map of iceland

Fire and ice day 12:”The road taken”

July 12, 2021

Photo credit: Carol Madigan

   As I write this, a month has already passed since Carol and I spent those two weeks in Iceland. I’m still trying to process it all. The trip originally fell into the category of impulse or pipe dream. From the moment we read that Iceland had opened up to vaccinated Americans, and I exclaimed, “We’re going!” both Carol and I immediately sensed it wasn’t really a serious commitment. Weren’t we considering it simply because it was the only country open? Wasn’t that like deciding to go to Oklahoma, just because you were tired of being stuck in the house?

map of iceland
We did it! First country circumnavigated
COVID Test Site iceland
The last stress test: The 72-hour Covid-19 test site

   At first glance, Iceland seemed remote, cold and desolate -with an active volcano. There is no train system. You either take tour buses (something I hate worse than museums and cathedrals) or rent a car or camper. Well, I don’t like driving, and neither of us had been camping in decades. And then I read up on the national cuisine. Secretly, I began hoping they’d close the country again.

  An existential question kept popping into my head. Do I really need to travel anymore? Is there anything I really need to see or experience anymore? The answers were unequivocally no and nothing, as they’ve always been. But I did know that I still very much need to go. Somewhere. Anywhere. And what better place to go than a country that was remote, cold and desolate. With nothing much to see, there’d be nothing to stop us. Drive the whole Ring Road in two, maybe three days and then find a nice cafe in Reykjavik for the next ten. Such are the dreams of the purposeless wanderer. Restlessness doesn’t require a destination. (For obvious reasons, I never shared any of these mindless ramblings with Carol beforehand.)

There is no train system. You either take tour buses (something I hate worse than museums and cathedrals) or rent a car or camper. Well, I don’t like driving, and neither of us had been camping in decades. And then I read up on the national cuisine. Secretly, I began hoping they’d close the country again.

Saw them (reindeer) in the wild, but needed this zoo inmate for a photo

   I was initially encouraged by Carol’s assessment of the guidebooks. ” I don’t know what we are going to do for two weeks in Iceland?” She would plaintively ask, looking up from the curiously thick Rick Steves’ Iceland. Nothing! I kept myself from exclaiming exultantly.

Beginning the process to process what we’d done

   Yet, when the time came, I still wanted to go. As the standby seats dwindled on the 8:30 p.m. Reykjavik flight out of Minneapolis (there were about twenty or so standbys vying for the more or less the same number of open seats, and we were last on that  list), I found myself dismally fighting the growing reality of not making it on, this after jockeying ourselves since about 6:00 a.m. from Orange County to Atlanta and then Minneapolis to get this far.

   When they finally called out our names, they were just about to close the gateway door. My finger was hovering over the “reserve” button on the booking.com app. When the seat assignments printed, I hit the button and thus made our first and only reservation that I could make at the time. Transportation and accommodations for the next two weeks would have to wait until we landed in Reykjavik, and waited out our Covid-19 test quarantine at some still unconfirmed location.

   Now, that’s the way to begin what would turn out to be the most visually beautiful and gobsmacked trip of our lives. And when the two weeks ended, we were both acknowledging that somehow we’d be coming back.


Need to catch up on our Iceland trip from the beginning? Start here! Fire and Ice: Day 1

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