Finishing the Ring Road

The last bit of the Ring Road is called the Golden circle. This became a bigger adventure for one individual than anticipated. The circle is also very close to Reykjavik so the number of tourists at sites has increased dramatically

The word geysir isIcelandic in origin, according to our guide. Our first stop was a geyser field. The oldest geyser, geysir has run out of steam and just bubbles and brews. The youngest one erupts every 7 minutes. ( sounds like real life). The colors, the steam and the whoosh sound of the eruption make a real sensory treat.

The next stop was another waterfall Gulifoss. This was originally on private land. The British power company wanted it for a generating plant but the family that owned it refused to sell, they fought for 3 generations and eventually donated it to the national park so everyone could enjoy it. The golden falls are among the most popular in Iceland.

The las stop was Thingvellir, this spot is where the original parliament met in 930 and for many years there after. They formed a Christian democratic society, developed a language and constitution. In June 1944 Iceland was declared an independent republic in this spot.

This also is another rift where the Eurasia and American plates are spreading. Other then the Rift Valley in Africa this is the only spot where there is visible evidence of the seafloor spreading on the surface. The plates are moving at 7 mm per year.

It is at this point where one of our more independent members left the group. We could see him high up on the ridge snapping pictures. He didn’t get back to the bus for over an hour. This caused great debates and conversations between the other participants.

On to Reykjavik.

The amazing views continue

July 4,5

We went to another water fall, the walk up and down was again fit for a mountain goat. Iwould tell you the name but our American ears are so out of tune with this language that we refer to the last big volcanoes as E16 because the name starts with an e that is followed by 16 letters

After the falls half the group continued up, over to the edge of the glacier and down to the bus where the less hearty of us waited. In the afternoon all of us went to the other side of the glacier bed.

My photos for today are a big disappointment, I went manual and overexposed them.

For our fourth celebration our leader hung an American flag which we drank a toast to.

We had another photo show and tell. I enjoy seeing the very artistic shots of the others but I am having a argument with myself as to the honesty of super editing with photoshop. I am not a photoshopper and am debating a jump into that world.

On Friday we drove among the glacier beds admiring their beauty and power. When a volcano erupts here the destruction often comes from the melting of the glacier and the release of underground water which sends torrents of water, sand and icebergs ripping through the countryside. Bridges and everything else in the path are destroyed. (One photo is of the remains of a bridge with the glacier behind.

This is also the land of the hidden people(trolls etc.). According to legend Eve had many children. She knew god was coming to visit and she only had time to bathe and dress a few. She hid the rest. God was not happy and punished her by hiding them forever… If God can not see these children then no one shall see them. There are hidden people churches and homes among the rocks. One 3 pointed rock was formed when three hidden people did not return home before sunrise.

Lunch was Anglican soup, made from the bight green native plant in the picture.

We stopped at the field of sand and I built a cairn for safe crossing.

After lunch it began raining very hard… Pay the piper time. We drove to one more waterfall and the cliffs to see the puffins.

Volcanoes and glaciers

July 3

We drove by many moraines, a landscape feature we know well in Michigan and landscape that is desert, in fact the largest in in Europe. The landscape is either covered with large rocks , gravel or fine black volcanic sand. On many of the walks you must be as surefooted as a mountain goat. Sometimes I get carried away climbing to get a picture, look down and remember I don’t like heights. Bobby, one of the members of our group is always at the highest point, the sheerest cliff, the most risky spot to get the shot. It has become a close race between Bobby and Wendy to reach the prime spot with no people in your shots.

Today we walked along a beach where the volcanic stone was similar to that that covered Pompeii, igminorrite lava. (Susan Keilb if you read this please check this fact) It is a green stone, a fast cooling lava. We walked along the beach and gathered stones.

Later in the day went to a glacier lagoon. After the war in Vietnam the American government sold a large number of semi amphibious vehicles, duck boats, which were purchased by tourist venues around the world. We road in a duck boat on the lagoon,among the glacier calves. What a remarkable sight/ site. Glaciers are only 10% above the surface of the water and we passed among some remarkably large chunks of ice. It was a very overcast day but the colours were amazing. The guide showed a small piece of ice, the water in it would be about 1000 years old, it sparkled like a large diamond. We stopped at one spot where we were at the lowest point in Iceland and I front of us was a mountain that is the highest point in Iceland.

Our hotel for the next two nights is on the edge of a glacier field.


I’m behind so I will try to catch up tonight.

Tues, July 2 2013
Snow is forecast for today. Iceland’s weather is a lot like Michigan, constantly changing, never what you expected. We have been very lucky, it has rained every night, a little each morning and partly cloudy the rest of the day. I haven’t had to wear my rain pants yet

At our stop on Monday our Tavel guide was given a survey on tourism in Iceland that he was to have us fill out. In discussing it with the agency that is giving the survey said that a significant number of tourist have no idea where they are!!!

Icelander love golf and fishing in the summer, in the winter a significant amount of time is spent in doors because of the short cold days. They spend a lot of money to make their houses comfortable. we have noticed that By our standards all the interiors are over heated. Historically the have not been eager adapters, until the Internet. They have wide access to the Internet( with the exception of the hotel we stayed in July 3, 4).

Their roads are not terribly wide, there are few scenic pull offs. All transportation is by truck, car, bus or bike. The major road that tourist use is called the ring road and it goes around the country. The citizens Are eager to make improvements, widen the roads make them tourist friendly because they would like to increase the rate of tourism to 1 million tourists by 2014 (it is currently at 500,000. There has been a steady increase over the last decade.)

We have seen plenty of waterfalls and there are many more to see. Tuesday was a long driving day. We stopped at many waterfalls. We ate lunch in a very remote area, the site of a farm and a small church built by a farmer to honor his wife. He put an alter, pews and and organon side and spent many hours there every day until he died. The current owner is building several pseudo sod buildings and a restaurant. The lamb stew severed was excellent, however I ended up with as much on my lap as in my stomach.

In the distance we saw what the Icelanders consider the most beautiful mountain, the Queen Mountain.

Our final destination was a lovely remodelled farm house on the edge of a lake. This is the best room of the trip.

Other world and outclassed

We must have left Michigan just in time. We missed the rain and had only a short delay in Boston. The flight to Iceland was a nonevent, not even long enough to catch some sleep, so we have been running since yesterday morning with no sleep. Customs was a big surprise, they just nodded us through and said have a nice trip.

The group, 19, five married couples, a grandma/granddaughter combo and the rest retired females. A very interesting,highly educated group, most have either won photo contests or are actively engaged in photography beyond family pictures. I am definitely outclassed on this trip.

After the airport, breakfast and trip orientation we went to the famous Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was formed by industrial effluent from the worlds largest geothermal plant. The plan was the waste water would run off and be absorbed by the lava beds surrounding the plant. The runoff is so full of salts that a thick floor was formed, the water could not drain and the lagoon formed. After many years of people “sneaking in” to the plant property for a good hot soak it was decided that it would be opened to the public and is now the number one tourist attraction in Iceland. This was a fabulous restorative hour.

We drove to the sea and photographed the large lava formations. The roadside is covered with blue lupine which has been imported in an effort to add more nitrogen to the soil. We also stopped to see gysers, where the surface temperature is so hot that the surface bubbles and steams. Our last stop of the day was a point where the Eurasia plate and the North American plate meet, the official geological line between the two continents.

So far Iceland looks like a moon scape cluttered with lava rocks. Below the surface there is grinding, sifting rock that is creating pressure and heat enough to power the country. Volcanos are a yearly occurrence.