Ice, Ice Baby

Trip Start Jun 22, 2006
Trip End Jul 12, 2006

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Monday, July 10, 2006

A day of driving...I got up damn early(maybe 5AM?) and had my brekkie at 7:30. I hit the road just after 8 and drove first towards Joklasel off the F586 road. Lonely Planet had advised all us 2-wheel drivers not to attempt driving this road unless we wanted to be rescued after our car broke down but the lady at the front desk at the Hofn Hotel Edda said it should be "fine". Hmmm...well, it was barely passable and incredibly nervewracking - the road got worse the higher and closer it got to the Sklafellsjokull glacier. It was full of pot holes, had only one lane and oodles of blind curves, there were incredible drop-offs that had me constantly envisioning my death, and did I mention that it was drizzling so the road was a bit slippery? Not a rosy set of driving conditions, my friends. I was grinding my teeth and wishing I knew how to say a "Hail Mary" the whole way. I never reached the end of the road and decided to turn back instead as the weather conditions were so bad and the glimpses I'd had of the glacier were not promising (It looked like someone had dragged black chalk over a great portion of it).

I returned to highway 1 until I got to the jewel of my entire trip - the Iceberg Lagoon, a.k.a. Jokulsarlon. Miraculously, the weather and light conditions as I arrived were PERFECT!! Partly sunny with dramatic clouds ooh la la!! With no hesitation, I leaped at the chance to go out in a boat on the lagoon for 2200kr. At first I was dismayed when I saw how many tourists they'd crammed into the boat, but I was won over by the fact that the majority of the group were Japanese senior citizens who were so audibly(Ooh! Aah! Ohh!) impressed by the info our lagoon guide parlayed to us while out cruising. She was a friendly and funny guide to be sure who joked that we had to wear these ultra poofy flaming orange life jackets as they were overdue for a Titantic-like incident. Her name was Eva and we got to talking. I told her it was partly "the Amazing Race" which had inspired me to come to Iceland, and she went on to talk about movies that had been filmed at the lagoon - namely, 007's Die Another Day and Angelina Jolie's 1st Tombraider. She disgustingly informed me that Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry refused to come to Iceland (Why ever not?! Are they whale crusaders?!) and so doubles were used in the filming at Jokulsarlon. However, I became a little bit more of an Angelina Jolie fan after I was told that not only had she come to the lagoon but we were on the exact same boat that they'd used for the film! First, my ass was planted in the same seat as Kim Catrell in a taxi in Dublin, and now my feet have stood in the same exact spot perhaps as Tres Jolie in Iceland! Anyway, the lagoon was idyllic and made my trip.

After the lagoon, I drove towards Skaftafell Nat'l Park but when I spotted a small gravel road that led very close to another glacier, I deviated from my plan. I was again flirting with disaster in regards to my poor 2-wheel drive vehicle as the road wasn't paved but we, my trusty car and I, persevered and I ended up doing a bit of close-up glacier shooting at this off-the-beaten track spot - no other senior citizen tourist buses in sight!! Because I felt that I'd seen enough glaciers at this point, I ended up bypassing Skaftafell. I had at least 3 hours of driving to do and didn't want to exhaust myself prematurely.

My only other stop en route to Laugarvatn was at Vik. This town is famous for its black sandy beach and sea stacks. If I'd had more time, I would've plucked myself down in the sand and just sat there for a long while staring out to sea - it's a grand beach. Alas, I still had 2 hours or so left to drive and the weather was getting a bit cloudy anyway.

By the time I reached Laugarvatn at about 6, my right knee was swearing at me in at least 5 different ancient tongues as if it were possessed by the devil! Arthritis at 39 sucks! I had dinner down by the lake in Laugarvatn and came tantalizingly close to finishing Corelli's Mandolin.
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