Sunday, July 9, 2017

Iceland Day 2 - Westfjords -> North

As you can tell from the previous post, I got a little ambitious with my expectations of keeping the blog updated while we were in Iceland.  I knew we would be doing a lot of driving but between the driving, the adventuring, lack of interwebs, and more adventuring, we didn't even think about having time to update the blog.  Which is exactly how it should be when you are on an adventure.

Now we are home, rested, and ready to type all the words about Iceland.  All the words.

We saw and experienced so much in Iceland that I'll probably break it up over a couple posts.  This is more of a digital journal for us so we don't forget this amazing trip.  For those of you following the blog for Nin's cancer journey, pardon this detour.  It was a much needed cancer vacation.  A vacation from hospitals, from chemo, from appointments, from it all.  We traded all of that noise for waterfalls (fosses) and adventure.

Let's start at Day 2.  We woke up in our AirBNB that was an hour and a half from the nearest town in its own valley.  I wrote a little about this place in the first Iceland post.  It takes the woman that lives there an hour to get to the next valley over where someone she knows lives.  In the winter they have to travel by snowmobile and it only takes 20 minutes.  I'm assuming his is how she made up the time...

After we left the AirBNB we made our way to a natural hot pot on the side of a fjord in the middle of nowhere.  The land owners had created a little cement pool to contain the water.  It was a beautiful place to sit in toasty water and enjoy the view.

Perhaps the best part was the mini tour bus of older Germans that showed up out of nowhere and tried to bust into the changing room where Nin was Winnie the Pooh-ing it (my made up term for when you are wearing only a shirt and no pants).

Once Nin was changed she left the room and all of the Germans squeezed in there.  It was like a clown car but instead of clowns it was a bunch of naked Germans.  Probably 12 people in that tiny room.  Good for them.

Shortly after we left the hot pot we were driving down the side of another isolated fjord and over the walkie talkie we heard Steph scream "I saw a whale!"  Swimming nonchalantly in the fjord next to us was a pod of Orcas.  Killer Whales.  Free Willys.  While none of them jumped over us, it was still pretty amazing to see whales in the wild.

Here is one of the very crappy pictures we got of the whales.  If you look really closely you can almost not tell what it is, at all.  This is one of those "you had to be there" moments.  Luckily we had binoculars.

As we hit the road again we passed a girl hitchhiking.  What's crazy is we passed this same girl ealier that day hitchhiking hours away from where we were now.  Seeing as how Nin doesn't have an immune system I declined to pull over.  I thought it would be awkward to pull over and have a conversation like this:

Me: "Hi, do you speak English"
Hitchhiker: Of course.  I'm not a lazy American, I speak five languages.
Me: "Do you have any diseases or illnesses?"
Hitchhiker: WTF?
Me: "Well you see, my wife has cancer and her immune...."  [This is where I realize it would be too long to explain the whole situation and just drive away, feeling remorseful for even getting up this poor girls hopes that she'd get a ride.]

We got about a mile down the road when Kollin, in his true DTP (Down To Party) fashion flips a U and goes to pick her up.  Because, I quote, "We're here for the adventure."  So they picked up a girl whose name sounded like May-when.  My French is nonexistent so apologies for the misspelling.  She seemed pretty cool.  She was 19 and was spending a few weeks backpacking and hitchhiking the Western side of Iceland.  By herself.  At 19.  This is how safe Iceland is.  For reals, apparently it is one of the safest places to live.  Here is a really hi-def selfie that Steph took of her.

It only got weird when we wanted her to talk to us on the walkie talkie.  We had three different cars, one for each couple and we constantly communicated and made stupid jokes as we traveled the island through our walkies.  They handed Maywhen the walkie and said it seemed like she'd never even seen one before.  She held it a few feet from her face and talked into it.  It got really weird when I asked if she was dating anybody.  She didn't get it and I think it made her feel awkward.  The Brink's then explained that I was just joking, that I was married, and that I was too skinny to be attractive.  Hopefully that helped.

After we dropped Maywhen off at the town she was staying in, we continued our journey.  We still had a few hours to go.  As we drove up this super green mountain pass we turned a corner and beheld the most magical of all sunsets.  These are the unedited pictures I took from my phone.  One day someone way more talented that I will edit one of them to show its true beauty.  Until then, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

After we sat and drooled at this sunset for a good 30 minutes, we continued on to our AirBNB.  This was the nicest place we stayed at and my favorite (Nin said she liked them all for different reasons, like the sweetheart she is).  The whole village was heated by geothermal water that they ran through their houses like radiant heating.  They also had a hot tub heated by the same water designed to refill and drain so it was nice fresh and hot water.  It smelled slightly sulfur-y but it was pretty amazing.  We got there and got in the hot tub around 2:30am.  We watched the sun kind of set, then watched it kind of unset.  It was surreal to be hot tubbing in the middle of the night with the sun out.

The next morning we woke up around 11:00 am and enjoyed the grounds.  The owners have made the area into a mini petting zoo.  It had been unseasonably cold for the past few weeks so most of the animals were still tucked away in their heated bungalows.  As we were getting ready to leave the owner asked if we wanted to see their Arctic Foxes. Foxens?  Foxi?  I'm leaning towards Foxi even though I know it's not correct, it just feels like it should be in my heart.

Arctic Foxi are the only animal indigenous to Iceland.  They apparently don't get very big.  When I asked the owner's son where they got the foxi, he said "There is a guy that hunts them."  I don't know what that meant but I'm going to pretend that it means they were operating an underground railroad type of situation for Arctic Foxes.  A true Icelandic Harriet Tubman.  They raise the foxi and apparently they become domesticated like cats.

That was Day 2.  I thought I could squeeze a few days into each post but I'll refrain and just end here.  Much more to come.