Author Archives: smiller257

About smiller257

Steve and Lynn Miller retired at age 50 and now spend their time traveling, making new friends and enjoying the adventures of life. They keep 2 blogs: We Retired Early - http://www.WeRetiredEarly.com We Be Tripping - http://www.WeBeTripping.com/Blog

Video Tour of our 2 Weeks in Iceland – Just Wow!

For our final blog on Iceland, we are bringing you some of our adventures in video so you can get an even better appreciation of the beauty of Iceland. I hope you enjoy it.

Kirkjufell Mountain

Kirkjufell, or ‘Church Mountain’, is a distinctly shaped peak found on the north shore of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short distance away from the town of Grundarfjörður. It is often called the most photographed mountain in Iceland due to its dramatic formation and perfect coastal location. Several Game of Thrones scenes were filmed in this location.

Gullfoss Waterfall

If you start your tour of Iceland in Reykjavik, this will probably be the first waterfall you encounter — an iconic multi-step cascade along a 90° bend of the Hvitá River.

You might recognize the waterfall when you arrive as Gullfoss has been used as a filming location for several blockbusters and popular TV series. It was used as a backdrop for the TV series Lost in Space and in the popular Vikings TV series.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is part of the river Seljalandsá, and has its origins underneath the glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The volcano beneath this ice cap erupted in 2010 and caused havoc at airports across Europe.

The cascade of the falls is relatively narrow but falls from a tall cliff that once marked the country’s coastline, the sea is now located across a stretch of lowlands and is visible from the site.

This waterfall flows from 200 feet above and you can walk behind it if you don’t mind getting a little wet.

Skógafoss Waterfall

Legend has it that a Viking named Thrasi hid a chest of gold beneath the falls. Many have attempted to retrieve it, and one man almost succeeded by tying a rope to the handle of the chest and pulling. He was only able to obtain the ring of the chest, however; now, it’s said, the ring is attached to a church door in the small village of Skógar.

As we walked towards the waterfall, wind grew to about 50 mph and it was difficult to keep grounded.

Vík í Mýrdal 

With a population of 300 inhabitants and no towns or settlements for at least 50 km in each direction, the small village of Vik is a perfect town for a sunset. The beautiful black beach Reynisdrangar rises majestically out of the Atlantic Ocean and in the distance you can see black basalt-lava columns sculpted by the sea. The story is that they are former trolls which were caught outside at dawn – trolls could not see the sunlight, then they would turn into stone.

Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Iceland has spectacular canyons, one of which is Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in South-Iceland. Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon with a serpent-like shape and was not well-known to visitors to Iceland until a few years ago.  Justin Bieber was influential in introducing Fjaðrárgljúfur to other travelers, as he shot parts of his video “I’ll show you” in the canyon, and in other beautiful locations in South-Iceland during his Iceland visit back in 2015.

Northern Lights

We saw the Aurora Borealis 4 times during our 12 day stay in Iceland, this was in Southern Iceland in Kirkjubaejarklaustur. The night skies lit up in spectacular green, swirling beyond belief. Our tour guide, Stefano, said that someone in our group must have excellent karma because normally they don’t experience the Northern Lights in this way.

Fagurholsmyri

Amid misty glaciers and snow-capped mountains on Iceland’s southern coast, Fagurholsmyri is a beautiful agricultural county. It features mesmerizing glacial lagoons, an ice cave and the country’s highest mountain. We hiked this area to discover a flowing waterfall among serrated rock.

Jökulsárlón  Iceberg Lagoon

Film buffs will recognize Jökulsárlón from huge movie hits like Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, and 2 James Bond films: A View to a Kill and Die Another Day. It’s not surprising why famous directors would choose this amazing location as a backdrop! We took Zodiac to visit the icebergs, it was amazing!

A short drive from Jökulsárlón is Diamond Beach – a black sand beach with a shoreline dotted with clumps of ice that shimmer in the light, ranging from perplexingly clear gems to a deep, blue hue. These ice shards broke off from a nearby glacier, floated down the stretching Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and came to rest on Diamond Beach. They make for the perfect addition to an already stunning sea view. We made it here at sunset and got some amazing photos.

East Fjords

​The Eastfjords of Iceland is a 75 mile stretch of coastline from Berufjörður, in the south, to the small fishing village of Borgarfjörður Eystri in the north.

East Iceland has many narrow fjords, surrounded by steep cliffs flanked by fishing villages. The East Fjords have fantastic scenery, remote fishing villages, sparkling lakes, dense forests and traditional farms and has the sunniest weather in the country.

This area is famous for herds of wild reindeer – the only place in the country where reindeer live. Initially brought over for farming, the industry was never lucrative, and they have roamed free ever since. We saw reindeer in this area and it was my first ever sighting.

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. It was a cold and windy trek to the waterfall but we were greeted with circular rainbows.

The thunderous fall has an average water flow of 6,186 cubic feet per second. It is 330 feet wide and plummets 150 feet down into Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.

This canyon is in the northern part of the greater Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in the country, thus Dettifoss is well protected.

Námafjall Geothermal Area 

The Námafjall Geothermal Area is located in Northeast Iceland, on the east side of Lake Mývatn. Here you will see many smoking fumaroles and boiling mud pots, surrounded by sulphur crystals of many different colours. This sulphur gives the area an overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.

Around the area is a small hiking trail up to Námaskarð pass and Námafjall mountain, which returns to the highway and the parking lot. In 1969 a geothermal power plant was built west of the Námafjall area.

Vogafjós Farm Resort

This restaurant is so unique, it deserves a video. It is located in the Lake Mývatn area but what makes it unique (other than the good food) is that it has a cow feeding area connected to the restaurant and you can see the cows through wall sized windows. Once you’re done eating, you can go out and pet the cows — very cool experience!

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir, commonly referred to as the Black Fortress, is a dramatic expanse of lava in the Lake Mývatn area of Iceland and is the home of the 13 Christmas Santas (called Yule Lads).

In Icelandic culture, lava caves are allegedly the homes of the nation’s brutal and vile trolls. The most famous was Grýla and her husband Leppalúði. Grýla and her gigantic pet cat, that would eat children over the Christmas period for not finishing their weaving, knitting and sewing chores before season end.

Grýla and Leppalúði had 13 sons who lived in Dimmuborgir and are now known as the ‘Icelandic Santa Clauses’ or Yule Lads. On the 13 nights before Christmas, these trolls come one by one to terrorize Icelandic children, each with their own strategy after which they were named. For example, Window-Peeper would stare into houses, looking for things to steal while Skyr-Gobbler would steal children’s skyr. Skyr is a tasty dessert similar to cake.

The Yule Lads were probably invented to keep children from going out into the cold Icelandic winter nights, where many disappeared without a trace for centuries. More recently, the legend has changed as they now wear Santa costumes instead of traditional Icelandic wear and now bring gifts. But they steal skyr — who can resist?

Goðafoss Waterfall

Goðafoss, or “waterfall of the gods” was called this because in the year 1000, Porgeir Ljosventningagodi made Christianity the religion of Iceland and threw all of his pagan god statues into the waterfall. We were lucky to catch several rainbows around the falls.

Akureyri Whale Watching

We decided to go whale watching but knew it would be difficult to impress us since we had seen lots of humpback whales during our trip to Antarctica a few years ago, but that was premature. This excursion was not part of our Globe Drifters agenda but a few fellow travelers joined us.

In less than 30 minutes, we started seeing whales in all directions. They were coming up for air then doing a deep dive leaving only their tails in the air as they descend. We must have seen 30 or more whales — the whale spotter said this was the most whales they’ve seen in a long time. We have a lot of yogis in our group — so definitely great Karma going around for us to be able to see Northern Lights and an abundance of whales.

Beer Baths in Árskógssandur

You’ve never soaked your buns in beer? You don’t know what you’re missing! This restaurant and craft brewery allows patrons to soak for 30 minutes in the good stuff. I’ll spare you from seeing us in the spa but I can tell you it’s very relaxing!

Hraunfossar Waterfall

Hraunfossar Waterfall in West Iceland, believed to have formed in about 800 AD just before settlers arrived in Iceland. The falls are formed by surface water and melting glaciers that run between lava layers, giving the water a silky light blue hue. This was my favorite waterfall in Iceland.

Reykjavik 

If you get a chance to go to Reykjavik, visit the Sky Bar where you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the bay.

Here is a quick recap of our tour:

Interested in Seeing More?

See more of our Iceland blogs here. Here is a map of our entire trip:

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Iceland – Finishing up our tour in Reykjavik

Wow, what a trip. After traveling 45 countries, Iceland is definitely in the top 5.

After a restful night in Northern Iceland, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise.

Our last stop before Reykjavik was the Hraunfossar & Barnafoss Waterfalls in West Iceland, believed to have formed in about 800 AD just before settlers arrived in Iceland. The falls are formed by surface water and melting glaciers that run between lava layers, giving the water a silky light blue hue.

Making it to Reykjavik, we headed straight to the most visited geothermal baths in Iceland, the famed Blue Lagoon.

Just prior to Lesly taking this picture, Danny photo-bombed us hard:

Imagine soaking your bones in heated volcanic water and bellying up to the water bar when you feel like a cocktail. You can even get a mud mask if you want a little extra face relaxation.

We had 2 days in Reykjavik so we took advantage of this time with a walking city tour then continued on by exploring the city on our own. The largest church in Iceland is located here, a Lutheran church named Hallgrímskirkja. It took 41 years to construct the church and it was designed to to resemble the trap rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape.

The inside of the church is equally impressive with a huge organ.

Next to the church is Einnars Jonnsonar Museum, open year round and free. There are over 20 sculptures with thought provoking poses like this one, a man drinking milk from a cow udder. Strange.

There were interesting murals around town. I recently found a website with pictures of lots more murals in Reykjavik, see it here.

I love the varying architecture around town, it’s a mix of styles.

In terms of food, one of the most iconic street vendors is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, serving up Icelandic hot dogs, one of the staples of the local diet. It was not my cup of tea but I had to try it.

The best place we ate in Reykjavik was Caruso, an Italian restaurant in the center of town. If you are staying overnight here, I highly recommend it.

In terms of breakfast, you must try to the cinnamon buns at Brauð & Co — they melt in your mouth. We liked them so much, we visited twice.

If you have extra time in Reykjavik, visit the Flyover Iceland attraction that utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight as you virtually soar of sweeping glaciers, stunning fjords and the most iconic Icelandic landscapes — many of which we personally visited in our 11 days.

You hang suspended, feet dangling, before a huge spherical screen while the film takes you on an exhilarating journey across Iceland. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience.

We also visited the Magic Ice Bar, this is a fun way to experience a cocktail.

We wound down at sunset in the Sky Bar overlooking the Reykjavik Bay.

As fate would have it, we experienced the Northern Lights for a 4th and final time in Reykjavik. Not as spectacular as we had previously seen while out in the countryside but impressive just the same.

Interested in Seeing More?

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Iceland Days 7/8 – Whale Watching and Beer Baths

We started our day in Northern Iceland at Goðafoss, or “waterfall of the gods”. It was called this because in the year 1000, Porgeir Ljosventningagodi made Christianity the religion of Iceland and threw all of his pagan god statues into the waterfall. We were lucky to catch several rainbows around the falls.

Our Viking guide Stefano was always enjoying the company of Lauren and Lucy.

After visiting the waterfall, we made our way to Akureyri, nicknamed “Capital of North Iceland”. The drive is amazingly beautiful with lots of ocean-side farms and fisheries.

We decided to go whale watching but knew it would be difficult to impress us since we had seen lots of humpback whales during our trip to Antarctica a few years ago, but that was premature. This excursion was not part of our Globe Drifters agenda but a few fellow travelers joined us.

In less than 30 minutes, we started seeing whales in all directions. They were coming up for air then doing a deep dive leaving only their tails in the air as they descend.

We must have seen 30 or more whales — the whale spotter said this was the most whales they’ve seen in a long time. We have a lot of yogis in our group — so definitely great Karma going around for us to be able to see Northern Lights and an abundance of whales.

Akureyri Bay was stunning – pictures don’t do it justice.

The town of Akureyri has an interesting feel — like a small town with metropolitan amenities.

Most cities have murals, I always find myself photographing them because I’m sure each has a story. The image painted by Guido Van Helten (from an photo found in the town’s archives) is portrait of ‘Sia’ (an Icelandic actress) who passed away in 2010 in Akureyri.

A short drive away is the Akureyri Christmas House where everyday is Christmas.

Even the bathroom has Christmas music playing 24:7.

Iceland Day 8 – Beer Baths

You’ve never soaked your buns in beer? You don’t know what you’re missing!

This restaurant and craft brewery allows patrons to soak for 30 minutes in the good stuff. I’ll spare you from seeing us in the spa but I can tell you it’s very relaxing!

After the beer spa, you go upstairs to the “quiet room” where they wrap you like a burrito on a massage bed and meditate for 20 minutes. Once that’s done, you then take in the majestic mountains surrounding this area while soaking in an outdoor hot tub.

All during the trip, Lynn and I had this big joke with Stefano because he is a Viking with a menacing laugh. Lynn said one day she would be joking with him and he would start choking her as his laugh rings aloud.

Towards the end of the day, we made our way to a volcano where you could hike about a thousand steps to the top.

With the sun going down, all of us wanted to be the first to the top. I turned on the jets and made it up first!

Shirley took this picture of me as I made it to the top
Zali and Stefan make it to the top

We ended our night by building a fire and telling stories. Not long afterwards, the Northern Lights made another visit!

Interested in Seeing More?

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Iceland Days 5/6 – East Fjords and The Highland Plains

After visiting the Golden Circle, Southern Coast and the Iceberg Lagoon, we drove along the east coast of Iceland in a day ending with another explosion of Northern Lights. The fjords along the coast are peacefully seductive.

Day 5 – East Fjords

The fjords are filled with beautiful white swans — you don’t normally see this number of swans in one place in the USA.

The mountains surrounding this area are majestic — you can see why Hollywood films are shot in this location.

We took this opportunity to take a group photo (taken by Stefano). Meet (from left to right): Lesley, Lauren, Steve, Lynn, Danny, David, Lucy, Shirley, and Zali.

Making our way north, we stopped at a black sand beach and a few of us meditated along the rocks.

A short distance from the beach, we noticed a herd of reindeer. This was the first time I’d seen reindeer in the wild.

Our next stop was Djúpivogur, a quaint fishing village where we had lunch. The population of Djúpivogur is only 454 but it has a bohemian vibe.

Driving a little further, we visited Stöðvarfjörður, a funky little town of 200 whose church is now on AirBnB — you can stay there if you like!

In 2014 the town converted an old fish factory into a music recording studio called Studio Silo. Recording artists are inspired by the mountains and fjords surrounding the building.

On this night, our lodging was at Fjallakaffi – an active farm since the settlement period. This area is pretty isolated and the night sky was completely dark. Our lodging was in turf houses — our first experience staying in one. They were well appointed and very comfortable. The farm also has a church and a few dogs that adopt you as soon as you arrive — one hopped on our bus before we unloaded!

At 10:30 p.m., the pitch dark sky lit up — even more spectacularly than it had 2 nights ago. Wow — this was going to be a very special trip.

Day 6 – The Highland Plains

The Central Highlands is a remote area that is large yet mostly uninhabited.

We started the day at the Dettifoss waterfall, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. It was a cold and windy trek to the waterfall but we were greeted with circular rainbows.

Our next stop was Namafjall Hverir, a high-temperature geothermal area with fumaroles and mud pots.

We stopped for lunch at Vogafjós Farm Resort in Skútustaðahreppur where you could peer at their cows from a window within the restaurant. After eating, you could go pet and feed the cows. Very interesting concept!

Leaving here, we went to the home of the 13 Yule Lads — Iceland’s 13 Father Christmases.

For good children, the Yule Lad will leave candy. If not, the Yule Lads fill the shoe with rotting potatoes. The Yule Lads live in Dimmuborgir, a mystical landscape with caves and pointy rock formations. Our group took this opportunity to climb the formations and have snow ball fights.

We ended our day in Húsavík, the oldest settlement in Iceland, by soaking our bones in the Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths. This spa borders the ocean where you soak in an infinity pool warmed by volcanic activity. This was the most amazing hot springs we’ve ever luxuriated in.

Interested in Seeing More?

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Iceland Days 3/4 – Southern Coast and First Peek at the Northern Lights

Our first two days of our Iceland trip were exciting but we were about to see even more spectacular scenery culminating in an awe-inspiring light show from the Aurora Borealis.

Day 3 – Southern Coast

We started our day viewing 2 waterfalls. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall flows from 200 feet above. You can walk behind the waterfall if you don’t mind getting a little wet. It was a cold and windy morning (in the upper 20’s) but we were properly layered and enjoyed some hot chocolate afterwards.

Located less than a half mile away is a less visited waterfall and it was one of my favorites because it was not easy to reach. Approaching it looks pretty mild, just a small crevasse with a small view of the falls.

Getting to the bigger falls is a tricky walk between the boulders, jumping from stone to stone in the shallow creek below. Once you get past the first set of boulders, you no longer have the ability to hold onto the sides of the rock for balance so it’s almost a game of hop scotch between rocks — tough to do without falling into the water. Once you make it through, you are rewarded with a towering flow of water coming straight down.

Heading east, we saw beautiful farms flanked by mountains. It was getting really windy and we noticed a few vans had blown off the road.

Next we drove to see the Skógafoss waterfalls. Legend has it that a Viking named Thrasi hid a chest of gold beneath the falls. Many have attempted to retrieve it, and one man almost succeeded by tying a rope to the handle of the chest and pulling. He was only able to obtain the ring of the chest, however; now, it’s said, the ring is attached to a church door in the small village of Skógar.

As we walked towards the waterfall, wind grew to about 50 mph and it was difficult to keep grounded.

Our traveling buddy David barely kept his footing and Lynn and I grabbed our travel friend Lucy as she was also being lifted off the ground — we walked her back to the bus.

With the winds howling, we took respite for a couple of hours in a restaurant next to the falls. This was a nice break as we were able to talk more to our new travel companions and learn more about where they were from and a little about their lives.

After the winds cleared, our tour guide Stefan told us about how J. R. R. Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) was heavily influenced by Icelandic culture. His nanny was Icelandic and he studied Norse mythology, Tolkien had been a reader of the Icelandic sagas since childhood. 

The original houses built in Iceland were called “turf houses” because they were built partly underground and had turf roofs. We saw many original turf houses and some were on display nearby. Tolkien got the idea of the Hobbit houses from these turf houses.

Near here was another impressive waterfall adjacent to a field of grazing sheep.

We ended our day by visiting Fjadrargljufur – the most impressive waterfalls thus far and a black sand beach.

Night fell and we made our way to our hotel for dinner. About 30 minutes after dinner, one of our travel mates (Zali) spotted the Northern Lights! We all ran out and boarded the bus for a short trip to an area with less light. The night skies lit up in spectacular green, swirling beyond belief. Stefano said that someone in our group must have excellent karma because normally they don’t experience the Northern Lights in this way.

I took these photos using my iPhone 13 Pro without a tripod (just tried to hold the camera really steady as it took the picture in night-time mode using long exposure). Others had older iPhones and Android phones that did not pick up the lights as well as my iPhone. I am sure it would have been even better if I’d had a tripod.

Finally, we had realized our dream of the seeing the Aurora Borealis!

Day 4 – Vatnajökull & Iceberg Lagoon

Re-energized after last night’s amazing display of Northern Lights, we made our way to the National Park of Vatnajökull.

Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland covering almost 8% of the country.  It was here that we took a long up-hill hike to another waterfall. This was the longest hike thus far and we ended up with over 20,000 steps this day.

Stefano and Lauren celebrate making it to the summit.

Nearby was Hofskirkja, a cozy turf church built in 1884.

Our next stop was one of our favorite places. We took a zodiac to the Jökulsárlón  Iceberg Lagoon and were able to visit them up close.

LEFT: Lesly, Lauren, Shirley, Steve and Zali
RIGHT: Lucy, Lynn, Danny, David and Stefano
Danny, Lynn and Lucy
Shirley, Steve and Zali

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip. We took a stroll along a black sand beach covered in icebergs — known as Diamond Beach. We hit it right at sunset and it was simply spectacular.

Interested in Seeing More?

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Iceland Days 1/2 – Reykjavik and the Golden Circle

Our first international trip post-COVID was Iceland — a picturesque country located in the Arctic. For years, we’ve dreamed of seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and hoped visiting Iceland in October would give us a good chance. So where exactly is Iceland? It’s north of North America, just east of Greenland and is about the size of Pennsylvania:

Globe Drifters arranged the 11 day tour and we traveled with 7 others from Florida, Boston and the West Coast. Our guide was a charismatic, funny, and knowledgeable Icelander with Viking heritage and our travel mates were fun, energetic and well-traveled.

Iceland is so beautiful, it can’t be summed up in a single blog so you will see a number of blogs flowing over the next few weeks where I try to encapsulate our amazing journey. All pictures where taken with my iPhone 13 Pro — I’m not sure my Nikon camera would have done any better.

Day 1 – The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We arrived in Reykjavik a day early to let our bodies adjust to the new time zone and took advantage of the first free day to tour a section of the island not covered by our tour (the peninsula directly north of Reykjavik called Snæfellsnes).

Leaving Reykjavik, we noticed towering snow capped mountains and steaming geothermal waterways. Reykjavik means “bay of smoke” and was named by Ingolfur Arnason and his wife — the first Norse settlers of Iceland.

Driving north towards the peninsula, you notice coastal mountainous countryside with tall flowing waterfalls, yet void of trees. Initially Iceland had lots of trees but the Viking settlers took them down to build homes and to clear the land for sheep, cattle and horses to graze.

We took a quick stop at a beach and made our way to an Icelandic farm for a home-cooked meal of lamb, fresh fish and vegetables.

The farmer had Icelandic horses, sheep and a few crops. Icelandic horses were brought over by the Vikings and are not mixed with other breeds. They have thick hair, flowing manes and a unique gait that prevents bounciness to the rider. We stopped and petted some of the horses, they were tame and curious.

From here, we stopped by a quaint black church and saw graves dating back to the early 1800s.

Next stop was Arnarstapi, a village on the southern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, once a fishing hub and now a place for travelers to enjoy a hike along the Icelandic coastline.

After a short hike, we drove to our first black sand beach at Djupalonssandur surrounded by lava rocks and dune lakes.

We ended our day in Gjaldskylda at a couple of waterfalls where a few scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed.

Day 2 – The Golden Circle

The next day, we met our Viking tour guide Stefano and our 7 travel mates, then hit the road for the Golden Circle. Stefano was dressed in combat fatigues with an imposing look and menacing laugh. In just a few days, his kind charismatic demeanor, stories of Icelandic life and history had the entire group captivated and by the end of the trip most of the women and some of the men were swooning over him.

Starting in Reykjavik, we drove along this route of the Golden Circle:

The Golden Circle is the most famous of all scenic routes and for many is the only section of Iceland they will see. The Globe Drifters tour had the Golden Circle as the starting point but we saw the entire island and experienced stunning landmarks and historically significant places.

Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park, where 2 continents adjoin. You can walk along the tectonic plates. This is also where Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament more than 1,000 years ago, you can learn more about it from a museum located here.

Daring travelers can snorkel between the tectonic plates. The picture below is courtesy of Blue Car Rental.

Heading further east, we stopped by a geothermal valley called Haukadalur. If you’ve visited Yellowstone National Park in the USA, you will not be impressed as it is not quite “old faithful” but beautiful still.

I was not able to catch a good picture of the most active geyser, the picture below is from the Guide to Iceland website.

Our next stop was at the impressive Gullfoss waterfall.

We capped off day 2 at the Secret Lagoon, a geothermal bath with relaxing and healing hot water.

I’ll leave you with one final picture of the picturesque black church — keep an eye out for upcoming blogs that go deeper into our Iceland trip.

Interested in Seeing More?

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The Eerie Fog of Maine’s Rockland Lighthouse

With our friends Greg and Kathy Tawes, we visited the historic 1902 Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland Maine. Reaching the lighthouse requires a mile-long stroll along cracked and crevassed stone and can be quite eerie in fog.

Through the low-anchored clouds of fog, you had no idea how far you’d gone nor how much further you had to go. Along the route, we saw several lobster fishermen pulling up traps. Greg and Kathy had a brief conservation with one fisherman as he measured his catches.

Kathy’s perfect timing allowed her to snap the fisherman throwing back a lobster that was either pregnant or too small and the reflection off the water was brilliant.

As we continued our journey, the lighthouse came faintly into view and became clearer the closer we walked.

The lighthouse is white on one side and brick on the other. It was originally designed to be operated by keepers but in the late 1940’s, it was automated.

As we made our way back, the fog continued to drift, crystalizing moored boats in the harbor and seagrass strewn rocks.

I imagined how it might look during a winter storm and found a revealing video on the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse Facebook page: https://fb.watch/fj9BKlPMLu/.

Mist by Henry David Thoreau

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the dasied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of the lake and seas and rivers,
Bear only purfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men’s fields!

Source: https://pickmeuppoetry.org/mist-by-henry-david-thoreau/

We enjoyed our time with Greg and Kathy and were happy they included a visit with us in their month long journey.

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Eating our Weight in Maine Lobster

Cabbage Island Clambake

What a feast! Our friends were in town and we wanted them to experience Lobster in a quintessential way so Lynn found Cabbage Island Clambake. Sold out for weeks in advance, Lynn kept refreshing the website hoping for a cancellation. Eureka – just a few days before they arrived a cancellation appeared and we nabbed 4 tickets!

You embark the ship in Boothbay Harbor and cruise for about an hour, catching glimpses of light houses, remote islands and learning the history of this coastal area.

Once we arrived at Cabbage Island, we were seated at a table with nice views of the bay and treated to clam chowder as a starter. Then we made our way to the clambake area to pick up an overflowing plate of 2 lobsters, clams, corn, potato and onion.

I can’t believe you get 2 lobsters each — I thought there was no way we could eat it all. But we all did!

After loosening our belts and devouring the lobster, along came the tallest blueberry cake you’ve ever seen. Slightly comatose, we walked off the lunch by exploring Cabbage Island before heading back to Booth Bay.

Lucky Catch Lobster Tour

A few days later, the night before our friends were leaving, we boarded the Lucky Catch ship for a lobster tour around Portland Maine.

Unlike the Cabbage Island Clambake, this tour was designed to teach you more about lobstering, pulling up lobster traps in Casco Bay.

Each of us loaded smelly fish in the traps before launching them overboard.

Each time we pulled up another trap, the captain measured each lobster and threw back those that were too small or pregnant.

Pregnant lobsters are marked by slicing a piece of their tail so other fisherman will not keep them. Once a pregnant lobster is caught, it is unlawful to keep it in the future.

We would also pull up crab and some would zen out if you flipped them on their backs.

Before ending our tour, we caught an up close view of the Portland Head Light.

Once the tour was complete, we took 4 lobsters from our boat over to the Portland Lobster Company — they perfectly cooked the lobster and provided all the fixings. We really enjoyed our visit with Greg and Kathy Tawes.

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Cycling through Portsmouth New Hampshire

Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in America, incorporated in 1653. This area is the cradle of the American Revolution. We’ve all heard the story of Paul Revere riding into town shouting “The British are coming” or “The Red Coats are coming” — to warn the Revolutionists that the British were on their way to attack. Portsmouth is where this took place in 1774.

Portsmouth is a coastal city and was an important trade route for the early Europeans and a fishing mecca.

Portsmouth shoreline

Our good friends from Florida (Greg and Kathy Tawes) were visiting so we decided to take a cycling tour around Portsmouth — it’s a great way to see the city and get a little exercise.

Starting in Portsmouth, the tour follows the Piscataqua River (a tributary to the Atlantic Ocean) to New Castle, New Hampshire.

Along the way we stopped at Four Tree and Pierce Island.

After cycling, we headed into Portsmouth for a popover. A popover is a light roll made from egg batter, baked in a special pan that shares its name, which has deep wells with straight-walled sides. Their origin is English-inspired. Settlers from Maine who founded Portland Americanized the pudding from Yorkshire. If you visit this area, you must have one.

After filling our bellies, we visited our son and daughter-in-law’s farm then headed to York Maine to see the Nubble Light house. There were a few guys fishing off the banks, pulling up squid.

We really enjoyed the visit with Greg and Kathy and you’ll see more blogs in the coming weeks covering our escapades.

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Stowe Vermont’s Beauty Rivals Breckenridge Colorado

After living in Colorado for almost 15 years, I considered Breckenridge one of the most beautiful mountain towns. We recently visited Stowe Vermont, nicknamed “The Ski Capital of the East” and it is surprisingly beautiful.

Situated in the scenic Green Mountains of Northern Vermont, Stowe feels like a Colorado town. It has more hiking trails than anywhere I’ve seen, tons of bike paths, rivers and streams, covered bridges, and well groomed walking trails in town leading to parks and an assortment of restaurants.

We stayed in Sterling Ridge Resort just outside of Stowe. As you drive through Stowe on VT 108 towards Jeffersonville, it runs through Mount Mansfield State Forest — and it is stunning. The road narrows so that 2 cars can barely fit and you are suddenly surrounded by hiking trails, climb-friendly rock formations, rich green forage and expansive mountain vistas. It has plentiful parking pull offs for a quick hike.

Sterling Ridge Resort has about 20 cabins for rent, from studio cabins to plush cabins with huge fireplaces and decks that surround the home overlooking a large pond. We visited with Cameron, Kara and Hadley, so we chose a pet friendly 2 bedroom cabin near a smaller pond.

The resort has 2 ponds, hiking trails, fishing, heated pool, game room and outdoor activities including corn hole and horse shoes.

They supply a fire pit for a relaxing end of the day.

Just a short drive from Sterling Ridge Resorts is Mount Mansfield where you can take a gondola to the top for amazing views and hiking trails. For those of you into electric vehicles (EVs), I spotted a Rivian truck at the base of the mountain.

It was a cloudy day so even though it limited our views at the mountain top, it made for temperate hiking.

Ziggi surprised me at how nimble she was as she climbed the rocks.

Just a short gondola ride is a little village that reminded us of Keystone or Telluride Colorado.

On our last day in Stowe, we walked around the town and enjoyed the parks via the paved walking/biking trails.

If you are ever in New England, I highly recommend a visit to Stowe and if you get a chance to get there by driving through northern New Hampshire, you’ll also be rewarded with stunning views of the White Mountains.

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