Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Iceland trip 2011, Day 1

Jokulsarlon Vista, day 2

Jokulsarlon Vista

This August, during the final days of our home purchase process, in the midst of one of the larger financial transactions of our lives, we thought “Hey, this would be a good time to leave the country[i]. (and not just “leave the country” in the sense of, “jaunt down to Mexico where we’d be easily reachable”, but more along the lines of “Hey, let’s pick an isolated hunk of rock and ice in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, find the most remote and or potentially volcano-y hunks of rock and ice on that hunk of rock and ice, and go there”.)

And so we did[ii].

We have some friends, Nina and Seth, with whom we go on camping excursions from time to time[iii]. It had been a few years since we’d had a decent vacation or gone camping with them, so when they invited us on their planned trip to Iceland, we jumped on the opportunity. The next couple posts are a recounting of our excursion and musings along the way.

Day 1 – We spent a month gearing up for the expedition. I got sexy new gear[iv]. I cleaned and recleaned my camera equipment. I packed, unpacked, packed again, and finally deemed my load-out perfect over a week before leaving. Upon arriving at the airport I realized I’d left my hiking boots at home. Irony[v].

But the die was cast, and we were off, no looking back now. Leaving 100+ degree temperatures in Houston, we had a seven hour layover in JFK, after which we finally boarded the redeye flight to Iceland[vi].

(Part 1 of 11. To be continued shortly)

Viking Gate (antiqued)

Viking Gate, Thingvillir National Park

[i] I think our realtor had a very quiet, very subdued stroke when we told him we’d be on a remote glacier a week before closing.

[ii] In our defense, the trip had been planned far in advance, while the home purchase had been up in the air. Still, the timing was not ideal, as we ended up closing a couple days after returning.

[iii] Our first sojourn, in 2006, was a grand tour of the National Parks and related areas in Utah, and our next go-around was camping in and around Georgian Bay, in Ontario. Tales yet to be blogged.

[iv] Despite all of the fancy names for fabrics and “technologies” and the dubious claims of “professional” outdoors gear, I think 90% of the cost of brands like North Face, Marmot, Merrel, etc is sexiness factor/status symbol among the outdoorsy folk, not actual performance benefit.

[v] As I’ll detail in later posts, prices in Iceland were ludicrous. I tried to replace my boots when we arrived, but with prices of entry-level-range boots in the $300-400 range, I ended up spending the whole trip, including a 17 kilometer mountain hike among glaciers, in a pair of (then-new) lightweight Nike running shoes. And did just fine.

[vi] I usually love transatlantic flights…food’s usually better, usually comes with wine, they often have the media consoles on the back of the seats, etc. This time, despite meeting an interesting fellow from Jersey who was going to scuba dive in the continental rift with his 79 year old companion, I mostly slept.

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