Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday, August 14th, Lake Myvatn, Iceland


Looking out onto the lake at breakfast this morning, I have to admit that I was prepared to be disappointed with the drive.  I had gone on Google Earth last night,  and used Google Trekker to view some key points on the route.  The landscape looked flat and not as exciting as the past few days.  Pat and I had both read every guidebook's section on this area, and I Googled most tourist stops to gain as much background as possible.

Pat gave us our first curve by suggesting we take the long way out of the fjord.  Instead of going back through the tunnel, we'd use the old road out around the peninsula.  It turned out to exactly what was necessary, as it challenged our driving skills (it was mostly a rough dirt road - not one the rental agency recommended our tires could take), and slowed us down enough to appreciate every waterfall, swan colony, and strange rock outfall.  Every adventure needs diversions, and this one set the tone for the day.  We'd make challenges out of every leg, and see things not usually found.

The unusual way out set allowed us to take another unrecommended route to a coastal harbor town reported to have a large puffin colony.  Unfortunately, we discovered half-way down the steep windy dirty road that the harbor was socked in with fog.  Returning cars advised not proceeding, partly because of the poor viewing, and partly the dangerous driving.   We agreed.

In 1875, a huge volcano erupted in the center of Iceland.  Thousand of farms were impacted, with many of their owners calling it quits.  After a long bumpy ride directly toward the epicenter volcano, we visited a group of sod homes first built in 1843, and occupied until 1943 by the same family.  An added bonus was a working watering hose which we were able to clean off the dirt which covered our car.

At a small town a little ways down the road, we were fortunate to encounter two arctic foxes.  Clearly unafraid of tourists, they seemed to be having as much fun as we were. We also walked through a huge lava labyrinth, and checked out a demonstration forest - testing what trees could possibly grow here.

Further on, we found a geothermal hot springs where everyone got to get very muddy shoes, and climb sand dunes as steep as the ones we found in Namibia last year.  I've never seen so many phones on selfie-sticks being tested for their ability to withstand high heat and moisture.

Finally, we saw one of the largest tephra craters in the world.  When a volcano erupts, lava usually forms inside from the molten rock.  Cracks in the volcano allow the lava to ooze out across the landscape.  Now imagine a volcano erupting through a glacier.  In that case, when the lava hits the cold ice, it explodes and sends projectiles (sometimes also called pyroclasts) into the air.  This entire region is full of them, and the crater is on of the biggest sources.  Not a bad day after all, and only in Iceland.

By the way, if you haven't heard, I fixed the problem preventing you all from accessing the photos taken during the last week in previous posts.  Here's a link to the main blog page, where you can go back to each day and click on the links to daily photo albums on Google.  Sorry I messed up, and hope you enjoy the photos.  To see all of the photos taken today, click on Sunday, August 14th.

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