I awoke at 10am without waking up once all night! I was thrilled I had enjoyed my first night of deep, comfortable slumber all week. The new blanket was toasty warm and realizing I’d be fine in the car from here on out raised my spirits. When I noticed the car windows were completely fogged over my first thought was, oops! But then I realized it was the perfect window covering so I could change into my clothes. Bonus!
After I changed I went into the house to use the bathroom and then gave Sigrun a big hug and returned her key, and I hit the road.
I headed South towards Selfoss because Joanna had recommended I take the Ring Road counter-clockwise to make sure all roads would be open when I got up North. Sounded like a wise plan. But first, I stopped at Hagkaup in Skeifan, which is the only 24 hour grocery and sort of like our Walgreens for some groceries and supplies. I had bought a camping stove in Reykjavik and decided a few soups, teas, and instant coffee would be fun, and then I got several nuts, dried fruits, apples and crackers that will last me a week or two in the car. I also bought a 3 pack of spoons (I LOVE that disposable silverware doesn’t seem to be a thing here) and a little white mug for my morning instant lattes. I also bought a litre of Coke because I remembered how much I love European Coca-Cola. Did you know Coca-Cola uses a different recipe depending on where it’s shipped in the world? European/North African is my favorite, and I have to restrain myself from chugging it like a greedy 6 year old.
I headed South-East, following the Lonely Planet guide book my hosts had lent me (yes, I’m also wishing I’d have just dealt with the weight of the amazing and thorough guide book a friend back home had loaned to me. I didn’t bring it because it was too bulky and heavy, darn it). The LP guidebook has been wonderful, and it had a preplanned 3-4 week path they recommend so I thought I’d give that a shot and take my own detours along the way.
Once on the road I noticed how I had a fairly decent phone service so I thought I’d give my momma a call and check in. We chatted for about 15 minutes before I remembered I had to pay by the minute if I wasn’t using Skype so we agreed to use that next time. I continued on and drove to a small sea town just West of Stokkeyri where I walked out to the crashing water and stood in awe of the power of the ocean. The smell of the dense sea air was amazing. There were flocks of seagulls and little noisy birds holding court nearby and their calls nearly drowned out the crashing of the ocean. I finally felt like I had found my groove. My worry and discomfort began waning and I was starting to feel more adventurous again.
After catching another chat with Jason while enjoying a snack of Sykr, an Icelandic creamy yogurt-type favorite, and chocolate milk I followed the guidebook to Stokkeyri and then the first thing I did, in my usual style, was to change my mind and buck the system and take a detour back up to the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is the easiest, closest group of sights to see all crammed into a single day trip. For some reason the guidebook didn’t think they were worth seeing if I had 3-4 weeks in Iceland ….which makes me very excited to imagine what’s in store for me down the road!
Around 2:00 I landed in Thingvellir National park and learned that the campsite next to the visitor center was closed. Bummer! I asked where the next open campsite was and the girl stared at me blankly and said “you can use the campsite, it’s just not open.” This, I learned, just meant the showers and laundry service weren’t available, but I was welcome to stay for free. BOOYAH! So I set a waypoint on my GPS so I could find my way back here after playing in the park all day.
I headed down to Thingvellir, which is the council site of the founding Icelandic Vikings and continued to be so until only a couple hundred years ago. Once a year, all leaders, representatives or those with a grievance needing to be settled would trek across Iceland from their hometowns to join in this massive coming-together where all external vendettas were set aside while matters would be discussed and settled. There are waterfalls, a large council rock, one of the oldest Christian churches (if not the oldest) in all of Iceland, and amazing views in 360 degrees.
I took my time and read all the info signs, barely comprehending them due to feeling so overwhelmed by the fact I was standing in this incredible place from human history. I kept picturing hoards of fur-cladded men and their small, tough-as-nails Icelandic horses crossing between the snow-capped mountains on all sides, and navigating the cliffs and crevices that crop up everywhere to come together and perform one of the most civilized governments of the era.
I learned the reason there are so many crevices and rock upheavals in the area is because this is also the fault line between the North American and European continents. That fact pretty much blew my little mind. If you think about it, the whole reason Iceland is even above water is because the Earth is spewing out churning lava through the cracks between the continental plates. Blammo. Now your mind is blown too, yes?!
I’ve never felt so small and insignificant as I do here in Iceland. Though, I also have a new appreciation for the ingenuity and tenacity of humans since we have not only been able to survive but thrive in such a volatile world.
As I walked around I noticed everything is still very brown and wintered. Every once in a while I can see grass, moss and a few crocus-looking flowers trying to emerge. I had the privilege of watching the trees unfurl in Reykjavik and by the time I left they were all covered in lime green spring leaves. I hope I will get to see more lush spring green while I’m here. Green makes for much better photos.
I also had run-in’s with a few rude groups of American tourists whichI feel I should apologize to the world for. I don’t think these folks understand what a bad reputation they’re giving us when they go abroad and behave like they own everything. I also scolded a Russian man for disturbing a beautiful mother sheep with her two tiny lambs. Several of us tourists had all been keeping our distance and enjoying how lovely the moment was, when he just went charging up to her with his young son, talking loudly and waving his arms. I couldn’t help myself, I loudly tsk-tsked him and shook my head. His wife called him back and he was very grumpy that we had ruined his fun. Poor baby, he’s right, it would have been fun to see momma goat head butt him 😉
I’m a bit torn about whether my decision to come to Iceland so early before the tourist season was the right thing to do or not. On one hand, I have my choice of parking and camping sites, and the attractions and cafes are quiet, empty and relaxing; but on the other hand, there is very little greenery yet and many places are closed until June 1. Perhaps I should have aimed for the end of the tourist season when the weather is worse but it’s still at it’s photogenic peak. No matter now 🙂
Once the sun started to get low in the sky I figured I had better head back to camp and get situated and have some dinner. I looked at the clock and it was already 9:30pm. Doh! Oh yeah, midnight sun.
Once I circled around the campsite and picked out my parking spot, which was a bit humorous because the site is a huge empty lawn and it was only me and one other couple brave enough to camp here so early in the season, I made my bed in the back of the car and had a banana and the last of the rich chocolate milk. I wrote up my blog post in a text document and loaded up photos, but didn’t have the energy to edit. Said good night to Jason and to the massive, snow-covered giants surrounding me and nodded off to sleep.