Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'll be back!

Next trip to Iceland:

June 25 - July 31, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Biking and clamming

Last Sunday I took a long bike ride although it was only 2°C (35°C). I underestimate the wind chill and don’t have proper gloves on, so the ride is quite cold. I ride into Engidalur, past the cemetery and well into the valley to the power plant. I park at the power plant and settle in the hay for some hot tea from my thermos. Around me there is still plenty of snow, but the grassy spot I’ve picked is warm and dry, but the sound of rushing water from the nearby river put chills through my bones.

Another day I see a boy on the beach in my backyard at low tide digging with a shovel. I wonder if he is digging for clams, and if he’s finding any. Later I read up on catching clams and learn that an ultra-low full moon or a new moon tide is best for clam digging. I watch videos on how to spot clams and dig for them. I am most certainly going to try this out one day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring fever

The daily routine has set in and I quite like it. In the early afternoon I go out for a 2-hour walk everyday with Angela. The snow is melting fast revealing lots of damaged trees. I wonder if they will recover completely. Some are just brown on the tips while others are bent and broken from the heavy snow masses pushing on them. Trees are scarce in Iceland anyway. It would be a shame if these were permanently damaged. 

Occasionally we see a ptarmigan – or hear it. They make a loud belching noise. They’re still white, clinging to the memories of the fast-melting snow. Other birds abound and wander around in pairs, looking for good nesting spots. The rivers run thick and fast with meltwater and landscapes are swampy. Spring thaw is here and the new life of spring is winning the battle, pushing its way to the surface. One can literally see the grass grow. It all happens so fast, as spring and summer are so short in this Arctic region.

Later in the evening I enjoy a walk on the beach or ride my bike through town, or get some chores done in the house, painting and caulking windows, getting them ready for the next winter that’s just around the corner. Daylight hours are long and when the sky is cloudless, it never really gets dark. Everyone is outside making the most of the short summer. The locals are cheery and talkative and the first tourists arrive. After a long winter, I once again hear foreign languages spoken and see people out and about with cameras. Soon the first cruise ship will arrive.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Orange sunrise brings rain

There’s such a beautiful sunrise at 4:30 am. It’s like my body knows when to wake up to see these things. I don’t even have to get out of bed – I just open one eye, and can see the sunrise over the ocean right from my bed. (I do get up to take a picture though)

Despite the pretty colors this morning, clouds roll in fairly quickly and it rains all morning until early afternoon. I take the opportunity for more house chores – painting and caulking windows. There’s always something to fix inside an old house but I enjoy doing it.

The rain clears by 2pm and after a late lunch, I head out to partly sunny skies for a walk to the next village of Hnífsdalur (9km round trip). I examine the cemetery and a few other landmarks before heading back.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

More of the same and not bored yet

Another beautiful sunny day. Took a morning bike ride with a friend, rode along the old road to Bolungarvík (Óshlíð) again until just before the first tunnels, where there is a nice spot of a lunch break in the sun.

Later in the day I went out again, heading for the old road to Flateyri, where I got a flat tire last summer. Stopped at the parking area overlooking town, and since the picnic bench was in the sun, I stayed there for a long time soaking up the rays. Once off onto the old road, I found a secluded dry spot, in the sun of course, and stashed my bike. But not before sitting in the sun for a long time first! Then I hiked up the road a bit and off into the hills beside it. The ground is still quite soggy, with snow in places. It’s too early in the year for any off-course hiking. Back at my bike, I took out a book and the thermos of tea and stayed until I began to get cold.

There’s a beautiful sunset this evening at 11pm. There are 8 people (and a dog) in my backyard taking pictures of it. I am so grateful for having this view out my window, and not having to go outside for beautiful pictures. Just as I settle into bed with a book, I hear fireworks and run to the window. I later read that the fireworks were to celebrate some kind of youth handball tournament here this weekend.   

Friday, May 2, 2014

Chores, more sun, bikes & beaches

 Another mostly sunny day as I continue to work on my tan. First off though, I have some chores to do today. Off to the tourist information center to see if they're interested in the postcards I've had made up. Yes indeed! They particularly like the Rauðisandur motif, so I leave them with 80 postcards and will stop in again in a few weeks and see how they are doing. After all, the first cruise ship arrives already on May 18 - the Thompson Spirit from the Bahamas with 1300 passengers. Maybe a few will like my postcards.

Then it's off to get my heat  & electricity straightened out. They came to read the meters in February when I wasn't here and just estimated my usage - which increased my monthly bill threefold. After learning that there's a second meter in the basement that needs to be read as well, I'll have to return next week sometime.

Next stop, the hardware store, where I purchase all the workings to patch my windows - one small can of paint, a scraper, a brush and one sheet of sandpaper, for €45. Before I moved in I had the windows inside painted, but after two years of damp arctic weather and winds that batter the moisture into every crack and crevice, the first damp spots (yes and mold) are starting to show already. So after dinner tonight, I did half the windows already. Next step after this, caulking. I did caulk some of the windows last summer and those show noticeably less weather damage.

But the sun is shining and I need to get out for a bit. I ride my bike to the campsite at Tungudalur. There's still a lot of snow. I was hoping to walk around a bit, but not in my skimpy biking shoes. Instead I find a great spot for sunbathing on the wooden deck of the campsite hut. The warm wood absorbs the sun, it's free of snow, and the hut blocks the breeze. It's warm enough to take off my jacket and roll up my sleeves. I sit around in the sun for about 45 minutes when 3 guys on motorcycles stop by and I take that opportunity to head home. Back home, I sit outside again in the sun with some tea and a good book. Afterwards, I check out the new ladder going down to the beach that a neighbor installed and pick at seaweed and rocks until hunger drives me back indoors. I spend the evening with Gríma the cat - she's bigger every time I see her and once a wild young kitten, she is more mellow now, likes to be pet and purrs graciously. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sunburn and snow

I have my first sunburn of the season. My face is red as a tomato and I spend a wonderful 7 hours outdoors today. The sky is clear blue all day and the ocean still as a mirror with no wind. I get up at 6:30 am. The sun shines in my bedroom windows and in sunny weather it’s impossible to sleep. The morning temperature in the sun reads 18°C/65°F though the official high without the sun is only 6°C/42°. 

I’m out the door at 9:30 and on my mountain bike. 
I ride along the old road towards Bolungarvík, stopping along the way for long breaks in the sun, photo sessions or a cup of tea. There’s quite a bit of snow over the road in places but it’s not difficult to get the bike around or over it. While scouting for a good place to cross a snow field, I see another lone biker in the distance. I make acquaintances with Hannes, and we’re going in the same direction and decide to bike together. It’s a pleasant day, Hannes tells me lots of stories about the area and it’s a lot of fun. 

Back home later, I have a quick lunch and head out for groceries, but not before taking advantage of low tide for a walk along the beach and then through town. I admire the seaweed – one of these days I’ll read up on what kind of seaweed is edible and what can all be done with it. After all, I’ve got it in the backyard and it would be great to know what to make with it. The sun is still blazing, not a cloud in the sky. 

After bringing the groceries home, I set out again on foot this time. I hike up behind town, along the avalanche wall and the new one that they’re building. It’s quite muddy and the spring thaw makes the ground real soggy in spots, and at times I cross through the snow. After heading up towards the ski area a bit, I pause at the spot where the grouse like to play. 

No luck, the critters are hiding, so I head back and happen to see Helga out in her garden. I wave and she invites me over for a cup of coffee, and I enjoy petting her two cats. We sit in the evening sun until alas a few clouds come and it begins to get chilly. 

My belly is looking forward to the lamb in the fridge, and I finally go in for the day at 7pm. It’s been a wonderful May 1st. I am happiest outdoors and this was a perfect day!