Iceland Pt. 2

Iceland Pt. 2

Day 6 - Corey’s Entry - September 30 - 5:30pm - Westfjords, Iceland

Listening to “One Day” by Matisyahu. Emily is driving. I thought on this long epic drive about the state of the world. Here in Iceland, sheep herders gather their lost flock who have wondered terribly far. Mist and clouds wrap around mountains. Waterfalls shape the landscape and locals peacefully sit in hot springs enjoying the silence. Back in Chattanooga, people are building, growing together, and peaceful (for the most part). I think of the rest of the world plagued by so many terror incidents. It weighs on my mind sometimes. I feel for those in peril and harbor anger for those harming others senselessly. One day, I hope we can find peace or a balance. I would love if the world could stop fighting, simply let people live their lives, and enjoy this awesome Earth together. I feel like humanity at times has lost its sense of direction.

Side Notes:

  • Creativity needs sleep too.

  • Get the Fjord out there and start exploring! Emily has more jokes.

Day 6 - Corey’s Entry - September 30 - 10:25pm - Drangsnes, Iceland

There is nothing more satisfying than soaking in a hot spring at a local spot after a long day. These hot springs warm you to your soul like in Zelda when you drink pumpkin soup. It fills all my hearts. It may be 8˚C outside, but after a soak, it’s not that chilly.

Driving the Fjords was absolutely amazing. Clouds filled the canyons. At times, as we ascended higher, it got really eerie like after an epic battle scene.

We saw the largest waterfall I’ve ever seen today. A King Kong size waterfall that made me feel so small. We drove through an one way, miles long tunnel! Oncoming traffic had to pull over into nooks as we drove past. The walls were rough and raw like they just blasted through and paved a road. I could feel the pressure of the mountain above.

I lost my voice now as I continue to grow more sick. I’m pretty sure I need a Z-pack of antibiotics. I realized today when I ran up Skogafoss and stood at the cliff edge as the wind and beauty of the landscape hit me I thought I would have an epic revelation about life. I thought I would suddenly realize my life’s purpose, but I heard and felt nothing like that. I almost teared up at the beauty, but no call to action. Now I realize I’ve already found my life’s purpose. I have my faith, my soul mate, the best dog, a wonderful home, loving family, and amazing friends in the best town, Chattanooga. I have so much to be thankful for. I’m not saying these things make my life’s purpose, I’m saying my choices, dedication to what I wanted, and a bit of luck led to these things falling into my life. Knowing your purpose isn’t listing what you have, it’s a feeling of accomplishment. I don’t need to search for life’s purpose. All I have to do is enjoy life and keep challenging myself. Life doesn’t have to be all about finding and searching. Perhaps you don’t realize, you’ve already found it or it’s just around the corner and you’re so close. Maybe I don’t have it all figured out and this is nonsense, but I know that I’m happy doing what I love and I hope to help others find what they love, what makes them happy.

On photoshoots, Emily and I work a certain way. I’ll shoot wide and she’ll shoot tights. Today, she told me I see the bigger picture and she the details. We see life the same way we photograph.

Day 6 - Emily’s Entry - September 30 - 10:30pm - Drangsnes, Iceland

This is my favorite campsite. It doesn’t have fancy showers or an incredible waterfall, but the host came up immediately, only one other camper is here, and things are tidy. Oh, and the hot springs. Why has it taken us 4 days to dip into a free, local hot spring?! When we arrived here in the dark, we weren’t sure this was a campsite. This is basically a parking lot next to a small community center. I felt tired and grumpy.

Corey really wanted to visit the hot springs the host told us about. Before getting in hot springs, they are serious about the fact you have to shower naked. It's also like 40 F outside. Wet, 40 F Emily in a bathing suit is not a very cheery person. I had a serious inner-struggle but ended up going. The natural hot tub on the ocean felt amazing. I altered between hot in the tub then cool in the cold Icelandic air. I feel warm and happy like I’m at home. The springs are amazing for aches and sorrows after sleeping in a van for 4 nights.

Today we drove around the incredible Fjords. Fjord jokes:

  • Praise the Fjord.
  • Fjordy, Fjordy, look who’s Fjorty.
  • Fjord yes!
  • Can you Fjord me that e-mail?

Tall mountains overlook long, peaceful inlets. I saw a seal with a fish in its mouth! Sleepy towns of shepherds and fishermen dot the coasts with their simple existences. Sheep lazily chew on grass and run away from shepherds.

Someday, I’ll find myself in a trance far away and visit these same quiet Fjord roads.

Day 8 - Corey’s Entry - October 2 - 1:38pm - N1 Gas Station, Blönduós, Iceland

I left my tripod at Skógafoss and lost my thermal henley at a hot spring in Grettislaug. We got a taste of the hot spring life in Drangsnes and needed to get our fix again. Emily found one 20km from our spontaneous campsite in Sauðárkrókur. We arrived at the campsite Tjaldsvæði in the fog and mist thankful it indeed existed. We trekked out to the hot spring. That was a very long, bumpy, misty road. Many pairs of green lamb eyes stared us down as we made our way.

I jumped out of the van and found an old man with an epic fisherman’s beard. This guy was awesome, like he stepped out of the novel Moby Dick. “Yaw!” he hollered to me with an Icelandic/Dutch accent. With his lamp he showed us the way to this small hot spring. The path was dark and frigid. I tore off my shirt and soaked in. A group of Icelanders loudly joined us. I didn’t know how to introduce ourselves, but one of the Icelanders, the birthday girl, recognized our heavy southern accents we turned on to have our own secret language. English is like galactic basic. Almost everyone recognizes it and/or speaks a bit of it. She asked where we were from and we told her, “Tennessee, ya know Jack Daniels.” Then everyone agreed, “Oh yea! Whiskey!” We spent the rest of that night hanging and laughing with them. They were students from a horse school north of the springs. We tried to pronounce Icelandic words and they asked me to say cliche country phrases like “Yee Haw!” and “Howdy Partner.” I really enjoyed that night.

We left in such a hurry because of the cold air that I forgot my shirt and decided to return in the morning for it. I really loved that shirt. The old man remembered me and helped me look as he cleaned up after morning spring goers. Nothing. Oh well, it’s just a shirt. He said maybe they picked it up accidentally, and I told him it was alright. He said, “Maybe those girls kept it as a souvenir to remember you by.” He laughed to himself and returned inside his cabin. Emily told me she hopes they do have it, and when they’re riding Icelandic horses she hopes they wear it and feel like a country cowboy from Tennessee, America. I like the thought of that.

Day 8 - Emily’s Entry - October 2 - 1:44pm - N1 Gas Station, Blönduós, Iceland

Yesterday morning after coffee, we walked around the sleepy town of Drangsnes. It’s a quaint fishing village with functional houses. Every town it seems in Iceland has a N1 gas station, small stone church in the center, and calm-demeanored, lovely blonde people.

We visited a witchcraft and sorcery museum. We were given detailed spells on how to gain wealth, cause storms, and control our sheep. Some of these spells were super strange. It made me think about how poor it must have been to live in a stone hovel covered in grass with a dozen feet of snow piled outside. These times of sorcery, people had no electricity or money for the little fuel available. Life was dark, cold, hungry, and miserable for so many years in the dark ages. I guess dire times can call for drastic attempts at a better life.

We’ve seen so many sheep. Holy crap! I love sheep, and even I’ve had my fill of sheep here.

I love seeing horses on the side of the road. Some are friendly, yet most are timid of people. There are many foals in the herds. When we walk up, the older horses hide the foals. They gruff or run the pack away. It’s an amazing display of community.

We visited an emerging rock on the coast yesterday. I brought Corey a jellyfish on the black beach. We played in the rock formation like a fort. I love him so much. What an amazing thing to adventure with the love of your life. He completes me.

We visited a site looking for seals. We found a story of love, passion, jealousy, and MURDER! Oh, Natan!!! We read the story of Natan Ketilsson on a plaque. He was an herbalist and lover living on the sea. He had liaisons with several women. One of which was a married woman who he had a love child with. The jealous husband came and stabbed Natan in his bed and burned the estate in a jealous rage! You would think such a place would have a dreadful feeling, but all we felt was the cool North Atlantic breeze, soft grass, the setting northern sun gently on our skin. We like to think Natan’s married lover was forced into an evil marriage at a young age and what they had was beautiful. His arms, her warmth in a cold world. His land by the sea had small inlets. We saw a few sheep on a little island walk across the water to land in a single file line. They reflected in the clear water.

Last night, we drove through the dark on a dirt pothole-ridden road past the green, reflective eyes of 10,000 sheep, “Making Whoopee” in the CD player, to a questionable cottage in the dark. We met an older man with a long, grey beard. He was cheery and led us through the dark, windy, ice cold night to a hot spring. I had trouble getting into the hot water from the freezing air. It was a beautiful bath by the sea. We sat with Germans and a drink until we were joined by 8 Icelandic, Swedish, Danish, and Nordic 20-something horse trainers. Corey and I attempted to talk in our own secret dialect of redneck and ebonics. They asked where we were from. It was a surprising adventure to join an Icelandic girl’s birthday party at 10pm in a thermal pool by the sea down a dark, dirt road. I have to never forget to follow the adventure even if it’s impossible to see your way until you’re right there in the 104 degree water. The most fun thing about an adventure is not knowing what will come.

This morning, I found I had an unidentified, throbbing splinter in the top of my big toe. I hope it doesn’t get infected! We’ll see!

We journeyed to see some basalt rocks! We only got a little lost on our way. We saw some seals laying on a rock. I hear seals like being entertained so I danced and sang for them. I think they liked it! We saw them stretch and turn toward us. We followed the sheep trails through the grass to the coast where we saw the basalt rocks. They are wild!

On our way here, we watched a loose pack of horses run on the road. I could feel the hooves run past me.

Day 9 - Corey’s Entry - October 3 - 11:50am - Golden Circle Road, Iceland

On a hike to Glymur Falls, we asked a few hikers on the way in how far to the falls. A scandinavian girl told us far and that there was a river crossing to a hard hike. She looked Emily up and down and said she couldn’t do it in her boots… Then another European told us we couldn’t cross the river. I said, “Yea thanks, I can do it.” We got fired up. Why tell people they can’t do something? Leave it up to them or encourage them. Don’t discourage unless it’s for sure danger, such as, “Hey, don’t cross the river because there is a savage bear mauling people.” I would say, “Thanks. I won’t go that way.”

When they say, “You can’t do that,” we say, “Hold my beer.”

Day 9 - Emily’s Entry - October 3 - 9:15pm - Reykjavik Campsite, Reykjavik, Iceland

We went to the Blue Lagoon today. It was surreal. White smoke lazily rose over the teal, hot water. Corey and I decided to get tattoos while in France. Adventures, right? Here’s some of my preliminary ideas: I want a moon and arrow with feathers for each love in my life.


Day 10 - Emily’s Entry - October 4 - 3:03pm - WOW Airplane, Keflavik International Airport, Keflavik, Iceland

I am straight up giddy. We are headed to Paris and I’ve always wanted to visit France. J’aime French music, movies, culture, language, cooking, and the way they think. Let’s finish my story in Iceland before we move onto this second chapter of this adventure.

After visiting the basalt rocks, we spent the night in Reykjavik. We went to Apotek downtown for dinner. Corey ordered minke whale. Yeah, whale. I tried some because hell, why not?! When in Iceland. It was similar to ahi tuna, steak tartare, and good. It had a delicious flavor. They served it was crispy shallot and creamy artichoke white sauce. Then we went to the Big Lebowski bar.

Yesterday, we hiked to a cave that lore says a fairy used to live in until a man betrayed the fairy. The fairy turned the man into a whale and placed him in the harbor near town. The whale/man terrorized the harbor for years until the fairy led the whale/man down the river to a lake where the man/whale exploded from exhaustion.

It was sentimental driving that damn van to the airport. I broke the tire rim driving over a pothole or something at some point. I think I’ll have to pay for it. Oh, well, I’m going to France and Spain now so that’s exciting!

I’m pumped to see and experience the rest of this adventure. I think I even need to calm down. I’ve been practicing French since we started booking this trip months ago. I’m nervous that I’m going to speak gibberish to everyone I meet. Everyone is nervous about the current political climate and general terrorism. Honestly though, the rest of the world thinks the same thing about the USA. That there are shootings, bombings, guns, and terror that run rampant in all the streets constantly. We need to stay conscious but free. I’ll next see you in France!

Day 10 - Corey’s Entry - October 4 - 3:05pm - WOW Airplane, Keflavik International Airport, Keflavik, Iceland

We ended our adventure at the Blue Lagoon. A huge hot spring that draws large crowds. After the intense locker room scene with SO many confused, naked men, you step into the 40˚c warm, milky, blue water and the steam carries your woes away. We met a woman working in the water as a mud mask girl named Fanney (pronounced Fay-Nay). She had this adorable swimming cap on and looked like part of a synchronized swimming team. She gave us some white mud and after a quick chat about the countryside of the Westfjords, we floated around for most of the afternoon.

Soaking in the waters of the Blue Lagoon really affects your brain. It was the most relaxed I’ve felt in a long time. We talked about tattoos and decided we would finally get the ones we wanted together. That night, sitting in our Kuku van we drew up designs and shared the last of our Kuku Drinks. Emily fell asleep on me. The moon was full. I was very happy.

This adventure around Iceland was certainly an accomplishment. I survived an illness, endured colder and colder temps, navigated unknown terrain and captured incredible landscapes. I was really impressed with Emily too. She was so strong and was such a positive energy to have along.

One of my goals was to learn about other cultures, and I feel I have a better understanding of the Icelandic people. I also learned that Icelanders don’t dislike tourists as the news says. They, like me, dislike rude people coming to their country and expecting everything to be like their home. Well, it’s not Iowa, it’s Iceland. Don’t come to another country and get mad that they don’t do things the same way. Why would they?

Now that we’ve traveled Iceland, here's what I know. The sun is never directly above you. The wind bites. Lava rock fields as far as you can see, blanketed by green-yellow, spongy moss. Mountains surround you like they just sprung up suddenly and leak waterfalls.

Sometimes, the sky disappears and you arrive in an eerie, foggy landscape with empty fields, save for an old hovel. Stone cairns help guide the lost. Every now and then, there are small forests of birch and bright evergreens. The mountains melt colors of green, red, orange, and yellows. I’ll always remember the long talks with Emily as we drove, cooking dinner inside the van, Oh Natan!, night time hot spring searches, watching the auroras in our sleeping bags at Skogafoss, driving the Westfjords, seeing Taylor, and Emily stroking my hair and singing me to sleep when I felt my worst.

Iceland was svooooogott!!

This was part of a 23 day journey through Iceland, France, and Spain. Didn't catch the rest? Click below to explore with us!