I was not a very good Boy Scout. I was rarely prepared. Things haven't changed much.
The wedding was on August 22nd, Katherine left early on the 23rd and I was supposed to have booked a rental car for that day so I could hit the road and take photos. I didn't. There are reasons for that but none of them are good. Instead, I spent an extra day in Reykjavik, at The Old Bicycle Shop, and my new daughter-in-law, Christel, spent too much time on the phone, on the first day of her honeymoon, arranging for me to get picked up the next day by Avis and delivered to the car that she booked in my name. She is amazing.
So, I got to spend some extra time with Mike and Christel, and some of the other fascinating guests at the shop. I also had a wonderful Italian meal down the street, a good nights sleep and then headed out the next morning to explore Iceland.
As I suggested earlier, I'm not a good planner and was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of being alone on this adventure. In Japan I had my daughter and whenever I'm not in Vancouver or Manitoba I usually count on Katherine to look after details. I was nervous. It turns out that what I lack in preparation, I make up for in dumb luck.
My first stop was at a gas station on the outskirts of the city. It wasn't to buy gas but just to make sure I was on the right road. The Ring Road is the main highway in Iceland and is the only one to circle it. I was going to drive as far east as I could for two days and then turn around and come back, seeing and photographing as much as I could along the way. The problem was interpreting the maps and making sure I took the right exit off of the many roundabouts along the way.
I went into the gas station, verified that I was headed in the right direction on the right road and asked if I could buy a pen and notepad; you know, just in case. The young man, who seemed to be the manager, told me they didn't sell pens and notepads but asked me to wait for a moment. He slipped into the back office and came out with a beautiful pen and half a dozen sheets of paper that he then gave to me. That was typical of the treatment I recieved during my time there.
I was getting back into my car when I was approached by a young woman with a large backpack, green hair and a cardboard sign with the word "Vik" written in felt pen. She asked me, in flawless English with a charming eastern European accent, where I was going. I told her I was heading east. She seemed to be struggling with her next sentence. I asked her if she needed a ride.
Yullia turned out to be a television journalist from the Ukraine who was hitch-hiking around Iceland on her holidays. She was more than adept with Google maps and helped me find a number of places on my "must see" list. She also made some suggestions that turned out to be great stops. She was willing to stop whenever I saw something I wanted to photograph and pointed out things I would have missed.
Not only was she a capable navigator but she was willing to take my Sony point-and-shoot and snap a picture every time I pointed at something. She took the initiative of shooting things I would have missed while I was keeping us on the two lane highway.
Yullia was a pleasure to travel with and I will always be grateful for her company. She even provided lunch the first day; a vegan "baloney and cheese" sandwhich on gluten free buns with pickles.
The landscape and weather were constantly changing and offered me so much in the way of photo opportunities. Iceland has some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet. Much of it you need an all-terrain vehicle, a guide, and maybe a drone to photograph. I just took pictures from on or near the Ring Road. For the sake of photojournalism I will show most of these in colour in my blog posts. After sharing these posts I will be putting images in my website. They will include a series, some of the photos here as well as others, in black and white. I will also include some of my more arty crap.
We sat in the grass on the side of a hill, eating lunch and looking out over the view you see above.
This was a rustic museum and souvenir shop in the middle of nowhere.
Some of the shots might have been taken in Canada's western prairies ...
... and some seemed otherworldly.
And, of course, the wonderful horses.
It wasn't easy figuring out how to tell Katherine I was travelling with a young woman but I sent her an e-mail explaining the situation and she replied that she trusted me completely and was happy I had company. She too is amazing.
I had made arrangements with the Chalke's to meet them just west of Vik, so Yullia insisted I drop her off and we would meet the next morning in the campground at Vik. I had a wonderful meal at a fancy burger joint at Skogafoss (foss at the end of a name indicates waterfalls) with Jay, Lou and Simon Chalke and shared a room with Simon for the night. I took a photo of the falls before dinner and another the next morning before leaving to meet my navigator in Vik.
The first day had come and gone and I was still alive.