Wednesday, June 20, 2007

June 9th, 2007

The ninth of June, 2007, was probably one of the best days in my life.

The day before, I'd met a few people on a guided tour, and we all decided to rent a car for the next day and see the country. We decided to drive along the ring road along the south coast of Iceland. I watched this video the night before.

The next day, the four of us, Me, Alban, a guy from Paris, Pearl, a girl from Taipei, and Jamie, a girl from Maryland, (all about the same age) packed into a manual transmission Volkswagon Polo

I hopped into the driver's seat of our car at 8am, the odometer at 26km--this car had been used less than my bike just this afternoon. We left Reykjavik and found the ring road.

As we left for the country, I thought myself......"This is fucking, fucking, fucking crazy. I don't know these people at all. Iceland is sparsely inhabitied outside it's capital, and I've got a few granola bars and a raincoat in my daypack. This is a recipe for disaster."

My fears became overwhelming jubilance as the scenery started to unfold. This country is magical, you can feel it in the air and it's more than visually apparent, and I was racing into it full speed ahead.

This was one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life.

The feeling was mutual with my friends. Alban couldn't stop saying "this is just crazy" I think he meant amazing, or breathtaking, or unbelieveable...but it was crazy too.

We passed through a few small towns here & there, stopping at Vik for some snacks & water, and at another town called Kirkjubæjarklaustur for gas & food. I had to turn around since I passed the town--hey it was small--and nearly ran the car off the road(kindofa long story) and nearly gave Alban a heart attack. The gas station had a little restaurant within it, and it had plenty of rural folk socializing--not far off from what you'd see in rural North Dakota, really. I had a piece of blueberry & something??berry pie. It was some of the best pie I've ever had.

Aside from those stops, we really didn't stop at all on our way towards our two goals: Jökulsárlón and Skaftafell National Park. We knew that it would still be light out past 11pm, so we intended on making wayside sightseeing stops on the way back

We passed Skaftafell and made it to Jökulsárlón around 3pm. Here we are:

I don't think I need to describe how satisfied I was with our trip to this point. It was very bright despite being overcast. I went back into the car and got my sunglasses right after that. We took a tour of this glacial lagoon in a little boat, and left for Skaftafell.

Skaftafell is known for it's great hiking trails and it's multitude of waterfalls. We hiked to an altitude about 600 feet to find Svartifoss, one of Icelands most well known waterfalls.

Here I am enjoying the scenery(photo: Pearl)

Here we are leaving Skaftafell with the view I was enjoying above(photo: Pearl)

We stopped at many waysides along the way, and although the scenery was the same on the way back, it didn't matter a whole lot. It was still overpowering.

We stopped in Vik again to get some food, although I don't think I had anything.

As we neared Reykjavik, we were getting tired after a long day. It was 11:30pm--and we cranked up the Icelandic radiostation, which had mostly talk on earlier in the day. They were now playing a mixture of icelandic & international music.

As midnight struck, they played Pearl Jam's cover of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."

When we rolled into the parking lot of the hostel, there was just over 800km on the odometer.

I learned that day about the payoff of calculated risks, and I slept with great contentment.

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