Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2007

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Flag of Iceland  ,
Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday...the day is as sunny as yesterday was sleety and snowy...The winds still blowing a bit and the road is icy but it clears as we glad we waited for this weather to drive...a couple of things about the roads and driving in Iceland...first of all most people have 4 WD and these big vehicles...there are some truly amazing high wheeled sport vehicles here ...and they actually need them here not like in Syracuse or Long our rental car is a Yaris, the smallest car in the coarse tread on the tires...I'm just hoping we don't get blown off the road..and that does happen..  So there's this ring road, the main continuous highway - "the national highway" - around the country. Many of the other roads, and there aren't a lot, are dirt, gravel, cobbles, thru rivers, secondary back country roads....  We haven't attempted those yet anyway... but the ring road - the national highway -  is quite narrow, has lots of single lane bridges, some wooden,  no guardrails, no lighting,   there are sheep on both sides or in the middle of the road, or walking across it., and it goes through some of the most beautiful and deserted scenery I've ever driven through.  The road also suddenly and periodically turns to dirt/gravel - it just isn't paved the whole way around. There's lots of water, between the fjords and the ocean , sometimes there's water on both sides, and with the wind and ice it can feel a little treacherous.   We're pushing the Yaris to do all sorts of things it was never meant to do...but so far it's come through for us...
One thing that's helpful...and you'd really appreciate this Sam, is the weather monitoring that goes on here.  Life and movement in Iceland is directed by the weather.  So, for example, if you're planning on crossing the 'SANDUR' or sand delta at the base of the glacier, there is a weather station monitoring conditions in the middle of it.  And that info is relayed to a public billboard at the start of the sandur so you can decide if you really want to take it on.  It shows wind speed, temp, and how many people passed that way during the past hour.  These weather stations are at the mid-points of most mountain passes and other challenging places.  And often they're located alongside of a  little orange hut with an emergency phone within.
Driving along, seeing the grass roofed huts next to the modern farmhouses that look very  similar to one another, I think of Stina who said that globalization brought Iceland into modern day living, and she's thankful for that.  It was during this provocative discussion within our SEEDS group regarding where we stand with respect to globalization - is it positive or negative.  And of course, it's never that simple.  For me, all the negative ramifications of globalization immediately come to mind...multinationals dominating the world through their indiscriminate use of resources, etc.  Then Stina, who is standing on the opposite end of the spectrum of thought, states that without globalization, the people of Iceland would probably still be living in their grass-roofed huts and stone buildings built into the mountainside, a largely subsistence and minimalistic lifestyle,  and being out of touch with the rest of the world.  So her position is radically different and she asserts that with as much conviction as those in opposition. 
And back to the cost of food...we've already established that Iceland is need to belabor that fact...however, another example.  Stop at a gas station...look inside for snacks, maybe lunch...well lunch at the gas stations counter would have cost 1820 Kronur....that's about $29.00.  Per person!  Nothing fancy certainly.  Totally blows my we're mostly not eating now...Jude, the crackers are are the granola bars and peanut butter...still working on the farina, it's a staple...but we had to break down and buy a sandwich for dinner...I think the pounds perhaps are dropping off? 
Today is a drive along the southern coast....a hike up to glaciers...I've never before seen the beauty of the melting edge (check out the photos), and then the lagoon...listening to the glacier crack off and float down the lagoon and into the ocean...majestic...the photos can only begin to suggest the strength of the landscape we saw today...
Then we're driving around the fjords on the east side of Iceland...these fjords - U shaped glacially formed valleys that lead to the ocean - are long U's...some of them are 20 miles up one side...and the same distance down the other...and on the water side of the road, of course, there's a steep the water...our little Yaris speeding over these roads at dusk/night resulted in some anxiety dreams...for example, Licia was trying to cut my hair and red ants kept biting my head and dripping off me...better than the dream about veering off into the fjord...but we didn't and we're still cruising around Iceland.
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