Iceland — Part 5: Embarking on the Ring Road

I’ve been really behind on publishing my last week of photos from Iceland, so I’m going to play catch up for the next few days. I hope nobody minds!

So our last full day in Reykjavik with everyone was slow and beautiful. The sun was out and people were walking the streets, soaking in the warmth of the day. We went to Reykjavik Roasters, our morning tradition, and got some yummy drinks and pastries to go. Then we took the elevator to the top of the giant church in the middle of the city, Hallgrímskirkja, so that we could see a view of the entire city from above. It was beautiful beyond belief.

IMG_4848Edit IMG_4875Edit  IMG_4888Edit IMG_4898EditIMG_4879Edit

Soon, it was time to say our goodbyes to Kelsey, our sweet friend who had made almost our entire trip possible, and Sian, our Scottish friend who had joined us with Lizzy after their time in the British Isles. Tears were shed and hugs were given, and it was with hearts full of both sadness and excitement that we got in the car and embarked upon our new journey.

For the next week, Lizzy, Rob, and I would take on the Ring Road–the main highway that traverses the entire perimeter of Iceland. We would start in Reykjavik, and travel counterclockwise through the west, to the north and the east, and then back to the south again. We would be camping in various places along our journey, though much of our stopping points would be unplanned. It was exhilarating and intimidating, but we were ready for the adventure ahead of us.

IMG_4903Edit IMG_4911Edit IMG_4927Edit IMG_4931EditIMG_4937Edit

The first few hours of our drive offered us so many gorgeous views of the Icelandic countryside. We drove through valleys and mountain passes, across lakes and beside coastlines, through small towns and larger cities.

Finally we arrived at our first stop, a mountain that Lizzy was excited to visit, called Kirkjufell. This mountain is known for the fact that, when seen from one angle, it’s square-shaped, and from another, it’s shaped like a cone. We stopped near a waterfall right at the base of the mountain, and took a few hours just exploring the area.   IMG_4942EditIMG_4944EditIMG_4954Edit

Our car, which we had affectionately named “Kindrafjord”, had been so great for us. It had been such a trooper along our journey, and took us to so many beautiful places. I’ll always remember that car 😉

IMG_4958Edit IMG_4959Edit IMG_4962Edit IMG_4965Edit IMG_4966Edit IMG_4976Edit IMG_4991Edit IMG_4998Edit IMG_5008Edit IMG_5016Edit  IMG_5022Edit IMG_5026Edit

The waterfall we found was so beyond beautiful! We couldn’t resist taking tons of photos as we explored the landscape surrounding it.

IMG_5027Edit  IMG_5044Edit IMG_5045EditIMG_5062Edit IMG_5054EditIMG_5058Edit IMG_5071EditIMG_5063Edit IMG_5079Edit IMG_5080Edit

Since we were in no rush to get anywhere, we spent a lot of time just sitting above the waterfall, taking advantage of these gorgeous sites and feeling the mist of the gushing waters on our faces. It was so peaceful and quiet, like nothing I had ever experienced before. I felt such a strong feeling of happiness and calmness, and I can still remember it clearly to this day.

I felt at home there. I felt alive.

IMG_5086EditIMG_5114Edit IMG_5119Edit2IMG_5118Edit

As we wandered around the landscape, we found a small group of horses roaming the plains. We decided to give them a gentle pat and take some photos of them, as Rob and I waited for Lizzy to rejoin us. This ginger horse was my favorite by far, and I spent a few minutes just standing beside him, petting his matted mane and photographing his beautiful eyes.

IMG_5127Edit IMG_5132Edit IMG_5151EditIMG_5141Edit  IMG_5104EditIMG_5165Edit

Before long, it was time to get back on the Ring Road. It was our goal to reach our next day’s destination by nightfall–which isn’t saying much because the sun doesn’t really set during this time of year in Iceland. We drove across the harsh landscapes of northwestern Iceland as the sky turned a blueish hue, our vehicle directed toward Dynjandi–a waterfall at the edge of the country along the coast.

We came upon the Westernfjords as the evening descended, with myself at the wheel. We had no idea what to expect from this drive, or when we would get to Dynjandi, but we pressed forward on the bumpy dirt road. Soon the road started to wind, and we were taken up and around the Fjords for the next several hours. The road never seemed to end; it winded and dipped and curved and bulged.

IMG_5175Edit IMG_5186Edit IMG_5189Edit IMG_5194Edit IMG_5208Edit

The views along the Westernfjords were beyond beautiful. The soft blue evening light cast a mysterious ambiance upon the mountains, still speckled with glacial ice. We stopped several times along the way to take in the vistas, and although we were beginning to tire as the night wore on, we were excited to reach our destination.

We finally arrived at the waterfall that night, but we immediately set up our tent and went to sleep. We had been driving all night and needed a good rest. The next day we walked around the area near the falls, and took in the beautiful views. We were so happy and so relieved to have finally made it to our stop.IMG_5209Edit IMG_5220Edit IMG_5226Edit IMG_5236Edit IMG_5247EditIMG_5251Edit IMG_5260Edit

Soon it was time to leave our waterfall, and we headed further into the North. We drove all day long, passing through endless expanses of volcanic valleys and mountainous plains. In the evening we arrived in a part of the country that was so volcanic that steam rose from the earth at every turn. Mountains rose from nowhere and peaked in cones that were surely filled with magma. We found a dark, rock cave in the earth that was once a tourist destination for people looking for natural hot springs and relaxation. Over the last fifty years, the water had reached boiling temperatures and were no longer safe for swimmers, and even now it was too hot for us to dip inside. We did sit for a while though, enjoying the warm darkness of the cave as we talked together about our lives and the future. It was perfect.

IMG_5284Edit IMG_5302Edit IMG_5309Edit

As we drove away from this dangerous, volcanic part of the country, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the power and majesty of nature. I also couldn’t wait to see what lay ahead of us on our journey across the Ring Road. I had a feeling we had only just scratched the surface.

IMG_5351Edit

I’ll be posting more regularly over the next few days/weeks to get myself completely caught up on my photos from Iceland. Hopefully, my video will also be completed in the next month or so 🙂 Stay tuned for more soon! We’re not done yet 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: