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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Iceland Dreaming… Sheeping, hiking and sailing pt 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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Dreaming… Day Whatever. Let me check the sun.

Had our first real night’s sleep (because of Anna’s blackout shades!) However, the shades don’t help tell the time in the middle of the night though, ’cause light bursts through all around them. I find myself making sure I sleep with my phone next to me (which I never do at home) just so I can check where my sleep cycle should be when I stir awake at night! So weird. I never knew how dialed in to the sun’s cycle I am. I cannot even imagine living here when it never rises. We asked Olaf about living in the darkness… She said the nation’s “happy” index always rates very high. Good cost of living, family ties, job satisfaction etc… but even still, the suicide rate is high and so “Yes, I think the darkness is hard.”

Anyway, our day cycles these days seem to be this kind of rhythm: one day go until the wee hours of in the morning, then sleep in and have a lazyish day the following day – marked with drinking in all the beauty and ‘normal’ sleeping times –  followed the next day with an all day and all nighter again. My body clock is beyond broken. (Jet lag will be a breeze for me now.) Makes me appreciate the rising and setting of the sun simply for my health.

But it also makes me SO appreciative for the extra daylight now: there is never the nagging rush to see or do things before it’s dark. Makes for a fuller than full experience.

Sections of time start to feel like added days, blending into one big glorious lump of a two week day…  a series of blessings heaped up, pressed down, toppling over each other.

(In fact, this series of pics was one of those “sections of times, an ‘added’ day that I’d actually forgotten was a part of the last post’s “hecka long day” … )

After the waterfall we also headed for a small hike up a valley to a local “hot pot.”

 

Just up this valley and around the corner…

Pay dirt! Oh yeah.

Is it time for bed yet?

Hmm… not sure.

Let me check the sun.

Nope, not yet.

 

Iceland Dreaming… Another hecka full new day

So lest you think things are all rosy and cheery…

I lost my journal last night.

I was using it for everything – notes, thoughts, sketching, even grocery lists – all documenting snapshots of me and it blended into the shopping cart … sigh, and that’s all it took. It had been a present, so it had a heart string attached. We went back to the store in the morning. Gone.

I let it sting for a minute. Then remembered that in my own way I’d honor the giver’s spirit and “Deal with it… ’cause that’s what I do.” I had done my “due diligence” in trying to find it and now I could let it go.

So, before we left for our next adventure further east, I took Chris to check out a playground I’d spied earlier on my morning walk.

Good choice to lift the spirit.

 

Not sure how this skatepark would excite our American kiddos… but can’t beat the view!

And right across the street was this cool park. The day before in pouring rain the park was crammed. Now, on this beautiful day? Not so much. Weird.

And by far the coolest addition to any park! This zipline was the bomb! (Is that still a current saying?)

Yep, don’t really care… ’cause it was!

And just like that, we said our goodbyes to Reykjavik

and were on our way to “The Garage” and Anna, Siggy and Einar.

 

Goodbye Reykjavik.

 

Hello Ring Road.

 

Had to stop for these Icelandic beauties. Short, squatty… and so stinkin’ cool! We even got to see one with its rider doing its famous “tolt” gait (insert two dots over that o) … Oh for some more time and a lot more horse sense!

They are supposedly very sweet with humans. But they always seemed feisty with each other.

Here’s a site if you want to learn more.

https://www.ishestar.is/en/icelandic-horse

 

 

 

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we got to our next (two night) destination, “The Garage”

and met the owners Anna and Siggy and their son, Einar. For twenty five years, this has been their working dairy farm.

Our own private waterfall! Can you say heaven?

Next year to be Einar’s house.

 

(You know you were curious.)

Then, what do you do with a “couple hours” of sunlight to spare and renewed adrenaline?

Go check out another waterfall of course.

And the ever present, everywhere sheep.