Iceland: Day 3

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The next morning we were going to try to meet up with my aunt and uncle who just happened to be visiting Iceland at the same time as us so we headed to Reynisdrangar.  Reynisdrangar are basalt columns similar to Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland.  There weren't as many columns as there were in Ireland, but they were right along a black sand beach which made it a cool area to explore.   It wasn't a huge area but we searched for my aunt and uncle for about 20 minutes before giving up.  I got a text later saying they were there at the same time we were, but I haven't talked to them since to find out how we could have missed each other.

After giving up our search we continued our drive North.  We wanted to stop at the Eldhraun Lava Field however our GPS wanted us to go 12 miles down a gravel road which we didn't think our little Opal Corsa could handle.  We settled with a few roadside stops that let us get a decent view of the lava fields covered with squishy green moss.


From there we continued on to what I think was my favorite stop of the trip. Fjaðrárgljúfur was down another gravel road which almost made us turn around, but I'm so glad we continued on.  Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon with these outcroppings that lead out over the river below.  The views here were breathtaking.  And, again, they gave warnings where something might be dangerous or where they were trying to protect certain plants, but for the most part you could walk right out to the edge of these ledges.  This is another place that I wish I budgeted more time to explore.



After that we stopped at Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon.  This was kind of the smaller, hidden little brother to the more popular Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon further down the road.  It was not as big as Jökulsárlón, but I'm still glad we stopped to see it.  Both lagoons were filled with massive ice chunks breaking off from the nearby Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier.  The blue/green color of the ice chunks seemed almost unnatural but they were amazing to look at.



We then continued on to our hostel for the night: Vagnsstaðir Hostel.  I chose this hostel because I wasn't sure if we were going to make it all the way to the next town, Höfn, that day.  In retrospect we should have just booked a place in Höfn. There was nowhere to get food near where we were staying and we ended up having to drive to Höfn anyway to find some. It was 40 minutes there and 40 back to the hostel so we could have just save ourselves the trouble and stayed there for the night.  We did at least getting to see a beautiful sunset on our ride back.


On the brightside, because our hostel was in the middle of nowhere we had our best chances of seeing the Northern Lights.  Every night we were in Iceland was overcast except for this one night.  Josh and I went out around 11:30 as soon as the sky started clearing but the moon, which was almost full, was insanely bright.  Unfortunately a bright moon is almost just as bad for the Northern Lights as an overcast sky is.  We were looking off towards a mountain range and felt like there was a green tint along it but we couldn't be sure it wasn't our eyes playing tricks on us.  Luckily I had my camera and was able to do a two minute exposure which showed us that it was, in fact, the Northern Lights.

We didn't stay out for long, but I decided to set an alarm to go back out around 2:30 when the moon would be lower in the sky.  I didn't wake Josh since I wasn't sure what I'd see.  I made my way down the long dirt road that led to the hostel.  There was one motion sensor light that kicked on, but once I got far enough down the road that light shut off and I was left alone in the dark.  Looking up I could see what looked like a milky disk in the sky.  Again over the mountains I could see the green tint, but this time it had a slight ripple to it which made it more clearly the Northern Lights.  I stayed out there for a while getting some pictures though none came out great.  It was still a cool experience to be standing out there by myself in Iceland watching the Northern Lights.
Seriously.  How is this not another planet?

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