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October 1st 2015
Published: December 21st 2018
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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Höfn to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland

Although we didn't necessarily sleep in, we were still the last ones to leave the hotel that morning. Back on the Ring Road, we started the stretch where we could see glaciers from the road.

View Vatnajökull from Ring Road

One of our favorite stops was at the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón. This lake is situated on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park and is found right off the Ring Road. Here we saw a seal lazily roaming around the large pieces of ice as if it were swimming in a large glass of ice water. Jökulsárlón has been the filming location of several major films such as A View to Kill, Die Another Day, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider and Batman Begins. The TV show the Amazing Race also showcased this haunting location.

After spending quite some time at Jökulsárlón, we went across the road to the black sand beach. Here, we saw where the glaciers from Jökulsárlón float under a bridge and out to sea. Some of the ice finds its way to the ocean, however some of it gets swept up in the waves and they can be seen up and down the coast. Many tourists can be found here, many with much nicer photography equipment than what we had.

A little farther down the Ring Road we found ourselves at the Vatnajokulsthjodgardur National Park. After some time looking for parking and exploring the visitor's center, we did a short hike to a waterfall. Back in the parking lot we set up a make shift picnic area and had the cheese and crackers we had purchased the night before. For all you cheese lovers out there, it is MUCH cheaper in Iceland than it is back in the states.

We arrived at our next cabin not too much later. By then, the rain was really pouring and we were happy to get inside. The cabin was equiped with a full kitchen, however we didn't have anything to cook. We decided to go to the next town, Vik, for supplies. Unfortunately, it was an hour away but Curtis didn't mind driving out there. About ten minutes from our cabin we passed the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and we decided to check for a grocery store there instead. It was a very good thing we stopped.
Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon)Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon)Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon)

Yes, we saw a seal there
Not only did we find a grocery store, but they also had (the smallest you've ever seen) liquor store. Loaded up with supplies for dinner and breakfast, we headed back to the cottage and made fully loaded hot dogs to go with our beer.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Hella, Iceland

Another night passed where we missed out on the Northern Lights. The night turned out to be perfect weather for viewing the aurora with clear skies and no ambient light. But the aurora is finicky and never came out.

Our next stop on the road was Vik, a small town in southern Iceland. It's supposed to be known for having a great outlet for affordable wool products. The answer to whether a place like that exists is no, it does not exist. It is expensive and of little selection. Do not waste your time or efforts. The town is small and while there is nothing much there, it remains a popular stop for gasoline fill-ups and lunch. Next to the "outlet store" was a convenience store and restaurant. Curtis got the ham and cheese sandwich (with fries) and Jen got the Fish Stew. She loved it. It wasn't really fish stew though, it was more like potato salad with fish in it. Very strange.

Nearby Vik are the Reynisdrangar large basalt sea-stacks. Legend has it that three trolls got caught out in the sea and when daylight broke, they turned to stone. On the other side of the Dyrhólaós estuary is Dyrhólaey. A peninsular with loads of photo opportunities. The rocks are low enough that the waves can and will crash hard enough to soak you. There were a lot of people with professional (or at least expensive) camera equipment. One guy, in an effort to get the best photo, got a little close to the water and a wave came in strong and soaked him bad. His camera did not appear to have any water protection. Nonetheless, he moved to higher ground and continued to shoot. The view is astonishing and the rocks are fun to climb. Definitely worth the stop.

Moving along west about another 10km, we came across Skogafoss, a waterfall just south of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The unpronounceable volcano blew in 2010 and plumes of ash cause air travel to halt in Europe for 6 days. Skogafoss waterfall is one of the tallest in Iceland and was featured recently in the films Thor The Dark World and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The Walter Mitty movie was filmed almost entirely in Iceland so practically everywhere you go on the island was featured in the movie. You can climb to the top of Skogafoss and hike upriver to see some additional water features. It's 60m to the top which means lots of steps. Luckily, there were a bunch of sheep to the east that posed (poorly) for some photos to keep our minds off the ascent. When you get to the top, there is a fence with a very amateurishly constructed stepladder to get on either side. The ground is muddy so you get to watch lots of people slip and get all muddy trying to clear the ladder. Behind the fence leads you back to some more water features.

Further west, off the Ring Road is Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can walk behind. The waterfall also drops about 60m and creates quite a splash. Curtis and Jen came out soaked just walking around it. Luckily, it was the warmest day we had since we had been on the island and dried off pretty quickly. When the sun is out you can get lots of shots with rainbows created by the mist.

Further up the road is Hella, a nice town. We stayed at the Stracta Hotel. It's a basic hotel with small rooms and adequate amenities. At check-in, we arranged for a complementary wake-up call if the Northern Lights showed. After unpacking, we drove to Selfoss...

Later in the evening, we walked out to the bar to have a couple drinks. Over the lobby speakers, they hotel what could quite possibly be the worst music ever produced. One song that particularly stands out was a recording of a karaoke performance of Brimful of Asha, by Cornershop. The lyrics "everybody needs a bosom for a pillow" on repeat still haunt us today.

About 1am, our phone rang informing us of visible lights! We bundled up and went outside to watch them. At first they were hardly visible, but they grew and got brighter. It was hard to get a picture due to the ambient lights around us so we only watched them. Besides, there are far superior photos on the internet,
Black Sand BeachBlack Sand BeachBlack Sand Beach

Parts of the glacier make it to the ocean, others wind up stranded on the beach
our couldn't do them justice.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Hella Iceland to Portland Oregon

Drove back to Reykjavik for hot dogs, shopping and baked goods

flight out

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