Saturday, August 24, 2013

Iceland Day 4, Continued: Myvatn and Dettifoss

Day 1: Reykjavik
Day 2: Reykjavik
Day 2 Continued: Reykjadalur
Day 3: Snaefellsness
Day 4: Akureyri & Myvatn

I love how varied the sheep are in Iceland. They come in all different color combinations.

After emerging from the cave, we decided to explore more of the Myvatn area. Tyler wanted to see lava formations and a crater, so we headed in the direction of Dimmuborgir.

On the way, we found a body of water that was a crazy electric blue.

It smelled incredibly sulfuric and was steaming forcefully. We weren't allowed to swim in it due to the high temperature, but we were entranced enough to explore its banks for several minutes.

Next, Tyler made me hike up to a crater, which made me crabby. Especially when we got to the top and it was less than picturesque.

The view from the crater was slightly better, but not good enough to make up for the forty minutes I felt I had wasted!

We continued on to Dimmuborgir, which is apparently where the Yule Lads live when they're not leaving rotten potatoes in kids' shoes. We didn't see them, but we did see a bunch of cool lava rock.

It was getting late in the day, and we still wanted to see Dettifoss and leave enough time to try to reach Selardalslaug, a beautiful geothermal pool (considered by some to be the most romantic in Iceland) tucked away up north by the Sela River. As a result, we whipped through the rest of Myvatn, barely pausing to sprint around the cauldrons of Hverir.

Mmm, eggy.

Why is Tyler making this face? Why does Tyler ever make any face?

Then we raced to Dettifoss! ..though it was less of a race than a slow, dusty shamble down a long gravel road. The less than optimal driving conditions were so worth it, though, because the side of Dettifoss that we reached was almost entirely bereft of other human company.

Dettifoss is so immense and so powerful that we were getting drenched from this vantage point.


Tyler is excited!

Once we got up next to the falls, there were no paved overlooks, or rope fences warning us back from the edge. (Iceland trusts tourists a lot more than America does.) Tyler, of course, took immediate and terrifying advantage of this.

"Eh, it's just Europe's most powerful waterfall. Whatevs."

I was no better - since Tyler stuck his feet in the falls, I had to as well. But I got such terrible vertigo doing it than I felt a little sick, and quickly scrambled away from the edge. Eeek!

Once we left Dettifoss, we realized that unfortunately it wouldn't be possible to reach Selardalslaug before it closed, so we took our time getting back to the main road.

There may or may not be a picture of me doing this pose in the buff.

To our dismay, we discovered that none of the gas stations along the way liked our credit cards. Previously we had figured out that we could go into the gas station and ask the attendants to bill the cards, but since it was well after 11 PM, none of the gas stations were attended! We crossed our fingers and somehow made it to Egilsstadir, a town that our travel book describes thusly:
"However much you strain to discover some underlying charm, you'll find sprawling Egilsstadir really isn't a ravishing beauty. It's the main regional transport hub, and a centre for commerce and industry. Sorry, it's about as enchanting as it sounds."
 But we fell in everlasting love with Egilsstadir when we found a gas station next to our intended camping spot that not only was open, but also sold snacks.

And that is how I learned that "Cheese Stars" will give you terrible breath for hours and make your car smell like bad fake cheese. But they are delicious if you are starved and snacky.

The campgrounds were another story. They were chained off and had apparently been abandoned, though a few hopeful RVs still loitered nearby. We could have made it work, but it wasn't a very appealing spot and we weren't sure if it was legal to stay there - so we drove on, looking for a bridge. (Wild camping in Iceland is allowed on public land; if you find a big bridge, you're probably on public land.)

We finally made camp at about one in the morning, in this pretty spot by the river:

Go to Day 5: Northeast and East Iceland

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