|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. And because of that heath, Hellisheiði, the town of Hveragerði has never quite become the bedroom community it would easily have out in the US, for example. Only forty minutes from the heart of Reykjavik, this cozy little center of horticulture, with its many greenhouses and its hot spring park in the very center of town, can easily become unreachable if (when!) a good solid storm sweeps over the Reykjanes peninsula. A good friend of mine works at Vegagerðin, the roads administration, monitoring banks of screens showing conditions throughout the southern part of the island, and it's he and his colleagues who make decisions about when roads should be snow plowed, salted, graveled or shut down (his family business also fixes roads and airports throughout Iceland, making them smooth and safe, which we should all be grateful for.) The ferocious winds that funnel through gaps in the striated volcanic mountain range (video) of the peninsula and scour the heaths of all but the most tenacious mosses can easily blow cars and trucks off the road and into the surrounding lava fields.
So this road is definitely not the stuff commuter-neighborhoods are made of. But it's the one I want to take into a new life adventure, the one that's calling me. I've always lived in the very center of Reykjavik and am grateful for everything the city has given me. This neighborhood is where my parents grew up, where they've come back to after 40 years in California, and it's the only place I've lived in Iceland, aside from a short year in Akureyri in 1994. I always knew that if I ever left this neighborhood, with all the shops and cafés, and the ritualized tolling of Hallgrímskirkja (every fifteen minutes, for twelve hours a day, for the past sixteen years), I'd go further afield than the ever-spreading suburbs of the Capitol region, out to somewhere wilder, or at least less readily accessible.
My current vision then is to set up shop and home in the lands to the east of the mountains (austur fyrir fjöll, as the city folk of Reykjavik call them) and embed myself into the eco-sustainability and wellness culture that's gaining momentum in more rural regions of Iceland (I'm particularly fond of the local Edengarður foundation, and would love to recreate our own Eden in Hveragerði, modeled on the Eden Project in Cornwall, Wales.) I've reconnected with my deep need to be amidst the tall pine forests and surging waters of my childhood in Pacific Grove, though substituting the Varmá river for my dearly-missed Pacific. We'll get a dog or two, I'll study horticulture at the Agricultural University of Iceland and my son will have a chance to experience what life is like this much closer to nature, though only actually that much farther away from the bustling city.
I've set the whole thing in motion, and now it's patience-time while the great cogs and wheels of the universe mesh and turn to help my vision come to life. I'm filled with gratitude for what we have, but super excited for our new adventure!
Oh, and as I've often said, part of the pleasure of keeping this blog is finding gems of interest online while searching for something completely different. This website detailing an idea for a rapid transit train system here in Iceland is one.
Another pleasure is knowing that I have faithful readers out there, some of whom have offered so much good will and energy over the years. Professor Batty, who I finally met in person when he was here visiting in 2012, is one of those people, and once again he's blown me away with his encouragement and support with this post, written as a letter to me. Thank you, Professor. You've given me more over the past decade than you'll ever know ~.~
(Thanks to those of you who've sent me emails regarding my last post. I took the comments feature offline here due to bad spam issues, but if you write, I will write back. I'm at icelandeyes (at) gmail.com : )