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Old 08-05-2013, 06:37 AM   #1
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Iceland Fire and Ice August 2013

Our Iceland Fire and Ice adventure is going on right now. Here is Phil Freeman´s daily take on it:

A motorcycle diary by Phil Freeman




Day 1:
We started with a chill wind and clear skies as we headed out of Reykjavik. Our first stop out of town was an overlook of the thermal plant with sends hot water to Reykjavik by tube. They mix fresh lake water with super hot steam to make this, and it heats Reykjavik for cheap.



We went on to see Geysir, where a hot water vent shoots up every 10 minutes or so to the applause and awe of the crowd.



Down the road we went to Gullfoss - a spectacular waterfall with thundering power.



After that , we went across the countryside. Round hay-bails wrapped in plastic dotted the landscape. The Icelandic horse, which is everywhere, greeted us as we swept past. We arrive at Seljaland Waterfall, my favorite of the whole trip. Its unique because you can walk all the behind it. We went on around the corner to Skogafoss, another great waterfall. Its uniform torrent looked more like a curtain than a waterfall! We hiked to the top to look down. Waterfall after amazing waterfall: At this point our Kiwi proclaimed "This is more beautiful than New Zealand!" Wow, what a compliment.







We ended the day by climbing to the Dyrholaey point, where a lighthouse was perched on the most southern point of the country on a tall, massive rock. A black beach meandered off into oblivian on one side, and rocky spikes, a tidewater lagoon on the other. We watched Puffins negociate the sheer cliffs, somehow landing on just inches of real estate. To top it off, a breathtaking arch jutted out into the ocean and when you turned 180 degrees the massive Myrdalsjokull Glaciers krept its fingers towards us. It did not look real!!











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Old 08-05-2013, 11:28 AM   #2
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Awesome trip!! Subscribed. I almost went there this summer to ride there, but it didn't work out. I see you are riding the 800XCs. I have the same bike. The Triumphs aren't listed on your site. How much are they to rent per day? More pictures please.

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Old 08-05-2013, 11:42 AM   #3
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Awesome!

I spend 8 days in Iceland in August of 2001, sadly in a bus, not on a motorcycle.

It's such an amazing country that it didn't even matter. I think it's the most beautiful country in the world (at least in the summer!)

I really want to go back. Your pictures are awesome!
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:44 AM   #4
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FANTASTIC! Thanks for bringing us along.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:33 AM   #5
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Day 2: Iceland Fire and Ice

Thanks for your positive comments you all!
(The Triumphs are rented in Iceland, that´s why they are not listed on our website)

Day 2:
We went past the town of Vik and explored and up and back dirt road at Hofdabrekka, and for 14 wonderful kilometers we went to the moon, mars and some other planet!









After that, we skirted the mountains and past the wasteland of Myrdalssandur...something out of Morder, with braided glacier-rivers, volcanic rock and flatness. We crept our way towards the massive glacier of Vatnajokull, the largest of all glaciers in Europe with several of these rivers of ice spilling out in front of us. We could see the top of the Hvannadalshnukur Mountain, at 2,110 meters, looming above it all.









A little later down the road we ride to a garden of icebergs, a small lagoon and glacier at Breidarlon. A little more down the road and we are one of the most stunning sights anywhere, the Jokusarlon lagoon, with its icebergs, massive lagoon, war between fresh water river and ocean tide, and thousands of Arctic Terns, nesting and fretting about...this was a total collision of nature that can't be explained properly and is one of the most unique places I have ever been on earth.



The late afternoon was filled up with more waterfalls, glaciers, farmland clawing to the sides of velvety green slopes and then we ended the day with castles of rock straight up from the sea to the sky and a nice North Atlantic wind. Our end of the day was in the small village of Breiddalsvik, a nice beer, some lamb and rice and bed! Whew!





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Old 08-06-2013, 07:42 AM   #6
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Awesome ride by the looks of it! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-07-2013, 03:28 AM   #7
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Day 3 Iceland Fire and Ice

Day 3:

..and the North Atlantic hands it to us: gusts of wind and a speckling of rain greet us in the parking lot. As I looked over to the mountains side, a cascading waterfall was highlighted by a ray of sunlight...this place is impossibly beautiful. We headed inland to cross the highlands. We edged to the back of a valley, the jagged, snow-capped peaks on both sides of us just scream out: try to tame me! Waterfall after waterfall launching off a sheer cliff face to our right as we climb into the clouds. Suddenly we are in the soup. In the Highlands, the landscape was particularly lunar. All around us, as far as the eye can see is absolutely inhospitable, flat, grey....there is a particular sensation of loneliness and beauty here, like no other landscape I have seen. The wind never let up, the North Atlantic is on the phone.







We stop in a small oasis, a grass shod roofed hut and enjoy a warm bowl of lamb soup. This oasis has a church, a restaurant, a few houses and gas station and the only way to get there is by dirt track. No crops in the field No! Just a plain of volcanic pyramids drifting off into the mist.....



We ride on to a thermal power plant, warm our hands to some coffee and information as to how it all works. Then on to some steaming vents, their sulfuric hiss is eery and smelly, to say the least. Fascinating to walk around such power coming from the earth.



We then ride on to the grand daddy of them all: Dettifoss Waterfall, and the walk in is just like you landed on the moon. No green to speak of, just grey volcanic jumbles of rocks, and a crisp rainy side wind...but when you reach the waterfall, its thunderous announcement is unmistakable. This huge torrent of power is like no other and all you can do is stand in awe. Niagra, eat your heart out, this is Dettifoss. No carnival here, just raw nature with power.



Our last jaunt of the day was a dirt track through to the north coast. The road was washboarded with large puddles. The wind tore at us and rain would not let up. But at the end of the day, all the riders loved this road more than any other, just for the sheer fun of bulldozing through so many puddles! We all made it to our destination wet, tired and full of stories. Each of us has a lot of fun, despite the weather. If you come to Iceland, you have to endure at least a couple of days of such weather, but when the sun does come out, oh! is it good to be here! All part of the adventure, as they say.
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:53 AM   #8
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Day 4 Iceland Fire and Ice

Day 4:

We woke on day 4 to another call from the North Atlantic weather gods. They were agitated. Cold wind and misty rain greeted us as we suited up and headed out. However, the rain let up almost right away, but the wind did not. We went along the north coast with its sheer cliffs and pounding surf. The road stretched out before us with no guard rails as if it were a grey ribbon.





We stopped in the small town of Husavik and visited the Whale Museum. What a treat! The displays in information were insightful and well done.





We pulled into Akureyri just around noon and went directly to the Motorcycle Museum there. An ecclectic collection of old, new, cruisers, enduros and sport bikes. We sipped coffee and took it all in. Then hit off to our hotel and lunch.





The group spread out and explored Iceland's second largest city for the rest of the day. It happened to be the day of a great celebration - of the youth - the concerts, cotton candy and fireworks were out of the ordinary for this northern outpost. The windchill was 3 C, but the Icelanders did not care, this was a party!



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Old 08-09-2013, 01:38 AM   #9
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Day 5 Iceland Fire and Ice

Day 5:

Today we headed north to the northern most city of Iceland, Saudarkrokur, the herring capital of the world. On the way, we enjoyed decent weather, mountains, cliffs, oceans and of course the ubiquitous waterfall. We went through the mountains in a tunnels like no other: one way constructions with pull outs for one side of the traffic every 200 meters. So, you go into this tunnel, and suddenly realize there is only one lane, and there are headlights coming towards you! You look for the "M" sign ahead, and duck in for safety!



At Saudarkrokur, we stop off at the Herring Museum. Three non descript buildings harbored boats, steamers, pressers and all the information imaginable about the herring boom of the early part of the century. Then to coffee and lunch, harbor side to the backdrop of snow capped mountains in all direction. The rest of the day was filled with beautiful coastal riding, and a pass climbing up and through the mountains...Clear water streams and green sided slopes dominated the landscape. We veered off the main highway and went up a broad river valley to our accommodations that evening.







We got in early, so the group decided to do some exploring. We took a road that went right into the Highlands...and as cut across a vast plateau, a group of Icelandic horses spotted us and came running straight for us, down the jeep trail. As soon as we got close, they turned around and ran in front of us for a couple of kilometers. A distant glacier, mountain and flat plain were the dramatic stage for this most Icelandic experience.
We ended the day peering down into a gorge cut right out of a lava flow, clear water cascading through. The Kiwi proclaimed: " In New Zealand, this would be a national treasure. Here in Iceland, this is just another side of the road thing. "
It's true, Iceland just has so much natural beauty, its overwhelming.







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Old 08-12-2013, 01:36 AM   #10
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Day 6 Fire and Ice

Day 6:

We headed first north to visit the ruins of an abandoned fort (Borgarvirki). What they were defending and whether it was a fort or not were both debatable.







The road we followed hugged the ocean and meandered along the coast for some time. After gassing up, we finally were officially in the West Fjords. The clouds dissipated, the sun broke through as we enjoyed great views of rivers, broad valleys, far off snow capped mountains, and a road that at times paralleled the sea just meters away. There was absolutely no traffic and the road stretched out before us for miles on end. The weather really helped, but it would be easy to say that this was some of the best riding anywhere.







We stopped for lunch in the town of Holmavik at a nice little pizza and stuff restaurant. Afterwards, the group went over to the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft. Shrunken heads and Necropants were the order of the day in there...Necropant?! Pants made of Human Skin! OK.....



We finished the day climbing up and over one of the fjords on a dirt track that was partially abandoned. The road was a little washed out and had some soft spots with lots of gravel, but on the downside of it, you were met with one of those natural scenes that made you tingle: tall mountains rose sharply out of the ocean and spread out in front of you as far as the eye could see...lovely. The Icelanders will tell you that the West Fjords is the most beautiful part of the country and they are not wrong.



We pulled into our farm stay that evening and it was strange to take layers off in the hot sunshine...the first time in days! Horses roamed in the valley, hot springs baths welcomed some of our crew and some of us just grabbed a beer and sat outside and caught up on work and hobby. The dinner was fantastic and ranged from trout to lamb curry with delicious deserts to follow. Laughter carried around the table all night.







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Old 08-13-2013, 02:50 AM   #11
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Day 7 Fire and Ice

Day 7:

Just when you think you have had enough great scenery, roads ect...and you think you have seen it all, Iceland holds one more card...This day we woke to a fantastic breakfast full of fresh breads, salmon, and jams.





We headed deep into the Western Fjords today and though the weather was cloudy and at times rainy, it did not matter a bit, because the scenery just kept getting more and more fascinating. Fjord after epc fjord, the total mileage for the day as the crow flies was 28 miles! However, our route took us to the point of every peninsula and the back of every fjord and just when you thought it was over, they added a waterfall.





Most of the day was spent on dirt surfaces, either looking out across the water at the distant mountains, snow covered, impenetrable, or looking straight up at the towering spires of mountains, just at the edge of the water.
The colors and textures were those of so many organic, raw fabrics...the volcano is the mode, and time is the artist. Riding along the fjords of western Iceland never gets tiring. The solitude is unfathonable, the roads are a sheer pleasure and the traffic...Traffic?!





We stopped off at a small house for some tea. There, the caretaker told us the story of 20 people living in this place. Rock foundation, windswept rocky shore, fjord out front, mountains all around...The ceilings were just around 5 foot 9 inches. How did they do it?



Around another corner and we arrived at the harbor town of Ísafjörður, for the best meal of the trip. The house the restaurant was in was one of the oldest of all of Icaland and the food was fish: fish soup with a creamy texture and then a gigantic pan set out on the table full of cod, potatoes, onions, and cooked in a delicious oil and spices. Yes, they knew their fish!









We went on to the Dynjandi Waterfall, its braided cascade spilled over a high rim, and tumbled down almost to the ocean. It is regarded as one of the best of all of Iceland. Considering that there is almost not a time when you can't see a waterfall, this is something!



We pulled into the town of Bildudalur - a town off the tourist map and it was just 5 pm. We decided to head out to the end of the road, and visit a unique church constructed by a hermit many years ago. The dirt road edged right along the ocean and the breath just got sucked from your lungs as you stared literally straight up at these tall cliffs along the way. At one point, nature decided to throw you a white sandy beach, light aqua blue water to the backdrop of these cliffs. Come on nature, stop it!!









As Bildudalur does not have much for tourism infrastructure, and no hotel to speak of, we contact the local everything guy, and had places in a home ready for us, and a dinner waiting at the local Sea Monster Museum. There we were, eating drinking to candle light, soft music with pictures of Sea Monsters to join us over a lamb dinner. Why not?
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:02 PM   #12
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Day 8 Fire and Ice

Day 8:

Mechanical problems set us back from riding: a wheel bearing decided to go out on one of the triumphs, so our Icelandic crew had to run to the next town to fetch the part. We sat idle for over an hour, walking the docks, watching the traffic (two cars went by) and generally stood around talking and solving the world's problems.



Bearing in, we are on the road. This little fishing town on the edge of civilization was surrounded by extraordinary mountains....at some point in Iceland, you just resign to the fact that everywhere is exceptional. The entire group agreed that it just DID NOT STOP. One amazing scene was replaced by another, to the point that you almost become numb to exceptional geological examples. Waterfall? Why not add rugged coastline? How about a snow covered mountain and then a waterfall? Iceland can produce this all, endlessly. Add pretty horses, please.









Up an over a pass and we are paralleling stone mounds. Markers made from viking times so travelers don't get lost in the fog. We stop at a gas station and Toggi, our Icelandic guide pronounces: there is no food for the rest of the day. We eat gasoline station hamburgers and like it. This is the edge of it all.



Down the road, we come onto a fork, and take it...a road that leads to the most western point of all of Iceland, and in fact Europe. Just 180 kilometers from Greenland! We have been traveling about 40% on gravel surfaces, and this road just had some topsoil thrown on it, and it is slick! After 50 kilometers, we come to a lighthouse and some tall cliffs. Out over the water, somewhere, lies the enigmatic Greenland. Along the cliffs, little puffins sit around, looking cute. We joke that they try to get you to come close enough to the edge so that you fall off...that is the way they survive. Its the Puffin you should fear! Perhaps this way of thinking makes it easier to order them in the restaurant?









We finish the day skurting the southern coast of the West Fjords...Mountains, river valleys, and ocean are thrown at us. We come to rest at a remote roadside lodge and cabin situation. All smiles here, as again, Iceland delivers dreamy landscape and open roads like no other.

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Old 08-14-2013, 07:44 PM   #13
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Days 9 and 10 - Fire and Ice

Day 9:

We are on the road at 9 am and our first stop is Erik the Red's home (Eiriksstadir - Haukadalur). Inside the sod structure was a woman dressed in traditional Icelandic garb and recanted the story of his life by firelight. All of this was totally unexpected and we loved it. This Erik went to Greenland, and was indeed the main marketing guy that sold everyone on the fact that Greenland was the place to be, though it wasn't. And it was his son, Leif Eriksson, who went on to Nova Scotia and set up shop for a couple of years. Columbus, eat your heart out. The take home message for me was, back in the day, in Iceland, if you wrongfully kill someone, there will be several years where these is an open bounty on you, and anyone can kill you back. Why don't we have that policy?





We headed out to the end of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula just north of Reykjavik, past the towns of Grundarfjordur and Olafsvik....and to a "Cave of Water". There, we dawned helmets and took up flashlights and spent 45 minutes explore a cave a lava flow had made.









The weather turned bad: misty and cloudy and we stopped one last time to check out an arch on the seaside before heading to our farm shelter. It's hard to believe that there is only one more day of riding. We have seen so much in these past days...I don't think anyone in the group wants it to stop.

Day 10 - Last day:

Great friends, riding and adventure. Thank you Iceland!



At the roots of Snaefellsjokull glacier:







Snaefellsnes Peninsula:





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Old 08-14-2013, 08:02 PM   #14
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wow .. can't wait until it's my turn to go..
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:54 AM   #15
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Yeah Cy, Iceland is quite unique!
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