Let’s take a break from processing old lives and their lingering questions and come with me on an adventure. We are going to the land of fire and ice.
Since the beginning of our relationship, I knew that my husband and I would end up traveling the world together. I’ve always felt called by adventure and the mystery of exploring other places and cultures. Being with Sean (AKA Mr.Bootstraps on Instagram) pulled me further into the outdoors and I’ve found I’m game for more when he’s with me. Any place can feel like home if we’re together. Mountaintop sunrise with my love? Take me there!
2018 has unexpectedly ended up being the year that we branched further into international travel. We had a long-planned family wedding that took us to Tulum, Mexico for a truly magical experience and that was supposed to be the extent of our overseas journeys for the year. Here’s a PSA for all you road-hungry peeps: If you guys haven’t heard of Next Vacay, you should get on that. IMMEDIATELY. You pay an annual fee of $25 to get literally hundreds of amazing deals on flights to the coolest places sent straight to your inbox. Turns out that a friend of ours had been trying it out for a few months and he got the inside scoop on a chance to fly to Iceland for an absolute steal. (Via WOW airlines for the win!)
Now. I should tell you that Iceland has been at the tippy top of Sean’s personal travel wishlist for a while now. It’s a photographer’s dream location. He and our friend decided to just book flights for August and go and not think about it too much. Well! Long story short, within a week or two, a massive fear-of-missing-out led me to join the group that quickly grew to 7 young Nashville creatives intent on shooting and filming as much as possible for our respective ventures and jobs. We brought gear, instruments and prepared to soak up as much of the country as possible on our way. #ventureready
We would be there for 8 days total so we did some recon and found pictures of places we collectively wanted to shoot and sights we wouldn’t want to miss. Our list was quickly maxed out with ideas and we decided to keep the scheduling loose and flexible so that we could rearrange the activities of the days based on weather for shoots, etc. This turned out to be a great format for our group and we were able to do and see so much in such a short amount of time as a result.
I’m going to share a few personal highlights; the pics are all shot by Sean with the exception of the shots I took of him. For the sake of context, I think it’s worth stating that Iceland is only about the size of the state of New York but is is deceptively complex and wildly varied in it’s sometimes familiar and then suddenly otherworldly landscape. Also in comparison to New York, Iceland has literally 19 million LESS people. It is, in fact, the most sparsely populated country in all of Europe. That makes for a lot of wild and remote destinations if you are up for the journey. Spoiler Alert: if you’re interested in urban Iceland and city activities, I’ve not much to share with you because we went RURAL every chance we got. Let’s go!!!
1. Black, Underneath It All
Iceland is volcanic. And the most consistent reminder of that fact is all around you, everywhere you go. Underneath the short tufts of grass and in between the crags of hardened moss-covered lava rock is a deep black. The dirt, the sand, the dust, all so much darker than our milder Tennessee soil. The tones are cooler, grayer compared to our warmer base shades of brown. I loved this even though it sometimes only dawned on me after looking at a particular view for a while. Out from under comes the coast and there the beaches stretch out in the uncovered black, sometimes round and glossy caviar-like pebbles, sometimes fine and glittering inky grains of earth. I loved letting the smooth wet pebbles fall between my fingers clinking to the ground where they would continue to be worn down by the always churning ocean. We brought some of the finer sand home in a glass that sits on our living room shelves. It’s the beginning of our travel collection, I think.
Roughly speaking, the water in Iceland is usually either glacially cold or literally roiling with intense geothermal heat. Descending over slopes of vast and ever-changing ice sheets or boiling up from deep below the ground at the source of the island itself. So, before you dip, be aware that you could either freeze or cook if you’re not careful. That being said, dipping seems to be quite a fixture in the culture. Chasing Tennessee waterfalls or visiting our native waterholes in the heat of summer is nothing like the Icelandic equivalents.
You know you are approaching a geothermal area when you start to wonder if there might be a gigantic dragon slumbering among the rocky slopes, sending giant plumes of white steam up into the chilly sky with every puff of sleeping dragon-breath. But savvy tourists and locals alike push down into the nearby valleys until they find a wind of steaming river they can claim as their natural hot-tub for the day. Geysers erupt like clockwork, tides come sweeping in around chunks of diamond-clear ice at the shore edges, rain falls suddenly and almost daily in its bursts, and waterfalls cascade everywhere, abundant and spectacular, the centerpiece of any scene. Follow the thunder in the ground and chase as many as you can.
(Travel Tip: “foss” means “falls” in Icelandic, so count on some amazing water-features wherever you see that suffix used in a name on your map.)
3. Climbing the Shark’s Fin
I count this next highlight as a personal accomplishment I will remember for my lifetime. In the northwest of Iceland stands a mountain, separate from the surrounding ranges, shaped like a giant shark’s fin jutting up from the land, about to head off into the sea beyond. Known as Kirkjufell, it reaches just over 1,500 feet high and the climb is virtually vertical. It was the hike that I knew I most wanted to complete on this trip. I’d seen it in pictures and film and knew it would take a major mental commitment to conquer. (Fun nerdy fact: this mountain was featured in some epic scenes inGame Of Thronesseason 7 referred to as “the arrowhead-shaped mountain”.)
1,500+ feet might not be much to the true mountaineer, but it was a great challenge for me and made for quite an impressive view when we reached the summit. I climbed with two fit men (one being Sean) and I believe I held my own. #girlpower(I may also have taken a quick mountaintop cat-nap after taking in the view and before heading down!) A must for the weary traveller…
All in all, it was an incredible trip with many more adventures that would be way too long to include in this post. Music videos were filmed, performances were shot, and we returned with many stories to boot. Other honorable mentions include:
• RAINBOWS. Everywhere.
• Gas station Ice Cream
• The adorable Horses
• Awesome road-tripping companions
• PUFFINS <3
Goals for next time? Winter season, Northern Lights, Glacier Caves and jacked up Land Rovers. Oh yeah. Can we go now?