Lost in Icelandia

Usually I am content to stay, as the name of the blog implies, “lost in suburbia.” But once a year our kids go to camp for a couple of weeks and my husband and I take a trip to someplace a little less suburban.

This year we chose to go to Iceland.

After a week on vacation in Iceland, I have determined three things:
1. Glaciers and volcanoes are beautiful, but I do not want to live on or near either one.
2. I could never live in a place where I can’t pronounce the word for bathroom without spraining my tongue.
3. I seriously have no idea why someone would ever decide to make putrified shark a national delicacy.

On the flip side, Iceland is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful, geologically spectacular,
And it is winter for most of the year so that makes for an extremely short bathing suit season.

What more could you want?

We had actually looked into going to Iceland two summers ago, but a volcano erupted and we had to cancel our plans. Then we tried to go to Iceland last summer, but another volcano erupted and we had to cancel our plans again. This year we decided to go to New Mexico, instead, where there are no volcanoes. Unfortunately, a week before our trip, wildfires broke out. They evacuated Los Alamos and closed the national park three days before our trip.

Are you sensing a vacation fire theme here?

With three days to go before we were supposed to go somewhere, we decided to try Iceland again.

We booked flights, hotels and tours. And then two days before our trip, part of a glacier melted and flooded out a chunk of the main road that is the only way to get from one side of the country to the other.

We went anyway. Erupting volcanoes? No thanks. Glacial floods? No problem.

Fortunately the flooded road did not affect any of the tours we had planned. The big one – the one we were really excited about – was a hike through one of the glacier valleys to the top of the volcano that had erupted last year. The guide told us it would take three to four hours, it was about 6 miles of gently sloping terrain, the volcano was quiet now, it was totally safe, and it would be an incredible opportunity to see a part of the earth that had just been formed!

Here’s the part of what he said that was true: We saw new earth.

I have to assume that there are certain things that are different in translation from Icelandic to English. How else to explain the fact that the hike was actually 9 hours, 15 miles, so steep we needed ropes and carabiners in places to get up the “gently sloping” terrain on a path so narrow my toes hung off the edge when I turned sideways; finally reaching a lava field that was so hot it was still steaming, and the edge of a crater that was still belching sulfer and was so hot we could only stand there for three minutes before the rubber on our hiking boots started to melt.

Was it spectacular to see? No doubt. Would I have been just as happy to see it on The Discovery Channel? You betcha.

Of course, when you watch it on TV, you don’t end up with unforgettable memories, amazing pictures, and great stories to tell.
But you don’t end up with melted boots, either.

©2011, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Lost in Icelandia

  1. Lydia

    whoa! THAT’S a far cry from Happy Valley… looks like it was fun, though!

    • Actually, life in general has turned out to be a far cry from Happy Valley, right? 🙂 Especially this whole trip called motherhood! Glad to have had both experiences though!!!

  2. Lori

    I’m in Iceland right now in Grundarfyodur almost completing a trip around the Ring Road. Amazing country! Love your blog comments and agree with them. Wish we ran into each other while you were here.

    • That is so awesome! We really did have an incredible time there. We did the golden circle and the blue lagoon (of course), and also went snorkeling in the silfra fissure and did a helicopter tour over the whole eyjafjallajokull glacier area (Hekla, ,etc.).. It was outstanding. Sorry we didn’t have time to get up north or do a jaunt to greenland. Next visit!

  3. Gretchen Grey-Hatton

    We’d planned to take our kids, 5 and 9, to Iceland this summer before ticket prices doubled and we went to Quebec City instead. I love your characterization of your trip! Will certainly be checking your blog more often. Cheers, Gretchen

    • Somehow we managed to grab flights when the prices dipped for a day (they were fluctuating wildly), but it is still an expensive country to visit. I bet Quebec was gorgeous though and it is on our must-visit list, too!