I started off that next morning easily, the night before I had planned out my route, so I had a good idea of what the day was going to hold and I was confident that I could get it all done. As usual, nothing was going to happen quite the way I expected, but that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it? With another great Icelandic breakfast filling my belly and a full gas tank I set off down the road with a smile on my face. Unsurprisingly, before too long I came upon a view that just begged me to stop and take some pictures. I happily obliged and even found some sheep to grazing to add to the picturesque scenery. One of these shots ended up being another favorite from the trip; that’s if picking 500 or so from 2600 pictures can be considered having any sort of favorites.
The first stop of the day was Ásbyrgi, which is a horseshoe shaped canyon in the area. There is some interesting mythology surround the canyon as well as a wide variety of hiking trails. Given my lack of time and ability to get lost in a paper sack, I was going to stick to the easier trails, but all the same I was looking forward to touring the canyon. I was even more excited when I pulled into the parking lot and it was completely empty! One of the legends surrounding the canyon was that it was formed when Odin’s horse, Sleipnir, touched the ground with one of his eight legs. Another was that this was the dwelling place of the Others and if you looked hard enough you could see them in the cliffs. Indeed, I had glimpsed a face for a moment in the cliff face as I had driven in, once I read that little bit of lore it actually made sense. The last had to do with a somewhat typical love story involving a rich girl, a poor boy, fairies, monsters, sacrifice, and ponds. It was easy to imagine any of those happening in this place, as I walked the wandering paths through the canyon I was struck by the sense of watchfulness and anticipation in the air. Like the Snæfellsnes peninsula, here was another place that I could sense something watching me. It is an eerie feeling to be in the middle of nowhere, with only the sound of the wind through the trees, and feel the eyes of someone (or several someones) upon you. The air had a faint scent that I struggle to describe, somewhat sweet, earthy and treeish, with a hint of flower. I’m not sure which of the many plants lining the path was responsible for the perfumed air, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter in the long run. Once again, I followed my normal pattern of wandering, taking pictures, breathing in the silence and my surroundings. It’s crazy how much energy I take from being somewhere, alone, and in an almost meditative state. By the end of my meanderings I wasn’t remotely tired, although I had been walking far longer than I had originally planned, instead I felt like I could have walked for days.
However, seeing as I had come in a car, I figured I should probably leave in one as well. So off I headed, this time to the northeastern tip of Iceland. Now, most everything I had read about this area, which wasn’t much because there simply wasn’t that much information to be found, had mentioned a few high points, but had also noted that the landscape was as close to boring and dreary as you could get in Iceland. Nevertheless, since I had decided to save the West Fjords for another trip and bypassed several other places in interest of time, I wanted to drive through this area for sure, especially because it would be the most difficult to reach on subsequent trips. There weren’t very many things that had popped up to see in this area, but there was the northernmost point that you could drive to on Iceland as well as a cairn of one of Iceland’s warriors. So I headed northeast with no expectations, a mind full of thoughts, and plenty of time in which to think. I had yet to actually turn on the radio in the car, so there was plenty of uninterrupted silence to facilitate all sorts of deep thoughts as well!
After quite a bit of driving I reached the northernmost drivable point in Iceland. Only to find out that it actually wasn’t the northernmost drivable point anymore. Apparently someone had actually measured it all and determined that there was a new northernmost point. I laughed and shrugged to myself, at least I’d hit the second northernmost drivable point, right? Then I started walking out to the lighthouse and the cairn. Some people probably would’ve driven their car out as I could see by the track through the rocks, however I didn’t want to deal with the hassle on the very narrow and rocky path. Besides, I’d been sitting on my ass for awhile and needed to move. The cairn had some mythology surrounding it that you had to walk around it counterclockwise while sending good luck energy to other people, at the end of your circle you placed a rock on the cairn. As you can imagine the cairn was quite impressive, seeing all of those rocks piled up really made me think about just how many people had completed this same walk. All wishing good luck upon other people. Considering the somewhat bloody past of this particular warrior, I did find it a bit ironic, but such is life I suppose.
I continued on my drive, this time heading south, my next goal for the day was to make the easternmost point of Iceland. Today was a day for attempting extremes apparently! The road was supposed to be a bit rough, but I figured it couldn’t be all that bad. After all I’d been driving on gravel roads all day long, it was probably something similar. It was getting late, but I figured I had plenty of time to reach the point and drive back before it got dark. On my way to the point I stopped and took some pictures here and there, but like I said it was getting late so I resisted the impulse to stop regularly.
As I headed out onto the peninsula, I started to experience some trepidation at the state of the road. Almost immediately I had to pass a stopped Land Cruiser and ford a little stream paved with some awfully big rocks, but again I determined that it couldn’t be too terrible. I was wrong. The next hour or so was filled with me learning how to REALLY drive a stick for the first time in my life. My little Dacia Duster and I struggled up muddy rock strewn hills and down tight turns, I remembered all of my 4WD days as a child and while this road wasn’t that extreme, I was still on something significantly rougher than I had expected. More than once we made it up a hill by the skin of our teeth. Yes, the car and I had become a team. I’d taken to urging it along the road. Pushing it with my seat as we struggled up hills and leaning as we went around corners. The horse riders among my readers have probably been in similar circumstances before, sometimes that rider’s instinct takes over…
Maybe you’re wonder why in the world I didn’t turn around? Well… There were all these large rock oh so conveniently placed that made turning around damn near impossible. I had passed one a ways back when I was still feeling cocky and confident that it couldn’t be that much further. As a side note this is where the Land Cruiser turned around, apparently he was much smarter than I. At this point, though, there was nothing. It was either continue on or risk severely damaging my undercarriage. So onward we drove into the ever deepening twilight, creeping closer to our goal at a snail’s pace until it seemed like we’d never reach the point. Finally we got out of the area littered with rocks, but now we were right along the cliff’s edge and still without a good spot to turn around. At last check Google Maps was showing me still a good hour or so away from the point and although I hadn’t believed it the first time it told me 2 hours of driving, I did now. So I determined that I would get to the point and then camp there for the evening. I had food, a warm sleeping bag, and plenty of gas, I’d be just fine.
That’s when I noticed I had no cell service, I hadn’t checked it in awhile so I wasn’t sure when I had gone out of range. So I stopped and thought for a bit. You see, up until this point I had been texting my parents every night to let them know I wasn’t dead. Not really for their sake, but more for my niece’s sake. They were raising her and we have a very close relationship, she’d broken down into tears and near hysterics a couple times before I left, convinced I was going to die somewhere in a foreign country. She has some attachment issues; although they had gotten significantly better, she still worries a lot about things like my trip. So, I had promised her I would text her every night so that she knew I was ok. There was a lot going on in my family’s life right then, none of which is my story to share, and I could just imagine the panic my not texting would cause that little girl who already had more on her plate than any kid her age should have. So there I sat, weighing my options. Freedom to do what I want, when I want, with nary a care for anyone in the world… At the expense of a little girl’s piece of mind, yes, but still… freedom… Or putting my needs aside, yet again, for the people I loved. I looked at the point, I could see it now, but it was a drive and there was no way I was driving this road in the dark.
So I sighed, smiled, and turned my ass around on that ridiculous road next to the cliff edge. Not going to lie, it crossed my mind how fucking ironic it would be if I reversed right off the edge (it was that close) in my attempt to turn around, but I managed. I took one last look at that point before heading back the way I had came, a little torn by my choice, but realizing that it was my choice. That girl’s peace of mind, even if it was for only one night, means more to me than a place. I won’t give up my dreams, but I will modify them to accommodate the choices I’ve already made in this life. Especially when it comes to the kiddos (all six of the little shits) because they aren’t something you get to change your mind about. Yes, I can hear some of you saying, “But Jen! You said in the beginning of this blog that you were going to stop living your life for other people. What gives, crazy woman?” To that I can just say that in making that decision I did exactly what I have been setting out to do when I started this blog. I weighed my options and made my choice about what was more important. That’s the key. I made the decision. We all know that I would’ve been totally fine, hell she would’ve been fine, although it would’ve been a really hard night for her, but that really hard night for her isn’t worth hitting the easternmost spot in Iceland for me. If things had been different in our lives right then my decision might have been different, but they weren’t and it wasn’t. Now that doesn’t mean that I won’t go on trips and even move if that’s what I decide, but my (because they are mine even if I didn’t birth them) kids will always factor into my choices. I love the little shits and that’s never going to change. That’s a big part of who I am and out there on the peninsula was one of the first times I really realized that and was actually okay with the thought instead of feeling trapped by my love. Maybe that means I’m growing up? Probably not, but there’s always a chance!
Anyways. Now that I’ve gotten all moral, deep thoughtish, and shit on you, we’ll continue with our story.
Like I said, I got my ass turned around (sweating and cursing the whole time) and headed back towards civilization. This time the road wasn’t quite so iffy, although it was still difficult to navigate at times. I also had the distraction of driving into a completely beautiful sunset and found myself stopping more than once to take pictures. Even then the drive back was faster than the drive out, possibly because I actually knew that I could make it through the road! Once I got back on the main road I drove until after dark to get to my starting point for the next day. After I was unable (again) to find the hostel, I took a shot and stopped at a place that seemed like it was a guesthouse. Awesomely enough it was and I had a place to stay for the evening. My hosts offered me dinner and to watch some football (not American) with them, but frankly I was so exhausted after my day that I elected to take a shower and head to bed. Of course, there is no way my evening could end without some sort of ridiculous Jenishness and I managed to get myself stuck in the bathroom. For some reason I couldn’t get the lock to work and so I sat in their frantically for a good ten minutes trying various ways to either open the door or even get someone’s attention to let me out. I did eventually figure it out, but it was an even toss up for a while there. So I headed to bed and as soon as my head hit that pillow I was out like a light, driving in my dreams through the beautiful countryside in which I found myself.
Once again I will be uploading the rest of the pictures to Flickr for your viewing pleasure. However, I am still dealing with crappy internet so it’s going to take a little time. This post will be updated as soon as I have them in a set.
UPDATE: Here are the pictures on Flickr Iceland Day 7
Thank you for reading!