Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Growing Sunshine

Sunflower

Sunflowers dazzle me.
They grow past my height in one summer.
Their golden petals shine down.
Slowly they bow under the weight of their seeds
A lifetime lived in one summer.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Snaefellness Peninsula

Snaefellnes

Photos Aug 13-15

Where ever you go in Iceland you are not far from a glacier or from volcanic mountains or lava fields. Snaefellness peninsula is no exception. This was the view from where we stayed. We looked forward to the next day when we would explore the peninsula. That was the last we saw of the glacier; heavy cloud descended.

Waterfall

It was still enjoyable to explore. Mountains with waterfalls streaming down - lava fields (each one looks different)

Mountains

As does each mountain.

Arnarstapi

At Arnarstapi we saw these sculpted sea stacks and cliffs plunging to the water.

Cliffs

And basalt columns reminiscent of the area near Vik.

Hellnar

The combined forces of volcanoes, the ocean and weather create intriguing sculptures. This was at Hellnar.

Towards the Lighthouse

And always interspersed are signs of people - farming on whatever strips of land might be fertile. Their sheep are up in the hills for the summer.

Memories

After our sojourn on the peninsula we headed back to Reykjavik and then home the next day. So ended our amazing trip. Iceland impressed us - for its wild beauty, its resilience, its pragmatism and its acceptance of the forces of nature. The people seem to have a wonderful sense of humour (even watching the safety instructions in the airplane was not boring). Well worth a visit!

All my Iceland photos (at least those I shared) can be found in my Iceland and Faroe Islands album on Flickr.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Scenery Changes Constantly

Forever Snow

Photos: August 12-13, 2014

Driving through Iceland is a constant series of surprises. We left Akureyri and soon found ourselves following a valley between high mountains, some with snow, others looking like jagged volcanic creations.

Farm under the Peaks

Wherever there was the least bit of fertile soil, there was a farm (hay seemed to be a major crop).

Mountains Meet

We stopped whenever we could to admire the views - so different from the lava fields we drove through in the south.

Farm on a Hill

We stayed overnight at the guesthouse on a farm, about 6 km down a gravel road from the main road. The days got noticeably shorter, with a long period of golden light in the evening. It still never got completely dark over night.

Sheep on the Road

Sheep are found everywhere in Iceland and lamb features on the menu at most restaurants as well as fish. This trio was walking on the road. They did not seem overly perturbed by us, though as we approached they trotted away.

Harbour at Hvammstangi


We drove up to the town of Hvammstangi. The population is around 600.


Following the Pack

Icelandic horses have long manes. We were on our way to visit the site where Eric the Red had his farm. Someone on horseback signalled us to pull off the one land gravel road. Then a few riders proceeded along the road followed by quite a number of riderless horses.

Taking a Detour

Then one decided to go into the field and those behind followed suit. The rider at the back of the pack managed to get them to go back on the road and then off they went.

We were told later that it takes about 3 years before farmers know if a horse will be good for riding. In the meantime this is one way they train them to follow the pack. Those that don't, those that have a bad temperament and those that don't have the correct gait end up as horse meat, much of which is exported to Europe.

Replica of Eric the Red's Farmhouse

This is a replica of what they believe Eric the Red's farmhouse would have been like (the actual site of the house is just up the hill). We had the chance to go inside. It must have been quite damp and cold in the winter. It is believed that this is where Lief Ericsson was born.

What they Saw

To walk here is to walk where they did. We heard the same kind of sounds they must have heard and looked out on the same landscape. I love these connections to history.

More photos can be found at: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Heading to Akureyri

Godafoss

Time to head west. We stopped at Godafoss, a waterfall known both for its beauty and its legend. The story is that in around 1000, at the Alþingi, it was decided that all Iceland should have one religion. The decision as to whether it would be the Norse paganism or Christianity was given to Þorgeir (Thorgeir Thorkelsson) who was himself a pagan. He decided for Christianity and after his conversion threw his Norse idols into this waterfall - hence Godaff or Waterfall of the gods.

Rock Wall

The steep walls beside the river after the falls show the upheaval in Iceland due to its many earthquakes which are a daily occurrence, though usually at levels that can not be felt. You can see the daily map here.

Akureryi Cathedral

Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland. The cathedral dominates the skyline. The total population is about 18000. The architecture in many areas dates from the 1920s - very art deco feeling.

Akureryi

There are no really tall buildings, but the town is built on a hill so the views across the fjord are wonderful.

Houses in Akureyri

I love the fact that a number of buildings have dates on them. It is easy to have a sense of when parts of the town were added.

Alone

I am not sure why so many sculptures in Iceland seem pensive or downcast. But then - I have never had to live through the darkness of their winters.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hot Water

Drilling Spots

Each of these little domes sits atop a bore hole, tapping into geothermal energy. The steam that comes up is used to produce electricity via steam turbines. The hot water that results is pumped directly to heat homes and provide hot water in taps. The water that comes out smells of sulphur.

Steam Over the Road

These big pipes over the road lead to the Krafla power plant. A smaller power plant is down the hill.

Pool at the Power Plant

This pool of water may look innocuous, but signs indicate the temperature of the water is close to 100°C. There are other advantages to this kind of power. This power plant supplies the water for Mývatn Baths.

Myvatn Baths

It was delightful to spend some time soaking in the baths, enjoying the scenery around the baths and feeling all cares melt away.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Krafla

Crater at Krafla

The Krafla volcanic region stretches to several mountains. The whole are is alive with zones that are too hot to walk on (including the area around Hveraröndor Hverir). The area is a source of electricity and hot water for  part of Iceland as the power company taps into the geothermal energy. This is the largest crater in the area. You can walk all around the periphery.

From 1975-1984 there were fissure eruptions which caused fires over a large region. Large lava fields and some hot spots remain.
Second Crater at Krafla

A second water-filled crater is just beside it.

Toxic

You can see the land near it is coloured by the minerals. The coloured ground is toxic to life - too many heavy metals and acid for growth.

Third Crater at Krafla

A third crater spews steam. The colours are similar to the area around Hverir.

Fissure

Next we hiked to Leirhnjúkur, also part of the Krafla system. The mountain still steams thirty years after the Krafla fires.


Towards the Lava Field

Eruptions and fires in the area from 1975 to 1984 have left large swaths of lava fields.

Leirhnjúkur Crater

A steamy crater on Leirhnjúkur - you can see spots where the water is boiling.

The Mountain Smokes

Here, too there is a sense of being on another planet; it is so different from any landscape I have ever been in.

More photos at: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mývatn Waterfalls and more

Selfoss

Photos: August 10-11, 2014

Our day started with a visit to waterfalls. The weather was bleak, foggy with off and on rain. Selfoss is a picturesque waterfall, curving from bank to bank.

Detifoss

Detifoss, a little further along the river, thunders down. Its bottom can't be seen but its force can be heard. Great plumes of water droplets leap up. It was hard to know if it was raining or if the droplets were showering us.

Birds and Pseudocrater

Lake Mývatn is teeming with water fowl. No sailing is allowed on the lake during breeding season. And the lake and its shores are dotted with pseudocraters. These small islands and hills by the water have indentations like craters, but they were formed by steam explosions when lava met water.

Duck

A great variety of ducks can be seen.

Near Lake Mývatn

Around parts of the lake are interesting lava formations.

More photos: Iceland and Faroe Island album