Joined April 2016 Message
  • Day7

    Ostriches and LA

    April 6, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Living out of a suitcase has always come easy to us, so returning to a normalized schedule is always a bit tough. That being said, we deeply appreciate that our everyday lives have afforded us opportunities like this one.

    Anyway, with a somber note, we started off the day with the necessary coffee from a local shop. Today's cup was from Scorpion Bay Coffee just a block down the road from our hotel.

    Our first stop for the day was a slam-on-the-brakes, pull-to-the-side one at Ostrichland USA. We couldn't pass up the chance to hang out with some weird birds in the middle of wine country. They made short work of the bowl of snacks that Danielle fed them, then we watched the emus and their little watermelon-striped babies before getting Wesley out of the sun.

    Just down the road, we stopped for a short walk around Solvang, a little Danish heritage town. Being a bit short on enthusiasm, we had some Danish pastries, æbleskiver, and polkagris from a Swedish candy shop, then strapped in our sleeping baby for the more unfortunate portion of our drive...

    We don't like LA, Welsey didn't like LA, and LA apparently doesn't like us. On a positive note, driving through the rectum of the West Coast always reminds us to be more appreciative of where we live. A few hours through hot, standstill traffic and we were on the 15 for what we thought was the home stretch... Lake Elsinore had other plans for us. Stopped at an unusual spot for traffic, Danielle looked up what was happening ahead of us. Sure enough there was an accident. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was a horrific accident. We put the car in park and watched as dozens of CHP cars flew by, news helicopters circled like vultures, ambulances, fire engines, and Caltrans trucks all close behind. Our 8 hour day quickly became a 10 hour one. We guess that today is what it took to make us happy to be done with our vacation.

    After the close of our impromptu vacation, we have to mention how impressed we are with little Wesley. Something to the tune of 3,000 miles and 50 hours in the car and he handled it like a champ! There were some rough times, but to expect anything more from a teething 4 month old would be crazy. We are so thankful for having such a great little kid and, although he won't remember any of this, we're happy that these experiences helped us get to know him a little better. With real life starting back up on Monday, we'll both miss spending our whole days with the chunky little bear!

    Also, we again want to thank our trusty steed for keeping us all safe and feeling secure throughout the trip. We picked her out for a reason and she really showed us what she's made of on this trip. Now off to the carwash for a deep cleaning...

    Finally, we thought it would be fun to point out some things we noticed along the way... men's restrooms RARELY have a changing table; we are all more comfortable with a cooler climate; the further south we traveled, the ruder the drivers; we need more trains and less trucks on the roads.

    Until the next adventure...
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  • Day6

    Wesley Stormborn and Big Sur

    April 5, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    As expected, Monterey was Danielle's favorite town so far, so we took our time and enjoyed a cup from Tidal Coffee while overlooking the bay.

    Half an hour down the rainy, iconic Central Coast craggy rocks and turquoise water, we popped out to take pictures of the Bixby Creek Bridge on our way into Big Sur. This is about the time when we realized that we had made it to the extremely popular section of the PCH drive. View points were packed, but for a good reason. Even the awkward, unofficial pullouts had incredible views!

    As we reached Big Sur, thick clouds surrounded us. It was absolutely pouring by the time that we made the side trek down to Pfeiffer Beach. Sue was a champion, yet again, getting us through the two foot flooded road into the park with ease. It was terrifying seeing a Kia Optima attempt a very steamy crossing and even more horrifying seeing a lowered Mustang parked in the lot... people are crazy. Setting ourselves up for the walk out, we once again noticed that our little stormborn baby is at his happiest when it is chilly and raining. With the happy little bear strapped to his dad, we headed out to the beach. Dramatic is an understatement. Giant rock structures with waves crashing through portholes... it was an absolutely stunning place to be. Soaked to the core, we just watched and felt the waves continue to pound. After a good half an hour, we started back to the car through the small grove of cypresses that covered our path. Smiles on all three of our faces, we turned the seat warmers on and headed back across the flooded road back to the 1.

    With our views topping out at about 30 feet, we continued through Big Sur until the soupiness cleared at Ragged Point. Wesley fast asleep after our last adventure, we took turns walking out to the viewpoints. There was a pod of dolphins making their way south, just under the horizon. High above the waves with rain still dripping from the pine needles, it was a truly serene place.

    Lunch was at a goofy little cafe that used some play on words about seals. After what was definitely Progresso in a bread bowl, we were back on the road to see the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas. Hundreds of juveniles and old ladies were piled on top of each other along the beach, while the young ones practiced swimming in the surf. A stiff smell and a sound reminiscent of cartoon belches filled the air. The seals on the beach were molting their old skin and fur for a sleek, new grey suit for the year. There are no older males ashore this time of year, so no fighting or giant noses, but it was pretty crazy to see, anyway!

    With the end of our unplanned vacation nearing, we made sure to have seafood for dinner at a small place in Pismo Beach, where we're staying for the night. Sand dabs, softshell crab, and a sunset over the pier topped off our day. Tomorrow will be the last day of our journey. A bittersweet farewell to the coastal roads, but a very sweet reunion with our firstborn, four-legged daughter!
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  • Day5

    Golden Gate Bridge and Monterey Bay

    April 4, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    This morning we made our way back to civilization from our jaunt along the redwood coast. After passing through miles of dairy farms with what looked to be VERY happy cattle and sheep, we met back up with the 101. Wanting to keep with theme of supporting small businesses, we made our way to San Rafael before picking up some delicious coffee and croissants at Red Whale Coffee. We're pretty sure that Jason offended the owner by saying that their menu board was the most confusing thing he had every seen, but oh well, the coffee was incredible either way.

    Before we knew it, the Golden Gate Bridge was looming in front of us in all of its glory. Neither of us had (in our best recollection) driven across the bridge before, so we had looks of child-like wonder on our faces the entire time. A bit of a change from our norm, we went full tourist-mode and took photos of the bridge from 3 different vantage points, grumpy baby in tow. It really is a sight to behold.

    Wanting to make it to our destination early enough to walk around, we skipped touring The City and continued on until we reached Santa Cruz. Fried seafood and french fries on the wharf, with window seats overlooking Monterey Bay... just what we needed. After lunch, we walked around the wharf to check out the California Sea Lions lazily laying around on the decks under the pier. We honestly could have watched their interactions for hours, but Wesley could not. Somehow outvoted, we headed back on the road.

    With the most vague of descriptions, Danielle was miraculously able to find the location of a food truck at a farm stand that Jason used to go to with his family growing up. A short jump off the highway and we were in fried artichoke heart heaven. The Choke Coach was just as just as amazing, but MUCH more well known than it had been in the past.

    Half an hour later, we made it to Monterey. Danielle's eyes lit up at first sight of Cannery Row. We walked up to the aquarium where we saw a few otters, far out in the water, doing otter things. This was Danielle's first time seeing them in the wild, so despite the distance, it was a real treat!

    Ready for dinner, we wandered down to the Old Fisherman's Wharf with fresh seafood on our minds. We passed the first few ice cream, sweets, and gift shops, then saw a restaurant with some baffling signs (yes, multiple) outside reading:
    "NO strollers
    NO high chairs
    NO booster chairs
    Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room"
    Now we understand that as new parents, we were sure to notice this, but still, not exactly the most welcoming... Either way, we already had a different restaurant in mind and headed past. That is when we saw the most gloriously sarcastic sign in another window reading:
    "YES strollers
    YES high chairs
    YES booster chairs
    Adults cursing or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room"
    It wasn't the restaurant we were headed to, but guess who got our business... Sing it from the rooftops: Abalonetti Bar and Grill! Thank you for your aggressively inclusive sarcasm!

    Now that we settled on the restaurant, we got exactly what we were looking for: A whole, steamed dungeness crab and buttery, garlicky seafood scampi. Sea lions dancing in the water, sunset over the trees, an islander outrigger rowing club making their rounds, and possibly the nicest server of all time... it was perfect.

    On our way back to the hotel, we saw our sea lion friends posted up on rocks, a massive harbor seal doing the same, and a dozen or so otters, again, doing otter things. We couldn't have ended our day in a better town.
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    The sight to behold. Bridge or baby?

    Jason and Danielle Åke

    Yes. ; )

  • Day4

    The Winding Road

    April 3, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    This morning we took a short stop on Woodley Island to see the Fishermans Memorial Statue before continuing our journey south. What should have been a fairly mundane task, took a turn when we happened to see the living reincarnation of the statue walking around with a tiny dog and a giant bag of chew tobacco in the parking lot... This obviously led to 15 minutes of trying to figure out if last night was a full moon or new moon or something else that could have caused this phenomenon.

    After finally deciding that he might have just been homeless, we were full of Starbucks and on our way to the Avenue of the Giants. Mouths gaping, we drove slowly down the Avenue with the windows down. At one point, we pulled off at a trailhead just to hear the silence and smell the fresh forest air. During one of our crossings of the Eel River, Danielle saw a beaver making its way upstream! Nature at its finest.

    We made the decision to split off from the 101 to the 1, which was honestly a mixed bag. The highway was nearly empty and the sights were stunning, from the dense, fog-laden forests to the plunging cliffs. We saw scores of turkey vultures and a few ospreys along the way, too. As much as we were happy to take Robert Frost's advice on our road choice, we are DELIGHTED to have it checked from our bucket list. Switchbacks, steep inclines, seemingly vertical declines, speeding up, slowing down, road and shoulder repairs... it was a lot.

    The only real stop we made along the 1 was in Fort Bragg at Pomo Bluffs Park. A bit more accessible than most, this gave us a chance to get up close and personal with the craggy cliffs we have become accustomed to during this trip. We were able to stretch our legs and hear the familiar barks of California Sea Lions before continuing the long, Subaru commercial of a trek. Which leads us to the true star of this trip: our darling, flannel-loving, wool-collecting, AWD-having, safety-hound of a car... Sue (pictured).

    Ready for a steaming bread bowl of chowder and some Russian River Valley wine, we made our way into our third county of the day, Sonoma, where we're staying for the night in Bodega Bay. Worn from the drive, we whipped through the last couple of hours and ended our day in Adirondack chairs overlooking the bay. Tonight we'll get some serious rest.
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    Beautiful pictures

  • Day3

    Bridges, Beaches, and Big Ol' Trees

    April 2, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    Knowing our first stint of driving today was a longer one, we loaded up on hearty bagels and coffee at a nice little locals place called Top Dog Coffee Company.

    The cool weather and rain through the forest put Wesley straight to sleep and had Danielle clicking pictures left and right. Placid lakes were around seemingly every turn, deer were in the meadows, and we crossed bridges with low-key architectural swagger before reaching the coast again. There's something about evergreens coming right up to the jagged cliffs that just never gets old.

    About an hour in to our pleasant drive, we stopped for a minute at a beautiful little collection of rocks in the water, but ended up scratching our heads at the information sign for Battle Rock... It starts pretty normal, saying that the park is dedicated to the Native people and pioneer settlers, got it. Then goes on to describe how Congress started giving away Native lands without, you know, telling the Natives. So a group of guys come in and of course are attacked by the Natives for trying to take their land, backing them onto Battle Rock. Then the settlers snuck off in the middle of the night, came back heavily armed with more men, and "established a settlement". We found it strange to celebrate something like that...

    Anyway, half an hour or so down the road, we crossed the beautiful Rogue River Bridge into Gold Beach. Jason's dad let us know that his grandparents had planned to retire there, so we made sure to stop in the little port town for some pictures, smoked salmon, and to feed Wesley. We saw the Mary D Hume gracefully disintegrating into the water after her tenure as the longest serving commercial vessel on the west coast. It was pretty cool being able to see a landmark that, thankfully along with the whaling industry as a whole, will disappear during our lifetimes.

    Just over the next hill, we spent our time enjoying Meyers Creek Beach and the beautiful rock formations scattered throughout the crashing waves. It was such a peaceful beach and our little guy was napping, so we had a chance to relax before continuing on.

    Before we knew it, the state line was upon us and neither of us have been less excited to see the poppy-donning welcome sign. It was a strange feeling not to be excited about returning to our home state, which took a bit of reflection... Regardless, our next stop was in Crescent City, where we didn't plan our visit on the tides again, so the path to the Battery Point Lighthouse was impassable. It was still a beautiful location and gave us a chance to get lunch at SeaQuake Brewing Company. Avocado tacos and cobb salad... so good!

    Back on the road, we headed into the iconic Redwood National and State Parks for our first real taste of Northern California! Breathtaking is an understatement. We could have driven for days through there and not noticed the time go by. Luckily, we did notice a few gangs of elk in the meadows (yes, a group of elk is a gang, look that business up). We popped into Patrick's Point State Park to see the redwoods meet the ocean at some phenomenal promontories.

    After a short stop at Trinidad Bay, we headed into Eureka for the night. Our Airbnb is a 120 year old Victorian house in the heart of town, which should be an experience in and of itself!
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  • Day2

    Rain, Seafood, and the Oregon Coast

    April 1, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    A cup of coffee on a foggy morning is just about as perfect of a start as we could have asked for. After morning photos, checking out, and saying our goodbyes, we started our journey south with a few notes scribbled on a hotel notepad.

    Our first short stop was at Hug Point, which got its name from the exact reason why we didn't actually see much there. You see, before our dear Pacific Coast Highway, those traveling north could go along the beach or chop down every tree in their way... soooo when taking their wagons up the beach, the only way to get past this area was to wait for low tide then "hug" the cliffs to get past them. That being said, it was not low tide and the lovely waterfall and sea caves would have taken a very brisk and downright dangerous swim around the point. Either way, we were just excited for our PCH trip to begin so we were enthusiastic.

    Wesley was delightfully passed out, it was raining, fog was seeping through the trees, and driving was easy, so we only stopped at a few viewpoints along the way, choosing to enjoy most of our views from the road. A couple of hours in, we went for an early lunch in Neskowin. Delicious seared cod sandwich and rockfish tacos... yum. 3 full bellies and we were on the road again. Danielle pointed out a Pendleton shop, so we took a quick detour to get Wesley his first wool blanket and may have picked up souvenirs for ourselves too...

    Next up was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which is designated as an "Outstanding Natural Area", possibly the best designation ever. There were heaps of noisy common murres on the rocks and rafts of cormorants in the surf surrounding the iconic-looking lighthouse. It was easy to get lost in the mix of crashing waves, the smell of pine, the brisk breeze, and the taste of the ocean air. If someone could make an air freshener smell like that, it would need to come with a huffing warning.

    Other than a few viewpoints, the last stop was another tide-dependant one that we didn't exactly nail on the head, but was fun nonetheless. It was raining steadily as we made our way down the fairytale-esque trail to Cook's Chasm. The jet black rocks were of obvious volcanic origin that had been worn into their current state by millennia of crashing waves. While walking down, we could feel the largest wave in each set pound the small caves of the chasm. Had it been high tide, we would have seen Thor's Well devouring ocean water like a black hole and the Spouting Horn would have been launching water 30 feet in the air, but instead, each would periodically shoot up a 5 to 10 foot "ocean geyser".

    Soaked and happy with our expeditions, we skipped our last potential stop, the Sea Lion Caves. The way we saw it, if the place has a gift shop and overflow parking filled with Buicks, we probably don't need to be dragging our little bear through that sort of tourist trap. That left our final journey to Coos Bay. We passed some tired, yet adorable old fishing and crabbing towns on the way and finally made it to our little cottage.

    Dinner usually wouldn't warrant its own paragraph, but when Danielle's first words upon being seated are "oh no, I've watched too many Kitchen Nightmares to eat here", it deserves the nod. With no real alternatives, we did eat there, and of course pointed out everything that Gordon Ramsay would yell at them about. The only other table in there were of an age that required the waitress to literally scream her questions to them, no music, the menu was 6 pages, there were cold cucumber and tomato slices on the seafood fettuccine, the portions were enough for 4 people each, the owner went up to the other table to talk about himself... they broke all the rules, but somehow the mix of playing russian roulette with our health and the view of the bay worked just fine, food waste aside.

    Tomorrow we make our way back to California with our trusty scribbles!
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    Looking good. I’m hoping Wesley is doing well. I can’t believe that you came all that way for my birthday.


    Thank you. I hope your trip down that coast is beautiful.

  • Day1

    Classic Spontaneity

    March 31, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    What was due to be the last day of vacation before racing 1,139 miles back home became a whole new adventure with one slightly longer than usual hug...

    Back to the actual start, we started our trip from San Diego to Santa Clarita on Wednesday, where we stayed with Jason's parents before starting off our caravan to Oregon early Thursday morning. That's right, just about 700 miles in one day with an almost 4 month old. We overestimated our abilities. Wesley did get to see and be in his first snowfall at Mount Shasta, so that was pretty neat!

    After a hotel room pizza dinner and a seemingly eye blink of sleep, we hit the road again. On the way, we stopped at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm to stretch our legs and see some flowers. They were only at a 10% bloom, so we mostly saw dirt and leaves, but we were able to see Aunt Shari, Uncle Al, and Kari before meeting at the beach for the weekend. A bit of browsing, some delicious bratwursts, and we were off again. We navigated Portland's Friday rush hour before the road cleared up heading into the Oregon forest and finally to our weekend destination, Cannon Beach (or more accurately, Tolovana Park). Stephanie and Patrick arrived almost exactly when we arrived with mom and dad, so after settling in to our ocean view hotel rooms, we went to dinner together. After that, Wesley informed us that it was bed time and we happily obliged.

    Saturday started off with us filling a small bistro for breakfast, saying our formal hellos, and passing Wesley around his extended family. Grandma Nancy's 80th birthday celebration weekend came together with her surrounded by six of her kids (including spouses), 10 of her grandkids (including spouses and Cruiser), and 5 great grandkids (including April and William's pups)! Through the day, we hung around the beach, connected with sorely missed family and awesome additions, walked to Haystack Rock, Jason almost peed himself, and went did some wine sampling at the cool little market across the street. The whole group got together for a pizza dinner in a fashion that would have made the Fire Marshal cringe, then headed back to the beach for a fire and to watch grandma drop innumerable marshmallows into said fire. With the fire smothered, some of the cousins went out to soak up the little time we had together.

    After a hearty breakfast and some group photos, Sunday morning meant goodbye to most of the group and some much needed R&R for the rest of us. Which leads us to the hug that changed the scope of our week... Once Wesley was down for a nap, we gave each other a hug and held on in expectation of the impending drive home. We knew that repeating our previous drive wasn't in our collective best interest, so we decided to take our time and trade in the 5 for the PCH on our way home. In typical Jason and Danielle fashion, we loosely planned our next 2 days, booked on Airbnb, and flipped the script on an otherwise daunting trip south.

    With our spirits renewed, we were able to enjoy an afternoon of visiting, walking around Seaside, seeing the jaw-dropping views from Ecola State Park, and making the obvious food poisoning related jokes. We had dinner with the remaining group at a hardware store. That's correct, a hardware store that serves food and drinks alongside u-bolts and claw hammers. Wesley informed us that it was, once again, time for bed, while some of the group went to the beach for s'mores.
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  • Day16

    Wrapping Up

    October 1, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

    Days 16-17:

    After a hearty breakfast, in one last effort to show us her power, Iceland set us up with a nice mix of rain, snow and high winds on our way back down to Reykjavik. It's so interesting how the impressive landscapes have become so familiar to us over the past couple of weeks that the 3 hour drive was fairly uneventful. No surprising animal encounters, save for some tattered sea birds, leaving a 6 km tunnel under a fjord as the most surprising part. With nothing specific planned for the day and a beautiful corner apartment with a view of the harbor, we settled in pretty early. Under some light rain, we visited the shops around town, witnessed a blatant shoplifter, then chose a nearby fish restaurant to be our final dinner in Iceland. Baked ling, arctic char, cod, mussels, and freshly baked bread... we have no regrets on our choice. With the rain subsiding as we returned from our walk, a rainbow stretched across the entire harbor, really hammering in the bittersweet feelings of a waning vacation.

    Expectedly dragging our feet in the morning, we had a small breakfast at a strange little bistro, packed up the car that served as our Icelandic home base, and made our way to the airport. Our final half-day was uplifted a bit by finding out that our long flight for the day had been upgraded, so we knew exactly where we would go after arriving super early to the airport... the lounge. But first, we had to soak up the last bit of clean, chilly air before returning to the sweltering heat of Southern California in October... Dressed a bit like John Candy's polka band in Home Alone, we settled in to the lounge, charged our phones, ate some hors d'oeuvres (which would turn out to give Jason food poisoning), drank some drinks, and waited for our flight to board. Being an entirely daytime flight, no Northern Lights were seen, simply stunning views of the seemingly uninhabitable Greenland. At that, our little autumn vacation is over.

    **It is never an easy expectation for a group of adults who have their own lives, feelings, desires, limitations and interests to spend 24 hours a day with one another for a long period of time. There will always be ups and downs since none of us are perfect, but it needs to be stated that we are so grateful for one another. Parents and their children wouldn't drive each other crazy if there wasn't love binding them together**
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    Nancy Hill

    Love the narrative. You have such a way with words.

  • Day15

    Trolls, Jules Verne, and an Arctic Fox

    September 30, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Day 15:

    Today started off as the coldest day of our trip at -3°C at about 9 in the morning. Luckily, we had a way to drive before our first stop in Búðir, a small fishing town that was all but abandoned 200 years ago. The only remaining buildings are a recently rebuilt hotel and the reason for our stop: Búðakirkja, or the Black Church. One of our more iconic stops, the Black Church has a pretty eerie vibe to it. Perched on a rugged hill in a lava field overlooking the ocean, complete with old gravestones, the minimak Danish designed church is a stark contrast to its surroundings. The area was absolutely CRAWLING with millennial "photographers", who we of course mocked, but it was nonetheless a very fun spot to stretch our legs and get a nice view.

    Next on the list was Lóndrangar, a pair of basalt pinnacles. A short walk down a hillside brought us to some pretty spectacular views of the towers, enhanced by the sound of waves crashing on the rocks below. Now these pillars may or may not be trolls turned to stone, but this one get VERY hazy on the relates mythology, so they'll be presented without specific order... 1. They may be a troll king and his lover staring deeply into each others eyes. So deeply, in fact, that they didn't notice the sunrise. Doesn't sound very legend-like, but hey! 2. The trolls in the area were way cooler to humans than in most of Iceland. When the Vikings landed in the area, a few walked by a troll sitting on the taller stone, but the troll neither said, nor did anything. Boring, but okay. 3. (Favorite) A famous folktale poet had a duel with the devil at Lóndrangar. The poet banished him to hell by rhyming something with the Norse/Icelandic version of the word orange... awesome. 4. This is elf territory. Farmers legitimately never have and never will (now due to National Park status), grew crops up to the edge of the cliffs because this area belonged to the elves and you don't mess with the elves. Back in the real word, lava cools in strange ways and the waves shape everything in their path, but that is was less colorful than the stories people come up with!

    A whopping 2 minutes down the road, we went into the underworld in the Vatnshellir lava cave. Now this is a really nerdy one, from science to science fiction to mythology, hold on to those pocket protectors... Starting with the dry stuff, it is estimated that the cave was created 8,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption sent lava creeping down to the sea. The top of the lava flow, of course, cools first, creating a sort of crust. Still liquid, the inside drains out through paths of least resistance, leaving innumerable shafts between the newly-formed crust and the previous surface. So the lava field on Snæfellsnes is potentially riddled with tubes like the one we went through. This fact is particularly interesting, considering that Jules Verne revealed in The Journey to the Center of the Earth, that the entrance to the center of the earth was located somewhere in Snæfellsjökull, the glacier on the peninsula. We may have only gone 35 meters under the surface, but the possibilities are apparently endless! For mythology, back to the cool trolls of the area... Bárður Snæfellsás was a half troll-half man who protected the area. He and his troll buddies would get together in the circular upper portion of the cave to chat. Not the most exciting location for ol' Bárður, but walking in the steps of a troll is pretty neat ; )

    Our next easy-to-pronounce destination was a double for some of our group and a triple for others! Djúpalónssandur, Nautastígur, and Dritvík round out the trio. First, Djúpalónssandur is entirely black volcanic pebbles, not broken down into the fine black sand of other beaches. Glad to be up on our tetanus shots, we checked out the rusted remains of a British fishing boat that was wrecked in the 1940s strewn about the beach. Another fun feature was an old test of the strength of fishermen, lifting stones. The sign stated that there were 4 stones, weighing 23, 54, 100, and 154kg, respectively. However, 5 stones were present so we're not exactly sure what happened there... tourists ruin everything. Either way, Jason knocked out the Amlóði (useless) and Hálfdrættingur (weakling) stones with ease, then moved on to Hálfsterkur (half strength) or an uninvited pretender, we will never know. Half strength achieved, he moved to either the real Hálfsterkur, a fake, or Fullsterkur... again, we will never know. The fourth stone was awkwardly lifted, but the jury is out on whether he'd be invited on the ship or be left on the beach... Stone number 5 looked to have been lifted there by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson himself, so it sat untested. Nautastígur is a collection of rock formations leading down to Djúpalónssandur and included incredible views of both the glacier and the ocean. Being in the path was another otherworldly experience, plucked straight from a fantasy or science fiction movie. There have to be some stories around this place other than bulls being led to water and our friend Bárður bopping around, but it is proving hard to find! As one duo made their way back to the safety of the car, the other headed down to Dritvík, a 17th century fishing cove. The name comes from the steep drop of the sea floor from the beach, making it a prime place for protected fishing. One of the rocks protecting the cove is said to be the church of the elves and it is said that at times you can hear the elves singing! No hymns were heard, but the day was waning, so we made our way to our final stop.

    Right before leaving the Snæfellsjökull National Park, we were lucky enough to see an arctic fox run across the street! The adorable little one still had his or her summer grey coat and was really moving, so no pictures could be taken in time. As the only land mammal on the island when the Vikings arrived, these are some hearty survivors! Anyway, Kirkjufell, or Church Mountain, is the most photographed mountain in Iceland, largely due to its appearance in Game of Thrones... Admittedly, it is pretty cool. What we were interested in was the waterfall across the street with the mountain as its namesake: Kirkjufellsfoss. While everyone was getting "the shot" of the waterfall in the foreground of the mountain (literally 25+ cameras set up for the same picture), we checked out the lower falls and enjoyed a little bit of privacy provided by the draw of the crowd to the top!

    Grundarfjörður is our home for the night. It was a French-settled fishing village, still alive with a harbor full of boats, but nice and sleepy on a Sunday night. Tomorrow we make our way back to Reykjavik for our final night in Iceland. Bittersweet, as always, but we will be happy to be home!
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  • Day13

    Mud and Mom Powers

    September 28, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    Days 13-14:

    Friday started off pretty slowly due to the light drizzle and the fact that approximately 8,364 trucks drove through what sounded like the front lawn the night before. Once we got moving, our first stop was Kolugljúfur, a hidden gem of a canyon! A dirt (read: mud) road led out to a tiny bridge and some semblance of a parking lot, and from there we just started exploring with help from the "don't go here, you'll fall and die" signs. On the south side of the bridge was the cascading little waterfall called Kolufossar, leading down into the canyon. The Kolu in both of the names refers to a salmon-loving giantess or troll, depending on the source, who used the canyon as her own personal fishing hole. Let us tell you, she made quite the pick. Cool green water, steep volcanic cliffs, all covered by moss... absolutely incredible.

    Next stop was Hvítserkur, a rock formation on the east side of the Vatnsnes Peninsula. It seems that everyone has a story about this formation, but as always, the legend version is the best... Apparently there was a troll who lived in the Westfjords who heard bells ringing at Þingeyrakirkja and being a good pagan troll, walked over to tear them down. Like many a ill-meaning troll around here, he was turned to stone at sunrise before any bells were torn down. Best story. Next, many believe the rock formation is a dragon bending down to drink from the sea. And finally, the less appealing reason for the actual name... Hvítserkur means "white shirt" and let's just say that birds do the painting.

    Now it was failed to be mentioned, but these stops were quite a distance apart, the roads were all dirt, and it had begun to rain with a pretty violent fervor. This was no ordinary rain, it was accompanied by 35 km/h winds, which negated all of the cleaning properties of rain. By the time we got back to our apartment, our car was bumper to bumper, undercarriage to roof racks, COVERED in mud! Unfortunately, we didn't snap a picture at its worst, but the attached gives an idea where it was headed... Not wanting to brave the elements much longer, we tucked in with a nice lamb and potato dinner and ended our day on a particularly tasty note.

    Saturday began with a long country road south, down to Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring on Europe. Every second, 180 liters of 100°C water is produced by this thing! To 'muricanize it, that's the equivalent of 507 Bud Light cans at boiling temperature every single second. It is such an absurd volume that there are 2 pipelines that carry the hot water 34 and 64km, respectively, to provide heat and hot water to homes. A little stinky and thoroughly impressed, we made our way to a waterfall duo to the east.

    Next up was Hraunfossar, or lava waterfalls. This impossible to effectively photograph collection of falls is the result of glacial runoff pouring onto a lava field and finding it's way to Hvíta, the White River. The river is named for the aforementioned milky white color of the mineral filled summertime glacial runoff. The falls are impossible to describe, so trying is genuinely useless...

    A 5 minute walk from the Hraunfossar viewing platform is Barnafoss, the waterfall with the most tragic name. Barna- means children's, so its east to see where this is going... According legend, 2 boys were told to stay home while their parents went to Christmas Eve Mass (an inordinate amount of legends here include something about Christmas Eve Mass...). The boys of course grew bored, snuck out, attempted to cross the natural bridge over the falls, and somehow slipped into the falls and drowned. The mother traced their steps to the falls and put it together from there. She then put a spell on the bridge, since any ol' mom can whip one of those up here, which brought the bridge down in an earthquake. Don't mess with mama.

    Having a shortened adventure ability the closer to the end of the trip we get, we found our way to tonight's Airbnb. Let's just say, we're pretty blown away. It's a small old barn that has been converted into a Scandinavian modern little 2 bedroom apartment. Absolutely adorable, and the perfect place to get a good night's sleep before heading into a full day on Snæfellsnes peninsula!
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