Notes from the Field: 25 September 2015


Ah, this morning was beautiful! Lovely pink-tinged blue skies, alpenglow on the hills and hoarfrost on the ground… Yeah, that lasted about an hour. If I’ve learned nothing else over the last few weeks, I’ve learned that rain + waterfall spray + long exposure = crappy, spotted photos and really wet equipment. But the floorboard of a car with the heat and fan turned up high will dry even the most stubbornly wet camera and memories are sometimes better than any photo.

I have for most of this trip been… Not entirely off the tourist trail but definitely not for the most part in mainstream areas. I’ve met other travelers but they’ve been in ones and twos, traveling independently. Today changed all that. I wanted to hit a couple iconic locations on my drive to Reykjavik today and OMG, was I shocked. I found tour busses today. Lots of them. Some of them opened their doors to reveal screaming pre-pubescent children who, literally, set off on foot races around the location at which they’d stopped. More of them disgorged a slow – very slow – trickle of people who clearly weren’t used to walking in the rain on anything other than concrete. And of course, scads of people had their extendable batons with cell phones attached at the end, the better with which to get their selfies. Ugh…

As I drove from Kirkjubæjarklauster and then west toward Reykjavik, I found the land becoming… Softer? The ground still steams and harsh mountains still abound, but they’re  smaller, there’s more arable land and there’s a sense of life being just a bit more settled, just a bit easier. As mentioned, I hit the tourist trail today, checking out a few of the easily accessible (but still phenomenal) waterfalls and geothermal areas before getting into Reykjavik late this afternoon. Arriving in this metropolis after the last couple weeks of mostly farmsteads and villages is as much a shock as seeing all the tour busses today! There are street lights and traffic, buildings more than two stories tall and a multi-block commercial district. My second-floor flat came with street-parking a lá San Francisco (okay, the hills aren’t really that steep and the streets not that narrow), a pocket bathroom (you think I’m kidding) and a lava lamp.

A pocket bathroom
And behind Door #1 is… A pocket bathroom!

Instead of hearing through my window water, either as river, ocean or rain, I have road noise. It’s not noisy per se, but significantly different from the last two weeks.

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