Hvalfjörður

Lupin love to pose : )

This photo doesn't really need explanation, does it? 

If you've been visiting Iceland Eyes for a while, you'll know that I love taking intimate, macro photos of plants and flowers, and getting up close and personal with this lupin bloom paid off well.

Óðinn and I drove Hvalfjörður on our way back into town from our awesome trip to Arnarstapi and Snæfellsnes last weekend, something I don't do often enough. On the north side of the fjord we stopped at an abandoned liparite quarry and poked around  (liparít as it's known in Icelandic is actually rhyolite, the kind of rock that makes the landscape at Landmannalaugar famously colorful. For the curious, there's also a cool ghost town of the same name in the Nevada part of Death Valley.) 

The abandoned rhyolite quarry. You can see the helpful gull at the top.

Stopping at the quarry was of course my idea. 9 year old Óðinn had his nose in a Donald Duck comic, and was ready to just stay in the car until we got back into town. But I made him get out, and as soon as he realized what was on offer, he was stoked. There were two rusty yellow Caterpillars, a digger and a bulldozer, just sitting there.

A big yellow machine! 

He immediately climbed onto the bulldozer, tried its doors, and whooped when one opened. In he went, jiggling all the gears and testing out every possible lever or button to see if they worked. I had one of those glorious moments where I knew everything was totally fine: the place was totally empty (so no one was there to judge me for Bad Parenting for letting my son do what any boy and most girls would want - no, need - to do!), the Cat machines weren't going anywhere, and the worst that could happen was maybe a bite from an irritated spider or a scratch if he wasn't careful with his movements. But my son is so agile (like my daughter has always been) and has had it drummed into him to be a reasonable, intelligent and responsible Adventurer, so I felt happy that he was getting a chance to explore this huge machine like he wanted to. (I just knocked on wood, adding the Icelandic sjö, níu, þrettán, or seven, nine, thirteen while knocking, just so that I don't jinx him with that last sentence!)


The tractor we were warned away from by the gull.

When we went over to the other Cat, some kind of gull-ish flying creature came zooming in to the quarry, literally yelling at us almost hysterically. Of course my first thought was that she had a nest there, but there was something about her voice, and how totally urgent it sounded that made me know that she was warning us to move away from that unit, and that inner edge of the site. We had Kría, or Arctic Terns, dive-bombing and screeching at us at Arnarstapi, but I've rarely heard gulls make such a fuss, and in such a weird location, otherwise totally devoid of birdlife. She perched on a cliff shoulder about fifteen feet away, and kept on squawking in this strange, almost human voice. So I called calmly up to her that we weren't any danger, wouldn't be doing any harm. She responded with another loud cry. Then I thanked her for what I considered was a warning for us, and told her we'd heed it, takk, takk. She squawked one more light squawk, stayed for a few more moments, then flew away. 

Óðinn rock collecting at river by the quarry.

At the western end of the quarry is a river, so we had to go there and rock hunt. We've now got a fine collection of rhyolite in our kitchen, to one day be added to the rockery we're going to create (Óðinn actually wants to get me a house with an entire room just for rocks : ) I also got a few macro shots of flora from the rocky riverbank, as well as one of a nice spider who was just in the process of wrapping up her bug meal when we found her. 

Spider wrapping her dinner.

It was a great hour we spent. I love being able to give my kids the chance to explore the world the way my father let my sister and I explore - it was fully instilled in to us that we had to play smart, and use our wits, and to never assume that nothing's going to happen, to Be Prepared, but to take some exciting risks anyway. That's harder to do now, and nearly impossible in the States, where helicopter/over-parenting is epidemic (I guess I'm doing what's now termed Free Range parenting!) I'm glad I listened to the gull, though, because of course any abandoned site, with rusty metal and potentially loose rock and such, could get scary all too quickly...

After leaving the quarry, we rounded the bottom of the fjord (absolutely gorgeous region, btw) and, on the southern side, stopped at a cute little waterfall at Fossá (here's a pic of my Valentina standing under it  from 2008) with a 700,000-tree forest planted by the Forestry Association of Kópavogur, part of the larger national association. There's also a bunch of lupin, hence the top photo.

Fossá by the forest. You can see an ancient stacked-stone sheep-herding pen at center right. 

We played around there, got our feet wet and climbed to the top of the falls, then, happy, called our adventure a day, and headed back into big city life once more...

~.~

Kirkjufell



Kirkjufell on a sunny Sunday : )

I mentioned recently on my facebook page that I don't have a fancy camera, just a 14mp pink compact Lumix and my iPhone 5.

Well, the iPhone, which I'd been using more often for conveniences'-sake, has been absconded by house-elves (in Icelandic búálfar - like in that movie The Borrowers) so on our recent trip to Snæfellsnes I only had my Lumix.

I have to say, though, that after all the HDR and ultra-saturation, all the sharpen and define and added contrast available via basic photo apps these

Sail

Enjoying the scenery at the Reykjavík harbor lighthouse.


I love the colors in this photo, taken at one of the little lighthouses that guide boats into the Reykjavík harbor. The bicycler in blue is photographing the gorgeous tall ship Krusenshtern, a four-masted barque, that sits just out of frame (but is pictured below.) 

I'll let RT tell you about how it accidentally rammed two coastguard ships while leaving this very port. I'd posted a pic of it on the Iceland Eyes facebook page the day it arrived, looking all tall and grand. In the post-crash photo below, though, it looks a bit forlorn and sorry.  

The town is filling up with visitors, and all the social media/tourism machines are in full swing,  including a brand-new information and tour-booking portal, Come to Iceland, which a friend of mine commissioned me to write content for. I wrote all of the articles except the stuff under the individual tours. I tried to see if I could add some new angles and details to locations things that have been written about so many times before, like Þingvallavatn lake or Snæfellsjökull glacier. Go visit Come to Iceland and read the articles in the Nature page to see if I was at all successful (then book yourself a tour or two! : )

Back to the Kruzenshtern. Here she is looking grand upon its arrival in Reykjavik (above). Look how small the people are in the bottom left corner! She's one of the largest sailing vessels in the world:

The beautiful Kruzenshtern in Reykjavík harbor.

And here she is, possibly a bit peeved, but certainly put-out and lonely at anchor a few days later while damages and such were assessed. Her owners say fault lay with some "overly enthusiastic tugs" (as RT put it) helping her maneuver out of the tiny port. And here's an interesting angle from that same article: "Although the tugging operation that reportedly led to the accident was performed by local tugs, Iceland’s naval command insists the Russian side should pay for the damage to the Coast Guard vessels." Hmmm...
The barque in Faxaflói Bay looking small post-collision, with Mount Esja in the background.

Skyline


While we are having some rough times here, with wage and labor disputes, strikes, protests, issues of the constitutionality of some government decisions, including the management and ownership of our nation's resources (Iceland Review is always a good site for current affairs news in English) there's always time to stop and enjoy a good view.

This was from atop Arnarhóll on Friday evening, at around 10:30pm. It was a day

Energy



Scroll down to the bottom of the page for archives with over 700 more photos!

There are some spots in Reykjavik that have a sort of pull, and not always a good one. I suspect anyone versed in feng shui would know that it's a chi thing, energy that's stuck or abused in some manner, and can't flow as is its nature to do. This is one of those places, the part of Vallarstræti which has become basically an alley between Ingólfstorg and Austurvellir, with the well-known Nasa music venue there on the left. It's of course

Öskjuhlíð

Öskjuhlíð Forest in Reykjavik

Click on the header to go to the main Iceland Eyes page, and be sure to visit the recommended pages below each post or use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I reference my older posts quite a bit and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland : )


Saturday was a perfect day for outdoor adventures here in Reykjavik. I started thinking of all the cool places we could go in the surrounding area for a nice walk or hike, including Heiðmörk, Esja (also take a look at the MountEsja.org webcam), Straumsvík, the Hengill area between Hveragerði and Þingvellir, or even just having Óðinn pick a trail out of the book I translated, Walking Trails of the Greater Reykjavik Area: 25 Beautiful Walks (...and lo and behold!

Tides

The heated foot bath at Seltjarnarnes 

As if someone turned on the lights, or as if the tide of seasons has turned, life in our city is bustling again. We can't honestly say winter is over, but most of us who live in cold climates will admit that we're willing to handle cold. It's dreary, murky darkness of the post holiday season and its slicing winds that do our souls in. We hunker down deeper into our parkas and wait for the sun to return.

 Make no mistake, it's still hovering around the frost mark here on our island, and some regions, like at the east coast fjords, haven't even seen beneath the past winter's snows yet (here's a link to live cameras over in the Reyðarfjörður area where

Glow

The bridge leading from Iðnó to the Ráðhús (Reykjavík City Hall)

Visiting lovers photographing each other on a misty rainbowy bridge. What more is there to say? : )

For some more sweet shots of love, there's this photo of a tourist girlfriend being coaxed onto our frozen town lake for the first time by her boyfriend, this one of a local penguin declaring his faith, and this one of a couple enjoying the view at Þingvellir National Park.

(Click on the header to go to the main Iceland Eyes page. If you're a new visitor, be sure to visit the recommended pages below, or you can use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I've just started collapsing older posts, so for full articles, hit the 'Read more' links . In addition, I reference my older posts quite a bit, and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland.)

Bound

Njálsgata, midtown Reykjavík
( Note: this is my 703rd post, so if you're a new visitor, be sure to follow the 'Older Posts' link at the bottom right side of this page. Or you can use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I've just started collapsing older posts, so for full articles, hit the 'Read more' links . In addition, I reference my older posts quite a bit, and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland : )

Well well, best laid plans, etc...

We haven't yet made it to lands east, as per my last post. Take a good look at this slightly awkward photo and you'll see that a portion of our house is bound to our tree, and that the roof and gutter are in bad shape. Gale-force winds in mid-March happened to be blowing at exactly the right angle to pry their surreptitious fingers under the corrugated iron and literally make red metal wings out of it, seeming to flap in some desperate take-off attempt, held down only by decades-old nails set in the much older wood frame. Luckily,

Eastward

The road in to Hveragerði

I wish I could say I'm heading into my future on the road less traveled, but to be honest, pretty much anyone who's visited Iceland, and everyone who lives here, has covered this particular swath of pavement. It's just at the top of the steep and winding section of the ring road, Highway 1, that leads into past Hveragerði before continuing east into Selfoss and adventures beyond.

It's not, then, a hidden path or even a particularly inaccessible one, this road, although in winter time the heath that needs to be crossed before starting the descent into the lands to the east can be treacherous...

Callings

Beautiful murals just off of Bergstaðastræti in the heart of Reykjavik, 

I've tried to quit this blog quite a few times in the past decade, but have always felt compelled to post just one more photo, just one more entry. Historically I've announced my decision with explanations and justifications and excuses, which have been hard to backtrack on when the urge to share has overtaken me. This time around I took a quite pause from posting because it just seemed to make sense to. It was a part of an overall readjustment for me, a realignment with my inner self that lasted all of last Fall.

Poison

Sunset from Ægissíða in the west side of Reykjavík

Sunsets and sunrises have been extraordinarily lovely here due, unfortunately, to the poisonous sulfur dioxide cloud that's being emitted by our latest volcano and gently wafted over the southwest of the island by a calm breeze. Savor the irony of that for a moment, then consider whether that's not an exact metaphor for life in general...

Harpoon

The harpoon on Hvalur 9 at dock in Hvalfjörður, with retired whaling ships in the background

It's been a while since I posted last, and in that time I've been considering what to write to accompany this photo of a whaling harpoon, taken aboard Hvalur 9, a beautiful ship owned by Kristján Loftsson and the company his father started back in 1948, Hvalur hf. If you've been here and seen the four whaling ships that are usually docked at the Reykjavik harbor, (or seen this post from 2005) just imagine something a big larger but in the same style. Hvalur 9 and its crew, you see, hunt fin whales. 

Renovation

Sómastaðir, in Reyðarfjörður

You might recognize this house if you've been reading Iceland Eyes for a while. It's the one my great-grandfather, Hans Beck, built, and where my grandmother (one of his 23 children) was born (click on the link to read more about its history).

Decade!

A gorgeous flower that bloomed at the edge of a gravel driveway on Skólvörðurstígur

Happy birthday to Iceland Eyes! 

Not only is this my 696th post, Iceland Eyes is now starting its 10th year of existence! As a matter of fact I just realized that my first-ever post was on August 8th, 2004, exactly a decade ago today!