We finally made it to Reykjavik. It’s been a long week driving around Iceland’s ring road. For the most part, it has been cold and rainy. Not your ideal honeymoon conditions, but it was definitely an adventure.
When last Shannon left off, we had visited the tiny town of Dragsnes in the eastern Westfjords. The rain did not stop following us there. We drove south towards the Snæfellsnes peninsula to stay on a horse farm. The drive was both wet and windy, but we made it while stopping at a few more hot pots on the way. The first we visited is the oldest known spring in Iceland and is called Guðrúnarlaug. Don’t get me started on pronunciation. I didn’t even try over here. Our fave however, was a well-hidden pot about 8 kilometers up a rocky dirt road on the side of a mountain.
We ended up on the horse farm later that day after more than five hours on the road. It was raining when we arrived and continued through the night, so the northern lights evaded us again.
The following morning we cruised around the Snæfellsnes peninsula and checked out Snæfellsjoekull National Park. It’s one of the more picturesque parts of Iceland. The middle is made up of Snæfellsjökull, a large volcano of which the park is named after. It’s the same volcano they go down into in Journey to the Center of the Earth. We also stumbled across a volcanic beach with some pretty cool rock pillars.
On the road to Reykjavik, we came across some very tame wild goats that enjoyed some carrots and as always, I had to pick one up.
On our final full day in Iceland, we checked out Reykjavik, did a bit of shopping and got some Icelandic tattoos to commemorate the trip. Shannon got a scene of trees and mountains, while I got a raven, which we saw a ton of along our trip. Ravens are super smart birds and have a large part in the Norse culture and history. They symbolize wisdom and knowledge, which are both things I’m trying to cultivate in my own life. Also, this thing just looks badass.
We’ve loved nearly every second of our trip here in Iceland. If we could go back and change anything, honestly, we’d come when it wasn’t raining the entire time. And maybe do a bit less driving. But all in all, this has been a pretty incredible adventure, and a great way to celebrate the beginning of our married life together. Thanks for following along!
I feel like I’m starting to get a feel for Iceland and the people here. Everyone we have met has been so nice to us so far. I have also started to see how different America is from the rest of the world (or Iceland at least). In America we live a life of excess, here they live a life of simplicity and necessity.
We have been driving East from the airport in Keflavik and are making our way counter-clockwise around the country, mostly along the ring road, or highway 1. We have yet to see a billboard or highway advertisement. We haven’t come across a single strip mall, McDonalds, Wal-Mart or Starbucks. We haven’t seen one commercial, ad or sign promoting the latest pharmaceutical. They just don’t have the type of commercialism here that I am so used to in the states. Granted, the entire population of the country only makes up around 300k people. Still, it’s a welcome change.
We spent yesterday driving from Mjóeyri to Akureyri. Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland after the capital, Reykjavik. I’d say Akureyri is about half the size of Royal Oak, and is isolated along the middle of the Northern Atlantic shore. The city is set in one of the Fjords, which are a long, narrow inlets of water, surrounded by steep cliffs on all sides. (Basically the opposite of a peninsula) It is truly awe-inspiring.
Along our drive here, we stopped at quite a few natural attractions. The area between the two cities is very geothermally active. We saw boiling mud pots, steam vents, fissures, volcanic caves and even hiked to the top of a Tuff Ring Volcano called Hverfjall.
We got into Akureyri in the evening and headed out for dinner. Long story short, we ate both Puffin and Reindeer. It turns out Puffin is one of the most delicate and sweet meats we’ve tried. It may be the best thing I’ve ever tasted. When we got back to our room, the staff at the hotel left us a bottle of Moscato to toast our marriage to. How nice.
The highlight of the day however, was the fox I got to hold that morning. His name is Rasmus.
As you all know, Shannon and I were married this last Monday in Frisco, Colorado. We left the following day on our honeymoon to Iceland! Well, it turns out Iceland is cold, wet and windy. I was wondering for a long time yesterday evening why we didn’t go to Punta Cana. Probably because Punta Cana doesn’t have the Blue Lagoon!
After leaving the warm waters of Grindavík, we set off for our first night’s stay near Sulfoss. There wasn’t much going on in town, so after a quick meal we headed to our cabin in the middle of nowhere.
The last couple of days had been quite long, with the wedding and the full day of travel, so when we finally did get to sleep last night, I slept for 11 hours. Shannon slept for 14.
Today was a bit more eventful. We drove along the ring road through Southeast Iceland. The highway took us past waterfalls, black sand beaches, basalt pillars and a volcano.
Tonight, we ended up near Meðallandsvegur and are once again staying in a small cabin. So far Icelandic food has been pretty similar to American food. However, they know how to do pizza and hot dogs here. America, take a lesson.
It has been a couple of days since Shannon and I have had the time and internet access to fill you in about our adventure, and I do apologize. The last three days have been the best of our trip so far.
We left Freeport, Maine on Tuesday morning and stopped at the desert of Maine on our way to catch our boat in Port Clyde. For those of you who are not aware, the desert of Maine is the Eastern-most desert in the United States. It is quite small and is made up of mounds of glacial silt. It was quite beautiful at dawn, and was definitely worth the five minutes we had to check it out. Are you sick of the fish-eye yet?
We then left for Port Clyde and enjoyed another nice ride through coastal Maine. Arriving at the docks seemed to take nearly no time at all after the relatively short hour and a half drive from Freeport. It was nice not to have to sit in the car for five hours.
We departed on the Elizabeth Ann for Monhegan. We rode at the bow and enjoyed the salty breeze. It is safe to say that neither Shannon or I get seasick, as it was quite choppy up there.
About an hour later, we arrived at the island. As we were pulling up to the docks, our captain came out on deck and was overheard saying that someone had fallen in. As it turned out, he wasn’t referring to anyone aboard our craft, but instead a local fishing boat that was not too far from where we were floating. Lo and behold, we could see a man in the water. Our boat scooted over to the fishing vessel but the rest of their crew had no problem helping the cold fisherman out of the water. Our boat did however wait as the fishing boat took the soaking fellow over to the docks so he could get a hot shower and a cup of hot tea whiskey.
After disembarking, we had finally made it to Monhegan Island. What a place. I read online that the locals have a slogan for the island. It goes ‘Welcome to Monhegan Island, now leave.’ The place did a pretty good job of living up to that mantra. There is one public bathroom on the entire island and it closes at 4pm. If you are on the island after four, you have to walk back to your inn to use the facilities. The island is only a couple of square miles, but your own two feet are the sole form of transportation. So after drinking at the brewery for an hour or two, walking a mile round trip just to use the bathroom can get annoying. We deposited our bags at our hotel and started exploring.
We found a cool lighthouse, scrambled down to the rocks to photograph the beach, and eventually ended up at the brewery. Yes, Monhegan Island has a brewery. That may or may not be the reason we had picked it as a travel destination in the first place. Not surprisingly, they had excellent beer. Only four drafts on tap, but what can you expect on an island of sixty or so. The place had a small indoor area where beer was poured, but out front on the lawn was the spot where the beer was drank. We were there for no less than three hours, which was enough to get me ‘cut off’ after a mere three beverages. Granted two of them were 9.2% alcohol, but even so, I wasn’t driving anywhere and was still very coherent. Their explanation was they didn’t actually want tourists getting drunk on their lawn. Strange for a brewery if you ask me, but it definitely fit with the island spirit. They were happy to sell me a growler of their pale ale, which I proceeded to drink on their lawn.
We chatted up two college aged girls who were on the island to work for a couple of months. (Hi Milka and Bianca!) Drunken plans were made to hike to the Northeast side of the island to see the sun rise in the morning, and we left for dinner. That night we enjoyed some delicious seafood and called it a night.
The next morning we somehow managed to wake up at 5am. A few excedrin later, we were on the street ready for our foray into the wild side of the island. Upon waiting a few minutes, we realized we were going to be alone on the hike, so we started off. (We later found out that the girls were simply running late and we did not wait long enough. Oh well.)
Our morning hike ended up being quite a lot more than either of us expected. It was like a hike hike. We scrambled through overgrown thickets and across rocky outcroppings. All in all, we hiked for nearly an hour before arriving at our destination, blackhead. As we learned from conversation with the girls the previous day, and firsthand the morning after, Monhegan Island is having a real problem maintaining their hiking trails. I read online there are approximately seventeen miles of hiking trails. Much of the trail we hiked was eroded and in varying stages of collapse.
The sunrise was spectacular. Everything we could have hoped for. We snapped photos until the sun was up a ways and headed back to clean up and leave the island. We were exhausted, starving and thirsty as ever by the time we arrived back at the Shining Sails. They were kind enough to serve us fresh baked zucchini muffins and coffee, and we were on our way. We rode the Laura B back to Port Clyde and headed for camp.
Our drive up to camp was quite nice. We had the chance to stop at a seaside lobster hut and stuff our faces with lobster, crab and clam chowder. It made for a delicious lunch break. A couple of hours later we arrived at Blue Loon. Shannon wants to take over from here, so this is where I end.
Bed in our hotel room
Miles driven: ~320 (about 1000 overall)
I am going to keep this short as we have a lot of things planned for tomorrow and I am already pretty tired. Today we found ourselves back on the leaf-peeping highway along with a few dozen other peepers looking to get in on the fall action.
We set out from Saratoga Springs and made our way through New York to Vermont, New Hampshire and eventually Maine. We only stopped at three breweries today, my favorite being a locals-only speakeasy type of place with the only entrance being around back. It was fittingly called ‘Some Brewing Company.’ The most interesting drink I tasted today however, was had at Portsmouth Brewery. It was a hard cider brewed with habañero.
As we drove up the coast of Maine, we couldn’t avoid an obligatory stop for lobster from a seaside window. It happened to be within view of a nice looking lighthouse, so we peeped on that as well. The night was capped off with dinner with my cousin Andrew and his wife Christine and their new baby boy, Aiden. What a cute and very happy little guy! Without further ado, here are some photos from the day. Tomorrow, it’s off to Monhegan Island.
Sofa in our hotel in Saratoga Springs
What a difference one day makes. Yesterday was somewhat of a bummer. We experienced the overly kitschy Niagra Falls area, got turned away from one brewery and had an ho-hum experience at another. Not awful, but nothing to write home about… (I know, I know)
Today’s experience was vastly different. We started out in Buffalo and headed east. The first stop of the day was a happy mistake. We missed a turn and ended up in Utica, home to Saranac. We payed $5 each and sampled a few of their concoctions. The best in my opinion was a single malt barrel-aged scotch ale. It had all of the flavor of a shot of good whiskey without the harshness of a gulp of the hard stuff. We continued on.
Driving through the Adirondack area of New York was quite fun. Taking the back roads exposed us to a taste of the changing fall colors. Here is a sample:
While much smaller than yesterday’s falls, we did stumble across some rushing water and stopped to take some pics. Here are just a few: (We played around with a new fisheye lens as well as some of the shutter speed settings on my camera. I think we got some cool effects.)
After loitering around the river bend for a bit, we decided to get back on the road and find some more beer to drink. It didn’t take long to come across Adirondack Brewery. Had a nice stout and met a couple of dudes that pointed us in the direction of a new brewery in Glens Falls called Common Roots Brewing. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The beer was excellent, (I had a sour wheat ale and a citrusy ginger pale ale) but the company was better. We chatted with some of the locals – what up Chris and Josh – and had a great end to our first full day on the road. Keeping it short so I can get to sleep. Another long day of driving awaits in the A.M.
If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you know one of us. If not, let me introduce myself, my name is Dave and my girlfriend is Shannon. This is our website.
We have a lot of upcoming trips and activities planned, and since neither of us are that into Facebook, we decided a website would be the best place to share these adventures with our family and friends. Our soonest upcoming adventure will be a nine day road trip to Maine and back. (More on that in the next post)
If you do want to follow our travels and experience our adventures second hand, then please sign up for our email list. You will get our travel posts every time a new one is published as well as the occasional general update. We hope you do, but no pressure.
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Sign Up: (The lazy method) Just send Shannon or I an email, text, Facebook message, call us, or drop by if none of those work, and we will gladly sign you up. If you got this far, you probably already have our contact info.