Friday, August 29, 2008

I [Shamrock] New York City (Yes, I did buy that shirt)

(I stopped through New York City on the way back from Iceland for a five day introduction to the city. This is the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan, as seen from the Manhattan Bridge.)

(At the ferry dock under Brooklyn Bridge, trying to reassimilate with American culture by proudly displaying a symbol of Americana (imported by the Japanese.))

(Check out the Empire State Building on the left, dominating the other feeble skyscrapers of the city.)

(The Chrysler Building and hundreds of others from the observatory atop the Empire State Building.)

(Freeeedommmm. Statue of Liberty = William Wallace. Clever picture how it looks like I am not engulfed by camera-toting tourists. At this exact moment, I was not toting a camera, therefore I am not classified in that group.)

(A beautiful, crowded day at Central Park. There's nothing better than enjoying nature along with ten thousand of your closest friends. Paul, Delrene, Dave and Pete (Paul's aunt) met up with me for the day, so I tagged along for a tour of the city from the experts, followed by a professional soccer match in the evening.)

(An obligatory scene in Central Park.)

Last Day in Iceland

(The long and winding road.)

(A former volcanic caldera. Not so impressive anymore.)

(Back at Hraunfossar where the stream of waterfalls is created by the cracks beneath the surface of the lava rocks, one of our last stops. Some of those falls come from our tears at knowing the journey is nearly over.)

(I have no idea, but how could you not take a picture of this? She's naked, unnaturally tan with fake grey hair and obscenely gesturing. I don't know about you, but that makes me really want to buy an energy drink.)

(We had some time to kill in Reykjavík on our last day...)

(My favorite supermarket, mostly because of the mascot which looks like a drunk pig. After about five or six tries, Mike was finally successful in talking the manager's into letting me buy one of the worker's t-shirts. They also have the best little chocolate donuts ever. They taste a little bit like heartburn, but a little more like heaven. It's so worth it.)

(Mike and our last view of Reykjavík. Maybe it was windy, maybe he always wears his hair like that. You'll never know.)

Snæfellsnes and the West Fjords

(North of Reykjavík, we followed the coast in and out of the Western fjords, covered in grass, snow-capped peaks and waterfalls...just like the rest of Iceland.)

(More flowers on the way to Glymur, the highest waterfall in Iceland. The poorly marked trail confused our feeble minds, so we ended up on the side of the canyon that doesn't have a good view of the falls.)

(Mike's enjoying the nice view, though the true Glymur falls is just around the other side of these smaller falls.)

(Just above the falls, the banks come together almost enough to entice us to try to jump across. If not for some strong winds, slippery landings and the fear of being swept down a 650 foot waterfall, we might have attempted it. That jump could have saved us an hour and a half of walking back down and up, so I still don't know what I'd decide if I had to do it again.)

(The one on the right is Glymur. The whole canyon is beautiful, though the experience would have been more pleasant with a more defined trail. There were certain points walking along steep edges with gravel sliding under our feet - not the safest thing I've ever done.)

(The late night sun lights up some of the rugged coastline near Grundarfjörður.)

(We got to this town about 10:30 pm to find the hostel fully booked. As a consolation, I bought some great sour apple ring candy from the grocery store before leaving town. Good candy knows no borders.)

(One of the few golden sand beaches in Iceland. "Hey, nice pants. Are you going wading? Hahaha." "Actually, yes." "Oh.")

Heading Back West

(Dwarfed by the massive, 200 ft Skogáfoss. Or to be more politically correct: "Little-peopled by Skogáfoss.")

(We stayed in a hostel just around the corner from this picture with a view of this from the back side of the building.)

(Though sometimes frequented by tour buses, we had the place mostly to ourselves on our way back towards the West coast. We had planned on hiking around above the waterfall on a nice trail, but our blisters from ice climbing made the decision for us.)

(The black one in the front is a horse. The other sheep and rock related paraphenalia is not.)

(No rental cars were damaged in the production of this picture. Well, maybe just one. But it's a small dent.)

(It's hard not to take pictures of everything you see in this beautiful country.)

Ice Climbing at Svínafellsjökull

(Here's Mike on his first climb up one of the many walls of the massive glacier.)

(The view from the ice is spectacular, once you get past the first few hundred feet which is ice covered in dirt and mud that slides down from the surrounding mountains.)

(Now a seasoned veteran, Mike is ready to move on to the big stuff.)

(For our second set of climbs, our guide lowered us into a large crevasse, and we had to climb our way back out of it.)

(Here you see Erin, our guide, checking to see if Mike is ready to begin from the bottom. Mike may have lied about his experience (or lack thereof) in order to ensure that we had a challenging set of climbs. It worked out well.)

(My view while waiting on Mike to emerge from the depths below.)

(This huge glacier is actually connected to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe and 13% of Iceland's area.)

(An action shot of Mike about to finish his ascent. Erin used to be a professional photographer in New York, so she has one handed photography and rope holding long as Mike doesn't fall.)

(That's me in the middle of my climb. While at the bottom, we got a good look into those black holes which are actually huge caverns of clear blue ice on the inside.)

(Looks imposing with those ice picks, right? I think the crooked helmet helps balance out the mood.)

(Unforunately, our boots didn't fit well, so by this point in the day, our toes and heels were bleeding and/or throbbing at every kick into the ice, but we still loved every minute of it.)

(Mike lounges back and shows off his cramp-ons while enjoying the scenery. Surprisingly, we never tried to kick each other with those attachments on. I'll have to remember that for next time.)

(Finishing off a really great tour on the glacier. Ice climbing is highly recommended if you ever have the chance.)

Beautiful Morning at Jökulsarlón

(a) Mike got so excited that he ran towards the icebergs, tripped on the rocks and got a concussion or (b) He was trying to get an artistic picture from water level.

(We had a clear, sunny day for my second visit to the glacial lagoon, completely different than the first time I visited.)

(Some of the unique ice formations of Jökulsarlón.)

(Appealing cloud action.)

(Due to high winds the past few days, many of the icebergs had been blown to one side of the lake, further delaying their escape into the ocean.)

(An aerial view from one of the adjacent rocky hills. If you look closely, you can see Mike walking along the shore in a blue jacket in the lower right of the picture.)

(One final view of this wonderful place - another of my favorite spots in Iceland. Apparently during the winter they do a spectacular fireworks show over the lagoon.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Amazing Canyon - Fjarðrárgljúfur

(This is a field of lava rocks, covered in thick green moss. We probably weren't supposed to walk on it but too late for that.)

(Amazing how lava rocks covered in moss can look like a human brain, if also covered in green moss.)

(At the start of the canyon, simply named Fjarðrárgljúfur.)

(Mike hiding in one of the precarious nooks of the tall canyon.)

(Lots of narrow walkways jutting out over the water below made for some good pictures.)

(If Mike had to describe himself in one word, it would be stoic. He might say stowic, but that's what he means.)

(This unique place was almost other-worldly, though, on the contrary, it did remind me in parts of some pictures I've seen of Madagascar.)

(After hiking about a mile and a half to the end of the canyon, we took a nap on the soft grass, admiring the view and tranquility of the area. We didn't see another person until we got back to our car.)

(Another random waterfall along the side of the road. This is Foss a Siðu.)

(Me back at Svartifoss. We tried a bit of hiking around the area, but it was very windy, and it looked like heavy rain was coming in. Though, it looks like that a lot of the time in Iceland.)

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