Tense Times In Volcano Land
Trip Start Mar 27, 2010
101Trip End Jul 04, 2010
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About half an hour down the road we came to three unmade sections where the roads department had deliberately destroyed the highway to allow the flooding caused by the volcano's original eruption force to get to the sea quickly without spreading and devastating the roads and farms. Seems the bridges and culverts under the road are not designed for major mud and water flooding.
Shortly after leaving the waterfall, we entered about 50km of road squeezed between the glacier and volcano on one side, and the sea on the other. The sky got darker, the ash got thicker, the ash spray from passing cars got bigger, and the ash on the road got deeper. At one point we were effectively driving on talcum powder, leaving 100 metres separation between vehicles, and pulling over if a vehicle came the other way. Just like driving in the desert. You can't get close enough to overtake the vehicle in front, and you have no visibility at all when cars come the other way.
Finally crawled into the small town of Vik around lunchtime, and decided to have some comfort food, and a break to untense. No problems, except that every other car on the road had the same idea. From there it got better, although a patch of rain caused the ash to turn to mud. Nobody had their windscreen wipers on though, as the ash would strip the smooth surface off the window.
By Kirkjubaejarklaustur (try saying that in Icelandic) it was almost back to normal.
Now some useless facts. Firstly, it gets so cold here that the pit toilet cubicles in the National Park parking areas are equipped with space heaters. Secondly, Icelandic sheep are woolly haired like alpacas. Thirdly, the last time lava flowed from this volcano, 20 farms were destroyed, and 20% of the Icelandic population died from starvation and disease. Lastly, I can't calculate the Big Mac Index for Iceland - they don't have any.