Ring Road: Day 2

13-7-16

10:54 – Well, things don’t always go as planned, but I can flow with the tide. In Reykjavik now – I just dropped off my laptop and was promised that it would be fixed under warranty within 24 hours. Not the best case scenario, since that means returning here by 18:00 on Saturday, but I have a feeling by that time I’ll be pretty tuckered and won’t mind wandering the capital for a but and then getting to the airport early.

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I got a chance to try out a place I noticed last time I was in town: Lemon. Great Skyr smoothies, so that’s breakfast, and there’s a Bonus across the street, so I might go ahead and pick up some groceries for the day. Then it’s off to the West!

13:18 – I stood on a rock in the middle of the water and sang “Just Around the Riverbend” as loud as I could because there was no one around to hear, and I had just found out what lay around the riverbend.

And now I need to stop stopping for a while because I need food and a WC [they are water closets in Iceland], and the next town is a way off. Route 47 though. Skip the $8 tunnel [in the west portion of Route 1] and take 47 – the scenic route around the inlet. You won’t regret it.

14:26 – “I’m not going to stop until the next town.” *Five minutes later.* “Oo a waterfall!”

Thus finds me sitting atop a mountain. I haven’t technically reached the fall yet, but I snatched an opportunity to dip my toes in the river water. And I really mean dip only – it’s like ice! Instant numbness ensued.

I didn’t do any research on Glymur – the cascade awaiting me in who-knows-how-long. It was a pretty long drive on a gravel road to get here, but there were a lot of cars parked at the end, so I figured it must be good. A sign warned of the treacherous level of hike ahead. Hiking boots highly recommended. I slipped on my $8 moccasins from Old Navy and set off.

They weren’t kidding. At first, it was the norm – uphill, downhill, lots of rocks and small shrubs. Wee. Then it got more interesting.

First, you go through a cave, then you cross the raging river via a log. Then you ascend almost vertically, holding on to a rope strung at your side so you don’t slip, fall, and cause a 20-tourist pileup of death. And then… Well, I don’t know, cause I haven’t finished. It’s quite a hike though. I can see far out to sea already, and we are pretty far inland so…

My cheap clearance-rack shoes are holding up just find. I actually hike in these on purpose: I guess it’s not for everyone, but I prefer to feel the shape of the ground under my feet rather than have a thick slab of rubber between us. Probably why I love being barefoot.

Well, the flies are gathering like vultures, and there’s still a ways in front of me… to say nothing of the long hike back to my car. I am so hungry.

15:49 – Battle wounds! In other words, I fell on my butt and tore up my hands. Maybe hiking boots provide more traction on the slippery gravel, but it’s more likely that I was simply hurrying too much. Can’t say I’m surprised though. I live by the maxim “It’s not a real adventure until someone is bleeding!”

It looks like rain, so I stopped my ascent after I got to an observation level, but people were going all the way to an overhanging peak. I’m pretty satisfied with myself though – I just spend about two hours straight hiking with barely any food in me! I’m very serious now – food and WC are immediate necessities.

23:27 – Wow. Shut your eyes for one moment…

I had intended to nap for an hour or so, but that was three hours ago. Still, it was a needed rest in a private place, so it’s all good. I’ll probably have to stop again soon just because gas stations aren’t open all night.

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But what else have I done since I left Glymur? (Other than get food, of course.) After stopping at the Bonus in Borgarnes, I made a quick stop at Laxfoss, which was just a short hike off the parking lot and quite lovely, then – in desperate need of some relaxation – I went in search of an outdoor pool I had heard of.

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[A note here: you aren’t supposed to walk on the moss in Iceland. Something about it taking hundreds of years to grow, so let’s not kill it. Seriously though, you have to walk on the moss just once. It’s not like a carpet, it’s like a freaking pillow under your feet.]

Driving through the mountains to get to the West Fjords (although I’m not really going into them due to a lack of time) was a blast. Gorgeous scenery, of course, and roads right on the edge of cliffs for a little feeling of danger. The pool I ended up finding (at the end of a long, horrid, and unmarked gravel road) was not the one I expected, but I enjoyed it all the same. There was only one couple there when I arrived (sorry to spoil your alone time!), and they left shortly, so I’ve been completely alone in the mountains since.

The water was very hot (it can get up to 80 degrees C, so I’m lucky it was just tolerable), but it felt great on my sore feet, and since I was alone, I utilized the moment to shave my legs! After thoroughly soaking, I changed into comfier clothes, blocked up the windows, and finally found a decently comfortable position. Back seats are not made for sleeping in these days, are they?

00:41 – Those mountain roads. They were even more fun the second time. With the late hour, they were pretty deserted, which means you’re free to drive right down the middle. Helpful, when you are plunging downhill, taking the curves at 100 (don’t freak out – that’s kph, not mph). On that note, I have been well-trained to drive kph: since I’m so used to 100 being a deadly speed, I have an automatic stop in my brain that makes it hard for me to go more than that (the typical speed limit is 90 here). So I don’t speed quite as much. Not quite, at least.

Back on Route 1, things got foggy. At first, it reminded me of Geysir: steam rising from the ground. Then the fog totally enveloped the road, and I was surrounded in white like a strange dream. I could only see ten or twenty feet in front of me and not at all to the sides – the ground could have dropped off for all I know. At one point, I was on a straight stretch of road, and I could see the sky and the clouds, but below that, it was just fog straight from the bottom of the clouds to right in front of me. Felt like I was driving in the sky itself. Then suddenly, I was in this murky gray. It looked to me as though someone had started painting a landscape from the bottom up, then got bored and walked away, leaving the top two-thirds of the canvas blank. There was no definition – no horizon or sky or mountains. Just flat gray. When I looked in the rearview mirror, it was the same thing behind. So weird and so cool.

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