Once I’d heard The Calling, answered it, and set the intention of being so overjoyed with the experience of a four-day dogsled trip in Green-land that I would do it again in a heart-beat, the fear of my eyeballs freezing in their sockets while I slept disintegrated into a spray of silver confetti. The sparkling flecks floated westward to the tune of “Dust In The Wind” while I traveled east humming “Best Day Of My Life”.
Ittoqqortoormiit is a long way from California – 4,007 miles as the crow flies. For the rest of us, the distance is increased by having to rely on machines to get us there. As for the amount of time it might take for a crow to flap, float, and soar his way safely to the top of the world, I haven’t a clue. That would depend on the weather, his physical condition, and the amount of time he’d take to rest, refuel, and revel in the sights.
For me, it took 3 days, 6 hours, and 23 minutes including a 48-hour stopover to reach this remote village located about 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
First, we gathered in Iceland – a remarkable destination in its own right. The island nation is the antipasti, the first course on my arctic menu of sorts: the follow-up to last week’s Amuse Bouche. This geothermal wonder is the home to the most active volcanos on the planet, as well as the largest glaciers. It’s common for sulfuric steam to rise from bubbling puddles at the edges of pristine lakes – or, as our guide Helgi pointed out, for the occasional nincompoop to stick his fingers in them. Ouch! Bad idea!
Especially since it’s not unusual to find bricks of rye bread baking in the lava sands.
Seriously! It’s genius! CHECK IT OUT HERE!
“Geysers are almost as commonplace as trees.” Helgi chuckles. “If you ever get lost in an Icelandic forest, all you need do is stand up.” Then he harrumpfs and gets about as serious as he’s able to. “Strokkur Geysir shoots 98 feet into the air every few minutes, so there’s no need to hurry.”
Joining the crowd of onlookers, I’m pretty sure that no one’s ever been tempted to poke around in this hole…
While traversing a mossy-moonscape
on the way to Gullfoss and a secret ‘Helgi’ waterfall
we stopped at the Thingvellir National Park where, for hundreds of centuries, once a year Icelanders would gather in summer to find wives, do business, and settle disputes. And lo the poor women who were deemed loose! ‘Twas the drowning pool for them – a place where tourists cross the river over a footbridge today.
The valley is also where you’ll find two of our fair planet’s tectonic plates pulling apart at a rate of roughly two inches per year. I opted to straddle the fault indoors at a gas station/grocery store where they covered a stretch of the rift exposed by a recent earthquake under the souvenir shop with glass. With one foot in North America and the other in Eurasia, I felt like Rhea, Queen of the Titans.
As magical as Iceland is from a geological standpoint, it is not without a mystical side, too. Only after much prodding did Helgi admit that many Icelanders believe they share the country with a significant population of elves, trolls, and faeries. “The huldufólk rarely reveal themselves,” he said. “But they will show their scorn when their homes are threatened – as in the case of a bulldozer constantly breaking down when it came near to a certain boulder being cleared to make way for a golf course. Once apologies were made and the road rerouted, the project moved forward without further issue.” Helgi would not admit to believing in the wee folk himself, but he also wouldn’t say outright that he didn’t.
” (#*$^^$^@&@%#$^%#^$)!(&$%$%@@) !!!!! “
What’s that Helgi? The plane is ready? Everyone’s on board? They’re not going to wait?
Sjáumst síðar Iceland!
See you again in eight days…