Day 1 - Corey’s Entry - September 25 - 10:08am - Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Emily told me, “There there will be no “Oh, F*****” on this trip. Only, “Oh, yeas.” Just go with the flow. “ I have to say, I was a little nervous about Europe with the incidents of terror and the rain forecast in Iceland. But again we embark on an epic journey and with her by my side, everything will be ok. I am hoping to broaden my spectrum of culture and find new inspiration that sparks creativity.
Day 1 - Emily’s Entry - September 25 - 5:48pm - Boston International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
We’re sitting in the Boston International Airport waiting for our flight. I’m excited to see how this journey goes. We have very loose plans, but every night we have somewhere to sleep and we know how we’re going to get places. I think Iceland is going to be a beautiful, wild journey of freedom. I look forward to the history and culture of France and Spain.
I told Corey today this will be a no “F***!” trip. When we run into problems, we will respond with, “Ok. What now?”
Day 2 - Emily’s Entry - September 26 - 8:11am - Joe and the Juice, Keflavík International Airport, Keflavík, Iceland
I’m pretty tired. It’s 4am east coast time. We’re going to power through until tonight. We haven't stepped outside yet. We’re waiting on Kuku Camper vans to pick us up.
Funniest thing! We saw Taylor Vice, one of Corey’s oldest friends from high school and his wife Stephanie in baggage claim a few minutes ago! They are taking their own 12 day trip around Iceland’s Golden Circle, the main road that leads all around Iceland. We’re meeting for dinner tonight at Slippbarinn.
Day 2 - Emily’s Entry - September 26 - 3:35pm - Kuku Camper Van, Reykjavik, Iceland
I realized this morning every great adventure I’ve been on began with me thinking, “What the f*** am I doing? This is crazy. I want the comforts of my routine. What have I gotten myself into? This might be disastrous.”
I bought a small wool sweater for $20 from a thrift shop. It’s baby blue with white, green, and pink patterns. I look like a stunna, baby! I really wanted a wool sweater from Iceland! I also bought a $2 CD called “Making Whoopee Favorites of State and Screen.”
Day 3 - Emily’s Entry - September 27 - 3:56pm - Waterfall, Iceland
I’m sitting with Corey by a majestic waterfall. The water must be so cold! Freezing if it weren’t moving. The abundant water coming down appears aqua. This is supposed to be some of the purest water in the world.
We’ve encountered so many people from around the world. We’ve heard French, German, Icelandic, Chinese, Japanese, Austrian, and many others I couldn’t begin to place. As people pass by I try to determine if they’re American or otherwise. It’s usually impossible to tell between people by looking at them.
We walked into this national park along a trail created by tectonic plates separating. We came across a beautiful pool next to a small waterfall. We read how they used to drown women in the pool for crimes around the 16th and 17th centuries. Suddenly, the pool felt somber and the dark rocks more sinister. There were many coins in the natural pool. I imagine there’s a story about the coins for the women who died there. Maybe the coins are to pay the way for the women to get into heaven or maybe it’s to appease the spirits.
I’ve been fascinated by the cultural shift. The Icelandic people are very nice. I’ve never been to such a culture completely concerned with the sake of humanity and the planet. Good for them!
Yesterday, we wandered around Reykjavik. We talked about creativity and inspiration as we drank too much coffee. At one point, I turned around and saw that we walked past a colorful mural donning the entire side of a house. We need to think more about shifting our perspective.
We met up with Taylor and Stephanie for dinner then to their AirBNB for the hot tub. They are my new best friends! We’ll park our van in front of their house tonight. We’re going to throw down!
Driving through the landscape is awesome. Mysterious mountains covered by clouds of fog and light rain reveal themselves intermittently.
The landscape feels ancient like an old man built into the rock. He’s forgotten much of what he once knew, but he knows, like the water rushing down a waterfall, that nothing is forever. The things we think are important are not, and the things we take for granted are the only real things.
I love Corey. I try to tell him constantly.
Day 3 - Corey’s Entry - September 27 - 4:08pm - Öxarárfoss, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland
Unbelievable! We were picking our bags up at the Iceland airport when I hear my name shouted. My old friend from high school Taylor Vice and his wife Stephanie are in Iceland at the same time we are! I haven’t seen him in a long time and really miss hanging with him. We ended up in their AirBNB hot tub that night. We’ll see them again later today.
I was nervous about all the rainy weather predicted for Iceland. The weather is erratic yet amazing. Cloudy to bright sun to a bit of rain and then sun again. All in less than half an hour.
We had an incredible time exploring Reykjavik together. I am so in love with Emily. She’s my best friend, my lover, travel buddy; she's my everything. We both have such adventurous souls that beg to travel and explore.
We’re sitting in front of this breathtaking waterfall. I realized as I was photographing that taking pictures is more than my job. I sincerely love figuring out which lens to use, the best settings, and the filter that will perform the best. I love capturing this incredible world and sharing the photos.
Finally, the world of work and busy life dealing with crisis after crisis is put on pause. I’m in Iceland! Never have I seen a place quite like the Land of Fire & Ice as they call it. We walked between shifting tectonic plates today. The earth literally tearing apart. Humans are born with the need to explore. The urge to see what’s beyond the next hill. Then the one after that. I think I was an explorer in a past life perhaps. It’s tough sometimes and uncomfortable, but I do love it. I want to see and experience as much as I can.
Day 5 - Emily’s Entry - September 29 - 9:26pm - Campsite Dalakot, Búðardalur, Iceland
Current Update: We are waiting for our laundry to get here. I bought a washer/dryer pass at this campsite. The dryer shuts down all the power in the showers, bathrooms, and the entire camp. The camp host took our sopping wet clothes to her house to dry them. How fun for her.
Here’s what’s happened up until now:
Two nights ago, night we tried to meet up with Taylor and Stephanie again. We were lost for 2 hours trying to find their AirBNB, I wandered into what seemed like an empty Eco-Commune mess hall and finally found the wifi I needed to find their place. Corey’s the only one with shoddy phone service. We found them but decided to go to a campsite with more room for the van. It’s cool. We saw our first Aurora Borealis that night.
Yesterday morning, we awoke to a beautiful campsite, made French press coffee, and began our day. Corey woke up that morning thinking he’d have to go to the hospital. He had a severe sore throat. We found an Icelandic Apothecary who gave him foreign meds. What else are you going to do?
We journeyed along the Golden Circle heading east on the southern shore. We came across a gorgeous waterfall, Skogafoss. We frolicked up to it. There's a tale that someone left his huge chest of gold under the mighty falls over 1000 years ago. Corey and I got soaked as we went as far as we could to see behind the falls to the secret pool. We never recovered the chest of gold, but I know it’s there.
Driving here is breathtaking. I LOVE all the sheep everywhere. They are so fat with thick wool. Their tiny legs are toothpicks in comparison to their pillowy bodies and bouncy butts. I LOVE sheep.
Yesterday afternoon, we took our van-made PB&J’s to the black sand beaches on the Southern coast. Rocks rise from the shorelines and caves look like a rectangular, man-made entrance to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. The black sand is heavier than sand I know. All of the black rock has to do with lava. It seems this entire island country has been recovered with lava.
One stretch of land we passed was covered in cairns. Around 800 AD, a farmer’s land was covered in lava from a nearby volcano. People for 1200+ years have built cairns on the lava field as they pass through for good luck. The lava fields create uneven boulders. A green, thick, spongy, moist moss covers these porous lava boulders. It creates a magical stage to play on. I feel epic watching the low sun as I mount the soft, mossy boulders.
Late yesterday afternoon, we pulled into a gas station to learn a section of the road ahead was closed due to flooding and damages. Iceland has few roads and there are no detours where we were on the Golden Circle. We’re currently backtracking to cool, new, exciting sites. Even with the same drive for hours, the landscape looks completely different with the light. The theme on this leg of the trip is learning to view things from a new perspective.
Last night, we camped at Skogafoss. After dark, we got our drinks and cozied up in our sleeping bags sitting in our camp chairs outside as we watched the incredible Aurora Borealis Northern Lights. The show blew my mind. I sat mouth agape as we watched nature’s best light show. I polished off some shoestring Piknik potato sticks.
This morning, we took a hike to the top of the falls. Today was a sleepy, rainy, slow day full of sheep and waterfalls. We traveled for hours, which oddly turned out perfect.
We drove through the mountains. At the top of one black lava-made mountain, glacier streams gushed by. Mist in every direction created a spooky allure. Large, mysterious carins, some over 6 feet tall, waited in the distance covered by slow creeping moss taking over their porous solitude.
Day 5 - Corey's Entry - September 29 - 9:30pm - Campsite Dalakot, Búðardalur, Iceland
I’m drinking a bittersweet scotch lemon tea out of my Ikea thermos right now thinking about the crazy twists and turns that got us here tonight. We are not where we planned to be. A situation that would have thrown me into a mental whirlwind a few years ago, but now I’ve grown accustomed to swiftly changing plans. According to the loose schedule we had, we are supposed to be in southeast Iceland. We are northwest, because of dramatic road closures.
We pulled off at an N1 gas station and while trying to figure out the pump, another local driver and I were talking. He asked about our next destination on the ring road and I told him about our campsite in Hof. He replied, “You’re not going to Hof.” I looked at him curiously like was he going to stop me or what? He continued to say that the road was completely flooded and closed till next week sometime. The only highway around the Island, closed. We had to rewrite our whole trip. Thank God we only made one reservation. The Kuku Van. And since #WeLiveInAVan we had the freedom to go anywhere.
The night we were supposed to meet up with Taylor we had trouble. Emily’s phone photo of their itinerary was a bit fuzzy, my phone lost service, and it was getting dark. We’ve been in this situation before. Classic us. We knew we were in the right area, but no cabin seemed to fit our vague descriptions. We kept it together, and I’m damn proud of us for that. Emily and I finally pulled into this eco village we passed several times. While trying find help, she entered an empty meeting hall that just so happened to have free wifi. Seemed like a miracle. She typed in the GPS coordinates and found the security gate leading to their place. We were so excited when we got into the area, but found that there 100 identical cabins in the setting sun. We had no idea which one they were in. We somehow managed to get Facebook phone calling to work and found our way to them. Victory!
This whole trip has been one exciting event after another. I’m sick with some dumb virus. This cold weather isn’t helping, but I’m not letting it bring me down. We hit up a few apoteks (pharmacies). All of the medicine is behind the counter, save the natural organic meds. I asked for cough syrup - one kind. Boom. They ring it up immediately. I tried it, but it was very weak compared to Nyquil.
This morning, I ran (halfway, this cough wouldn’t let me run any further) then walked up the steep steps to the top of Skogafoss listening to Apex then Griz Folks’ “Waking up the Giants.” I finally came to the peak, passing sheep grazing on the sunlit hill. I stood at the edge and witnessed the powerful river leading to the waterfall. It was so beautiful, I could have cried. The wind hit me hard. I put my arms out and leaned forward as it held me up. I ran down to get Emily and had to show her.
For the first time, I finally got to witness and capture the Aurora Borealis! Particles from the sun become electronically charged in our atmosphere and create this bright green and purple light. The lights effortlessly flow across the sky like rivers. It’s truly magical. That night, Emily and I stayed by the van drinking Reyka and talking about what our lives might be like if we lost everything. I think we’d use our bottom dollar to move to South America and teach English. Then bring that money back to the states and rebuild. I’d probably landscape too. That could also be the Reyka vodka talking. Bottom line is that we could figure anything out together.
Today was a travel day. I’m glad it rained so much. We saw incredible views. Fields of lava rock blanketed in green plush moss. Random cairns of stones everywhere, some large, some small. We think they are farmers’ property markers. Some seem to be more ritualistic. Waterfalls and sheep are everywhere. Lots of sheep, like all over the place. I love how much Emily loves sheep. They really are simple creatures.
I feel very blessed on this trip, save the sickness. It seems that everything has happened for a good reason. The wifi in the Eco Lodge, dude at the N1 gas station, ending up at Skógar to witness what the camp host said were the most beautiful auroras she's ever seen. We are putting positive energy out into the universe, and I believe it’s responding.
We ended today with a hot shower and tea. I absolutely love Iceland with my van and my beautiful girl.
How to make our signature Kuku drinks - Reyka Vodka, kind of cold Happy Day cranberry juice, slightly flat Toppur sparkling water served in an old plastic cup.
The camp hosts at Dalakot currently have our laundry. The dryer at the campsite blew the power. For everyone.
Elk sausage is soooooo good.
Camping in Iceland is neat because at some campsites they have shared kitchens. Stoves and sinks for everyone to use. It’s very communal. They also have a shelf of free stuff. Anything you don’t want or can’t take any longer, you can leave for others like butane tanks, olive oil, water, spices, shoes, etc. Not sure you can do this in America though. We have bears, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, possums, all kinds of critters and crazies.
This was part of a 23 day journey through Iceland, France, and Spain. Didn't catch the rest? Click below to explore with us!