The parking lot already has other tourists in it at 7am, though we were alone last night when I pulled in late. Heating water for coffee on the stove, I send the girls out to look over the hill in front of the van. They come back excited and babbling. We are in for one of the best and craziest adventure days of our lives.
Emma drinks a little coffee with her chocolate syrup. She’s been enjoying the delights of coffee as a teen, and I’m not going to deny her the planets greatest drug. It’s going to be a chocolate-y day.
There isn’t a campsite within 40 minutes drive. And the plan is to get dirtier first.
As most of you know and regret, I did the Bad Ballerino series last summer on our trip. It was a fun way to let out some frustration and anxiety over Trish’s growing malignant cancer.
Nothing similar was planned this year, although some of you weirdos asked for more. wtf
And then GISHWHES happened. GISHWHES is a strange scavenger hunt conducted for a week in the summer and led by Supernatural actor Misha Collins.
They release about 150 strange items to get like “A picture of Flash Gordon in front of a Large Halide Collider” and “A Nun on a slide”. They can’t be photoshopped, but you can get extra credit for funny, artistic or presumably weird stuff.
The Creekmore’s can definitely do weird. So I joined a team.
Back in London, Emma and I did the first one, which was a picture of someone wearing toast underwear. It took several hours to sew together sliced of toasted baguette into a speedo. (And there is a manufacturing secret I will not disclose until patented.) We went around the corner to some great Street Art and took this photo, among the commuters headed to Hoxton Station.
“Well, alright, then” said one woman as she walked by.
But today we are going to try to make another one, called “Death by Chocolate”. My original idea was to have Lily do it with this gigantic bar of Cadbury we bought at the Duty Free, but she seems reluctant to pose in a crazy photo covered in chocolate syrup and eating that candy bar.
And I can’t blame her. The scavenger hunt is over in 24 hours, and I have to submit a photo. The only place to do this is on the other side of the hill in fron of our van: The Jökulsárlón iceberg lake.
We take a stroll down the shore and spot the place to take the photo. It’s 50F, and windy. The water temp hovers near freezing because of, well, the icebergs floating in it. We brought the gear: towels, a thermos of hot water, a giant candy bar and two containers of chocolate syrup. Lily is our prop manager, Emma is the photographer.
I’m genuinely nervous. Nearly naked in public? Easy. Bathing in ice water? GTFO.
We wait a seemingly long time for some French university students to walk by and then spring into action. I strip, Lily covers my face in chocolate, and Emma readies the camera. We snap photos, and I jump in the water.
Cheap chocolate sauce sort of clings to your body in freezing water. The boiling water from the thermos comes in handy to scrape it off. And like that we are headed back, all laughing and giddy at the sillyness.
Nearby is the rest area of the Jökulsárlón bay, that connects with Iceland’s shortest river to the sea. The bay as only existed for about 100 years, as the glacier used to extend right to the sea. But as the earth got warmer it retreated and left this bay. But the shrinking of the glacier is now accelerated beacuse the in and out of the tides breakes the glacier under the heaving pressure.
The tours are sold out, but they offer an 8pm tour to us and we accept. We have nothing but time on this trip. Unlike other ones, I am not scheduled at all. We are taking each day as it comes. A quick nap, some pasta dinner with real salt pilfered from the rest stop, and we are back outside for the evening tour.
We have debated our top ten experiences from time to time, and in another post, I’ll list them for you, but needless to say there are some pretty amazing things in that group. This, as we crawl back into the warm car later, we agree instantly is a top-ten experience.
The boats leave a little late because the groups have grown and it takes a while to get everyone in their arctic wet suits. It is a stunning evening with a bright nordic sunset.
Down by the waters edge, icebergs sink and rise and drip in the sun. They collect at the mouth of the river before going out to sea, like an iceberg taffic jam. One of them, not 10 feet from shore is a huge boulder, 20 feet in diameter, perched on a flat table of ice. It’s amazing to see, and eventually falls in the water with a kerplunk.
Glaciers are formed when snow compacts so hard that the crystalline structure actually breaks down, and it allows the whole thing to slide slowly away from the top of the mountain where it forms. It flows like a river down valleys and deposts wherever that leads, in this case into a bay.
The Zodiac is super fun, and we zip along the bay back to the edge of the glacier. It’s about 6 miles, and the ride is cold. Lily huddles at the bottom of the boat.
It’s absolutely spectacular. The clear blue sky on one side, and warm rosy twilight sky on the other contrasts with the aqua-blue of the ice. The icebergs take on crazy strange shapes like clouds that look different to every person. (They all look like ‘Nessie’ to Lily)
The guide tells us this is one of the top five trips he’s taken in 10 years. The area is frequently grey and rainy. It still gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor, so I imagine we would still love it, but there is definitely some luck involved when travelling, and we just got a lot of it.
Afterwords, the girls fall asleep, and I make a decision to head back West, rather than push for the EastFjords. The Eastfjords are spectacular but require a few days to do properly and I have enjoyed not rushing on this trip. I drive an hour to Skaftafell, the national park, and park in the campground where we will hike tomorrow.