August 20, 2013 - September 3, 2013
We got up early in the morning and packed our belongings. With tears in my eyes I said goodbye to all the horses. Everything was ready to go. Rocky sat on the bike, turned the key...and nothing. The motorcycle wouldn't start. We spent a few hours trying to wiggle wires and charge the battery, but still, nothing. I eventually ran over to the neighbour's home, a few hundred meters away. He had a lot of old vehicles and machinery collected on his yard. I thought that there would be a good chance he would have cables and or even an old battery we could briefly borrow. I didn't want to bother him, but I did. He opened the door, and then slammed it shut. That didn't work out so well. Maybe if he kept his door open more often, the view wouldn't allow him to be so miserable.
I ran to the next closest place, which was a golf course, a few more hundred meters away. The lands keeper was quickly willing to help. We drove out to the hut and attached the cables to the batteries. The motorcycle quickly came to life with a roar. We hopped on her and rode towards the horses on our way out, but that didn't intimidate our long mane friends. They curiously peeked at the odd creature we rode away on, as we waved goodbye, one last time.
It was a beautiful day but we had our winter and rain liners attached to our riding gear. I was also wearing my balaclava to protect my neck and chin from the crisp air. We rode to the library where Rocky and I had spent our first week in Iceland. Angela was behind the counter at the Radhause Kaffi shop, open for business. I was extremely happy to see her glowing with pride.
We were supposed to meet Gylfi Jon there and take him out for lunch. When I asked Angela if she had seen him, she said that she had last seen him in the kitchen eating. I felt horrible for being too late. When Gylfi Jon found us, he joined us at our table. I felt emotional as I tried to come up with the right words. Nothing I could have said would have expressed how much I enjoyed meeting him and staying at the Little Hut by the Sea.
We were officially back on the road and on our own. We planned on spending the day at Iceland's most unique and popular attraction, The Blue Lagoon. In 1976, a geothermal power plant was new to the area. Superheated water was vented from 2000 meters in the ground near a lava flow. It was used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water would pass through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. All of the wastewater outputted from the geothermal power plant formed a pool. In the years that followed, people start bathing in it.
It wasn't long before the natural geothermal seawater became known for its healing power from its active ingredients, minerals, silica and algae. The Blue Lagoon Spa was created soon after. Absolutely breathtaking, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most intensely beautiful places I have ever experienced. It was so perfect, that until I walked around the inside of the lagoon, I had no idea that man had anything to do with its intense natural beauty. It is the most compatible relationship between nature and technology I have ever seen.
Just as we were about to leave, the bike refused to start again. Luckily, we were in a very busy parking lot and finding help came easy. We left Keflavik and rode to Reykjavik. Just as we approached the city, the sun was beginning to drop towards the oceans horizon. The sky was a mixture of light pink and baby blue with wisps of translucent clouds. It was such a pretty sunset that I had to force myself to look away to check out the landscape around me. I turned my head to the right but the sky stole my attention once again. It was a pretty purple and the mountains in the distance were navy blue. But, prettier than colors, was the largest white moon I have ever seen. It dominated the sky like something I have only witness on an Anime cartoon. It is during moments like those, when I wished Rocky and I had communication devices.
Once we were in the city, it began to get late and we decided to camp out in a huge field near the University. The wind blew hard that night and we woke up to a lot of rain the following morning. Packing in the rain is definitely on the list of things I almost hate. We found a nearby Subway restaurant, and we decided to go there for a few hours. Once we were dry, our tummies were full and we googled a few addresses, we stopped at a camping store for some water proofing spray. I had already sprayed the tent while in NYC. I had also glued all the seams and patched all the tears while we were staying at The Little Hut. But, there was still a little bit of water finding its way in through the material we lay on.
We also stopped at a KTM shop for some advice. Rocky wasn't exactly sure why the motorcycle was experiencing troubles, but he suspected that we may need a regulator. Unfortunately, none were in stock and we were told that it could possibly be at least a week for one to be delivered. We didn't want to wait that long. Especially since we weren't positive that it was the regulator causing us bike problems. Instead, we left with some chain lube and cleaner.
We had spent all day in Reykjavik, and then we searched for a place to camp along the coast. The sky threatened more rain, so we hoped to find a place that would provide us with some shelter. Right along the beach was a tiny facility with an overhang that could keep us dry for the night. There was a set of stairs to its side that led to the top of the overhang, giving us a beautiful view of the arctic waves. Sounds perfect? It could have been, if it wasn't a sewage plant. Even the shittiest place in Iceland was awesome. What made me laugh more, were the two employees that showed up for their shift in the morning. They asked us for pictures because they recognized us from the newspaper!
We began our way out of the city and my hopes of the weather getting better were quickly diminishing. It was cold, really cold. Rain was pouring down on us, but worst, was the wind. When we stopped for gas, the attendant warned us that the road ahead was known for very strong winds. I was told that it would get better once we reached the top of the hill but I couldn't help having doubt. The wind was pulling and pushing us all over the road. After driving for about 20 km, we reached the top and I was shocked to see some blue sky and sunshine in the distance. We stopped for a photo and noticed another rider was doing the same. Tam was from Whales he was exploring solo on a KLR. I really enjoyed seeing other riders. Most adventurers we saw were in huge Unimog campers. These things were massive. The wheels were more than half my size, and seeing them made me feel brave.
We continued towards visiting a waterfall and we must have rode past at least half a dozen of them on our way. We spent the rest of the day riding in and out of rain, and fighting the wind. The weather was very temperamental and seemed to change frequently. I felt a strong sense of relief once we entered the Hvalfjörður tunnel. I was so cold that I honestly wouldn't have minded staying in that warm pocket of exhaust fumes. Even though the tunnel is among the longest underwater road tunnels in the world (5,770 m or 18,930 ft. long), we were back into the cold much too soon. All I could do was close my eyes and imagine the heat of the fireplace in the cozy, Little Hut by the Sea. We continued driving for a bit but we finally found a park that we thought would be a good place to camp. We set up the tent under a tree, and finally warmed our hands and feet.
With everything ready and packed to leave in the morning, the motorcycle refused to start, once again. We were becoming very frustrated. I walked up and down streets asking everyone for help but nobody had cables or understood what I was saying. We were in a small town and English wasn't as popular. I found it very difficult to communicate and resorted to inventing my own sign language. I was relieved when it worked and I finally found help.
For the rest of the day, we rode around gawking at the scenery. Iceland is a very mountainous island with a strange landscape. It was so ridiculously beautiful that we were constantly stopping every few minutes to take another picture. I thoroughly enjoyed every stop. Because Iceland is a volcanic island, there are many beautiful lava fields covered in moss and lichen. To my surprise, they were also covered with wild blueberries. Every time Rocky was taking pictures, I was filling us up bags (and my mouth) full of deliciousness.
We eventually arrived in a town called Grundarfjörður and stopped at a gas station for a cup of coffee. We discovered that N1 Gas Stations have free WiFi and good, cheap coffee. We were especially happy when we also found out about unlimited refills. After warming up and relaxing for a while, we tried to come up with a plan for the night. We were continuing to have problems with the motorcycle starting and we were afraid to camp too far from public in case we needed a boost.
Adjacent from the gas station was a small Viking hut. It looked as though it was placed there as a type of attraction or selling booth. I had asked one of the guys working in the store what it was used for and he said it had been recently built for the community and occasionally used by the locals to perform skits and plays. I encouraged Rocky for us to stay there for the night. I thought that, not only would it be a perfect place to keep us dry and warm, but it was also a super awesome Viking hut!!
As I set up the tent, Rocky searched outside of The N1 Gas Station for an electrical plug. He hoped that if he plugged in the battery and let it charge for the night that maybe, just maybe, the bike would start in the morning. As he was looking, he met a lady named Silla. She worked at the grocery store that's attached to the N1. Silla offered to take home the battery and return it charged the next morning. The first thing we did when we woke up was check the electric and cable connections. With the fully charged battery installed, the motorcycle still refused to start. Unsure of what the problem was, we decided that we wouldn't pack up our belongings because we would be staying in Grundarfjörður for one more night. We spent the entire day sitting in the N1 Gas Station as Rocky searched the Internet for any help he could find.
Later that day, Rocky was approached by a guy demanding rent money. His name was Hjortur and he was kidding of course. Along with some help, Hjortur had built the Viking Hut. We apologized for staying there, we didn't realize it was private property. We told him that we were experiencing some bike troubles and we planned on returning to Reykjavik in the morning. Hjortur was very understanding and gave us permission to enjoy another night there. When we asked him for a picture, he said yes but asked as if we minded waiting a few minutes. He returned momentarily, fully dressed in his Viking costume. That made my day. I absolutely adored him for it!
We asked someone for a boost in the morning and rode back towards Reykjavik. It is the only large city in Iceland and we were afraid to continue north and around the rest of the island without figuring out what was wrong with the motorcycle. When Gylfi Jon heard that we were coming back in his direction, he invited us to join him at his home for dinner. I'm not one to turn down a meal, but I was especially excited to see him and Anna again. I was also happy that we were going to have the chance to meet his son Sveinn, and his girlfriend as well. The moment I met Ingibjorg, I immediately noticed the strong resemblance between her and Anna. She is extremely pretty, intelligent and funny. Her and Gylfi Jon make a lovely couple. They also make a fantastic meal, but I wasn't surprised. I already knew that Gylfi Jon was passionate about cooking. It was nice to spend time together with everyone.
After a few hours, it was getting late and we exchanged hugs for one last time. Baldur didn't live far and had mentioned that we could camp out at his place while him and Hulda were visiting the West Fjords. It made it much easier for us to take apart the bike to try and figure out what exactly might be wrong with it. The following day, we purchased some contact cleaner and soldered the electrical connections we had previously repaired. That seemed to have helped because the motorcycle was starting at every attempt. Baldur and Hulda came home that night and brought with them the most blueberries I have ever seen in my life. They said that the West Fjords is the best place to pick them because they are everywhere. We all sat at the table sharing stories and eating many bowls filled with blueberries and cream. No matter what troubles we had faced in Iceland, Gylfi Jon and Baldur were always there for us, bringing smiles to our faces.
The motorcycle started in the morning and we took that as a good sign. Once again, we headed north. Everyone in Iceland says that the weather is very unpredictable because it can change drastically, very quickly. I began to believe that the weather was very predictable - high winds, rain and a chance of sunshine. Repeat. But it really didn't matter, it made the world around us look like as if it was sparkling. All of the colours surrounding us were intensified as the hydrated earth was kissed by the sun. We were even rewarded with a full rainbow as we rode past fields of wild horses. I was mesmerized, absolutely captivated by every kilometer we passed.
It was late and the sun had already gone down by the time we stopped in a town named Dalvik. The groceries stores had all closed and the only place open was a gas station. Luckily we had arrived just before they closed because we were really hungry. The ladies working behind the counter must have assumed that because they were kind enough to keep the kitchen open to serve us. We ordered a large plate of french fries to split between us, but we received a heaping platter. It was literally a platter. Rocky and I couldn't stop giggling. There were enough french fries to feed a party. We tried our best to eat as much as possible but we had to give up at approximately 2000 calories each. With a very full tummy, we slept well that night.
We rode to Akureyri in the morning and stopped to check out Godifoss, another very beautiful waterfall. We then headed to Lake Mývatn where the surrounding landscape was dominated by volcanic landforms. For the first time since arriving in Iceland, there were, what I would consider, many mosquitos. I just found out that they were actually midges. Tiny little fly like bugs that were creepily trying to get at my eyeballs. It was the first time I had noticed insects. I hadn't even seen a single ant during our entire time on the island.
Our plan was to visit another waterfall by the end of the day. Dettifoss is said to be the largest, most powerful waterfall in Europe. We rode down a gravel rode for what seemed like forever and finally arrived at what I considered a eerie-looking place. The area was very grey with many rocks and the water was dark with sediment. It was so powerful that I felt as though the earth was vibrating my entire body. We considered spending the night near by but we decided to camp closer to the main road. It was another long ride on a gravel road. Even once we reached the tarac we rarely saw anyone drive past. We continued riding through the barren land until we had just enough sunlight to set up camp for the night. I truly felt as though we were in the middle of nowhere, but we weren't alone. Sound asleep during the middle of the night, I woke up counting sheep. Bhaa, bhaaa, bhaa. It was the cutest sound I have ever awoken to.
During our ride through the northern regions, we had seen sheep everywhere. They roam around freely in the fields, infusing themselves by eating wild thyme and blueberries all day long. It is no wonder why they are so irresistibly delicious. But how could I ever think of sheep like that ever again? I grew a deep affection for them after realizing how extremely adorable they were. They often wandered their way along the roads but they would quickly panic and flee the moment they heard the motorcycle approach them. It was really funny to see them transform from calm, cool and collected grazers, to frantic, little maniacs, running on their skinny little legs as their chubby butts waddled. I just love them!
We had made our way past northern Iceland and headed towards the town of Egilsstaðir, on the Eastern side of the island. For the next few days, we would stay relevantly close to the area because our ferry was waiting near by. We ventured on a thin gravel road that led us up a mountain of rock and silver moss. The wind frightened me as I starred down the steep edges. We continued riding and eventually found a soccer field to pitch our tent. We set up the tent on a wooden deck that was attached to a sports shed, and I was glad we did. It rained heavily all night and into the morning. Even though I had sprayed some protection on the tent while staying at the Viking hut, I didn't trust how well it would work to keep us dry.
It was my birthday and we planned on visiting one of the coolest places I have ever seen. Located on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, is a large glacial lake filled with luminous blue chunks of ice that were beautifully streaked with black sediment. 10% of Iceland is covered in glaciers and the are quickly melting. We spent hours starring at the floating, icebergs. A few of them had drifting onto the shore. I didn't care how cold I was, I felt that I had to sit on one. Not many people can say that they've sat on an iceberg for their birthday.
A music video was being filmed a few feet away from us and I felt bad for the artist who was under-dressed and shivering cold. The sky was covered in clouds and I could see snow in the distance atop the glacier. Rocky and I decided it was getting late and much too cold to be hanging out much longer. A few of the locals also approached us as we were preparing to leave and warned us to get out of the weather. Rocky got on the motorcycle and I shouldn't have been so surprised when it wouldn't start. The crew that was filming the video came over to offer their help and they brought us hot cups of coffee from the large trailer they were traveling in. Alfred, Raggi, Villi and Simmi were extremely kind. While Villi showed Rocky how to bypass the start relay with a screwdriver, Alfred, Simmi and Raggi brought me birthday cake and everyone began singing to me. It was very unexpected! It completely warmed my heart and made me feel all fuzzy.
It was already dark and we were trying to ride as far away from the glacier as possible. It was too late to bother finding a room for the night, so we rode east to the town that we stopped in earlier that day, and found a small field to camp in. The next morning was sunny, and we rode back to the town of Egilsstaðir. We decided to have a relaxing day to work on the blog and we camped out in a nearby field, that night. When we woke up in the morning, we planned to visit a Dam, located in the highlands. It was freezing cold and extremely windy. The area was beautiful and desolate but the wind was so ridiculously strong that we were riding on a forty-degree angle. When we finally reached the dam I was worried that Rocky was going to cross it. Imagine dark grey water, thrashing violently. Waves were splashing on the narrow road that separated the raging water from the ridiculous 193 m (633 ft.) drop. I was super scared but Rocky was apparently feeling very adventurous. I was clenching my mouth shut even more than I had that entire ride. It felt as though my teeth were all about to crack. Once we actually made it to the other side, I was relieved to be alive. We stopped for a minute so that I could prevent from peeing in my pants, and then Rocky decided to turned back around. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The only comfort I had was in knowing that we were turning around and exiting the highlands.
Half way back to Egilsstaðir, we turned down a gravel rode that led us to a guesthouse. We decided to stop there for a warm drink, and also to relax our cold bones. We met a few other travelers doing the same. They were shocked that we arrived by motorcycle as they complained of the drive they experienced on their trailer homes. My jaw hurt from all the pressure but my tongue was feeling strange. I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror and I was shocked to see that my tongue was swollen and purple from sucking on it so hard. I was really glad when we finally left the highlands and returned back to the same spot that we had camped the night before.
We had two days left before our ferry was scheduled to leave. We decided to relax all day and work on the blog. We were hanging out at an N1 when we were surprised to see Tam, our friend from Whales. Even though it had only been less than two weeks since we had met him, it felt as though it was so long ago. It was great to hear about Tams journey. He had ridden through Iceland’s interior, where the roads are all gravel and the terrain is difficult to traverse. Sometimes I feel guilty for having joined Rocky on this trip. I know that if he was alone he would love a challenge like that. I don't crave that same excitement while riding passenger.
It was our last night in Iceland and we were camped at the same spot as the past couple of nights. We were sad to be leaving this magical place but Iceland wasn't letting us leave without one last surprise. As I stepped outside of our tent that night, I was awarded with something I had always wished to see, northern lights. The sky was glowing green as it danced above me, and I immediately screamed for Rocky to come outside. It was the first time that either one of us had witnessed such a an astronomical phenomena, it was a real treat. I stared at the sky and took a moment to reminisce all the beauty Iceland possessed. What a fantastic country! It is definitely a place that we will have to visit again in the future.
Having problems starting the motorcycle, we flagged down a local and got a boost and were finally back on the road. It was August 20th, the already cool and wet summer was drawing to a close, and we still had much of Iceland so see.
After saying goodbye to our friends in Keflavík, our first stop was the blue Lagoon. "The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland." At roughly CA$110 for two people for the basic package, it was an expensive attraction to see, but it turned out to be well worth the cost.
After spending a few nights camped out in Reykjavík, we decided to visit a popular waterfall in the southwestern part of the country, called Seljalandsfoss. Just outside of the capital city, were ran into an intense rain and wind storm. The winds were so strong that I pulled over at a gas station to decide whether or not to push through it. Not wanting to miss this waterfalls, I opted to continue, and, 20km up the road, the wind eased and the rain stopped. We parked the motorcycle at a rest area with a panoramic view, and met Tam, a fellow motorcycle rider who was from Whales.
The skies cleared up and we rode for two hours into a strong headwind before reaching Seljalandsfoss.
After visiting Seljalandsfoss, we turned around and rode back towards Reykjavík with the wind at our backs.
There are beautiful waterfalls everywhere you go in Iceland, so many that, eventually, you get use to seeing them and almost tend to take them for granted.
In the morning, we encountered more electrical problems with a bike that refused to start. Paula flagged down some locals for a boost, and we eventually headed north, along the western coast of the country. The day was filled with scattered showers and fog. In the afternoon, Paula and I stopped along the road near a lava field to find wild blueberries growing everywhere. While stuffing our faces, we filled up a few plastic baggies so we would also have something to snack on later.
We stopped several times that day, but, since the morning, the bike didn't have any problems starting.
Later that day, we stopped at gas station in the town of Grundarfjörður for coffee and to warm up. After a few hours, we decided to head out. Once again, the bike refused to start. Since it was late in the afternoon, we decided to find a place to camp so that I could have some time to try to figure things out. Conveniently, right across the street from the gas station, we found this Viking hut to camp in. It was right in the center of town, but it seemed a perfect place to spend the night and keep dry from the rains.
That evening, a gas station employee, named Silla, saw that I had hooked up my battery charger to the exterior gas station electrical outlet that supplied power to the air compressor. Silla, whose husband is a motorcyclist, offered to take our battery home and charge it through the night. Silla brouhgt a fully-charged batter back the next day, but, the bike still refused to start. We spend that day in Grundarfjörður working on the motorcycle and trying to figure out what the problem was.
Later that day, a man arrived at our hut demanding rent money. He was kidding, of course. Hjotur was his name, and the hut we were staying in was his. He was a member of a group that perform Viking re-enactments. I asked him if I could take his picture. He told me to wait a few minutes, then rushed off in his car, only to return ten minutes later wearing full Viking garb, wielding and axe and holding a shield.
Paula and I spent another night at the Viking hut, and, unable to find the source of the starting issue, we decided to get a boost and return to Reykjavik to look for a new motorcycle battery. Upon hearing of our return to the area, Gylfi Jon invited Paula and I over for dinner. Gylfi lives just outside of Reykjavik with his girlfriend, Ingibjörg and her daughter, Anna.
Paula and I spent the following day in Reykjavik, working on the motorcycle. Looking over the wiring diagram for the bike, I found that the wires that melted against the hot exhaust when we were in Canada were involved in the battery-charging circuit. We carefully re-spliced these wires, this time adding solder to the connections. This seemed to do the trick. We were camped in the yard at Baldur's house. Baldur was the journalist who we met through Gylfi Jon when we fist arrived in Iceland. After two nights and a day of working on the bike, Paula and I headed back on our trip around Iceland.
The Sun Setting On Northern Iceland
Sunset Over Skagafjörður
Paula Near Skagafjörður
That night, we camped in the town of Dalvik in northern Iceland, and the following day we visited Goðafoss.
After leaving Goðafoss, we rode east to Lake Mývatn, and then north.
Near Lake Mývatn
Late in the day, we rode for almost an hour down a gravel road to the eastern shore of Dettifoss.
Dettifoss is the waterfalls featured in the opening scene of the movie, Prometheus.
Paula At Dettifoss
After leaving Dettifoss, we traveled another hour down the gravel road to the main road. Witht he sun setting and nowhere near a town, we decided to stop at the side of the road and camp for the night. During the night, Paula heard sheep roaming and grazing just outside of our tent.
In the middle of nowhere
We packed up our camp and rode to the eastern part of the country.
Paula In Eastern Iceland
Later that day, we took the mountain pass from Egilsstadir that leads to the southern part of Iceland. We stopped along the way to pick more wild blueberries, and discovered a beautiful waterfall.
Riding Over The Mountain Pass
The winds in Iceland were some of the strongest winds we had ever ridden in.
Befufjörður Mountain Pass
The following day, we rode along the southern coast of Iceland, battling extreme winds. We were in the area near Iceland's largest glacier.
Riding Towards The Glacier Lagoon
Near the end of a long day, we arrived at The Glacier Lagoon.
It was Paula's birthday, and we thought that being in this place wasn't a bad way to spend a birthday. Leaving The Glacier Lagoon, the bike, again, refused to start. This time, it was different. When I pushed the start button, the engine didn't turn over at all. I suspected a problem with the start relay. The was a film crew nearby shooting a Japanese music video. Seeing that I was working on the motorcycle, a few crew members came over to help. After hearing that it was Paula's birthday, we were invited into their trailer. Paula was given a cup-cake with a candle, and everyone sang her happy birthday.
In the end, we found that the motorcycle's start relay was dead. We had to start the bike using a screwdriver to jump the start relay and apply battery voltage directly to the starter motor.
Since we no longer had a motorcycle that could be properly started, Paula and I decided to head back to the eastern part of Iceland. We were scheduled to sail from Seyðisfjörður in four days, and we thought that it would be a good idea to rest for a few days, and do as little riding as possible until we could replace the start relay, which we would have to do when we arrived in Germany.
Riding Back Over The Pass
Paula and I spent the days before sailing from Iceland camped outside of a gas station, behind some bushes in Egilsstaðir. While there, we were surprised by Tam, whom we had met ten days earlier. Tam had recognized out motorcycle parked outside of the gas station and stopped to say hello.
On our last night in Iceland, we were surprised and amazed by the show the northern lights put on for us. The following day, we packed up our belongings and rode to Seyðisfjörður, where we would board the ferry to Denmark.