Driving Through Time and Space
Wow. The past 24 hours could have been a week. After one night in Reykjavik I learned that having no night is a very strange sensation. It’s especially difficult if you are trying to overcome jet lag and acclimate to a new time zone. But, after too few hours of sleep, I forced myself to get up at 9am and walk around—explore a little. I found a cafe nearby for a cappuccino and skyr (Icelandic yogurt), which is when I first started to encounter Icelandic prices. They’re insane. I anticipated that everything would be a bit more expensive, being that the country is an island, but it’s been a shock at how much more everything is. My coffee and skyr was 1800k or $18. It was very tasty, though, and coffee is a good investment for a weary traveler.
Walking around a new city alone is one of my favorite things to do. The challenge to understand that which is different, to make connections and grow an appreciation, is a gift for those who travel, one I couldn’t be more grateful for. The streets were active yet serene, with a street photography exhibition on the the main road. It was a wonderful, calm morning before the long journey ahead. (read: this post is going to be long. Scroll through the images, if you’d like.)
Mid-morning, I met up with Aggie, and we made a stop to the art supply store to stock up on materials. This was my second encounter with how much everything costs. A can of spray adhesive was 2200k ($22). Luckily I brought with me all the physical materials required to explore virtual reality, and the supplies I did purchase were minimal and mostly for the luxury of play and having options.
After art supplies, we made a grocery run in the city, as there isn’t a grocery store in Stöðvarfjörður. This would be where the pricing reality started to hit me. Food is expensive. I had held out hope that making food myself would be more affordable than eating out—that must have been why everything had been so expensive thus far. No. Everything is expensive. Everything is different. I don’t know whether or not I’m holding milk or drinking yogurt or even if something is sweet or savory. The candy packaging is pretty killer, though. Experiencing these differences is one of the hardest and most exciting parts of travel for me. You buy something by accident you would never have tried otherwise, simply because you thought it was something else. I am quite nervous about the food situation, though. With the nearest grocery store being an hour away and everything being so expensive, I’m apprehensive yet excited to learn more intentionality in my food consumption. I come from a large city where we often talk about food deserts and food access. Talk about a food desert! This will be a challenge for me, but one I think I might need.
But, I promise, I won’t make this blog all about food or how expensive everything is. This is a journey, and there is so much more to experience. On the road to our first stop, Vík, we stopped at various sites that caught our eye as we drove by. It was a gorgeous day—chilly with the warmth of the shining sun. I’ve never seen a land like this. At times other-worldly, and at others, powerful displays of the best this world has to offer. Waterfalls with immense strength and elegance. Grasses grazed by the most adorable sheep and an abundance of baby lambs. Surreal.
As we neared Vík, our destination for the evening, clouds began to roll in, and the wind started to pick up. It was a beautiful and full day, but the morning would bring more adventures, so a good (bright) night’s sleep was in order. The true scope of the adventure and the strength of that storm would reveal itself in time. When we awoke and started to head out, we learned pretty quickly that the wind was a larger beast than anticipated. At the gas station full of weary travelers, we were told that in addition to the pouring rain, there were gale force winds. It was difficult to walk in it. We met a young family that had to abandon their camper a ways down the road, because the winds were too strong, and their camper could flip. After about an hour, at the advice of gas station strangers, we gathered our nerves and headed out in our little car for our journey to Stöðvarfjörður.
Opal, our beloved little rental car, handled the wind like a champ. She brought us through rain and wind gusts with valor. The drive would take 5-6 hours, and we planned on stopping at various sites along the way. I had no idea the distance those 6 hours would take us—to Mars and back, through the desert to the arctic and everything in between. Scenes I could not conceive. Miles (or kilometers ;)) upon miles of moss covered rocks I imagined unrolling into little moss trolls once we were safely out of sight. Moss turned into rolling, rocky grasses where a solitary house sat between giant cliffs and a roaring stream. Small brooks and waterfalls lined the road. The winds were so strong, many of the taller waterfalls in the cliffs never reached the ground, as they were blown up and away into the dark sky.
As we traveled through what felt like time and space, the mossy green earth and overcast skies cleared at the break of snow capped mountains. Plush fields of wildflowers laid at the feet of their majestic peaks. The contrast was quick and thick. Never-the-less, the wind persisted, making stops short and sweet.
Just as quickly as the sunshine came, it went. Or as is more likely the case, we traveled into more dark rainy weather. The earth changed, as well. Transitioning from fields of green to black sands and the roaring sea. It was, yet again, another time, another planet. It wasn’t ideal weather to stop and see, so I have only one photo of this scene, poorly shot from my iPhone through the windshield of Opal.
Black sands and mountains collide, sheets of ice spanning generations slowly slide by. At the edges where land, water, and ice meet, shards of each mingled in the glacier lagoon. Even the miserable weather could not keep us from the call of that vibrant pale blue. I am excited to return and spend more time here. The awe is difficult to capture, especially with rainy wind gusts of 30mph. I will be back.
The last leg of the journey after the Glacier Lagoon was spent winding around the edge of the mountain with the ocean, angry on our right. The rain had subsided and made way for dense fog. In a way, I’m grateful I couldn’t see the grand scale of the cliffs we were driving. I was fearful enough. An hour away from the Fish Factory, tense with worry that we had missed the last gas station and grocery story, we spotted and stopped in at a small port town. After spending the equivalent of $15 on a small block of cheese, we snapped some pictures and finished the last hour, partially on a dirt road.
I wish I were able to better capture the beauty of a gloomy day. Bright sunshiny scenes photograph so well, but grey always looks flat in comparison to reality. This journey is special in that way. I’ve tried so diligently to capture the experience, yet it doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s hard to share in pixels the surreal nature of passing through such a vast spectrum of landscapes in the span of a day. It was an hour. It was a week. Time didn’t exist at all.
I’ll end the post with some sense of finality. I’ve arrived at my destination—physically, at least. The real journey is about to begin. I’d like you to meet Tumi, my new furry friend, and the space I will be occupying for the next month. We will all be well acquainted in no time, I’m sure. No time.
Notes on images:
All the 360 images can be viewed in google cardboard if accessed on a mobile device. Turn your phone and hit the goggle icon in the lower right corner.
360 videos are not available on iPhones. Sorry. I’m working on it.
Static images can be viewed as a lightbox gallery if clicked on.