I was given most of the day off today to be a tourist, but first I had to do the morning chores. Helgi continues to bring orphans home from other farms (I think he may have a problem) and this beautiful little spotted mouflon lamb fell into my lap. It is only 2 days old and was a triplet. Helgi said the other two siblings were a lot larger pushing this little guy out of the way so he couldn't nurse. He has been moved up to first on the list to be adopted out so he will be the only one adopted out because we only have two more pregnant ewes left! Yes, you read that right, the final two and one is expected to have a single lamb making her a perfect candidate for our little orphan. It was a good thing I was leaving the barn because I would not have stopped holding this little one, he is just so sweet and tiny and rests his head on your shoulder.
New orphan from different farm
The lost lamb from yesterday found his mom with the help of Snædis, but it had been too long and the mother did not want him back. He is also not making many friends in the orphan pen because he continues to try to nurse from the other orphans. It is an invasion of their privacy and they never turn their backs on him because he does not hesitate to get underneath them. Hopefully he will start to figure out that not everything that moves is his mother. Once done, I packed up for my trip to Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss. My sneakers were still soaked from helping Snædis fix fencing yesterday, and I am taking a break from the clogs (for obvious reasons) so Helgi graciously loaned me his "going out" boots, which were a little big but were perfect for a day of hiking.
"Going Out" Boots
I was also equipped with Snædis's Lancer. It is just about the age to qualify as a legal adult in the US, has over 220,000 miles on it, has some large dents from accidents in the past and the brakes make a loud honking when breaking in reverse. It is a unique car and it was equipped with 2 spare tires instead of the normal 1.... just in case.
In other circumstances this car is fantastic, the only issue is, the way to get to my destination was on roads that had signs like these:
Snædis scoffed at the sign and asserted they need to put her Lancer on the sign as an acceptable car because it is that good, maybe even better than SUVs. As I made my way past the fields of sheep, the view started to get very gray and flat. I am not sure why this stretch of land looks like this. It had some moss but other than that is was a lot of rocks. I asked Snædis and Helgi this evening why this looked the way it does and they were not quite sure, it was possibly older lava fields.
I passed over a bridge which brought me back to the green fields and flowing water, and a waterfall! During the drive, I lost count of the waterfalls I saw, they are everywhere! They are smaller than big tourist attractions like Gullfoss but I think just as beautiful.
Another common thing to see in the landscape were cairns (see picture below), they are manmade stone piles that date back centuries (9th and 10th century) and were trail markers for those on foot trying to make it safely across the country. It helped especially in bad weather when the fog or snow was too thick to see your way so you would stop at a cairn. I tried to line up the picture so you can see on in the forefront and then there was on (on the left) in the background.
My first stop was Þingvellir National Park. This park was created to protect the country's first place of parliament. It was established in 930 and used into the 18th century. The most interesting part is they placed it in the center of a fault between two tectonic plates. So, you are in between two very large walls of rock. This rift in the plates just never seemed to end, even when the path ended, the rift continued. One of the things the park had many signs and educational material on was the executions done by parilment. There was a different execution for different crimes. I walked the "Dead man's path" that leads to Gallow's Rock where these men would see their end. There is also a beautiful waterfall, and marshland where you guessed it, men and women would see their end.
Photographic evidence I am still okay (this is for you mom)
Of course, they did other things then executions at their parliament building, they did things like open markets and having discussions but the park really lacked information on that stuff. In the marshes, they did not have swans but geese and these geese had little goslings. They made it very difficult for any tourist to walk on the path because the geese would bring the whole family on the path and then get upset if people approached them. One momma goose didn't see us as much of a threat so she walked her family away from the tourists (to everyone's relief).
There is also a serious problem with people throwing money into any body of water that they see. I agree that Iceland is magical and it is like stepping into another world but Iceland is trying to maintain that "wild look". They have a multitude of signs lining any form of water telling tourist not to throw money in and yet they continue to do it.
If you look close to the bottom of the above picture you will see a rock in the water coated with coins.
I hiked all of the paths until I got to a dead end (pictured above). It was possible for you to walk on top of the rocks (picture below) but if you have any fear of heights this is not for you. There are large spaces in between rocks that appear to be bottomless pits. As I tried to step over the bottomless pit, the rock supporting me moved and I saw my future and it was ending up being the Icelandic equivalent of the 127 hours guy (man that fell in a rock formation like this and was trapped forcing himself to chop off his own limb), so once I regained clarity, and I swiftly left the path.
One of the other things I love about this place is every visitor center has a place to get a good cup of coffee (or kaffi). I stopped to get a map and a cup of caffeinated wonderment and headed on my way to the Geysir and Gullfoss. The next stop was Geysir, here is a geothermal field of hot springs and geysers. These geysers were the first ones to be documented and known to Europeans, which is why our English word is derived from the Icelandic one ( Geysir --> Geyser). The water is very sulfury, so it smells strongly of rotten eggs but I have gotten used to the smell because that is what the hot water in the house smells like (because everything is geothermal water). There are many signs telling people the water is really hot, but that didn't stop one tourist from dipping his fingers into the hot spring. I presumed he was American given 100°F is warm but 100°C is boiling water. What throws you off is there are grasses and flowers growing alongside these hot springs, right on the water's edge (I thought this was very cool). The Great Geysir itself has not erupted since the 1930s, so it does not get much attention anymore, the geyser that everyone was circled around was Strokkur, a smaller geyser but erupts frequently. I did not have the patience to wait, while holding my phone up to capture the exact time of the eruption, so here is a calm picture instead. All of the geysers are puffing out plumes of steam, great for the skin... but the rotten egg smell does not leave you.
Follow the signs!
Really tough grass and flowers
Strokkur (the Churn)
This is a really popular attraction and has all the accommodations you could need, including coffee, so I got myself a refill and made my way to Gullfoss.
Gullfoss is a multi-tiered, gigantic waterfall. By this time it had started to rain, and my Ewe-Maine sweatshirt was not as warm and waterproof as it needed to be, so I braved the cold and rain to see this waterfall. It was totally worth it. The waterfall was magnificent! I went to pull my phone out and it was not cooperating and turning on, so I could not take any pictures. I stood awkwardly with my back to the rain trying to get the phone to work without success. It took a lot of restraint not to throw the phone into Gulfoss and get it over with. So, I recommend taking a look at pictures of Gullfoss at another source. It is a sight to see. I stood for probably longer then I should have to take the sight in. I was sufficiently drenched and cold and made my way back to the majestic Lancer to head back to the farm.
Without fail, I arrived home again to a rainbow near the house. Snædis repeated that Hestur was just really happy I was back. I am not sure if rainbows are common occurrences here, but this is starting to get a little freaky.
Today, I will be headed to Snæfellsjökull National Park, the first park established in Iceland, and home to a volcano and glacier. One of my goals was to touch a glacier, so I hope I can accomplish that today!
Now off to take care of morning chores and pack.