Notes from the North Atlantic

“Where are we?” I said to Marc as we crested the hill.  Across the lava fields we saw a pale jade lake in the distance, with massive glaciers flanking the scene.

Each year, Marc, Steve, Mike, and I pick a place and spend a week exploring it (thanks, wives!). This year it was Iceland, land of my Viking heritage. We’d just arrived a few days earlier and had decided to head into the interior of the island.

We pulled the Land Rover to the side of the road and gazed in amazement at the landscape. More like moonscape. Maybe Mars-scape. We’d driven a hundred or so kilometers inland, but we couldn’t quite figure out what we’d driven through. A lava desert? Gravel hills with boulder fields? Or a one-time lush environment recently wiped out by a volcano? Seemed like a bit of all that. As we debated how to describe it, we decided that, like so much of Iceland, it defies description.

You get the sense that this place is still an infant in the geological sense. You can almost feel the fire and ice. Subterranean forces pushing and pulling and heating and cooling. Heaving this way and that. Like Mother Nature hasn’t figured out what to do with all this new rock and lava and ash in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Leaving the interior behind, we were now nearing the town of Hella, our south coast base of operations for this part of the trip. Every time I looked out the window, it was different. One minute we were surrounded by what looked like gargantuan goose droppings caked in moss. Then we passed hundreds of sod mounds with little tufted nipples at their peaks. And then next came these spectacular waterfalls that gushed from holes in towering cliffs. Mesmerized by this bizarre scenery out the window, I said to Mike, “This is just craziness!”

We had left Hella that morning, traveled through indescribable geological wonders, and now we were almost back to our storage units that were disguised as a hotel. “The road to Hella is paved with good intentions,” I said.

“No, that road was paved in gravelly lava rock,” Steve said.

“Then we’ve been to Hella and back.”

Three sets of eye rolls told me that I ought to just stick to looking out the window. But what a view!

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  1. Breathtaking photographs! You’re a damned good writer. What Scandinavian country do you originate from? I’m part Danish… I heartily admit I like my Viking ancestry!!


    • Hey Lori, thanks for the comments! My Viking heritage apparently goes way back, and it’s a recent discovery. We participated in the National Geographic Genome 2.0 project, and I learned that my genetics most closely match people from Denmark…hence my claim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The photos back up your “craziness” claim Chris… Spectacular! Thanks for the post! Susan


  3. Hey Susan, my pleasure…”craziness” still doesn’t quite do it justice, and iPhone pics certainly don’t capture it fully…but it was spectacular!


  4. Wow. Thanks for sharing those pics Chris. Beautiful. Amazing, the different ‘scapes’ you captured.


  5. Thanks, Jean. It was kinda like Montana…on steroids.


  6. I hate to be envious but I “really” am…. Life has always been one big journey for you. Glad I could be a part of that for many years.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your pics from Iceland look amazing–almost primordial–beautiful scenery.

    Liked by 1 person

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