a large day

I’ve referenced the origin of a “large day” in a previous blog. It’s about looking up and about, and experiencing an extraordinarily large and beautiful day. Literally. Today was that kind of day

It began with a lovely breakfast served at the hotel.

Soon after we drove into town so I could find an espresso. We ended up in a small retail complex – a bakery serving expresso drinks, an Icelandic handmade shop, a post office, a volcano exhibit and a grocery store. It turned out to be a delightful place to stop. We had such a lovely conversation with the handcrafter person on duty in the handmade shop.

I bought a scarf. I’m not a scarf wearer but recent sightings of others wearing scarfs brought about a quick purchase from the handmade shop. I’m so glad to have it for the joy alone that I’ve had wearing it today.

It’s our habit to stop at most churches across Iceland. And there are many. Often they are locked. My traveling friend taught me that you can place your phone on an outside window and take a picture of the inside.

We journeyed on down Route 1 to a yarn and pottery shop. Since the pottery shop was closed today, I wandered about enjoying the large day.

We drove on to one of my favorite waterfalls, Urrigafoss. This waterfall is on Iceland’s longest river and is the most voluminous waterfall in the country. The name means sea trout. Also found in the river are salmon which can be seen swimming upriver to the waterfall. They have strong and long tail fins in order to clear the 6 meter-high waterfall.

The Icelandic lupine, the same species plant as Texas bluebonnets, are about to bloom. They are seen alongside roads, trails, parks. We found them along the waterfall trail today.

Of course this happened. Anyone knowing me is not surprised.

As we left Urrigafoss we chose to drive a series of back roads. We were rewarded by the beauty of this small space of Iceland.

Time for a late lunch. We returned to a favorite cafe for a delicious meal during which we could not avoid a sobering conversation about recent events.

A last stop in our day of travel was at Bókakaffið, a local bookstore that also offers espresso coffee.

Now home for the night. It was, indeed, a very large day. Big plans for tomorrow.

the road less taken

This morning we departed Hotel Husafell where we had stayed the first four nights of the trip. We didn’t want to leave. In fact, we tried to stay an additional night but the place where we will be for the remainder of our trip did not allow for a cancellation with so little notice.

So we enjoyed our breakfast, thanked everyone who had served us, packed up and departed.

Of course I needed to visit the “never-have-I-ever” series of waterfalls one more time.

On the road again past sheep and horses. Today the horses won out as we parked for awhile and gazed on moms and colts. So precious!

If we had taken the primary route south to Hveragerði, it would have been a two hour trip. Not us! Instead, we took a series of back roads for five and a half hours.

And that routing was indeed the road less taken. It was another never have I ever experience.

A last glance before turning south.

Oh, wow!

It was not long before the road narrowed and was unpaved.

For the next four and a half hours the road wove across the tundra revealing both distant and close views of,…

rivers,

fragile mosses,

volcanic rocks,

mountains,

melting glacier ice,

and glaciers.

It was so wonderful that I would love to drive it backwards. Maybe on another trip we’ll do just that – reverse the road least taken.

For now it’s time for rest. We are settled in at Frost and Fire hotel. This is the view outside the window at 10:30pm. Rest well.

waters of life

At Hotel Husafell, breakfast and dinner are both served in this gorgeous dining room, filled with windows and views.

There are baristas to make me a cappuccino if I like. For me it’s the new beginning to the day.

The view from the table we usually choose, looks across a meadow-field. We can clearly see a small church.

After breakfast we drove across the field to that church.

In Ezekiel 36:26 we hear, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

Off to the left of the altar is a baptismal font. New life in Christ, echoing the Ezekiel scripture.

We returned to Hraunfossar Waterfall for a longer linger.

Never have I ever. The falls beauty has to be seen to realize how many individual cascades pour down to make the whole. Clear, cold springs of subterranean water seep through the lava and run as tiny waterfalls and rapids into the Hvita River.

We reluctantly moved on down the road. to Krauma Baths. Yesterday we had their best-ever soup. Today we had a soak before we once again enjoyed best ever soup.

Below the baths is a small power plant which is manufactured by the French company Enogia. The geothermal baths on site use liquids from the most powerful hot spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver. The heat in the geothermal fluid produces sufficient energy to supply Krauma with electricity as well as helping to cool the geothermal fluid before it goes into the baths, which saves the use of cold water.

The baths experience was tranquil. Various pools of varying temperatures were clustered. There were two rooms to relax. One was warmed by a wood stove, the other by infrared light. Such an overall soothing time.

Followed by another serving of best ever soup and bread.

After returning to the hotel, local water to quench thirst after a day of waters of life.

Abundance.

sunday-keeping in iceland

Today was a non-traditional day of keeping Sabbath. I’m in a very remote area of Iceland. There is no town and the hotel where I’m staying is named after the river Husafell. All this to say, there is no nearby church or chapel.

So non-traditional it would be.

We the planned to visit the glacier Langjökull this morning. It’s the second largest ice cap in Iceland – and just down the road from Hotel Husafell. At the time it made sense that we could pay the glacier a visit. Without actually climbing on the glacier. Just a simple drive-by visit.

There it is! Off in the distance…

Inching down the road in case this was not the case…

Oh, it was most definitely the case. Whether because of snow and ice, or the concern for the fragility of the Icelandic ecosystem, it mattered not. We would not be visiting Langjökull this Sunday.

It was time for plan B. We would take a back road toward the town of Reykholt, where we would find our own worship service in a historic chapel.

Easier said than done.

Undaunted we continued. Visiting sheep…

and Icelandic ponies.

We got so busy looking at the sheep on one side of the road,

we missed our turn to return home on the other side of the road. Instead on down the road, we came upon a beautiful chapel where we could lead worship ourselves. Across Iceland are small chapels, many of which are family owned, and where all are welcome to spend time in prayer. This chapel would do.

Well, not so much.

By now it was time for lunch. Since we had missed the turn, we were now in the neighborhood of Krauma Baths. Time for lunch!

Carrot and tomato soups.

Best. Soup. Ever. Also, hottest soup spoon ever.

Tomorrow we may return for the baths.

On down the road after lunch and on our way back to the hotel, another chapel. Now this one was perfect.

Leading our own worship. Best ever.

A last look at Langjökull,

day is done. Well, not yet. Sunset is at 11:03pm.

near me

Google maps has a feature called “near me”. Doing a search for a store, for example, “near me” can be a useful tool to narrow down one’s geographic preference.

Today was like that. Using a small map, we ventured out to locations within five miles of the hotel, navigating interests and activities.

We first drove around the Hotel Hussafel acreage, and found a small active runway.

Parking on the runway, we took a small walk along the river Husafell.

We then drove a few miles to Hraunfossar (‘Lava Falls’ in English). This is a series of beautiful waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field. It is extraordinary.

We grabbed lunch at a small cafe adjacent to the falls. Yes, I ate an ice cream bar for lunch. So good!

After this treat we drove down a road which was once a lava field. Colors muted by age.

A view of a waterfall cascading down through the lava fields.

Glimpses of Langeðkull glacier. (That’s tomorrow.)

We wrapped up the day with an amazing dinner at our hotel. Below was my meal choice.

Now soon to bed so we can get going first thing tomorrow.

May the Lord almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

vast

The one word that kept cropping up in my mind throughout the drive today was vast. Gazing out – and up, and this way or that way – was a vast expanse of awesome.

I’m reminded of words said during Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer, “At your command all things came to be: …

the vast expanse of interstellar space, …

galaxies, …

suns, …

the planets in their courses, …

and this fragile earth, our island home.”

Today was a leisurely drive from Keflavik International Airport, through some small and lovely neighborhoods in Reykjavik, then on to the countryside where we meandered for about sixty miles through the vastness of one area of Iceland.

There was no reason to hurry. Views found us stopping, looping back or just taking the slow way.

Now settled into Hotel Húsafell for the next four days, I’m tempted to say, “and as the shadows lengthen…”. However the shadows will not lengthen until 11:01pm this night., but for us they will lengthen closer to 7pm.

Rest well.

dawn

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” Rabindranath Tagore.

I’ve been gazing out the window from 38,000’, watching the dawn of this new day.

The clouds are quieting as the day arrives.

There will be disquiet soon, as we deplane and a wheelchair whisks me through the arrivals process for passengers from this and other flights. My friend will have to hustle to keep up!

For now all is calm. And beautiful.

Good morning God. This is your day. I am your child. Please show me your way. Amen.

return to the land of fire and ice

Today I’m on my way back to Iceland. This will be the fifth time I enter the country that is often referred to as the land of fire and ice. The description comes from the fact that Iceland is home to both glaciers and volcanos.

Also, thermal energy is near the surface.

I’ve thought often how Iceland feels “alive”. Eruptions, freezes, steam beneath the surface. This place rumbles. It hisses. It shakes. It’s definitely alive.

I remember the first trip to Iceland, when one of the very first stops was to stand on a small bridge that spanned two tectonic plates.

Iceland sits on the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It is the only place in the world where you can see those two tectonic plates and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge above ground (basically a fault line).

I approached the center of the bridge with some trepidation. I did not want any rumbles. Actually it was a bit exhilarating.

An unremarkable sight gazing down, though, where the plates meet.

A return to flying Icelandair for this trip, has us meeting up in Raleigh-Durham mid-afternoon. This evening we’ll be on our way. Come along!

Well, a major and a small bump getting to RDU. My friend’s flight was delayed over an hour. That was okay as we have a six hour layover. But then… just as it was to race down the runway, the plane stopped. No announcement. Just a turn back toward the terminal. After 10 minutes or so, it turned back to the runway and took off.

My flight, on the other hand, was slightly delayed. We were to have maintenance come check a warning light. Instead, we headed to the runway and simply took off.

On my way to RDU

With this jangled start, I’m really looking forward to taking our Saga Class seats. Side by side.

Traveling mercies.

conversations

Recently I was in Texas for about 46 hours. This was definitely “lark” travel.

I traveled to attend a service to “celebrate a new ministry”. A dear priest friend was installed as the rector of my son and his family’s church.

What strikes me most about this trip were the profound conversations I had during the few hours I was there.

With…my son who picked me up at the airport and transported me to the church. Then sat next to me for the service…

With…my grandson who drove from his college about an hour away…

With… my best friend who also had travelled for the installation…

With… the newly installed rector…

With… my granddaughter who was getting her home ship-shape the next day for a birthday party…

With… my daughter-in-law who is experiencing similar nerve pain to my own…

And with… the son of my sweet cousin who called to share news about the end of her earthly life.

A time to listen in the midst of both joy and sorrow, of a new beginning and a gentle ending.

paperwork and gas

I’m sitting in a plane that is sitting on the tarmac re-fueling, so we can try again to get to Dallas. Weather in the greater Dallas area caused my flight to take the scenic route from Atlanta.

To try to avoid the massive storm, we flew south, out over the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile, then on to New Orleans.

We crisscrossed over Houston, Austin, and San Angelo.

Then we needed gas. So we looped back to San Antonio where I am writing this. We now await getting gas, getting paperwork. We’ll then try to fly to Dallas once again.

My friend who was flying from Houston, ended up sitting in Houston to wait out the storm. I flew right over her aircraft. She’s on her way now. I think.

So we sit and wait. And line up for the bathroom, and pose for a photo.

Announcement made just now: “Folks, we have our gas, and our paperwork. We very much need everyone to take a seat so we can get going!”

On our way!

Well, except for the long line awaiting take-off. We’re number three.

Traveling mercies.