Iceland – Driving to the Westjords

The conference Kaety was attending in Iceland had some awkward travel constraints around it. We pushed and pulled and finally figured out something that worked and get us there on time. That ‘figuring out’ ended up sounding like this, “The flight to Reykjavík leaves Portland at 3 pm and is only a 7 hour flight…and the cool thing is we arrive at 6 am Iceland time so then making a 7 hour drive in a roller skate across the country shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

Military folks say no battle plan survives its first contact with the enemy. I’d borrow that adage and morph it to the best laid travel plans fall apart when the travelers meet their fatigue.

We were trashed after our flight. Neither of us could sleep even with the super cool Iceland Air Aurora Borealis mood lighting beckoning us to sleep. Even if the mood lighting had done the trick the guy reclining his chair into my wind pipe would have made all the beckoning pretty much moot.

We got off and through customs in record breaking time and got our rental car, which was indeed a roller skate but with a manual transmission. It took me a bit to get my manual mojo back.

The drive was amazing! Iceland is ridiculously stunning. Every 100 yards or so a waterfall double the size of Multnomah Falls gushes down into someone’s back field. It’s such a mundane and common thing that they are given no names or turnouts from which to photograph them. The ones they name? Double the size of Niagara falls!

When all the Earth Maker’s were spinning up the random landscape generator for Iceland they hit a freak run of aces in the numeric model for waterfalls.

By hour five of the stunning drive we were exhausted. We pulled off at a very friendly, but institutionally named, N1 which is Iceland’s version of a gas station minimart…but way better.

We crammed ourselves full of cheese, water and lamb products and parked the car near a pasture of Icelandic horses and slept for an hour. I had dreams that my neck was cramping terribly only to awake and realize that dreams really can come true! All discomfort aside, the food and an hour of sleep brought us back to life!

We continue on our way to the very very distant Isafjordur. It’s located in the northern section of the country called the WestFjords which is the glove shape piece of land sticking off the top left of the island. The ‘fingers’ of the huge glove are all narrow fjords about 40 miles long.

As we drove and marveled at the change in beauty around literally every corner, we noticed a dismaying side effect of driving a fjord. As you make your way down the finger to make your way up the side of the next finger you get to see where you will be and where you’ve been. While stunning, it became depressingly maddening as our paralyzed butts really wanted to build some sense of progress.

We finally arrived a mere 9 hours after our plane landed. As we rounded the tip of our last finger we were treated to a stunning view of the snow scattered mountains surrounding Isafjordur. Breath taking!

We found our VRBO and stumbled into bed like dead people.

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