Iceland – Waterfalls, Geysers, Craters

After being away from home for a month, I finally feel like things are settling down. I finished unpacking, paying bills, reinstated the email that I got blocked out of on day 2 of the trip due to forgetting a digit on my PW, got my sunglasses fixed (they broke early on), and had a little dental work on a tooth that got chipped somewhere along the way.  You know, the usual.

Anyway, it is time for me to get back into the blogging world.  I’ve missed reading about your adventures and will hopefully get caught up with you soon.  In the meantime, let me share a little of my trip with you, one country at a time.

It seems like everyone you talk with these days has either been to Iceland or is planning a trip soon.  For us, it was a less expensive trip to Europe that allowed a stopover – we spent 4 nights and enjoyed every minute.  What a place!!!

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First of all, Iceland is a fairly new country (by European standards) started in 874 A.D. by Norwegian settlers.  Their language evolved from Norwegian, but today it is quite different.  We had a tour guide (on day 2) who was getting a Master’s in Icelandic history, he was a wealth of knowledge.

Even though it is touristy, we took the 8 hour bus tour of the “Golden Circle” and it was well worth it.   We were well layered, but it was very windy and cold – we even saw snow flurries as we stepped out of the bus on our first stop.  But as the day went on, the sun came out and even though the wind continued, it became more pleasant.

 

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Þingvellir National Park  This wall is the backdrop for Game of Thrones.

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Geysir This is the original that is no longer active.

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Gullfoss After Niagara Falls, this is the most impressive waterfall I’ve seen.DSCN5027

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Kerið  Note the steps leading into the crater.

The next day we rented a car and drove to the Middle Peninsula which was recommended by our tour guide.  Also, when we mentioned where we were going, the agents at the car rental said that was their favorite place.  I can see why.  These are pictures I took from the car with my cell phone while JG was driving.

 

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These two pictures made me fell like we were on the moon.

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 Snæfellsjökull the volcano that inspired Jules Verne to write “Journey to the Center of the Earth.

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Renting a car, even for a day, was well worth it.  We visited little villages, got away from the tour buses and enjoyed a relaxing day exploring the island on our own.

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The rest of the time was spent in Reykjavik.

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With it’s colorful buildings. . .

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and murals.

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It never got dark.  We had to catch a bus at 4 a.m. to go to the airport and this is how light it was.

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I can definitely understand why so many tourists are flocking to this amazing island.  It is well worth a few days stopover – or as a destination.

 

 

 

 

 

Know Your Limits

Ever since my daughter got engaged at the top of Dragon’s Tooth, it has been my desire to hike to the top.  My husband tried it once but did not make it to the very top as the last leg of the hike has you scaling rocks.

After a successful hike with my friends this week, I was determined that I could do this hike today.  Kids, dogs, parents with babies strapped to their backs, and people older than me have all managed to make this climb.

However, after I decided to do this, I read on a website that this hike makes McAfee’s Knob seem like a cakewalk (it isn’t).  This gave me pause, but I was mildly optimistic.

It was a gorgeous day and the nature along the way was worth stopping for photos.

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We had 6 or more creek crossings, some a little challenging after all the rain we’ve had recently.

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The first part of the trail, while challenging, is certainly doable.  It’s when you reach the Appalachian Trail (the last .7 miles) that it becomes quite a bit more difficult.

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This is an understatement!

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It was at this point that I was ready to give up, but after a short rest, we decided to go a little further.  We didn’t want to get this far and return without at least getting a good view.  So we soldiered on until I finally made the executive decision that I would not be able to get to the top.  By now my knee is aching, my hips are burning and all I could think of, was how bad it would be if I injured myself a week before we leave for Europe (where we plan to do a lot of hiking).  JG agreed, knowing that his previous attempt failed and he had serious doubts as to whether I should be trying it.  So this was our stopping point:

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Marked by this tree:

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Part of me wanted to cry, I did not want to admit my limitations.  But the smarter side of me was quick to recognize that I’m not 20 anymore.  It was still a very good hike – about 4 miles, and we made it through over half of the challenging part, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Have you ever found you couldn’t make it to the end of this hike, or any hike? Please share with me so I won’t feel so alone.

P.S. – who brings a boom box on a trail (blasting country music no less) – it was rude and obnoxious – next time get some headphones!!

Long Overdue

After a very lengthy healing process, I’m happy to report that today I got back out on the trail!  It was a perfect day for hiking – sunny and cool.  My hiking women have been patiently waiting for me to get back in shape.  Even though only two women were able to join me today – others are waiting in the wings for the next hike.

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It had been so long since we hiked, that we were all smiles and enthusiasm.

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The 4 mile (round trip) hike today was a good way to ease back into hiking.  Yes, there were inclines, (some were steep enough to give us pause) but mostly it was easy terrain, well marked, and just the right distance for us to feel happily exhausted, but not overly stressed.

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We found a little picnic area by the lake, so we stopped for a quick snack.

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What a gorgeous view.

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I hope this means I’m back, because it felt so natural being out there – almost as if it hadn’t been over 6 months – this hike was long overdue!

Buddy Holly and Northern Iowa

Having just recently seen the play of The Buddy Holly Story, it was fresh in my mind as I went to visit family in Northern Iowa.  It is such a tragic tale and could have been avoided with a more experienced pilot, or just a little less storm.  The memorial in Clear Lake near the Surf Ballroom where he performed his last concert, has grown over the years.

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There is now a restaurant called Surf District Rock and Roll Grill016.jpg

which hosts some rock and roll artifacts, along with this fun image.

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While dining at this nostalgic cafe, my sister asked if I would like to go to the crash site.  Of course I said yes.  It’s not far from Clear Lake, IA on a couple of country roads and if you have proper directions, you can’t miss the trail head. . .

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marked by the signature glasses.  There is no admission fee, just the risk of muddying up your shoes from the 1/2 mile walk on a path that can present some challenges this time of year when the ground is soaked.

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If you are/were a fan of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, or Richie Valens, it does offer a touching tribute.

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Fans leave behind tokens (even a full beer) to show their love of these rock ‘n rollers.

But if you don’t have an old pair of shoes handy, you may just want to stick to the tribute in the Surf District of Clear Lake.

My two favorite things about Iowa are: the tenderloin sandwich

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and the sunsets.

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Cellphone photography doesn’t do it justice, but don’t you love the clouds?

Special thanks to my sister and brother for hosting me while my bathroom was being remodeled.  It’s always fun to hang out in my home state.

 

On the Mend

This week I went back to the doctor and got an injection in my hip.  I also changed my exercise routine from floor aerobics to water aerobics.   I am happy to report I have been pain free for 3 days now, and I am cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind me.

Heading to Iowa for a few days to visit family while my bathroom gets remodeled. Expect to see some hiking adventures when I return.

Here is where I want to be. . .

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just hanging out on top of a mountain!

 

M.I.A.

A couple of years ago, a dear friend gave me a ten year diary for my birthday.  I was completely freaked out by it, thinking I would have to fill these pages with trivial bits of my life.  But it turned out to be a wonderful way to keep track of my hiking experiences along with other pieces of my daily routine.

Now it sits here mocking me.

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As faithful as I have been to my PT exercises, I can’t seem to get my body back to hiking quality. If my knee is feeling well, my back is out, if my back and knee are okay, my hip is out – I cannot get them to coordinate so that they all three work at once.  I’m missing my women’s hiking club and I know they are missing their leader.  Several of them are older than me and in much better shape.

This is what I should be doing right now:

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Instead I sit here having a pity party for one.

However, having just finished reading “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, I came to the realization that my life is amazing and I need to get over myself.  I have a great family, wonderful, supportive friends, and most importantly, freedom.

The mountains will be there when I’m ready – and I will be ready someday (hopefully in the not too distant future).

Please share your hiking experiences so I can enjoy your adventures!

Baby Steps

It’s really criminal that we have had such perfect hiking weather and I’ve been stuck in rehab.  Today, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and just try a “baby” hike.  Heading out this morning, I wasn’t really thinking about a big hike, but it was such a gorgeous day, I really wanted to be on a trail somewhere.

We discovered a trail that had recently been cleared out for hikers, and learned that several other trails are currently being readied for summer.

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Located inside of Gatewood Park, this trail takes you over a few creek crossings to get to some nice views of the lake, and it certainly lives up to its name.

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We did have to cross the creek a few times, but it was pretty easy.dscn4743

And the lake was really beautiful!dscn4747

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The thing I liked most about this trail, was the orange markings.  It is so well marked that I think I could bring my hiking women here and not worry (too much) about getting us lost.009

These markings were well positioned.

But it really didn’t matter where we were, just being back in the woods was enough to bring me joy!

008Fingers crossed that my body stays as happy as my frame of mind.