Monday, June 27, 2011

dinner and a show

By chance, I arrived at Vogar's Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe just in time to snag one of two tables by the milking room window and caught the tail end of the evening's milking. Plus a vegetable crepe and a salad. My camping diet has been a lot of carbs, starch, and cookies, so I ordered the item that had the most vegetables. I didn't even plan on visiting the cafe. I was just walking up the road after a day hike to Hverfjall and Dimmuborgir near Lake Mývatn, when I realized where I was. Moo.

The idea that started this entire trip was to be above the Arctic Circle for midsummer. Most of Iceland lies just below the circle, except for the little island of Grímsey, which straddles 66 degrees north. So the goal - be on Grímsey, camping above the Arctic Circle on June 21. And - mission accomplished. I'm sorry to say that I have no picture of the midnight sun on the longest day, since it was entirely overcast. At midnight I was sitting and shivering on a cliff on the west side of the island, watching a grey horizon in the company of thousands of puffins. Even though the midsummer sun was a fizzle, I did have fun watching the puffins for hours. I especially enjoy watching them take off from the cliffs. They have enormous orange webbed feet which they may daintily point directly behind, so they sort of look like a chubby ballerina in a swan dive, but usually they are stuck out to the sides, two big orange rudders steering them through the sky as they flapflapflapflap over the ocean. Unaccountably, I actually managed to snap a picture of this.

Midnight sun makes everyone stay up late. Despite the eyeshades, I wake multiple times during the night and see the bright sky through my tent and have no idea what time it is. Birds are singing and tweeting, snipes are buzzing through the air, puffins are fishing, sheep and horses are munching the new grass, road workers are repaving the Ring Road at 2200, campers start cooking dinner at 2300, and the eight year old granddaughter of one hostel owner was yammering away on the telephone with her mom at midnight. It'll be weird when I get home and see night again.

Here are couple of pictures from Ásbyrgi Canyon, where I was yesterday and this morning, one from above and one from within. I wish I had one more day just to hang out there. The scenery is spectacular, and it's practically deserted. The enormous campground, which may be bigger than Reykjavík's, was almost entirely empty. I guess high season here doesn't really kick in until July and August. Maybe the winter weather is keeping people away. Have I mentioned that it's really cold? Fine by me; I'd rather take cold weather and fewer tourists. Besides, this is what credit cards and the 66° North outlet store in Akureyri are for.

Speaking of Reykjavík, I'm back here for the night. Tomorrow I will go to Greenland for three nights, and then return to Iceland for a couple of days before going home.

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