in it.”

At this point, she softened some more and with hand and face gestures told me it was okay. I did not need to delete. She appreciated that I was so understanding, and began to ask me questions about where I taught.

“Oregon. They have good wine there. It is on my list for bucket.”

Attack avoided. Lesson learned: Momma bears are momma bears everywhere and I just need to be sneakier…

I am SOOO just kidding!

Thank you Iceland Mommy. Your children, and you, are beautiful.

 

Then with Chris back in tow, since it was our last day in Akureyri, seemed appropriate to finally walk the downtown.

Tempting to watch a flick here.

Downtown walked. Check. Just a quick walk because mostly we just wanted to get back ‘home’… and what better end to this amazing part of the trip than Chris grilling Icelandic hotdogs.

Goodnight and goodbye, Akureyri.

You will be forever remembered.

 

 

(21) Iceland Dreaming … Rain?

Today was going to be our rainy museum day. Ha!

Ain’t no way we’re spending it inside!

 

But mornings always start with binoculars.

And check this monster out, all the way from Malta! 2000 passengers and 1000 staff. (Yep, Chris is still doing his research. 🙂 )

(The above ships might have come in the night before… because we only noticed two at any one time. But, no matter, they come and go quicker than they should and this puppy ruled the fjord this day. For sure!)

 

Then we were off, up the other side of the valley, with a quick stop at a flower/tree research “museum.”

More like a park actually, being that is free (unheard of!). They use this place to test seeds and plants for hardiness in their climate, trying to find more trees that can be used in their reforestation and selling those that are being grown here.

I keep having to remind myself that in these parts, these trees are the main attraction! But check out the size of the flowers and leaves. Chris is not trying to make them look big… they are huge!

 

And, as usual, gotta try to sneak pics when I can. They put this tractor in the ‘park’ for kids to play on. Love it.

This does not show the bigness of this tree. But it is probably their main pride and joy.

 

But enough ‘staged’ beauty, we were itching to get back to our valley and explore the other side.

Everywhere in Iceland: beautiful feisty horses, roaming sheep,  and plastic bundled hay.

Look closely. Do you see the huge Malta cruise liner in the distance? Such a study in contrast, this Iceland.

Personal door to barn door garbage truck service.

 

And check this out. It may not be Smith Rock, but I think it would do in a pinch or handhold crevice as the case may be.          (Do you see the peeps below? A dad teaching his sons to rock climb.)

And then we just had to get out and roam where the sheep roam. Them make a pretty good trail!

Then we headed back… because, it was our last day in Akureyri and there were museums to see, and we hadn’t even walked the town!

So yes… another “part two” to this amazing day coming up.

 

 

 

(20) Iceland Dreaming… Don’t count on the weather.

According to local weather, today was going to be cloudy, and tomorrow would have the chance for the most rain.

No problem. We’ve already lived this dream to its very fullest, and we ain’t no complaints. Not even one.

But we did think this “cloudy only” day would be good to see a cool fishing village around the corner, and tomorrow’s “rain, rain, rain” day would be good for some museums. Plan set. Wheels in motion.

But there’s never any hurry here up this way, (unless you’re trying to get to the supermarket before they close here at 6:30 … then you’d better hurry cuz closing time is like Costco at Christmas!)

Soooo after taking time for our morning eye-candy diet of whales (!) and cruise ships,

and throwing together our breakfast of “Skyr” (Iceland yogurt) granola, fruit and hard boiled eggs and toast, we headed out to sightsee around a more northern coastline into a new fjord (about an hour away).

We were coming up from Dalvik (from Akureyri), and going to land in Siglufjordur… Do you see those tunnels?! There were 3 of them. (Two were 4.2 miles long each! And the first one was only one way! with pullouts on only one direction, dotted along the way.) And let me tell you,  playing car leap frog in the dark tunnel is not for wimps… especially since there are no initial directions, so the learning curve at the beginning of the tunnel is a nail biter!

But we survived, and made it to the other side…

“Clouds only” Ha! …

That’s me donning a long $.99 special poncho, fighting the pelting rain, checking out the ski jump/bicycle jump/slip ‘n’ slide this village created for their youth.

… which earned me a potty break and pastry.

Then we forged ahead and still managed to see some sights, and take some pics

Did I mention it was raining?

This time it was Chris’ turn to brave the rain and get the real shot… then play with settings to make it even more cool.

Ahoy Matey! (cuz I can’t think of anything cool a Viking sailor would say! Ha!)

Cruising the streets we saw some more building art

and made sure we braved more rain to honor these brave men

~ a memorial to all their men lost at sea~

Seemed like a fitting end of our tour.

 

 Feeling very squishy, and ready to soak in much warmer water, we leaped frogged our way back home

which, turns out, stayed only cloudy all day. 🙂

 

No complaints though. Not even one.

 

 

(19) Iceland Dreaming… continued from our Christmas stop, (’cause days here give you two for one!)

So how do you follow up a morning celebrating Christmas in July? You keep traveling up the valley.

You celebrate every tree you see, because there are very few in Iceland.

Thirty years ago they began a program to reforest the country. But their reforestation looks like our clear cuts in reverse! Packed in so closely together in rectangular sections, I don’t think they understand the concept of thinning. Probably too difficult (or against the law!) to chop down any precious tree. Can you imagine an Icelander visiting the redwoods??!

Then we came upon the remains of an original sod home. Sod homes were lived in as recently as the 1960’s.

 

And then I got quite a honk as I pulled a totally tourist move, seeing the turn out too late of “something cool” and the desperate blinker pullover-as -far-as-you-can,-but-never-far-enough-and-never-quick-enough move… Guilty as charged. But this old church was worth the shame. 😉

 

… throw in a cool looking wood/plaster pic

and then head to one of the biggest highlights of the day: home

to this ~

Then you revel in it all for four more hours

before you’re forced to shut the black out curtains.

(18) Iceland Dreaming… Not planning on waking up anytime soon

We woke up to this.

One thing this vacation has taught me more clearly is the importance of seizing each moment and then soaking in them. They are gifts, and the opportunity of having another “just like it” might not come. But if you have enjoyed what you were given completely and fully, then there is no sadness, but rather just gratitude. When we woke up to this, we had no idea if we would ever see shoreline again, but we were content… and this view – just as stunning.

And like the hopeful champ that he is… Chris got our view shinier, prepared for continued amazingness. We were here to rest and soak in all in. We weren’t compelled to leave and see more, (but of course we did.)

 

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone…”  🙂

 

So after a laid back egg breakfast (no hurry when you have until midnight to explore) we were off to explore some more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We set our sights on driving up the valley (south) that we could see far off to the “left” of our perchtop view… and we happened on this:

Have no idea! Except we were pretty sure it had to do with the life size wooden Santa signs we’d been seeing along the way. (And I love me some Christmas!)

My version of a “Ho, ho, ho!” (Hard to do when you’re laughing.)

They had these tic tac toe games here and there. This was Chris and my “Cat’s game. “

I snuck a pic of this girl was reveling in her victory with her dad. Only caught Dad’s twinkle of a smile in my heart’s camera.

 

And then there were the stores.

 

This first one was the food and trinket store. SOOO totally touristy, and I loved every minute of it!

All of you knitters, Iceland is your paradise, your Mecca, your Ben & Jerry’s, your Voodoo Donuts, your Disneyland……………(you get the picture.) 

And had to grab this last store pic for a friend of mine and its Wizard of Oz feel. (You know who you are!)

 

Then on to the Christmas store!

Didn’t know this would be a Selfie!

This room was built as a hidden treasure hideaway under the staircase for the little guys! Such a great idea.

So the story had the usual Christmas ornament displays etc…) But in one corner was a small room set off all by itself. In the corner was a rock mountain with a cave opening to look through.

This gentleman must have heard Chris and I talking and asking ourselves questions about this “oddity.” I was remembering Olaf (our first day walking guide) telling me that if I wanted to get a Christmas ornament that was Icelandic (I had asked), I should get a Santa Clause, because they had 13 of them. There hadn’t been a lot of time to talk at that point, so her reply had been a bit cryptic… But here we were trying now to figure it all out, and an older gentlemen broke into our thoughts, “Do you know what you are looking at?”

“Excuse me? I’m sorry, what did you say?” I was caught by surprise. So far, it had been our experience that Icelanders did not start conversations. Ever.

“Do you want to know the story?”

!!!

So this man begins to tell us the story of Gryla and the 13 Yule lads. Gryla, turns out, is Santa Claus evil mother, who will capture children if they are being bad (but has to release them if they repent). Each of her 13 lads has a unique character and are all a wee bit mischievous and want different gifts left (like we leave milk and cookies out). The story was so different from ours. I kept exclaiming in disbelief… “You mean Santa – sweet, nice giving Santa – has an evil mother?”

“Ja. Like good cop, bad cop.”  Ha.

“And she takes the bad children to boil in a cauldron?!”

“Ja. And every child leaves a potato in their shoe and each Yule lad with leave small gifts and treats in the shoes each night or a rotting potato if they were bad the day before.”

!!!

Then he went on to start to tell me which each Yule lad was like – what kind of mischief they’d be up to. (I am so bad at remembering all the details, so here’s a website you might like. (Celebrating Christmas with 13 Trolls.)   )

But what I remember most of all is the joy on his face as he told us his tale. I could see himself remembering the excitement of growing up during the cold, dark Christmas days and celebrating with fun and mischief the ancient tale. The tale sounded somewhat dark and even horrifying, but his face told a different tale. It was about tradition and family, and even reflected the harshness of life contrasted in their seasons of light and dark. And, with all my exclamations and mouth-opened amazement, he laughed and another Icelandic family joined in. They were very much enjoying the fun of sharing with a couple of Oregonians the magic of their childhood tale.

The ‘little things’ become the big things. This little roadside treasure was a big thing.

Unabashedly, I put away my caution and asked him for a picture.

And in his eyes I saw a suspiciously familiar twinkle as he smiled and replied,

“I go stand right next to these other Santas. Ja?”

Indeed.

 

Who knew I’d be celebrating Christmas in July, in Iceland!

 

(17) Iceland Dreaming … A time for every purpose

Akureyri – a time for resting.

 

I have to explain first that there is one singular moment in all my yearlong vacation planning that I both dread and embrace with dream-meets-reality excitement, expectation, hope and throw in just a touch of angst.

That is the moment we enter the town

drive down the street,

park our car in the driveway

and then turn the key.

All that time planning and hoping and it boils down to these series of moments.

 

I wish I could adequately describe the sweet joy and breath of gratitude that fill my lungs every time, to find yet another gift that is  everything I hoped it would be… and this house in Akureyri was so much more.

 

Over and over I caught myself doing a whole bunch of heart skipping, silently squealing, deep sighing thanks in a glow that never left.

I mean seriously look at this place!

 

Yep, that there is a hot tub!

 

And the first thing Chris asks me, “So this is our place to rest, right?”

 

Yes, and amen.

We didn’t need to go or do another thing.

 

Not a bad view at 11:30 pm!

 

This is the extent of the night lights. 🙂

 

 

“It’s a long way to Akureyri…”

So glad we arrived.

 

(here’s the song reference… I know you’re wondering)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(16) Iceland Dreaming … It’s a long way to Akureyri (not to be confused with Tipperary, but rhymes with it. :)

On our way to the second largest city :Akureyri,  Iceland (about 18,000).  It is a port city that welcomes most of the cruise liners from Europe, and is the best skiing in Iceland, we are told.

… and what do you do when you start the day’s journey? Visit a local “bakari” of course. So local in fact , the baker doesn’t speak English, but smiles a huge smile when I motion to her that I’d like a photo of her. But then, she deadpans the shot, followed with an immediate smile when she hears the click. Funny.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of a customer who did speak English for me. I asked her what was the most Icelandic pastry item on display. (Okay, I didn’t used the word ‘display’ but my hand motions said it.) She showed me the pastry Chris and I had had the morning before and some sweet bread (no description to the flavor of the sweet… just sweet) But as I was looking and fretting over my choice, she went over to a refrigerator case and comes back with this combo:

lamb and a special type of flat bread (fluffier)

 

“This is most Icelandic.”  (Then she did that kiss to the hand and “Mwah” sound thingy expression you do (Italians?)when you have found the perfect food.)

So then I queried what cheese would go best with it? And she gave me an expression like I was crazy. Hmm.. maybe she didn’t understand so I reword my questions,

“Is there a good cheese that you like to use with this?” (And I did a Vanna White sweep with a package of cheese I whipped out of the cooler.)

Her face crinkled up in a kneejerk kinda way, but quickly changed as she said, “No. Butter.”

“Butter?”

“ja… but errr, cheese if you like”

“Oh, no. I will do it the Icelandic way.” ……………………………….. She rattles off a string of explanation to the baker, and they both smile like they were children being handed a very special gift.

I would save this interesting snack for a special time further down the road…

And when I said, ” ‘Takk, takk’ … correct?”

Their grins and thumbs up were my gift.

So, I left will all my ‘gifts’ including two chocolate glazed donuts. (HAD to see how they do it here. Meh. Pretty dense.) and we started down the way.

Up and over the highlands

And some pretty crazy volcano wastelands

And then a huge decision: To Dettifoss or not to Dettifoss, that is the question.

“Foss” means waterfall. And looking around the terrain, didn’t think it would be all that pretty. But Olaf had said it was the most powerful of all Icelandic waterfalls and we were there but. But it was getting late. But the road there was gravel and 25 km of it. But there was some scuttlebutt that the West side was the best view, and we we’d be going in on the East. But we were here, and we might not be this way again – and who knows where the Western entrance might be???

Sooooo, we went for it… confident that so far, except for glazed donuts, Iceland usually delivers on the goods.

We were not disappointed.

Not a bad place to eat our becoming-traditional ham sandwich lunch, Já? (yow (yes)… as in cow)

So yes, Dettifoss…. worth every chuck hole, gravel ding and adrenaline jolt. (East side, definitely the best side!)

 

The cool part about traveling is knowing that every mile is a new sight, a new adventure, a new question answered.

And every mile along the way, around every curve, with every new lighting, and each breath of quiet it was so easy to finally understand: it is not about the destination – it is always about the journey.

Choose and go…

I can almost guarantee you will be changed along the wonderful bumpy way.

(15) Iceland Dreaming … True North

Heading north.  

Wait a minute… isn’t everything north already?

When the sun rises just slight east of due north, and sets just slightly west of due north – and basically just does a lap around you – the sense of north, south, east and west become muddled, to say the least. I know many people don’t even think about their place in the universe directionally, but when you’re married to a hunter, it becomes all about internalizing where north is at all times. So part of this trip has been literally trying to find our place in the universe (and for me, as always, that can take on a deeper meaning for sure!

So let me wax introspectively for a bit:

I am living, actually living, a dream that began in earnest more than a year ago… but much longer than that. Nothing noble about this dream. Just a plain, selfish, wanderlust dream.

During this trip I have felt lavishly spoiled, and my own “internal” north is feeling a bit skewed. Somehow it doesn’t feel quite right to be as blessed as I’m being… and my compass nudges me that I “should” feel a little bit guilty. In my heart of hearts, I know I haven’t done a thing to deserve this trip – and yet it has been perfect in every way. In the center of all I know to be true, I am assuredly less ‘deserving’ of so many people I know, who will most never see the likes of this kind of living dream; my heart aches for them and I feel a bit ashamed at the extravagance I’m living.

I so easily understand the accusation of Judas toward Mary, “that oil, your Iceland trip money, could have been used to feed the poor.” And the truth is, the money I saved for a year could have been used on more than me. Lord knows at my core I am a living, breathing, entitled American who cannot even fathom the neediness of this hurting world…. But with all that said, this trip has still been undeniably touched by the sweetness of God – no doubt about it. None.

… and yet still that nasty internal compass – though exceeding thankful – is just a bit outta whack. How do I reckon the truth of me, with the truth of God? It’s never about me, it’s all about God, and yet he makes it all about me… as he washes my feet. It is too incredibly, wonderfully, horribly humbling. Where is my north?

“Think of yourself at Christmas time, Jane.” I hear my husband say. ” Don’t you just love to give gifts? Isn’t that your greatest joy? Who do you think is getting the most enjoyment of this trip? I think it’s the One who’s giving it. At least I hope it is.”

 

My True North.

The sun isn’t rising and setting, or looping around me at all. It stays steady and firm. It shines pure and bright. It remains the same yesterday, today and forever. It’s just this ol’ earth is spinning – this me – that gets its panty in a bunch and spins its own yarn.

The Son never changes.

And I don’t even need to set my compass. It works all by itself without me.

My True North.

 

… and he lets me dance around him.

 

 

(14) Iceland Dreaming … “As is” (Part two)

It goes to say that two days to see a place, during a road trip is not a ideal, especially when the first day is traveling, hassling and mac and cheesing in exhaustion.

But new days, bring new beginnings and we knew we had to visit our Bokakaffi again as customers rather than desperate travelers.

Traditional Icelandic pastry on the right (kleina) and a “Wienna” roll on the left (Danish)… I think it’s supposed to be Vienna, but they spelled it Wienna. Maybe on purpose? Since they got out from under Danish rule, Olaf said they like to goodheartedly ‘bash’ the Danes when they can. 🙂

This little guy came in doggin’ for some donuts. “Dooouughnot,  Dooouughnot,Dooouughnot,” tap, tap, tap. “Dooouughnot, Dooouughnot Dooouughnot.” Kids are kids the world ’round.

… and Grandma’s too (especially when they’re the bakers!)

 

Then off we go to another sightseeing whirlwind of awesomeness… up to the city overlook, then over to a new fjordur,

Seyðisfjörður

I have no idea what this says, but it looks cool, doesn’t it?

This man is the grandson of the Eypor (below)… He is carrying on the tradition of his “Afi” (grandpa) in naming a new brew of his own after his Grandpa.

It was really nice to have a burger again. (And the ribs were yummy too.) We also managed to eat before it began to rain.

Then it was off to see some musical domes constructed above the city that are built to make some specific Icelandic tones resonate somehow… but had to stop for this beauty on the way.

Don’t think we got them “working” they way they should, (but I never sounded so good, and Amazing Grace never sounded so pretty. 🙂 )

 

Check out someone who might know what they’re doing.

There definitely was a “sweet spot” where you could almost whisper and it sounded amplified and in surround sound. And one time, Chris and I were in separate domes, and he said it sounded like my voice was in his head. (Sounds like a great Wifey kind of place to me! )

Then we headed back to Thorstein’s and our “dryer” … (We were certain they’d be a soaking mess with the rain that had passed our way that day). But no, they were dry! and we clambered to keep them that way. (Five minutes later, the sky opened up. I think Someone is looking after us these days. 🙂 )

All in all, it was one hecka lotta fun in our “as is” home.

 

Takk, takk Thorstein!

 

(13) Iceland Dreaming … “As is” (Part one)

Bright and early, we headed on to our three two day stay in Egilsstaðir

and were greeted along the way by a highway that was sometimes gravel!

 

the eastern fjordurs dotted with hay bales

 

and around one corner… this guy. Caribou!

Yeah, we couldn’t see him well enough either, so you better believe we stopped and got as close as we could.

Finally, we arrived at our first mega tunnel.. 7 km long! (that’s 4.3 miles English speak)

And eventually were ushered into Elgilsstadir … how nice of them to greet us so warmly. 🙂

 

But from here on out, this stay offered us a series of problem solving opportunities in a twisted humorous kinda way.

It turns out that the international phone plan we had purchased wasn’t working. And add to that, we got a $238.75 charge warning from our credit card company regarding gas we had bought the day before. Couple that with trying to get a hold of our new landlord regarding when we might arrive  – who turns out is a sheep farmer and its summer (meaning they work almost 24 hours out in the fields to get their work done while they can). So, not only was he out where they are not getting timely airbnb messages on the wifi that you can only use at the last place you stayed, but he was a bit new at the whole renting kinda thing and we had no idea how we were supposed to get the key.

Good news:  Thorsteinn (pronounce a little bit like Thurston, but with a harder ‘t’ sound) got the messages late and was waiting for us (for a couple hours I guess).

Bad news: he left without giving us the Wifi code… and so we were back to square negative one, because now we couldn’t even get a hold of him on the nightly rental Wifi, because he was our nightly rental.

 

(Good news: it was okay to be without wifi for a night.

Bad news: not when you need to figure out a crazy big gas charge,  and phone service glitch and are feeling a little ‘naked’ without connectivity.)

 

Problem Solving in a Foreign Country 101: Find someone and ask for help.

Enter stage left: Bokacoffi

 

Good news: I had been listening to Thorsteinn’s broken English telling us about a internet cafe down the street!

Bad news: I had to try to explain this whole series of events to an unsuspecting Bakery attendant and ask to use her phone to get a hold of Thorsteinn.

 

Good news: found a great cafe attendant (and a great place to come back in the morning)

Bad news: there is none.

Got a hold of Thorsteinn,

muddled our way through explanations (with sheep baaing in the background),

went back up to the house – got the wifi working

went down to the gas station and figured out when you push “fill,” it automatically pre-authorizes you for a huge amount and reimburses you later… Chris had read about this, and had been fairly sure that is what happened, (but in my ignorance I had sent a “something’s wrong” notice to the credit card company and seemingly had cancelled our card, which needed to be reversed if we were to get gas again, which is why we needed connectivity which is where this all began

sooooooo, yeah that was kinda how this two day stay went…

 

We were definitely ready for a vegetable infused Annie’s mac and cheese and bed at our new digs!

 

So let me say right here. I loved Thorsteinn’s place. I love any place with a view that I can feel like I’m still enjoying outdoors, while chilling after a long day. I love checking out new gadgetry, and glimpses of a different way of living… and I love plain ol’ setting up camp in a house.

But Thorsteinn’s house was his home –  most likely his winter home – and as such, to me it felt a bit ‘sacred.’ It was a peek into someone’s life and it came ‘as is’ much like my home would: broken outlets, dusty cluttered pantry, locks that didn’t work quite right – if at all. (Yep, got stuck in the bathroom once!) A dryer that was never meant to be used, I think (or so the burning belt smell indicated). A jury-rigged drying rack over the heater… and NO drying line outside! (Unheard of in Iceland.) Hard beds, no microwave, a very funky shower set up with a half curtain meant for standing sideways in the tub, toilets that ran, sticky (really sticky) kitchen drawers and a refrigerator without a freezer (somewhat common, I guess.) Rabbit ears on the flat screen. Ha! These things just endeared itself to me, and were causes of lots of laughter.

 

It was definitely a study in contrasts.

And I fell in love with the toys that were there.

WordPress won’t let me show you a video of how this toy worked. It was just a marble shoot (with one “wing” missing. Ha!) but it made the most cool sounds as the marbles made their way down from the top.

I mean, honestly, how can you just not love a real peek into typical human-ness.

We’d only have one full day to see this part of Iceland, but we had seen so much already in this one endearing home.

 

 

 

 

(12) Iceland Dreaming…On the road again

One of the biggest blessings of this trip is all of the surprises on the way. I love surprises and Iceland has been chock full of them.

After leaving “The Garage” (in southern Iceland) we began our way further east and then headed north along the eastern coast.

And what better way to continue the road trip then another waterfall.  (Dare I say, Ho hum! 😉 )

Head into some more roadside majesty (It never stops.)

and spy a glacier through all the beautiful lupine

Gotta love the Viking theme here (and about the only way I can “willingly” get a picture of him. 🙂

 

Then it was into some Atlantic Ocean magic on steroids!

And then check out who came to visit us! Ol’ Puff McPuffin himself!

They were flying all around, and nesting on the cliffs. We even got to witness a seagull attack one on the beach. (He got away!) Found out later, the seagull was not trying to kill him (could have fooled me) but rather, trying to take the fish from his mouth. Whew!

Then up to our church parking lot over looking Vik for our lunch.

Not a bad place to water some lupine, I’d say. (I know, too much information… but like I shared before the WC (water closet) search is a tricky one in Iceland!… and yes, I keep my camera ready at all times. Ha!

And thought the church was closed, I’m glad we don’t need to be open to say “Takk takk” to the Big Guy for another amazing morning.

 

Then we rambled off to finish our trek for the day at a quick overnighter (This was a last minute change of plan “motel” because I finally figured out that “4 hour drive” would take at least 6 (I thought)  and I didn’t know I should have added on to that estimate at least an extra hour (or so) because of gravel roads, and LOTS of one lane “take turn” bridges, and the infamous “the GPS doesn’t know where the heck you want to go!”  … Yep, some fun times.

But I’m glad we didn’t have to blow by these glacier scenes

 

or this surrealistic iceberg lake

… Then after much ado, and our love/hate relationship with our GPS, we arrived in our glorified (and way too spendy) hostel, (The real hostel was also on the property.) And by ‘glorified’ I mean picture a dorm room…maybe.) But no complaints, honestly. It was a needed respite. We got to watch a hay bale get wrapped in plastic. We got to see a grandpa teaching his granddaughter to work the tractor. And we got an amazing breakfast lay out in the morning (a huge plus!)

with a view.

 

Ready for the road again.

 

(11) Iceland Dreaming… Sheeping, hiking and sailing Part 2 (AKA: perfect date night!)

Off to the Westmann Islands and the perfect date night! the youngest (newest) volcano in the world. (Erupted from a fissure in 1973… then formed a cone they call Eldfell – “Fire Mountain”. No one was killed, but 400 homes were destroyed and buried under 45 feet of lava and ash. 1500 people did not come back to the island to live.)

Coming to get us.

Summer ‘cabin’ anyone?

Yes, that is a house, and yes there are sheep grazing all the hillsides!

Love finding this artist’s work all over Iceland~

Great fish and chips… and by Iceland’s standards pretty cheap too. (Only 18.00!) Hey, but a date night with each other, in a quaint fishing village, under the blue sky’s of an Iceland evening worth every wonderful $2.00 bite.

And my hubby knows one of my most favorite vacation joys is a walk after dinner strolling the streets of the neighborhoods.

And this one had a system of trails hugging the edge of the city. Did I say PERFECT date night?!

And below is the picture he was taking.

And in the bottom left corner, you can see a memorial stone marking many peoples’ home that were buried under the 16 meter lava and ash. Seemed fitting to photoshop the picture below.

And then we headed back to less somber moments – more typical kids playing in their neighborhood

And more cool art

And the ship’s whistle blew to call us in…

and take us home

Grateful is such a puny puny word to express how I feel right now

but I guess it is going to have to do.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for this… for all of it.

(10) Iceland Dreaming … sheeping, hiking, and sailing “Oh my!” Part 1

When you wake up to this, you know it’s going to be a good day.

And no better way to start it than feeding the local, wandering neighborhood mama sheep and lambs.

Anna said, if you shake a plastic bag of bread at them, they will come… Wonder what they’ll think of granola?

 

 

And then, of course, you have to climb to your own personal waterfall…cuz, why not?

Our valley sentry

Along the way

Chris – another hillside rock in my view

Our island destination

The “pool” I thought I would find.

And Siggy saying, “Go west, young men!” Or in this case, south west… because everything it south!

To the Westmann Islands we go.

(9) Iceland Dreaming … it’s the “little” things

In all the Iceland grandeur, I’m finding again and again that it’s the little things that are the most fun for me.

For instance, check out these hidden treasures that Anna leaves for her guests to discover. I told her how much I appreciated the obvious care she put into the place, her humor, the special touches (like bringing us two pieces of homemade chocolate cake our first night!) She beamed. And how I particularly liked her fun surprises …”‘because you just know we’ll peek.”… She smiled and her eyes twinkled a lot like an elf’s.  

I love scoping out the culture in every aspect,

… feeling slightly off-kilter every time I go grocery shopping.

They LOVE their yarn (lopi)! Knitting is a required subject in school for all the kids. Most stores have a yarn section.

I love the adventure of driving the streets of a small “vik” (village), figuring out a street map without GPS and being guided by unfamiliar signs.

As a teacher, I have to wonder: Exactly how do you teach spelling (let alone correct it!)

Lots of these “one lane bridges”… Life is always about taking turns.

This is a rest stop sign. But take note: there is only ONE picnic table. And if there is no WC (water closet) posted on the bottom of this sign, there is no bathroom. And the added WC signs are few and FAR between. Never knew you had to plan a road trip around rest stop facilities or the apparent lack thereof. (Yeah, and with no trees (or even rocks) to hide behind, you’ve got yourself a bonafide problem!)

 

And possibly because of that road trip “hiccup” or possible because my mom would scrutinize every place we went by their bathrooms “You can tell a lot about a place by their bathrooms.” I seem to have a real affinity for bathroom pics Ha!   Thanks, mom. (And by the way, Iceland, you would pass my mom’s standards.)


Baby “hostel” sink.

This one had piped in (and a little creepy sounding) Christmas music. Albeit a Christmas store, but still!

Check out the window etching!

All the toilets have these depressors. Push the small side for peeps … Push large sides for poops.

Crocheted hangy thingies.  ??  But another cool etching.

Chess, anyone?

And that’s enough of this crap. Hee hee, simply couldn’t resist.

 

I love new gadgets and new ideas and all the laughter of figuring out crazy new ways of doing things.

These gas stations have been a blessing and a first timer’s (second, third) nightmare! Finally “getting” the process.

Can you say orange!

And check out this neighborhood food cart, Portland! 

 

There have been so many things to love.

I love new birds, familiar flowers and so, so many unafraid roadside sheep.

I love figuring out the sun’s pattern – taking a lap and doing a quick dip on the horizon rather than a deep dive – a little like a hoola hoop gone just slightly askew.

 

I love snooping someone else’s summer cabin, the ones that aren’t really doing the professional-Airbnb-catering-to-the-customer-thing (or aren’t sure how to yet), but are rather just lending out their house ’cause “if you rent it, they will come” (and they are coming for sure!)

I love eavesdropping on families, grandmas, moms, kids, friendships, working folk

and other wanderers…

… I love being warmed with all our sameness.

 

I know more seasoned travellers may consider all of this “old hat”but I hope I never do.

Because mostly I love the wonder of a big, big God,

in his great, big wonderful creation,

who cares in the most extravagant of ways

for the little things

like you and me.