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Iceland Day 5 – Alien planets and a Park Ranger breaks into our van.

Iceland Day 5 (1 of 1)‘Oh HOLY christ-TORTURED muther-FUCKER’ I yell in the parking lot of the campground.  I’m dripping wet and a little cold from the awesome hot shower I just took (Clean!  Have I mentioned clean!)

I left the kids in the running van for power and heat, and they left to take their own showers.  But they locked the keys inside.   This van (or kids) are going to be the death of me.

Iceland Day 5 (1 of 21)At the souvenir shop, I sheepishly ask the guy behind the counter, who is apparently named ‘Gunnar’ by his badge, if he knows any way I could get help with my locked car.

“Have you called the police?” he asks.  ‘No’ I reply, ‘will they help me?’  ‘No’ he says, dryly ‘they wouldn’t’.

I guess this is icelandic humor, and if I wasn’t thinking that I might have to break a window and drive back today to Rekyjavik for repairs, ruining much of our vacation, I might have laughed.

The Skaftafell national park and glacier.

The Skaftafell national park and glacier.

“I might happen to know what to do in a case like this, not because I steal cars, but exactly for this reason.’  He walks out to the car, double checks that the doors are indeed locked (I guess he has seen that mistake too.)  And then goes off for some wire and a hammer.

He is very good at this, and says it happens about once a year.  In all, the episode only takes 30 minutes.  In fact the girls aren’t even back from their shower before he is done.    My relief is immense.  The girls shrug it off.  ‘Sorry dad! We didn’t know the car was running and the keys inside when we locked it. What’s for lunch?’

Iceland Day 5 (2 of 21)

We grab some lunch at our favorite truck stop, and then drive out to the middle of a field where there is a dirt airstrip and a very old twin prop plane.  The pilot is inside and hands me a brochure.  ‘These are the flights we offer’ he says pointing to the page that lists 6 or so options.  “Can I have number 2?” I ask.  “No, we can’t do that.  In fact we can only do number 4, and we leave in 20 minutes”.

Iceland Day 5 (3 of 21)

Oooo-kaaay. I’ll take number 4 then.  He stops before letting us in the aircraft and says “I’ll do a short safety briefing now.  If you get sick, use the bags.  Buckle your belt.”  And then waves his arm to usher us in the aircraft.

The aircraft is OLD.  My seat has an ashtray ferchrissakes.  And typos in the emergency instructions.

Iceland Day 5 (12 of 21)The ride is pretty bumpy.  The reason, he explains, that we can’t pick the tour, is that it’s snowing on the glacier near by.  So instead we get views of the lava plains and nearby mountains that aren’t experiencing the snowfall.

What you don’t see from the ground, is that every little hill is in fact a tiny dormant or dead volcano!   There are hundreds of them.  And the ground makes these crazy pattern because there are no trees in iceland.  So you get just the contour of the earth, which is relatively new in geological time frames.

Iceland Day 5 (4 of 21)The ride takes about an hour, and for me it was fascinating.   Lily was less enthused, dozing off, during the flight.

Afterward, we nap in the car and then head back West toward Rekyjavik, stopping for some black sand in Vik.  We have a sand collection, and so far have collected Gobi desert, Sahara and Nazca desert Peru.  This is a good one to add.

Iceland Day 5 (18 of 21)On either of the car appears these weird green boulders that extend as far as the eye can see.  On my way out I made a mental note to stop and see what these are.  Sure enough they are strange – red volcanic rock covered in six inches of soft alien moss!  It’s springy and creepy and cool underfoot.   And it goes for miles in any direction we can see.

Iceland Day 5 (21 of 21)Emma names it ‘squishy’ and she and Lily have fun jumping and falling into the strange stuff for about an hour.  Later I find these are called the Elðraun lava fields, created by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Laki in 1783-4.  That massive eruption killed half the cattle and sheep from lava and hydrofluoric acid, which then led to famine and the death of a quarter of Icelands inhabitants.

Iceland Day 5 (11 of 21)But that wasn’t the least of it.  It was the most deadly eruption in modern history, because the ash clouds and sulfur dioxide caused droughts and crop failures as far as India.  It is estimated to have killed SIX MILLION people world wide.  That would be equivalent today to about 42 million dead.

Iceland punches above it’s weight as a country.  Badass.

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