Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day one in Iceland!

2016 marks 10 years since James and I were married and we decided it was time to celebrate the wonderful family we have created by abandoning them :-)  James and I have a long running "tradition" of spending our anniversary doing awful, terrible things like moving and red-eye flights with babies and for at least 3 or 4 years in a row, we spent our anniversary in separate states for a variety of reasons.  This year we decided to go big or go home and booked a trip to Iceland!  Iceland is not very subtle about the fact it wants you to visit, but on our aforementioned red-eye layover anniversary we flew IcelandAir and they spent all 4 flights selling us on the awesomeness of Iceland.  As a self-proclaimed geology nerd, it was hard to resist the allure of this weird, alien landscape, friendly and efficient service and most importantly, cheap flights!

The big kids went to Science Camp with Mas and Pas while John headed down to rural VA with Amma and Papa to make this all possible.  Meanwhile, James and I gloriously headed to the airport with minimal bags, sat down at a restaurant with drinks and then boarded our red-eye to Iceland.

Because I am responsible, I attempted to sleep on the flight while James took full advantage of the uninterrupted time to prepare for Iceland by binge watching Game of Thrones :)

Once we arrived we picked up our rental car and headed out of town to hit the sights of the Golden Circle.  Icelanders drive on the right side of the road which was super helpful in being confident to navigate on our own.  First up was our chance to stand on both the Eurasian and North American plates at Thingvellir.


Not only is the sight significant geologically, it was the site of Iceland's early government and the place where Iceland adopted Christianity.  It was also the sight where punishment was meted out, and this gorgeous falls/pool was likely where the women were drown.



Looking out from site:

Lava!  It really is truly amazing to see the different states of volcanic activity and regrowth.

Right around this area was another waterfall, Oxarafoss.  On the way there we were treated to the reality that much of Iceland looks like it might open up and swallow you at any given point.










Next stop was Geysir, which coming from the greater Yellowstone area was a bit underwhelming.  This was one of many places where it was apparent Iceland's infrastructure hasn't caught up with its tourism, and was interesting to compare how their natural features are handled/presented/preserved compared to the US system.


Next up was Gullfoss, which was as impressive as promised.

And in black and white:


And a "smaller" waterfall (Faxi) we stopped at along the route.

And Kerio Crater, which was oddly the only place we had to pay money to check out, but was the place we spent the least amount of time.  Very cool, especially as the crater is filled by the natural water table.



At this point we were exhausted and focused on staying awake long enough to drive safely back to Reykjavik.  Once out of the car we headed out for a lovely dinner in a little cafe with yet another waterfall out the back deck.  Dinner was great and then we ordered a nutella/banana/bread dessert which was amazing on its own, but made extra amazing by the fact that we didn't have to share it with any tiny fingers!


We powered through for an overly expensive Icelandic beer back at the hotel followed by a soak in their natural hot tub before we would succumb to jet lag, even with only 4 hours of dusk that would make up the night near the arctic circle.

Marine Science Camp Gramp!

In lieu of blogging chronologically, reverse or otherwise, I am in survival mode and have decided to blog based on what I have time to handle : )  So today I'm stealing sharing a video courtesy of the camp Matthew and Catherine attended with Mas and Pas.  More details later, but the reviews were fantastic that both Road Scholar and the Chincoteague Field Station made a lasting impression.  Both kids are clamoring to go back (at least until they are reminded about Legoland, which is silly because this camp is clearly 180,000 times better than the Legoland Discovery Centers we have gone to.  There were only 9 kids in the camp, so there are quite a few pics of Matthew and Catherine in the slide show!


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