Myvatn, Iceland: Grjotagja, Dettifoss and Godafoss

Up early, since sleeping in the car isn’t conducive to much sleeping, and our first stop was the tourist information center. It happened to share a parking lot with a grocery store, where we stocked up and grabbed coffee.

At the tourist center, we learned that the lava field hike we began at midnight is still considered too dangerous to recommend, because of the snow and cold and boiling puddles. Oops.

We left our car and set out from there, following a path that begins just behind the center. The path goes all the way to Mt. Hverfjall and Dimmuborgir (14km), but we turned around at Grjotagja (about 7km? Sigh for the lost journal, where I kept detailed notes). Early on, the path meets another path…keep straight, and you’ll be on the right track.

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Myvatn, Iceland: Hverir Steam Vents

From Seydisfjordur, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive to Lake Myvatn, which is one of the most interesting areas we visited. This day also turned out to be as much of a marathon as the day we accidentally walked 8km to the crashed plane in the wee morning hours, our sense of time and logic confused by the midnight sun.

We had planned to do the Hverir steam vents the next day, but on our way into town, we saw team rising just off Ring Road and stopped.

Welcome to the earth at it’s most primal (so much so, that it doesn’t feel like Earth at all but rather, other-worldly). We are greeted with a strong, sulfurous scent. Paths wind across cracked ground, through dozens of burping, bubbling, blue clay pits (sometimes shooting up like mini-geyers) and small piles of hissing clay emitting big puffs of stinky steam. It’s brings to mind the very literal concept of hell drilled into my childhood by Southern Baptist churches.

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The Women’s March: nope and hope

I love social media right now! Everyone’s posting pics from different marches in different cities, and THE FEELING IS INCREDIBLE.

This may be my favorite.

I marched in Jackson,  the capital city of maybe the reddest state in the union—Mississippi. We were probably between 1,500 and 2,000, which is only about 1% of the city’s population.

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But it was by far the biggest Jackson crowd I’ve seen come out for a protest of any kind, and it was only one of at least four marches in Mississippi.   Continue reading

Iceland’s Eastfjords: the road to Seydisfjordur

After Hofn, we decided to sleep in Egilsstadir, because Jamie found a good deal on four star lodging— the single true splurge of our trip. Reindeer are not only a common menu item in this town, they’re a common decor theme in the Icelandair Hotel. And apparently, in the winter, entire herds stroll through downtown (how very Northern Exposure).

There’s a big lake with a famous monster nearby, but we weren’t interested in lake monsters. We simply wanted to block out the light and sleep well.

We arrived around 8 pm. Jamie went off to explore and find a pub, and I read for a bit and then, around 11 pm, went for a walk. The hotel is located in a residential area, and there were still children out on bikes, even so late, and teens playing frisbee in the park. I also came across a drunk group of merry young men, singing as they strode through the frosty air.

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Pit stops: Jokulsarlon and Hofn

Forty-five minutes east of Skaftafell, we hit Jokulsarlon, a well-known glacial lake. We’d seen pictures of the iridescent blue water and baby icebergs, and we knew sometimes there are seals, but it was actually kind of disappointing. There were a lot of cheesy tourist boats on the water (and jeepers, were those tours expensive!), and there were lots of cheesy tourists (like us, I guess) along the shore.

There is a shop with coffee and a few tables, so that was pretty great. We were able to get our morning caffeine fix and use wifi to plan our day. We spent maybe an hour there before heading towards Myvatn, by way of Seydisfjordur— an artsy fjord town that hadn’t been on our itinerary but came highly recommended by Long, a friend we made in Vik.

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PSI on Inauguration Day

I interrupt this Iceland coverage to bring you an important public service announcement…

Today a few hundred thousand swindled Americans will attend the inauguration of a narcissistic, misogynist, ableist, racist bully, who contradicts himself at every turn, only believes in free speech when it applies to him, and is “draining the swamp” by instilling a collection of the wealthiest, most unqualified and least diverse Cabinet nominees in my lifetime and likely, in my parents’ lifetime.

Today sucks.

But TOMORROW, more than a million antifascists will march all over the world. My closest friends will march in Massachusetts (with an estimated 50,000 others), in Arkansas (an estimated 4,000 others), in Mississippi (estimated 1,000), in North Carolina (estimated 20,000), in Louisiana (estimated 4,000), in New York (estimated 200,000) and in DC (estimated 300,000).

It overwhelms and inspires me. In fact, this morning, I can’t even seem to conceptualize it without crying. This is our Arab Spring. This is our Occupy. WE WILL BE SEEN AND HEARD. OH BONDAGE, UP YOURS! 

(P.S. If you’re interested in how many are marching where, look up each state here. It’s not entirely accurate, since Mississippi has at least two marches that I know of, but it’s still helpful/hopeful.)