Day 5 started with a spectacular cloud-encrusted sunrise that provided a dramatic backdrop to the Hotel Ranga where we were staying. Our destinations today were a geyser, a waterfall, and a bike ride along a lake. Iceland has a multitude of water-related activities, whether it is frozen or just flowing.
The first stop of the day was in the geothermal Haukadalur Valley to see the Great Geysir. I really looked forward to seeing it go off. Old Faithful in Yellowstone is one of my favorite spots, and this one is right up there on the KPS, (Kennerly Photo Scale!).
The Gullfoss waterfall was the next target for our Backroads group, and it's a big one. The fall is on the Hvita River, and plunges 105 feet into a narrow canyon. When you approach it from above, it is a formidable sight, and my way of recording its immensity was to show the people on the rocks above it.
Backroads provides some unique location for lunches, and they are always looking for a place that not only serves great food, but in the mind of this photographer, visual feasts as well. On the way to lunch at a local dairy, we drove by a farm that stood out against the green fields. I shot this photo from the moving van.
The last activity of the day was to bike around Thingvallavatan Lake, located in a Natioanl Park of the same long and unpronounceable name. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the symbolic heart of the Icelandic nation. The country's first general assembly was established here in 930 AD through 1798. Forty per cent of all Icelandic flora is found here, but nothing taller than a dwarf birch. You won't catch a glimpse of an elf reclining underneath that tiny tree, and even though they aren't ever seen, more than half of the population of Iceland believes in their existence. I like that about them.
The ride ended at the Hotel ION for the last night of our trip. Travel blog iEscape called the hotel, "Scandi-chic adventure hotel in a spectacularly surreal landscape of moss-covered lava fields, geysers and steaming rivers, by Thingvellir National Park." It's otherworldly all right, but so is Iceland!
Iceland -- Day 6 (and the last one of the trip).
Day 6, and it was time to head home, but not before one more small adventure. As the rest of the crew went off on a hike, James and I wanted to explore a nearby thermal power plant that was steaming away about a half a mile from the hotel. It was Sunday, and nobody was around. There was a sign in Icelandic, (or in other words, in no known language), on the closed gate in front of the plant. We figured it said either, "Stay Out," or, "You Are Welcome, Come In." We went with the latter. The Icelandic people, after all, are known for their hospitality, and the gate wasn't locked, so in we went. The security was not only negligible, but there were even sheep wandering around in there, and one of them in particular, to its credit, was keeping an eye on us. James left his backpack by the side of the road, and two sheep came over to check it out, no doubt looking for some tasty treat. In Iceland I bet kids use the excuse, "A sheep ate my homework." The geothermal facility was a photo dream, and on top of that, produces clean energy. Perfect combination. James was using the Hasselblad that his grandfather gave him, and I was shooting in black and white using both my Canon 5D Mark III and the ever-present iPhone. We both made a few goo frames.
I highly recommend Iceland to anyone who hasn't been. I also am a big fan of Backroads, and suggest that you check them out for any trip you are thinking about with the family or friends, almost anywhere on earth. We're already planning our next one with them!