Goðafoss Waterfall

Fire and ice day 6: “There’s a there there everywhere”

June 21, 2021

Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

Sod church. Check

   We thought our first sightseeing site of the day would be the famous sod church, known as Víðimýrarkirkja. But when we turned right out of our campsite and back onto the Ring Road, we immediately discovered we’d spent the night hard by a stunning gorge and island we had no idea was there. We joined a tour bus that had made a special stop to see it, while we marveled at how we’d spent a happy hour, our first van cooked hot meal (penne and marinara with crusty bread) and a good night’s sleep just up from this natural tourist attraction. This would prove to be the narrative for our tour of this incomparable island nation.

An Icelandic Super Fund site courtesy of Mother Nature

   Carol and I really didn’t have to plan to see stuff (though that didn’t stop Carol from turning our Rick Steves guidebook into a pinwheel of yellow sticky notes). The awe-inspiring landscapes popped up at nearly every turn in the road, as if Iceland were an overdeveloped theme park. I would have been content to simply drive past it all, knowing there was more ahead than I could ever absorb, but I was traveling with a female David Attenborough, who believed she was on assignment for National Geographic.

An early evening family walk

   The two big attractions for our third day on the Ring Road were the Goðafoss waterfall, and the geothermal lagoon at Mývatn, where I’d be debuting Beluga, my new line of swimwear.

   I was content to view the Víðimýrarkirkja from the driver’s seat, while Carol perused the church’s unique construction, and was able to file a detailed report with the town’s building inspection office. I didn’t get away with this all the time; many times we’d stop, and Carol would note I wasn’t reaching for my seatbelt. “You’re getting out, too, buster,” she would explain.

Maximum shrinkage running back to the locker room afterwards

   There would be times during these ten days on the Ring Road that I would begin to long for graffiti, rusted cars on concrete blocks, abandoned farms, junkyards and hulking warehouses of broken windows, just to have a frame of reference and standard for all the gobsmacking unspoiled beauty of this country. I mean, how many majestic waterfalls, volcanic craters, bubbling geothermal pools and steam spewing geysers can one see before it’s, you know, enough already?

   The two big attractions for our third day on the Ring Road were the Goðafoss waterfall, and the geothermal lagoon at Mývatn, where I’d be debuting Beluga, my new line of swimwear.

   The waterfall has a definite mini Niagara Falls look about it, and comes with an Icelandic tale of ancient pagan religious conversion and, yadda-yadda, that’s how it got its name. Honestly, after a while, all these Viking sagas begin to sound like Q-anon conspiracies.

Our gourmet evening meal – beef stroganoff heated in a fry pan of hot water

   The geothermal lagoon is not a conspiracy theory, though. I wasn’t going to do it, up to the moment I parked the van in the lot. You’re supposed to shower completely naked before entering the lagoon, but even I signed the impromptu petition against my compliance that was being circulated by my showermates. What put me over the edge positively, though, was the lagoon side wine and beer bar that came with a two-drink package with entry ticket.

   Gourmet dining awaited our now zenlike selves ( a 100 degree thermal pool and a glass of red, you know what I mean?) back at the campground, where beef stroganoff, paired with a camp stove, was on our menu. The prepackaged dish included “camper” preparation instructions that called for heating it in a frying pan of boiling water. It’s like they knew where it would be best appreciated. It was our first clear night camping, which meant at 2:30 a.m., it was still uncertain whether the sun was setting, rising or just stuck in gravity.

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