Denise Goldberg's blog

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Far north

We ended our day in Akureyri. It's the farthest north Denise has ever been, and since I only travel with Denise, it's the farthest north I have been too. It's at latitude 65°41'N. The Arctic Circle is at 66° 33′N. I was thinking I might try to convince Denise to drive that far north, but I just looked at the map to find that the northernmost piece of Iceland is just below 66° 33′N. Oh, it looks like there is an island that crosses that latitude, but we can't get there, can we?

I decided I should learn how far it is from here to the Arctic Circle. I just found out that a degree of latitude is 69 miles, and a minute of latitude is about 1.15 miles. There are 52 minutes between here and the Arctic Circle, so that's about 60 miles or 96 kilometers. So close!

OK, OK, I'll stop playing with numbers and degrees of latitude and tell you about our day. I couldn't help Denise drive since no one makes a car that a little red dog like me can drive. I thought that Denise needed a rest tonight, and I like playing with words too, so... it's my turn to write!

We were rolling out of Stykkishólmur by a little after eight this morning, and it still took us until after five to reach Akureyri. We did drive the long way, but that was because Denise heard that the dirt road that cut some miles off of the route was in pretty bad shape. Because of that the shorter road probably would have taken us the same amount of time (or longer!) than the road that we took. We headed back over the mountain at the center of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It was dry when we started, but as we climbed higher rain started falling. It followed us down the mountain, then stopped. We headed to the west once more along the peninsula to see if there were better views of the mountains than there were yesterday. The clouds were still hugging the tops of the mountains, so after stopping to look at some reflections Denise turned the car back to the east. We headed to the southeast until we met up with the Ring Road. It was time to turn towards the north.

There were so many beautiful sights that passed by our windows today; most of those were captured in our memories and not in photos. We stopped when we could to walk a bit and to take photos. We climbed a long set of stairs to get to the top of a crater. There were two of them; of course I don't remember the name right now. It's a good thing Denise took a photo of the sign; she'll attach the name to the craters later.

There really weren't enough stopping places today. The road was almost all paved, two lanes wide with no shoulder, and with very tilted ground past the edge of the pavement. Denise did manage to find some pullout spots. I guess she found quite a few of them because somehow we took much longer to drive to our destination than the distance indicated. From Stykkishólmur to Akureyri via Borgarnes is 387 kilometers. With a speed limit of 90 kilometers per hour, that should have taken between 4 and 5 hours. So even though it was difficult to find places to pull off of the road, we did manage to use another 4 hours. I guess we really weren't driving the entire day.

The terrain changed as we drove, from rolling green to craggy mountains with flat green fields between them. We ended our drive in Akureyri, at the end of the fjord Eyjafjörður. We're staying at the hostel, which amazingly enough had a private room for me.

We're going to head a bit further east tomorrow before we loop back around. Denise saw a picture of a lake in a book of Iceland photographs, and she decided that she really wanted to see it herself. At the time, she was thinking of heading along the south coast, and she wanted to get to the lake from there. It turns out that you can't drive through the middle of this island. The few roads that cut through the middle aren't paved, and they often go right through rivers; you would need driving skills that Denise doesn't have, plus you would need a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle. That's not for us! Somehow Denise was thinking the lake wasn't reachable, but luckily she was wrong. It's actually on the Ring Road, so we're heading to Mývatn in the morning.

I thought maybe you'd like to see a picture today, so I included a photo of me on the black rocks of Hawaii (from our wander there in February). The volcanoes here make different colored rocks, but there are some things that remind me of Hawaii.

--- Rover