Saturday, June 11, 2011

I fall off a horse…again

Great gyrfalcons! After weeks of planning, and despite vague threats of delay from simmering volcanos and labor union actions, I made it to Iceland. Strange to think I'm finally here and can start doing instead of thinking. Although given the amount of sleep deprivation I suffered the first day, there wasn't a whole lot of deep thinking going on. Departing SEA at 1630, I arrived in Reykjavik a mere 7.5 hours later, ready to start the day at 0645. The first thing I did was buy a cappuccino.

The second thing I did was go to the Blue Lagoon. It's a tourist trap and not worth it, but when in Iceland, do what the tourists do. Besides, there's a handy bus that drops you off on the way into town, and I needed a bath. I paddled around for a bit and gave myself two silica facials, white silica being provided by the bucketful in wooden bins scattered around the pool. The cold breezy morning was making the rising steam swirl about over the lagoon, making it all very properly atmospheric, geothermally speaking. The shower afterwards was unbearably hot, hotter than the lagoon itself. Unable to make it cooler, I bailed. On the way into town I discovered large blobs of drying silica in my ears. There didn't seem to be an elegant way to get it out while in transit, so I just waited until I got to lodging, this being the Reykjavik City Campground. As you can see, not many people here right now. The speck in the upper right hand corner is my tent.

The cappuccino wearing off, I wandered around town a bit of a haze, somehow managing to not fall asleep on my feet in the manuscript exhibit at the Culture House. For preservation purposes the lights are extremely low. This made sense in the manuscript room, and I guess it was just for dramatic effect in the room with reproductions and printed matter. It really just made me want to take a nap. At 1900 I decided I had overextended myself enough, and crawled into bed, aka my sleeping bag.

Today I went horseback riding. I started a quest last year to master as many modes of transportation as are realistically achievable, and started some horseback riding lessons. I signed up for a ~5 hour ride that recommended an intermediate riding level, not because I thought I was intermediate, but because it was the only tour between two hours and multi-day that sounded okay. I was slightly nervous about controlling anything past a brisk trot, but the riding center showed everyone a short video that covered what to do to stay in control, and what not to do, which includes making high pitched screaming noises, or a trilling noise with the tongue, since these cues makes the horse go really fast. The morning session with a large group of two-hour tour riders went well enough, as did the faster afternoon session with a much smaller group of four riders with a guide. We got a couple breaks, activities including untacking and tacking our rides, a small walking detour to visit an ancient sheep corral and shepherd cave (I was the only one who went to the cave), going across a stream, and picking up some decent speed at a moderate gallop. And then, on the home stretch gallop, practically in sight of the riding center, the last rider in line right behind me needed to stop. Or at least that's what I think. By the time the guide at the front got the message, she might have been panicking a bit, and maybe that's why she made that little tongue trilling noise that makes the horse go really fast. It was the last thing I heard before my steed took off like a shot. I went way off balance to the left and couldn't get back in the saddle, the horse tried to cut right around the guide with me hanging off the left, the riding center logo on the back of her jacket getting bigger by the nanosecond…I honestly don't know exactly what happened after that. In the space a couple of seconds I lost control and ended up, remarkably completely unhurt, in a bed of purple flowers. My horse disappeared over the horizon. Literally…we were walking up a hill. And it wasn't that much further to the top.

And that's the excitement for today. Tomorrow I'm renting a car for a day tour of the Golden Circle, and will then start working my way up through Snaefellsnes to the Westfjords.

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