Iceland 2018 – Part 9 Thursday, 27th

Today is and will always be a hard day for me.  Kurt was our dear friend, he was pretty much the closest thing that Miklos and I will ever have to a son.   He is the whole reason that Miklos and I are here in Iceland. He was a friend who came to live with us when things got rough when he was living in Atlanta.   He came in as a friend and became part of our family, he got his life together and and was going through his Master’s program in Library Science at the University of Tennessee.  During his studies he learned about a library conference that was happening in Iceland and became enthralled with the idea about going to Iceland.  We started making plans for when he graduated making a trip together.  Three years ago he was in a car accident and died.  So I asked his Grandmother for some of his ashes and I made some glass beads with his ashes encased inside the molten glass.  These are the beads that we have been leaving all over Iceland.

Our adventure started today with us going to Tingvellir I don’t have the right special character on here to spell that right.  It is the gap between the two continental plates.  How cool is that?  We walked from the visitor center down to the waterfall.  It is the place where the law speakers met to determine justice and to discuss the laws of the land.  It is a place where they burned witches and wizards.  Where they hung thieves and drowned women accused of witchcraft.  It has some of the weirdest energy and I found it to be an interesting place but draining.  I was really grateful that Mike and Betty walked back up to the visitor center and got the car and picked Miklos and I up at the bottom.  We were able to take one of the walking trails through some woods (which are scarce here.)  and were able to be away from all the people for a while and it was so good.

We then drove over to the Geysir area.  This was the first time that Miklos and I have seen a geyser in real life. It was surreal seeing puddles and pools that were filled with boiling waters.  The colors were beautiful teals and creams.  The stone had been melted into flowing patterns and mineral deposits make spectacular colors.  The water looks Caribbean blue.  The whole area is filled with sulfur smelling steam.  The first geyser is here, the one that all other geysers are named after.   It use to shoot water up into the air on a regular basis until some idiot threw a rock into it and clogged it up.  These pools are deep and filled with super hot water so the rock couldn’t be removed.  😦 idiots.  There is a smaller geyser named Strokkur that shoots water high into the air about every 15 minutes.  It was impressive.  There is are several pools and a walking trail that goes up the side of the mountain that offers some very good views.

Afterwards we continued onto Gullfoss, Gold Falls.  There was a huge rainbow over the falls and the gps lead us right to the lower parking lot, where we found a front row non-handicap parking place.  How’s that for luck?  We knew it was a perfect place for a Kurt bead.  Today’s bead needed to be a special place because, well just because it did.  These falls were massive and in a lot of ways were like Kurt beautiful, powerful, and full of energy.  We gave a bead to the falls and wished it a good journey.

We made one final stop before heading back to the hotel.  We drove out to the Urridafoss waterfalls.  They were practically deserted which was a nice change as everywhere we went today was crowded with tourists.  They are a wide and amazing set off falls.  The water is glacier runoff so is a milky white.  The sign said that the seals will swim up to the falls to catch salmon when they run upstream.

We then headed back to the hotel for another excellent dinner.  Tonight we all had the tomato soup, cod au gratin and chocolate cake with local ice cream.

Published in: on September 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 – Part 8 Wednesday, 26th

We left Vic and headed East/South.  We first went to the Skogafoss waterfall.  Miklos and I were able to walk almost to the very base of the falls.  There was a beautiful rainbow and the skies were bright blue.  It is a beautiful falls and the rainbow is apparently always there in sunshine.  We were lucky with the weather.  As we were getting ready to leave we again encountered the music video people setting up to shoot.  I’m pretty sure that they are stalking us now.

From there we then went to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.  It is so cool because you can actually walk behind the waterfall.  I recommend wearing rain gear for going anywhere near the waterfalls because it is very wet with the spray from the falls.  The walk behind the falls isn’t bad. The climb out of the other side was a little challenging, mostly because I have short arms and legs and hauling my fat butt up giant steps isn’t easy.

We then walked down to the other falls at the same site named Gljufrabui, which I think is the name of the gorge not the actual waterfall (no foss).  It is this stream entering a crevasse in the hillside.  If you step stone to stone and cling to the side of the wall you can enter the hidden area that has the waterfall.  It is single file in and out.  I didn’t go because it was already filling up with people and me and a lot of people in a confined space is my idea of hell.   It was pretty from the outside looking in at the falls through the gaps.

Our Adventures continued as we had pick-nick lunch at the beach at the ferry port overlooking the island outlines and miles of black sand beaches with a beautiful surf.

We finished up the day going to Hjalparfoss which not to sound like a broken record is a beautiful waterfall.  We almost turned back.  The road was rough and we ended up pulling off the side of the road and parking and walking over a trail to above the falls instead of making it to the parking lot and the overlook.  The place we found was just magical and stunning.  We knew it would be a perfect place for a Kurt bead and so we gave one to the falls to be carried far and away.

We then found our hotel in Hella, Hotel Laekur.  It is a great place and the food here is amazingly good.  I had the carrot and ginger soup, arctic char, and Skyr with berries for desert.  Miklos had the soup and lamb curry with barley rice.  Both were excellent.

Published in: on September 27, 2018 at 4:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 – Part 7 Tuesday, 26th

We started out in Vic and we went over to the grocery store and procured many delightful pastries, skyr, juice, and coffee.  It was yummy.  We then proceeded to drive up to the Dyrholaey Lighthouse.  To say it was windy is like saying that the ocean is a little damp.  The wind was blowing so ferociously that the cars in the parking lot looked like someone was singing kumbya and they were swaying to the tune. We got out and walked up to look at the views and there were times that I couldn’t step forward until the wind changed and I moved myself along by holding onto the chain that goes around the light.  The views were spectacular though so well worth almost being blown off the cliff.  I did help this one woman who was clearly terrified of being blown away I went up and took her hand and I helped her to get to the chain rail on the overlook.  At which point her boyfriend who had been standing over at the edge a little ways away realized that he should have been the one doing that and that she was clearly upset.  He is going to be doing a lot of grovelling.

We then went down to the second parking area so we could go out to see the stone arch and the pulley and wench presumably for bringing in ships.  It had a terrific view of the coast and the rock formations just off the shoreline.

We then went to the Myrdalsjokull glacier.   There is a place where you can park and then walk out and onto the glacier itself.  There are guides you can hire to make sure you have the proper equipment and who will take you further out onto the ice.  We were able to get out just a little ways but were really not prepared to go very far.  We did take a Kurt bead and put it into the glacier.  It was an amazing experience walking out onto something that massive and it is so slick.  Really take the guided tour if you plan on wanting to walk out onto the glacier.  Miklos touched the glacier with his butt, it was really slick, the glacier, not his butt.  I thought it was an amazing experience.

After the glacier we went down to the black sand beach at Reynisfjara.  There are huge basalt deposits there that have made caves and caverns right on the shore.  The surf there is tremendous and there are numerous signs warning about not swimming, people have died getting caught in the surf.  The waves that were crashing down were taller than most of the people standing on the shore.  They were crashing into the rock formations and the sound was deafening.  It was beautiful and the surf came in surprisingly quick and much farther than it looked like it would.  You had to pay attention.  There were many squeals of people almost getting their feet wet by surprise. There were folks shooting a music video there as well, which was interesting to watch, but not as interesting as the scenery.

We went into Vic for dinner.  Had to run through a sudden storm of hail between the car and the restaurant, go figure, weather here is crazy.  We ate at the Halldorskaffi restaurant.  Miklos had the house special burger with chips and a Viking beer, which he said was very good.  I had the pork schnitzel which was also very good.  We ordered meringue cake and chocolate cake for desert.  The Meringue cake way far and away the best.  Go there order that cake now.  Dooeeeet!


Published in: on September 27, 2018 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 Part 6 – Monday 24th

We started out super early on Monday.  First we went to the second Glacier Lagoon which was just down the road from the one we went to on Sunday.  The weather was overcast, foggy, and cold rain was coming down in a drizzle.  We tromped over to the lagoon and it did not disappoint.  The glacier was just on the other side of the water and everything was wrapped in an ethereal fog.  The colors were subtle and the whole world was soft focus, washed in ice blue, grey, black, and white.  We took lots of pictures and were headed back to the van when we heard what sounded like a really large cannon going off up the glacier.  It was at that moment when I had that feeling of “I’ve seen this movie and what happens next is that whole mountain comes down.”  I made a quick retreat up the hill to where Miklos was patiently waiting for me to finish taking pictures.   It was then that all the birds flew out of the mist away from the glacier.  We didn’t actually see anything fall but it was really evident that the glacier had just calved.  WOW!

We then almost killed Miklos.  He is diabetic and generally takes insulin in the mornings.  We try and have a good protein heavy breakfast.  Muscle milk is a favorite at home.  Here we have been having cheese and meat sticks if breakfast isn’t included at the hotel.  This morning breakfast wasn’t included and we were so excited about setting out we really didn’t eat anything.  Then we climbed a mountain.  For real y’all we stopped at the Svartifoss visitor center and then determined that the rain would not thwart us and we would make the 1.8 km hike to the falls.  The hike was estimated to take 90 min.  So sure no problem.

The hike was straight up switchbacks and all the way up to the top of the mountain then across the top and part way down the other side.  There are two falls and we stopped at the first one and Miklos was looking a little blah but we all chalked it up to having just gone uphill a lot.   We looked at the first falls and determined that we could go on to the second falls, I mean how far could it be?  It was hell and gone up the damn mountain. We made it to the overlook of the second falls.  We all decided that we had good pictures for those falls from there.  We didn’t wan’t to go down the other side of the mountain to go to the bottom of the falls.  We did decide that it was a fantastic spot for a Kurt bead and so we gave one to the falls with our wishes for his spirit to flow with the rivers and soar over the world.  We were all cold and drenched, our rain gear was draining directly into our shoes.  So we didn’t think much about Miklos being cold and grey at this point.

We then started the treck back over the mountain and down.  It went much faster than the treck up but it was a slogging, wet, cold, nasty walk down.  We went into the cafe at the bottom of the falls and got some wonderful soul to give us some lamb stew 20 min before they were actually supposed to start serving.  Yes we looked that bedraggled.  We ate and at that point realized how close we had come to killing Miklos.  So breakfast is the most important meal of the day kids!

We went back to the van and pulled out dry clothes and then the morning got so much better.  Oh and at this point we had already done 11,800 steps, according to my step counter.  It wasn’t noon yet. O.O

We drove and drove and then happened to find the Sister Falls completely by accident. It is a beautiful falls.  The sun had come out and we were able to walk a little bit up the trails next to the falls.  It was just like a fairy world filled with all sorts of plants, trees, sunlight, and waterfalls.

We also saw our first no pooping sign.  Weird. It apparently happens enough that they have to have signs.  Also Miklos saw an uber truck of manliness.

Then we went to the Kirkjugolfid the church floor.  It is a set of basalt rocks that look like a church floor.  There is also a stone formation that looks like a monks tomb but isn’t.

Then we drove through miles and miles of lava fields covered with moss.  They are so cool.  Bright green and look like velvet.  They are technically called the Skaftareldahraun moss covered lava fields.  The moss is called wooly fringe moss. It is so bright green and the formations are so unique.  There is nothing else like it.  More rain and rainbows.

We then drove into Vik and had dinner after checking in at the hotel, Black Beach Suits.   Dinner was fantastic.  We ate at the Sudur Vik.  I had chicken curry and Miklos had the chicken Panang Curry.   We also had desert of chocolate cake with ice cream.



Published in: on September 26, 2018 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 Part 5 – Sunday 23rd

We got an early start and while we were loading up the van we noticed that the water was really clear and we could see loads of starfish and jelly fish.  We took a few minutes out on the dock to watch the jellyfish (probably 4-5 different varieties).  Everything was clear and sunny which was a welcomed change after rain and snow.

Our first stop was at a historic house from the 1800’s called Teigarhorn.  They were repainting it with tar so we took the walk around the cove.  Which was  beautiful.  It is one of the most renowned places for finding zeolites and scolesite crystals.  You can’t take one from the beach but the farmer or his wife will sell it to you.

The lots more driving and more driving.  We stopped and took photos of some random waterfalls along the way.  We drove along the coast and stopped and took loads of photos at various points along the way.  We turned off to go to the Viking Cafe for a late lunch.  There were these terrifically huge flats of coast that were just mirror finish perfect.

At the Viking Cafe we had a good grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  Miklos had coffee that was magical.  We then walked over to see the viking village and were underwhelmed.  Like there is a giant fake rock underwhelmed. The area is lovely but wow underwhelmed with the village.   Just go do the walk on the coast, but don’t stare at the Nato radar station, or get to close, or have a pacemaker near it… really it said so on the sign.   The beaches are beautiful and the drive in was spectacular.  So it was worth the dive.

Then we went to a freakin’ awesome place called Glacier Lagoon.  There were seals, there was a glacier tentacle, there were huge chunks of ice.  The light was perfect.  It was just awesome.

We then went to the Foss hotel at Glacier Lagoon.  It is a lovely hotel.  The light installation at the entrance is lovely.  The food was excellent.  Miklos had the duck with fois gras mustard sauce.  I had the  lamb two ways.  The first was cooked lamb  shank and the second was a slow cooked shredded in a curry sauce.  The highlight was that we got a dessert sampler platter that was just fantastic.


Published in: on September 26, 2018 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 Adventure Part 4

Today we braved the snow covered mountains to head out from Reykjahlid to get to Faskrudsfjordur.  The people at the Fogafjos Farm Resort were just awesome.  We would recommend staying there anytime.  The food was fantastic and everyone was so very nice to us.  The room we stayed in was wonderful and radiant heated floors are the bomb

We are staying tonight at the Foss Hotel on the Fjord Faskrudsfjordur which is just beautiful.  Our room has a balcony right out onto the water.  The room is large and well appointed.  Wifi and TV, check.  Comfey beds, check.  Unbeatable views, check.  We are only here one night but it is worth the coming over the mountains.

The roads were slushy starting out but after we got out of the mountains in the north the snow disappeared and it was clear driving.  We stopped at a couple of places that were just stunning.

We stopped at the Rjukandafoss and hiked up to the falls from the roadside.  It was steep but short hike and now everything is compared to hiking up a volcano so easy peasy.  We liked the falls so much that we decided it would be a great place for a Kurt bead.  May the swift waters see his spirit carried across the world.

We drove into an Iceland traffic jam.  Sheep, lots and lots of sheep being herded across the road into different pens.  There were several folks working on herding them and the sheep were being for the most part cooperative in that special stubborn no I’m not going to go that way I’m going to go through this barbed wire fence way.

We journeyed onto  Egilsstadir where we stopped at the N1 and had hotdogs, so yummy, and used the water closet. Then we decided to attempt to go on a side jaunt to the Ferry port of Seydisfjordur.  We thought that this would be driving through a valley with loads of rivulets, they said it would be very scenic.  They didn’t mention the very snow covered mountains you have to cross to get there.  We started up, and up, and up, and it got whiter and whiter and more and more icy, slushy, yucky roads.  We were really questioning this decision but there was no where to turn around safely so onward we went.

I am so glad that we did.  We came safely down from the mountains and stopped at Gufufoss waterfalls and yes I know foss means waterfall but it’s hard not to say waterfall so I’m still going to say it. The Gufufoss was beautiful and you can see it better on the return trip from Seydisfjordur than on the way down.  I would recommend stopping and walking the easy trail from the pull off to the falls.  Be prepared to get muddy and since you can get really close you will also probably get wet from the spray.

We also noticed that a light has come on the dashboard. It apparently means that the Urea is low in the car.  No it doesn’t mean we have to pee into the car, it is used for keeping diesel emissions clean.  It also means that if it doesn’t get topped back up the car will quit running.  Did I mention we had just crossed a very snow covered mountain range?   We stopped at a gas station, they had no idea what we were talking about.  To Google we went and after some general searching online we determined that we could probably make it back.  The online chat with the car rental car company was just to call into the help line.  Which is fine if you have cell service in Iceland… so we waited until we got to the hotel and alas no one has answered their phone.  So much for the car rental service.  We found online a service station near us that carries the AdBlue so hopefully they will know what the heck we are talking about there.

We made it to the hotel and had a fantastic dinner at L’abri which is part of the hotel.  The view of the water is beautiful.  The food was really good, a bit pricey but good.  I had salmon.  Miklos had the Lamb crowns and then we had chocolate cake with ice cream for desert.

We are now settled into the hotel with the window open listening to the water outside.  Probably horrible for the heater bill but we are drying some quick washed pants in the room so it was really hot in here and the sound of the water is wonderful.  It is a fantastic stop. Parking could be a challenge but we managed with the van so yay.

Published in: on September 22, 2018 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland Adventure 2018 – Part 3

Friday, September 21st, 2018

We started out our grand adventure by climbing to the top of a volcano.  Not words I ever thought I’d say.  But we did it.  Hverfjall is no longer an active volcano it is a 1300 foot high tephra explosion crater, ie. giant crater  (volcano cone)  that you can park at the base of and climb up to the top and walk around the rim.  It last exploded about 2500 years ago.  It has been snowing on and off for the last 48 hours and the contrast of the white snow with the black lava rock was breathtakingly beautiful.  We were very proud of ourselves for making it to the top.  We also got some amazing photos.  I will neither confirm nor deny that a Kurt bead is now in the volcano.  Those of you who know me can make your own assessments.

After Hverfjall we went back to the lava maze, Dimmuborgir.  It was so cool yesterday that we wanted to do one of the longer walks.  There are several paths you can take through all of the lava formations.  There are also several caves and ring formations totally not concealed stargates.  We stopped at the visitor center and had lunch of Thai Coconut Curry soup with Geysir bread, which is baked locally using the geothermal vent as an oven. Both were delicious.

We then went down the road a little ways and went for a walk on the Hofdi peninsula. It was like walking in a fairy realm of golden birch trees and lush green mossy undergrowth.  The lake water is so clear we could watch ducks dive under the water and see them swimming from 30 yards away.   The lake isn’t very deep but it is clear as glass.  The trail wasn’t difficult but it was muddy in places. Overall the trees and colors were spectacular.

We then loaded up and headed to the Skutustadagigar, pseudo craters.  These are called pseudo craters because they are not really craters.  There is lots of geology but basically lava falls into a lake and then loads of stuff happens, steam vents, collapsing layers, go look it up. What it looks like is seeing giant bubbles of lava frozen just after popping.   It looks like a crater… but it’s not… yeah go look it up.

Then we headed back to the room and dinner our last night here.  It was excellent and again desert rocked.

Published in: on September 21, 2018 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland 2018 – Adventure Begin

We started our adventure heading out from Knoxville on Saturday afternoon, just ahead of the hurricane landing on the east coast.  We flew first to Dallas Texas, before a four hour layover (that turned into a 8 hour layover (see hurricane delays).  And yes we all asked ourselves why it was cheaper to fly first to Texas before flying to Iceland, I’ve no idea why.  It was and a direct flight is so worth it.   The direct flight meant we basically loaded on the plain and passed out to wake up just before landing in Reykjavik on Sunday afternoon.   Some things to do before leaving the airport if you decide to go to Iceland (which everyone should do, go on book your tickets now.)  First thing (actually you should reserve this three days before you travel) Pick up your portable wifi unit.  It is 9 dollars a day and we have internet, gps and google now everywhere we go. You pick it up at the Duncan Donuts in the airport… no really, that’s not a joke.  I got it and some diet cokes.  (JOY).  It was dead easy to do and so very much worth it.  We also hit the atm on the way out and got some Icelandic Kroner.  Note make sure you have some idea what the exchange rate is or you might try and pull out $1500 instead of $150.  I was so tired that I just made an educated guess picked one and then checked my bank to see how much was withdrawn.  I was right so yay me.   We were able to get the free shuttle from the airport to the car rental place and it was also pretty much a no brainier to do (thank goodness, because jetlag sucks.)

Sunday  –  Mike is driving us.  He is a trooper and has been doing a fantastic job driving us all over the place.  Miklos is our navigator and google guru.  His google fu is strong.  The first day we pretty much got there, got to the hotel, got checked in to the Hotel Borg, had dinner at Jamie’s Italian restaurant and then went to our rooms and passed out.  I went for a short walk around the block just to get a little bit acclimated and found a bookstore and a bakery… yeeees…

Monday – Miklos isn’t feeling well and we dose him with cold meds and make him stay in the room and sleep.  Betty, Mike and I set out to walk around the city for a bit.  We went to the KK Bakery and I got a fantastic ham and Swiss croissant.  We then walked in a bit of a circle until I got my gps and bearing straight then we headed out for real, my in-laws are very patient people.

We first went to the Epal Harpa and walked around looking at the fantastic architecture and the morning light was just stupendous coming in through all of that glass.  We then went along the waterfront to the Sun Voyager statue.  Then turning town ward again we headed uphill to the Hallgrimskirkja.  The Hallgrimskirkja is a beautiful church you can see from practically any part of the city.  It is beautiful both inside and out.  I took a moment and lit a candle for Kurt and Jim.  We took the elevator up to the bell tower and then climbed the steps to the very top so I could take pictures of the city view.  Which was amazingly beautiful.  We then wandered back down towards the hotel while window shopping.

Lunch was a fantastic lamb soup from Icelandic Street Food.  They were so nice to us and the food was just wonderful.  Go, eat, enjoy!  We took some of the soup and coffee back to the hotel for Miklos, who was still feeling like death on toast. He liked the soup though and we let him rest until dinner.

Betty, Mike, and I walked over to the Settlement Museum and thoroughly enjoyed going through the exhibit.  It is very interesting and well done if you get a chance you should go see it.  We then walked down the street to the black house, the entrance comes with the entrance to the Settlement museum.  It had loads of interesting photographs from the age of Iceland when they were moving from houses made of turf to houses made of wood.  It also documented the Spanish influenza epidemic on Iceland.  We wanted to check out the parking situation for the National Museum of Iceland (which isn’t open on Mondays starting … today.) so we hoofed it up the street and were walking over to the museum when we came up a cemetery that was so cool we had to stop and walk around.

Hólavallagarður is just flat out a world of ethereal beauty.  There are trees, flowers, graves, ferns, cats… it is just full of magic and I really want to go back and explore more.

We found the Museum we were looking for, scouted out parking and then walked back through the Hljómskálagarður Park.  This park has many beautiful sculptures.  I was probably really a horrible person because the picture I love most from the park is the one of the Mermaid with the Seagull on her head.   IMG_2110

The park was lovely.  I’ve got a ton of photos of flowers and the music building.  We walked so much my step count was over 11,700 steps.  Yay me!  My feet however said it was time to go back to the hotel.  So away we went and rousted Miklos and made him eat fantastic food at Jamie’s Italian (yes we went to the same place twice).  The first night I had mushroom ravioli that was amazing.  Miklos had the firey spagetti.  The second night I had Chicken cooked under a brick with Pesto and Polenta fries with Parmesan and rosemary.  Miklos had I don’t remember.  Both nights we had the chocolate melt cake with praliens and gelato.

Tuesday – On the Road again.

We headed out of Reykjavik up the coast heading east.   We were heading out on this peninsula that has all the things, waterfalls, hiking trails, mountains, ocean, lava fields… yep all that and more.  To get there we first went through this tunnel.  Now I live in the Smokey Mountains, we have tunnels that go through mountains… but nothing like this.  The Hvalfjord Tunnel is an amazing feet of engineering.  It costs 1.300kr to go through.  It is a road tunnel under the Hvalfjordur fjord on Route 1.  It is 5,700 meters long and reaches a depth of 165 meters below sea level.  It is the longest damn tunnel I’ve ever been in, wow.

We stopped at a little site where they have a rune inscribed basalt column in the graveyard.  Borg a Myrum was a neat little stop.  Pretty statuary in front done by Asmundur Sveinsson.  The graveyard was nifty and the column was cool.  Underwhelming for why we went but as others are probably more interested in the actual Church and it’s literary history being where Egill Skall-Grimsson composed his famous poem “Sonatorrek”, lamenting the death of two of his sons.  It is where Helga the fair and the poet Gunnlaugur ormslunga (Serpent’s Tongue) fell in love,  and The great historian Snorri Stuluson lived here between 1202 and 1206.  There has been a church on this site since 1002…. we went to look at a carved rock.

We stopped again long enough for me to hike up to a waterfall.  Bjarnarfoss is a moderately tall waterfall visible from Highway 54 on the south side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.  The hike up was pretty easy.  I got winded, but I am fat and out of shape.  The path was very good and there is a bridge you can stand on between the upper and lower falls that allows for an excellent view and great photos.  You can hike on up but I didn’t.

We were off again down route 54 and stopped this time about lunch time at Hellnar.  IMG_2176

We stopped here and walked some on the path between Hellnar and ArnarStapi but didn’t go the whole way.  We were more interested in the sea cave and walking around a bit on the beach.  Yes I got a few rocks.  🙂  We also thought it would be a fantastic place to leave the first Kurt bead.

Our Dear friend Kurt passed away three years ago and on his bucket list was to go to Iceland.  Since he was not able to go we have undertaken the journey to go and take glass beads that I have made that have a bit of his ashes mixed into the glass and leave them all over places in Iceland.  This is where we chose to leave the first one.  There were tears and lots of love in this moment.  Not gonna lie it was hard.

We continued on 54 until we saw this huge thing on the shore… it was a massive rock. Like massive, really massive.   huge.  Lóndrangar One of the stunning rock formations along the coast of the western tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula. Yep it was all that and a bag of chips… ok no chips but it was really spiffy.

We stopped at the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and it was lovely.  Easy walk to the falls from the parking lot.  I could easily make it up to the very top and there were accessible paths to the center and to the bottom of the falls.

We then proceeded to drive to the hotel through some absolutely stunning scenery.  Lava flows, lakes, glaciers in the distance.  We did stop at the Maritime Museum for a quick break.  It has loads of curiosities, taxidermy examples of all the bird and wildlife types in the area, mineral examples, fossils, and sea shells.  The next room has  a six man fishing boat and loads of fishing gear.  There is a turf house you can tour and everything.

Tonight we are staying at the Laugarbakki Hotel and restaurant.  OMG the food here is so good. We had the tapas of local cuisine.  Smoked Whale, Tarpen, and panchetta  with brie and crackers.  Then the seafood pasta, shrimp, langestines, in white wine sauce with fettuccine.  Then chocolate cake that was a deconstructed flour-less cake with the frosting ganache mixed with grand marnier, and the vanilla gelatto was hands down one of the best deserts I’ve had.

More Driving – Wednesday September 19th, 2018

We drove from Laugarbakki Hotel to Reykjahlid, Hotel Vogafjos Farm Resort

Most of today was mostly spent driving.  Although we did make a few stops that were very nifty.  The first involved taking route 117 off of route 1.  117 is a loop  however one side is better than the other check with a local to see which side is more passable. We went up the far side to the black sand beach that has a huge stone on the beach called, Hvitserkur, means rock in ocean according to Miklos.  Legend has that it was Troll that got in daylight and turned to stone.  What it really is, is a plug from a volcano.  The wind was howling and the climb down didn’t seem like a good idea so we settled for taking pictures from above.  We took the dirt/gravel road back to the main paved road after a sheep crossing of pretty epic proportions.

We found a stone church named, Thingeyraklausturskirkja yeah we didn’t say it out loud either, There has been a church on that site since the 900’s.  This latest building was built in the late 1800’s.  The sky cleared off and we saw a rainbow that was pretty.

We stopped on the side of the road at a monument to a poet, Stephan G. Stephansson.  The view from the monument was stunning and worth climbing to the top to have a look around.

We tried a hotdog from an N1 and by golly all the hype was not wrong, these Icelandic hotdogs are awesome.

We then stopped at the Godafoss.  These waterfalls are breathtaking.  It was raining and cold and we still stayed out for a good while just because they were so amazing.  We also took the second Kurt bead and climbed as high as we could,  Standing next to the small falls to the right of the main falls we took a moment and then tossed Kurt,s second bead into the Waterfalls of the Gods.  I think it was fitting and I think he would have loved it.  We continued to see rainbows all day so I know he was showing us his approval.

We continued on to our hotel… a working dairy farm.  No kidding there are cows you can see through the plexiglass dividers.  We are under a weather advisory so the next few days may be interesting.  Dinner here was fantastic.  I had the Lamb slices, Miklos had the chard Arctic Char.  We had baked Bri as a starter with local honey and rasberry couli and figs.  Desert was chocolate cake with icecream.  It was all amazingly good.

Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iceland Part 2

September 20th – Thursday

Reykjahlid on the shores of Myvatn

Today we started out going to the Hverir Mud pots.  We are basically on a volcano.  Really. The caldera that we are in was formed by an eruption that happened from 1724 – 1729.  There is a gigantic crater where there used to be a gigantic volcano.  The surrounding area is literally covered with cooled lava flows called a lava plain.  Hverir is a place where there are geothermal vents.  There is a giant boiling mud pit, and loads of smaller pits that all vent steam.  The place reeks of the sulfur that permeates the area.

You can walk around the site, which is pretty neat when you realize you are walking on an active volcano.  It was snowing today and I think that it made the experience even better.  The sky was grey, the snow was coming down and then all of this steam coming from the plain and the mountain above you, seeping out of cracks and crevasses.  It was just very cool.   The colors of the area were mostly creams and tans, which is a pretty stark contrast to the black of the surrounding lava fields.  All around the pools and pits there deposits of minerals that made everything surrounding the mud pits a variety of colors.  Think painted desert colors and you’d be on the right track.  Note.  Take a towel you will get muddy and you may need to clean off your shoes.  It’s not TN red clay but it is gritty and messy.

From there we went to Grjotagja which is a series of fissures over an underground grotto, made famous by the Game of Thrones hot tub scene.   You could go and crawl down to the grotto, however it was crammed tight with people so I didn’t go, because me in tight places with a bunch of people is my idea of hell.  We did however climb up to the top where there were a profusion of opportunities to  be  stupid.  I say this because when you get to the top you can walk all over these fissures that are basically really narrow but deep gaping cannons  in the lava fields where you can fall and die.  I saw at least one person decide to straddle one for a photo.  O.O  just no.  I did walk up to the edge of several of these for photos but no restraining harnesses were needed… this time.

We then headed back to the Information Center and regrouped, had some lunch, I got to try Skyr and it lived up to the hype.  It is yummy and I will definitely get more while I’m here.  I got a new pair of gloves (wool, and soooo cute!)

We then went up to what I am gonna call the lava maze.  Dimmuborgir is an amazing place.  Huge lava rock formations with paths intertwined throughout.  There are walks that can go for 10 min to some that can go for hours.  There are easy walks all the way to ones labeled with red warning signs. (we didn’t to one of those.)  Birch trees have started to grow throughout as well and had bright yellow leaves.  The were also a riot of colors due to all the plants.  It was just stunning.  They have a shop with soup and cakes which we found when we stopped for hot chocolate.  We plan to go back tomorrow and do one of the longer trails and have lunch there.  It really was the highlight of our day.

We then really wanted out of the cold so we went to the Bird Museum.  Which for the size of the place was just really well done.  I really liked that the exhibits lit up to show you which bird was which and which ones were native and when they could be found on Iceland.  It was very interesting.   They also had a ship, Sleipnir, on display in an adjoining building that was used to make deliveries to the farmers out here before the roads were completed.  A worthwhile stop.

We ended the day early and retired to the hotel where we had a fantastic dinner, we basically rotated dishes from last night with the charred Arctic  Char and the hamburger.  The desert was probably in my top five favorites of all time.  It was called,  Vogafjos cake, … so take a brownie/dense chocolate cake base, top it with pecans, chocolate drizzle, and caramel and serve it with local ice cream.  Tomorrow I am ordering my own and not sharing it except maybe with Miklos…maybe.



Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Salt water etching 2016.

I taught at the John C Campbell folk school this weekend.  I had a fantastic time with a great class.  Here is a copy of my handout from the class.  I’m going to be teaching the class at the folk school again next June.  I will post a link for the class when it becomes available.  – Liz

Salt Water Etching Class notes- Liz EvansI learned the basics for this technique from the article: “D Battery + Saltwater = Cheap, Acid-Free Etching” by Ron Pascho published in the Art Jewelry November 2008 issue. It is a great article and I highly recommend reading it.

I moved from single D battery setup, described in the article, to a two battery holder with rechargeable batteries, and finally to a cellphone charger. The principle is the same. You need the following:

1. Power – Battery Holder + Batteries OR a charger. You need to have access to the anode (Red +) and cathode (Black -) wires.

2. Salt water – Super saturated solution (this works better if you make it up ahead of time.) I use Kosher Salt or Pickling Salt. You don’t want Iodized salt.

3. Copper plate to attach to the cathode (-) Black wire. This should be slightly larger than the piece you want to etch. This piece is reusable and only needs to be cleaned and well dried between uses.

4. Copper, Brass, bronze, or nickel silver piece that you want to etch. Attach to the anode (+) Red wire.

5. Duck-tape

6. Copper wire, 18-gauge. To attach the pieces to the wires.

7. A Resist – Nail Polish, Paint, Pain Pens, Permanent Marker, PnP Paper, or tape.

8. A non-conductive rod to hold your anode and cathode in place over the solution. A wooden dowel or bamboo skewer.

9. A non-conductive container to hold the solution (plastic or glass work well).

10. Cleaner to remove the resist and to initially remove oils from the piece. Barkeeper’s Friend or Penny Bright.

11. Plasticine

A night or two before you want to etch mix up your saltwater solution. Start by pouring out about 2 cups of water from a gallon of distilled water into a pitcher for later. Mix in 2 cups of pickling salt into that gallon jug of distilled water. Put the lid on and shake well. Let it rest for a few minutes and then shake again. If all the salt dissolves add more and shake again. Keep adding salt and shaking the jug until it stops absorbing the salt. Let it sit overnight and then add more salt and shake in the morning until a fine layer of salt stays on the bottom.

You can attach the anode and cathode wires directly to the copper / to etch pieces but I bought some stranded insulated copper wire with alligator clips to make extenders that could be cleaned or easily fixed if they got eaten through or rusted out. You could also just twist the anode and cathode wires directly to copper wires.

I used to say to clean your piece first but now my recommendation is to go ahead and attach your copper wire to both your cathode piece and your etching piece.

Take a copper wire and tape it to the back of your to etch piece. Cover the entire back of your piece with duck-tape. , unless you want the back of your piece etched as well. In that case you will need to plan for a space at the top of your piece that you can drill a small hole in for the wire to go through. The cathode copper piece only needs the wire taped or soldered to it you don’t have to cover the whole back with tape.

The piece that is going to be etched must be cleaned. I used Barkeeper’s Friend and a green scrubby to get all the oil off the face of the piece. You have to clean them until the water sheets off the metal. If it the water pulls away from the sides it still has oil on it, so keep scrubbing until you get a nice even sheet of water on the metal when you rinse it. Dry it off with paper towels and then don’t touch the front of the piece if at all possible. The duck-tape should hold even through the wash, but check it to make sure that it is still secure with no gaps. The wire gives you a hand hold.

Decorating: If you are attaching your copper wire using a hole you leave the area around the hole bare, don’t cover it and don’t paint it. Paint the edges and your design on the front with a paint pen or other resist. Cover all surfaces you do NOT want recessed/etched. You could also use a sharpie marker but I find that it wears off about half way through the etching process. 

I cut bamboo skewers in half to lay over the top of the glass jars. They help with securing the wires in the right areas of the jars. I put a ~ 2in piece of copper onto the exposed end of the cathode wire (- black wire). I then attach the anode wire (+ red wire) to the piece you want to etch. Use the bamboo pieces to help hang both pieces so that they are parallel with the side with the design facing the copper cathode. If you don’t have a dowel or skewer you can hang them off the sides of the jar. They work better the closer they are to each other without touching. Fill to cover the pieces with salt water. Put the D batteries into the holder or plug in the charger. (Some cell phone chargers are smart so they know when something is plugged in or they take a few minutes to build up a charge.)

If you are etching a bead or both sides of a piece you will want to hang cathode pieces on either side of your piece, effectively sandwiching your piece between them without touching it. You would then connect both cathode pieces to the same black wire from your power source.

You should see bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. If it is going well it will look kind of like an Alka-Seltzer going. The cathode piece will be the one fizzing. Which seems counter intuitive but is correct. Your etching piece will not fizz. The water will also start to turn really, really muddy orange. Let it bubble for an hour checking and wiping it the etch piece off every 15 min. I wiped off both the anode and cathode pieces. Check to see if you need to re-apply any resist. The larger your container the longer the etching will take.

Once the piece is etched you can peel off the duck-tape backing and scrub off the paint with a green scrubby, brillo pad, alcohol, or nail polish remover.

Let the water stand in the jars overnight. The precipitate all falls to the bottom. You can continue to use the same water until it stops fizzing.  

So what is it actually doing? You are making a circuit. The power source attaches to your + anode and –cathode plates. The salt water then completes the circuit. The electrical current flows from one plate to the other through the solution. This electrical current strips electrons away from the anode plate. The electrons are only pulled away from the exposed portions of the anode resulting in a recessed design. Each atom becomes a water-soluble copper ion that either combines with a chloride ion in the solution to form cupric chloride (Copper II chloride, CuCl2) or it attaches to the cathode where it looks like a thin coating of metal. You will want to dispose of the copper salts appropriately.


Published in: on March 21, 2016 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment