While I crashed early last night, and Kelly some time later, Trevor and his new friend managed to find things to do until almost midnight! This of course meant that at 2am I was wide awake thinking it was morning, because it never really gets dark in Iceland this time of year. After checking my watch I managed a couple more hours of rest before transitioning to some morning meditation and reading.
Around 7am I ventured into the kitchen to find Julia preparing breakfast. She told me of a waterfall (Urrigafoss) only minutes from the house that seemed like a perfect morning photo op. The drive was short and the tiny sign pointing to the falls gave no indication of what was to come. Alone I hiked to a vantage point and could hardly believe what I saw. Had this falls been in the states it no doubt would have become a national park! But this is Iceland and I had yet to experience what they consider a truly magnificent falls.
After a delicious breakfast of homemade breads, jams, and cheeses, we headed out to complete the Golden Circle. Our first stop was the volcanic crater lake known as Kerid. While not even close to our own scenic wonder in Oregon, it was an impressive scenic attraction. The caldera has a gentle slope on one side that allows easy access to the water. The crater is 180ft deep and 890ft across, with colorful vegetation surrounding the deep blue center.
Minutes down the road we arrived at the second of the three Golden Circle sites, the Great Geysir. This is the first recorded geyser (English spelling) in printed history, and sadly not so great any more. From the late 12th century it gushed as high as 200 ft, but in the 20th century, overzealous visitors threw rocks and rubbish into the geyser hole to initiate eruptions, but instead clogged it up!
For about 85 years Geysir lay mostly dormant, until 2000 when an earthquake shook it back to life. Today it may erupt sporadically a few times a day, but fortunately just meters away, is Strokkur. This geyser performs on cue about every five minutes, blasting water almost 70ft in the air. While seeing it was cool, we actually found the hike to the top of a hill overlooking the geysers more enjoyable and scenic.
We left around noon and headed just six more miles north to Gullfoss (golden falls). This is perhaps Iceland’s most notable scenic wonder, and when you first lay eyes on it you’ll know why. It’s a breathtaking double falls that words or pictures – even my photo of the day – simply cannot do justice. The water first drops over 100ft before thundering down a narrow ravine before disappearing in the massive fall’s spray. Thankfully, Kelly and Trevor waited patiently for me to shoot it as best I could, but in the end, I knew this was a place meant to be experienced.
We left Gullfoss hungry for lunch and landed at a quant working dairy farm in Efstidalur. Unfortunately, we should have known a farm would serve mostly meat, so the veggie soup left us wanting. We did splurge on ice cream, but as I slurped my banana cone from an overlook area on cows, a couple of them starred me down and looked so sad. They reminded me of the movie Forks Over Knives, and why we became vegan in the first place.
We then drove about twenty minutes to Laugarvatn (Hot Springs Lake) and Trevor and Kelly decided to relax in a geothermal pool known as Fontana. I would have joined them, but a nap in the car sounded better. They emerged two hours later rejuvenated and smiling.
While Trevor wanted to get back to Julia’s place to play with Robin, we decided to finish the day by heading to the second of two small fishing villages minutes from Selfoss known for the best lobster in Iceland. While not on our vegan diet, it was another splurge that failed to deliver. The lobsters were small, hard to break open, and nowhere near as tasty as those I have savored in the states. And note to self: after snapping photos of food, try to avoid laying hat and camera strap on top of a burning candle!
In sum, it was another full day where we all managed to get our needs met and agree that Iceland – so far – ranks among our best all-time family experiences.