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Travel Blog

Travel Blog
Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Iceland. The land of Ice. Snow. Wind. Rain and Glaciers.


This year's ride. Iceland. 

We met Sveinn and Atli  and Elis at Doug's last winter in California.
They found Doug on ADV Rider and of course he went out of his way to help them find a bike, sleep a couple nights at his house and give them the nickle tour of Lodi. 

It was time for payback so we called on them to help us on our ride through Iceland.
And help us they did....finding accommodations, road conditions, weather, driving us around even helping navigate us out on our first morning. 

Meet Sveinn and his parents. Sveinn picked us up at the airport at 5 am and we went straight to their home and she laid out a beautiful breakfast including ample strong coffee which we needed after our 8 hour flight on hard, paper thin airplane seats that cleverly hid the recline lever.
Bread is a big deal here. She laid out 3 kinds. Too bad I don't eat it much.


Violets growing like weeds everywhere.  
  

And some roses that smelled divine. 


The garage with a DRZ in pieces. Seems Sveinn took a spill just before we arrived.


Gear box. Parts are expensive and hard to come by. Also EVERYTHING except lamb is imported so just add a few dollar signs to everything and try not to think about it the currency translation.


Neil is an EMT and Fire Chief so we stopped at the local fire house.
Firefighters past...



The guys working at the station not out on a call.
Don't worry though, there are practically no trees on the whole island. 




Almost took a ride in the back of one of these a couple days later but you'll have to keep reading to find out how. Hint: it's in the title.





And the Icelandic flag. 


Opera house. 


The lake in the center of Reyjavik.


Cute little church. 
There is a public parking lot just behind it.
When we asked the people standing by their car if they were leaving or staying. 
They said "yes". 
Everyone (except them) knows English here. In fact they all speak it quite fluently.
We would not realize we were in a foreign country if they didn't have the accent. 
Being able to communicate makes things so much easier....


Gay Pride week in the capital. 


Painted the steps too.


Parliament and my inability to figure out the timer and angle. 



Clouds. We are going to see a lot of these. 
This neat little viking boat was on top of one of the roofs in town.


The main pedestrian drag. 


Art Deco building. 
With a star of David. 


Here is the bunch. 

Elis.
Atli.
Doug.
Sveinn.
Me.
Neil. 


This is THE place for burgers. 
It was in a small alley and hard to find.
They 'branded' the top of the bun.


Mine of course without the bun.
The menu said "proprietary" blend of beef.
Whatever they put in it, WOW was it delicious.
It better be for $30 USD.
This was our first real lesson in the cost of things.
Dinner is roughly the same menu as lunch but a minimum of twice the cost.


Swanky.



This is the famous concrete church at the end of the street.


Lutheran is the religion.



That's Doug walking out of the picture. 
I'm so glad he came on the trip.



We were told to never buy water. 
This sign says it all.
When I travel internationally, the first thing I do is start drinking the tap water.
You are going to  get some with your washed salad at some point.
Rather get the adjustment to the new bacteria over with.
But here, just drink it.
In fact, I filled my camelpak at each waterfall we visited. 
Doesn't get fresher than that.


Lots of cool murals. 


I totally want this light. 
Although I can see waking up in the middle of the night 
and smashing it to bits because it's creepy too.


This one is for Arka. 




There were these little miniature golf things along the pedestrian road.

We are all exhausted at this point, about 24 hours awake and it's only 2 pm.


Neat barricade to the pedestrian street.


Not sure...


Saw a lot of people putting around on these. 
Funny at heck and much less weird looking than a Segway.


Doug likes benches. 




The license plates here are quite creative.
And short, there aren't that many people in Iceland.
Half the sheep population in fact.


Finally ready to go check out our bikes and pack up for the ride out tomorrow morning.
Viking Biking. The owner's name is Thor. (of course)



This will be mine. 
Thumper (that means single cylinder which vibrates excessively).
650 cc. (that means not fast).
and I have other gripes about it.


My bike is packed. 
Side bags and a giant waterproof duffel across the back.
Good idea Paul.


Sveinn's parents own a cabin outside the city.
We stayed there for the first night.

The view.


His sister is building their own cabin on the same property higher up on the hill.



This family doesn't believe in Elves. 
At least that's what he said but the sign....well?




My room. Grindle is finally out of the bag.  
Arka thinks he's pissed that he's on another epic ride but I think he's happy.
At least he's shoved into a warm pannier, away from the wind, cold and rain.
Plus he gets cuddled each night.
mmmm Maybe it's Arka that's not happy about that. 


Neil trying to figure out how to pair the helmet coms. 
It makes a huge difference when we are trying to coordinate making decisions to stop for a photo or gas or food. Also safer when passing or just sharing information like sheep up ahead. 
Given my hearing loss, yelling from helmets just doesn't work for me.


Sveinn is on the sofa unlocking his iphone for me to borrow.
When I've had rides without a local phone number it makes it difficult. 


They have to even import wood. 
This little wood burning stove cranked out excessive heat.
On top of the geothermal.


BBQ lamb and pork and nothing else.
Seriously, they only eat meat. 
I'd gotten veggies but no one fixed them to go with dinner.
So I cooked them and added a ton of butter and Atli couldn't believe how good they were.
He does't like eating veggies but these he loved. 
Enough butter will do it.





The next morning I cooked 3 layers of bacon and scrambled eggs. 
I actually uttered that we might have too much bacon.
I was worried for nothing.




First stop. Where the tectonic plates meet.



And the original location of Parliament. 
That's the building down there on the right.



The start of the crevice. 


You can see it extending out to the lake.





Yep. My butt crack and Iceland's butt crack.


The walking path goes right down the middle of the opening!



And it just widen's. Creepy.





First meal stop. 
So food is very important.
Especially when you are on a bike all day.
In the elements. 
Coke Zero. 
Tiny bottle.
Non-American sized.


Blue ling fish. WOW. Was it delicious.
In a cream sauce. 
Drown anything in a cream sauce.....


Weird ode to Iceland and Gay Pride.


Bathroom had an expensive perfume bottle for testing bolted to the wall.
I smelled good for at least this day.


This place was on the lake.


Boiling cauldron and place for being baptized. 
Apparently, no one wanted to be baptized in cold water.


The grey blue building is where we had lunch.










Next stop. Geysir's.




For the people who wonder how hot it is.
Even though there are signs everywhere to not touch the water coming out of the ground.
There were plenty of people that dipped a finger in and pulled it out fast, waving it in the cool air.

That's Celsius. Not Fahrenheit.



Everybody waiting for it to come.


And here it is. Watch to the end. You can see people scurrying away from the cloud that descended. 


video

Then on to Godafoss.
Foss means waterfall.
There is a footpath down to the edge.
Nope.
Good seeing from the top platform. 


All the gear I'm wearing weights just under 30 lbs. 
Inside long sleeve shirt.
Inner long sleeve heated liner/jacket.
Outer jacket with gortex, (keeps the water from penetrating) armour, and liner.
I feel like the Michelin man. 
Don't forget the boots, two layers of socks.
The helmet and comm.
Plus the heated gloves and liners inside. 

video


Didn't make it to our first night stop in Vik. 
Instead asked for Atli's help to find an available hotel in the town we stopped for dinner at.
Nothing to take photos of but they did have two hot tubs. 
With these creepy fiberglass covers on, I guess so you can sit in here during the winter or when it's raining. They were HOT!



My room.
Nothing special but notice the beds?
It's all weird narrow single beds. 
Double beds are rare here.
It's always a twin.
Might explain the low population of Iceland.



Breakfast is usually included at hotels.
Everything is cold. 
Cold meats. Cheese. Yogurt. Juices. 
Hard boiled eggs, still cold.
But hey, I brought a french press jet boil and peet's coffee.
That seems to set the world right.



The boys were still sleeping by the time I finished packing the bike.
On these rides I wake up early and giddy to go.
I also spend a whole month training, getting mentally and physically ready.
Taking longer and longer rides each weekend. It always pays off. 
Between the jet lag, new pollen's in the air, different climate and just the stress of riding in a foreign country, it's best to build up to handle it. 


So I took off early and went to a lovely waterfall where I filled my camelpak for the first time. 
I drank Skogafoss water for the first couple of days. 
Just gorgeous.


Oh crap out of sequence photo.
This is another waterfall and at this point, they are freakin' everywhere so enjoy.


Yep that's me. 
I didn't put on weight, just so many layers!
It's cold here. 
It's between 40-55 degrees with an ice cold wind all the time.


Long view of the hillside to the right. 
I heard bleating.


Sheep. Way up on the craggy bluff.


You can get a sense of the wind and how fast these sheep can move.
And how windy it is, just watch the grass.

video

There is a reason why the locals call them Suicide Sheep.
Watch out when they are on the side of the road.
They spook easy. They roam free from April to November.
Then they are gathered, sheared and crammed into a barn for the next 6 months.

We've all had close calls. 
They sometimes are hard to spot on the side of the road.
If there is a mom on one side and a baby on the other, slow down!




You can walk behind it. 
Short little footpath.
Sat here for an hour just trying to let go of work, home, responsibilities.





The wind here is incredible. 
It was early in the day and seemed idealistic but we hit some crazy winds later that day.
So people build their houses right into the rock face of cliffs or mountainsides for protection.




And this sheep just stared me down, like what are you doing here!?!


Inside.


The beaches are black sand from all the lava rock pounded down after thousands of years. 






Cool hole in the rock.



Here are the waves crashing on the beach.


video

Neil took a detour before the right turn off into some farmland.
And ponies everywhere. Gosh they are so cute.


The one on my right nipped my hand.
I could feel the dull throb through my heated glove all day, and it made me smile.


Perspective for how tiny they are. 


Stopped for lunch.
The exorcist pizza.



I had the lamb instead of the BBQ ribs.
I have a policy of asking the staff what their favorite dish is.
Usually steers me straight, except this time.
Doug's rib were amazing.
While my lamb steak was not only expensive but tough and overcooked.


So we over shot our stop for the night.
We learned later that finding accommodations is nearly impossible, 
so even if we had stopped in Hof like I intended they wouldn't have had any rooms.
So we ended up in the glacier part of Iceland.


This is about when the wind started to kick up.
We had no idea what were going to face later that day.



This one is to the left of the lake.


And this one to the right.




These icebergs are just floating out to sea.



There were no pictures after this...mostly because the wind was so strong
(later we found out it was between 60-70 mph).
The slant on Neil's bike in front was frightening to watch.
We were being whipped across the road back and forth.
Sometimes the back wheel washed out.
I think if a person just stood, the wind would knock them down.
We saw cyclists pushing their bikes in the ditch to the right of the road. 

Doug's steady calm voice in my helmet kept me from completely losing it.
We rode all day in strong side winds but after these glaciers, the wind kicked up to a dangerous level.
There was no shelter. No buildings. Nothing but open road to cross. 
And lots of loose freshly cut hay. At one point Neil couldn't see.

According to the locals, the winds get so strong that cars are abandoned on the roads due to the flying fits sized rocks breaking out the windows. 
We rode in something just below that level of danger.
There was no other option, if we'd stopped the bikes would have been knocked over and so Doug just kept saying "ride the white line Nancy" as I whimpered in my helmet for the hour or so it took us to get to Hofn (and we didn't even know if we could find accommodations). 
All the hotels I'd called....full....full....full.

We eventually found what's called a guesthouse arrangement. 
This lady makes beaucoup bucks renting out her two extra bedrooms.
24,000 ISK. That's about $200.


A triple.
Which means 3 sleeping places, in this case, a double bed and single.
The boys didn't sleep too well.



There was a french girl staying in the room next to ours. 

Marlene.
She tried to show the boys how to use their phones.
She lost hope with Doug.



We all had dinner together in Hofn just down the street from our guesthouse.
This town is famous for lobster....so I shared a surf and turf with Neil and ate all of mine.
It was delicious.