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 : )  


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.


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...


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. 


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).


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! 


An house now inhabited by geese on the northern shore of Seyðisfjörður

We've been away traveling quite a bit, and just got back into 101 from Seyðisfjörður, an absolute gem of a town with stunning waterfalls and craggy, intrepid mountains everywhere you look. We tented again and this time enjoyed warm, sunny and windless skies, which was welcomed after the dreary stuff we've had to accept in the capital region this summer (to be fair, of course, we are in the North Atlantic, just under the Arctic Circle, and this place is called Iceland...why do the locals always complain about the weather?)


Óðinn on a great rock at the Vík í Mýrdal campgrounds

We camped at Vík í Mýrdal last week, my son and I. I always have a tent and blankets and basic supplies in the trunk of my car so we can skip out of town with a moment's notice if the weather looks good, and last week, though it rained and rained in Reykjavik, the sun shown down on the south coast.


Kid with towel at Nauthólsvík beach in Reyjavík

I just love this photo! I snapped it today out at Nauthólsvík, the white-sand beach here in Reykjavík  (btw, read the post in that last link for a good journey down memory lane - I wrote it in 2007 about how amazing Iceland's economic growth was, and how much we deserved it! Haha!) which sits just below Perlan and the Öskjuhlíð forest (here's a good article from the Grapevine about this area.).  A group of pre-schoolers were on a field trip to the beach, and this little dude was spreading his towel out at the top of the hillock above where we sat.

June Sun


11:30pm last Thursday night, looking down Skólavörðurstígur. Lovely!


Getting ready for a carboat trip at Jökulsárlón

I think this pic is so charming and silly somehow. The carboat was filled up with people and just waiting there on dry land. It reminds me of a photo I took years ago at Hljómskálagarður, the park by the town lake (interesting historical info at that link, btw.) All prepped up in their safety vests, the mighty seafarers of the glacial lagoon get set for their adventure...


Fish heads out to dry on the Reykjanes peninsula

On our drive south to Krýsuvík and Grindavík last week we passed by a forest of fish-drying stocks, and decided to stop for a closer look. Planted there in the middle of a lava field, the sight of all those low-tech A-frames hung with thousands of cod carcasses is somehow primitive and reminiscent of a simpler time.


The gorgeous view at the hot spot by Kleifarvatn on the Reykjanes peninsla

We took a drive out to Krýsuvík today, only about 25 kilometers from the western end of Hafnarfjörður. The day was gorgeous, and aside from a few tourists poking around, we had the place to ourselves. Follow the links to read more about this dramatic patch of Iceland, so close to the capital.


The old Reykjavik cemetery just above the west side of the town lake, Tjörnin

I love the old Reykjavik cemetery, which sits peacefully just above the western side of the town lake. Photos never do the quiet justice, though yesterday there were some serious conversations going on between a loud family of birds (starlings?) tucked into the branches above.


Classic Iceland Eyes, re-posted from July 2010:

"This building and its companions, nestled into the foot of a cliff on the south coast of Iceland between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, are probably my all time favorite structures on our island. I assume they were used as livestock shelters, built as they are as extensions of the gnarled but somehow soothing rock that towers above them.