Today was the big day — the one that made all of you jealous. We went snowmobiling on a glacier, folks. And it was … indescribable. I’ll do my best, though. Our trip took about six hours, and nearly a full hour of that was spent on the icy wonder that is the Lanjökull glacier.
Our tour began with a mishap, as just about all of our days have on this trip. We were to be picked up from our hostel at 8:30 a.m., and we were … by the wrong bus. We were informed of this at the bus terminal when we tried to exchange our voucher for tickets. Not good. By that time, our actual tour had waited for us at our hostel and decided we were no-shows. The lovely folks at the bus terminal put in a call for us, and they headed over to pick us up. I’m pretty sure I was freaking out internally (and a bit externally) the entire time we were waiting for our pickup. On the bright side, we win the award for the first time this has ever happened. Go USA?
Once we were safely aboard our superjeep (think a minibus on the wheels and chassis of an Ford F350 pickup truck), we headed out to visit a few geysers and a waterfall before hitting the big highlight of the trip: the glacier.
Our first stop was at the original geyser: Geysir. Apparently, the old man (he no longer erupts regularly) was the inspiration and reason we call geysers by that name. Who knew? There was a younger geyser there as well that enjoyed erupting every 5-7 minutes, although the resulting blast of water was only about 15-20 feet. Mark decided this little area should be dubbed Yellowstone 2.0.
Our next stop was at the divide of the American and European tectonic plates. Apparently, this location was also where the Vikings (the original settlers of Iceland) had their yearly parliaments as well. We pondered the significance of the location, but came to the conclusion that the Vikings couldn’t have known about tectonic theory.
Our final stop before we hit the glacier was at the most impressive waterfall of the entire trip: the Gulfoss. This one, according to Mark, was what he pictured when he heard “waterfall.” I have to admit that it was quite a sight, and the canyon where it dropped off was pretty inspiring as well.
Now is the part you’ve all been waiting for. Well, firstly, we had to endure an hour and a half of rough road to even get close to the glacier, and then came the bumpiest 15 minutes of my life. Apparently, from where the road ended to where the glacier started was impassable for any but the most determined of drivers … or an old man with a bulldozer. Or so they said. I don’t think the bulldozed “road” really improved the drivability of this place. I think it may have made things worse.
But we made it to the glacier, all suited up and ready for the cold. I voted for Mark to drive, which was probably for the best, because I was a terrible passenger. Apparently, being on a snowmobile requires more balance than I possess. And the helmets really make holding on pretty awkward. Not sure if Mark’s shoulders are bruised, but my chin took a bit of a beating. Glaciers are bumpy, especially when we’re going over them at high speeds, which we were.
After 20-25 minutes of bumping along in a row like little ducklings, we stopped for a few moments for a photo opportunity (or, if we wanted, our guide invited us to make snow angels or yellow snow). We chose the photos. Apparently several film crews have chosen this glacier for scenes, and “Divorce Mountain” was in our backdrop. (If you didn’t get that reference, apparently that’s where Katie Holmes left Tom Cruise.)
After that glorious moment, we had the return journey, which led us back to that terrible, terrible road. I never want to be on that road again (and chances are, I won’t). We did learn, however, that it doesn’t count as “off-roading” (although it definitely is rougher than off-roading), because it’s called a road. It’s illegal to off-road in Iceland for fear of disturbing the Nature. But this, since it was a “road,” was legal. Pfft.
And then back to the city it was. Mark napped, I spaced out, and the driver blared top 40 hits and Taylor Swift. I’m ashamed to say I recognized most of the songs.