Searching for Gold on the Golden Circle

If you only have a few days in Iceland, a drive around the infamous Golden Circle is a definite must and often a highlight of any visitor’s trip to Iceland.   There are loads of tour operators based in Reykjavik that can easily and happily take you there on a tour via bus.  Yet, in my humble opinion, the best way (albeit not the cheapest) to experience the Golden Circle is by doing it yourself.  That way you can really get lost in Iceland.  Lost in a metaphorical sense, as the route is fairly easy to navigate.

My father and I rented a car for our stay in Iceland which was not at all cheap.  Gas prices are high, and everything in Iceland at the time was very expensive (remember this was 2008, before the financial crisis thus prices may have dropped a bit since then).   But in order to see and do all the things we wanted, especially to truly see and visit the countryside, we needed our own car.

It was worth every penny; the highlight of our trip to Iceland was the driving and seeing the magnificent countryside for hours on end.  The astonishing waterfalls, endless amounts of glaciers dropping down to the ground like a cloud, the immense black, rocky lava fields, the coastline, the verdant farms and of course the grazing livestock.  None of this would have been seen if we hadn’t left Reykjavik and followed our wonderlust into the wild, pure, untamed nature which is the best part of Iceland.

The Golden Circle Tour is the most popular day trip from Reykjavik, probably for its accessibility (the first stop,Pingvillir, is only about 30 miles/49km northeast of Reykjavik) as well as its “bang for its buck”.  You can see history in Pingvillir which is the birthplace of Iceland’s first parliament in 930 AD; wild nature at the Geysir, a geothermal hotspot; and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, Gullfoss- all within a day’s trip from Reykjavik.

Plus it is your main chance to get outside of Reykjavik and see what Iceland is most famous for:  Majestic, spectacular nature.  The beauty of Iceland’s countryside is as pure and sensational as nature gets.

There are many variations to the Golden Circle Tour yet we chose to stop at the three most popular attractions:  Pingvillir, Geysir and Gullfoss.  Here are the photos along the way.  You will instantly see why it is called the “Golden Circle”.  Unfortunately though, we didn’t see any rainbow or find a pot of gold.  But the views we saw were priceless.

Not far out of Reykjavik, perhaps only ten or fifteen minutes by car, you are suddenly surrounded by nature at its finest.  The Icelandic countryside is accessible, vast and simply put, spectacular.   As you drive along the Ring Road, heading east towards Pingvellir National Park, you are stunned by how green and pure the surrounding countryside is.  If there is a heaven on earth, Iceland easily fits the bill.  It is as close as you can get to a nature lover’s paradise. 

Iceland’s Horses (now how could you eat these gorgeous creatures?):

The amazingly green Iceland:  Pictures of hay wrapped in plastic to protect it from all that rain that makes Iceland so green:

The road to nowhere:  Following the famous Golden Circle on the Ring Road:

First stop:  Pingvillir, site of Iceland’s “Parliament Fields” founded in 930 AD.

View of Pingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland:

No one is exactly sure why Pingvillir was picked as the location of Iceland’s first parliament.  It is located about thirty miles from Reykjavik in a rift valley surrounded by cliffs.  Pingvillir is still known as the symbolic heart of Iceland, in which one of the world’s oldest known parliaments met until 1798.   Pingvillir is so important because it is where Iceland’s sense of nationhood actually began; Icelanders’ oral and literary traditions were passed on here in this very spot, and a sense of pride and independence developed which would eventually lead to Iceland’s freedom.

This photo here shows the fault lines.

All that remains of the parliament yet still fascinating to be in a place with so much history!

Views of Pingvillir:

In 2004, Pingvillir was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site:

Back in the car, heading east to our next stop Geysir (73 miles/118 km NE of Reykjavik).  The views of the magical countryside keep getting better:

This photo along the Ring Road reminded me of why you commonly see the phrase, “Lost in Iceland:  Is Anybody Out There”:

Besides the spectacular nature, the only other distractions to the drive were the crossing sheep, a common experience when driving in Iceland:

Finally we safely arrived in Geysir, without taking out any sheep for dinner.

Geysir offers a phenomenal display of geothermal activity all in one spot.  There are mighty erupting geysirs, steaming hot creeks, bubbling mud pools, and springs of boiling hot water.  The main attraction of the place is of course the big geysir which once erupted up to 80 m/262 feet!  A visit to Geysir is a great way to see one of Iceland’s great natural wonders:  The spectacular geothermal power brewing underneath its surface.

This photo shows the hot springs, steaming creeks and bubbling, boiling mud.  Wouldn’t want to walk barefoot in there!

Here is a picture of the Geysir before it erupts:

Look out below!

After watching the powerful eruption, we got back into the car and drove the short four minutes to our next stop, Gullfoss, home of Iceland’s most iconic waterfall.  As we drove along the Ring Road, we were pleasantly surprised with the sighting of our first glacier.  Off in the distance, like a cloud appearing from the heavens, flowed mightly magestic Langjokull glacier and Ice Cap. 

 

A closer look confirmed it was not a low laying cloud but a glacier!  Yep, a glacier unbeknownst to us, apeared magically and unexpectedly right before our eyes!  What a spectacular surprise!

The map showing the enormous size of the ice cap and glacier:

 

We finally reached the highlight of the Golden Circle, The Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) waterfall….words cannot describe how spectacularly beautiful this waterfall is….it is like the heavens released a dam of magical water that casted the most magical spectacle on earth!

thideyemom having a thirdeye moment….Wow!

After a whole day of searching, I finally see my rainbow!  But I still couldn’t find the pot of gold:

As we walk closer, the power and sounds of the waterfall enchant me and I cannot stop taking pictures of this astonishing testement of nature at its finest.  Sometimes words cannot express the true feeling of being at one with the earth and all her wonders.  I am completely and utterly mesmorized….

 

After a splendid day of wondering Iceland’s countryside, we return to the Ring Road and follow it back to town.   The drive is lovely and peaceful.  I feel happy and relaxed to such a degree that can only be obtained after spending a wonderful day outside in beauty and nature.  I am in my element here in Iceland and smile to myself, dreaming happily about the days to come exploring this incredible, astonishing land of fire and ice.  If there is a Heaven on earth, I think I’ve found it.

 

Stay tuned….next post will highlight my first hike into a geothermal area where I see a REI group climbing alongside fellow Icelanders hiking up to a hot pool for a swim!

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Righteous Reykjavik

Last night I went to dinner with my parents here in lovely, youthful Minneapolis, a city of a little over a million and known as the “City of Lakes”.  We dined at a newly reopened restaurant that is considered one of the best, “foodie” places in town.   I opened my menu and was startled and slightly disgusted to see one of the five appetizers on the list was beef tongue!  I didn’t order that thank goodness, however, I did opt for the “chefzilla” surprise.  The waiter brought it over, placed it meekly in front of me and smiled ruefully. 

“What is it?” I asked, optimistically while trying to remember my life motto about using the “third-eye” approach.

“Fish roe”, he replied smartly.

I nearly fainted.  Not wanting to embarrass myself, I closed my eyes and took a bite.

“It tastes kind of like liver” the waiter added, while I was slowly testing the food.

I nearly passed out and swallowed it hard, leaving the rest of the “chefzilla” surprise uneaten on my plate.

The experience instantly grossed me out yet it brought back nostalgic memories of all the other food oddities I saw on Iceland’s menus.  There was Horsemeat (how could you eat something so lovely?!), Whale (need we say more?!), Svio (half a sheep’s head, baby), Slatur (leftover lamb parts), Hrutspungar (pickled rams’ testicles), and ready…..Hakarl (Greenlandic shark, uncooked and putrefied…yep sounds real delicious).

Ok, no worries!  I am not that adventurous when it comes to “gross-out” food.  I love ethnic food but I find these kinds of items in a completely different category, and perhaps an “acquired” taste.

All this talk and memories about Icelandic food brings me back to my topic for today:  My visit to Righteous Reykjavik, a city under the midnight sun or moon, that never sleeps. 

Given Iceland’s northernly location, one would think it is always cold.  Yet, Iceland is fortunate to have the calming effects of the jet stream which moderates the climate.  Summer time in Reykjavik is usually damp and cool with the average temperature of 52 °F (11 °C), and winter is an average of 32 °F ( 0 °C ).   The best time to visit Iceland is in the summer months of June, July or August.  Yet, the shoulder months of May and September can also be good (and winter as well.  See earlier post:  Absolut Iceland).

We arrived in Iceland during the first week of August, when the days are impossibly long and the sun never seems to set.  We landed at the international airport in Keflavik, which felt like landing on the moon.  The landscape was dark, barren and full of black, dried lava.  It reminded me a little of the ancient lava fields in the big island of Hawaii.  It wasn’t at all what I had expected as my first impression of Iceland.  Where was all the green?

The airport is about a half hour’s drive to Reykjavik (population is roughly half of all Iceland, at 120,000 people).  We drove into town and were rewarded with the lifting of the clouds, presenting a spectacular, rare, clear-blue sky.  I was looking forward to exploring this eclectic city of contrasts and seeing what Iceland was all about.   As the day passed, I found that there is much to love about “Righteous Reykjavik” whether it be the culture, the restaurants, the nearby nature or simply the bars.  Here is a brief review of what I saw during my first few hours in the capital city.  Hope you enjoy!

Here is a photo of a lovely, unique day in Iceland in which it actually hit 80 degrees F!  The locals said this is highly unusual and had not been so warm in over 20 years.  What a treat!

Here is a view from our room at Hotel Fron, a three-star hotel located in the center of downtown, popping Reykjavik, right on the main drag, Laugavegur.  It is a must to have a room facing the other way as Laugaveugur is a loud, bustling street loaded with late night revelers who party until dawn.

A closer look at this quaint street loaded with bars, clubs, shops and cafes.  Iceland is one of the most internet-savvy countries in the world with the highest rate of cell phone and internet users per capita in all of Europe.

The one and only main drag, Laugavegur.  For such a small city, it sure has a ton of zest and activity!

Looking down towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Reykjavik is bursting with life and activity.  There are more tourists who visit Iceland in a year than the complete population of this unique island.  Unbelievable!

Reykjavik (these pictures are taken on a “normal” Iceland summer day.  It is not 80 degrees F and sunny.  Instead, it is the normal average high of about 60 degrees F and rain).  We certainly lucked out our first day there!

The Wall of Iceland’s Children.  Aren’t they precious?

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon (a famous geothermal spa) flagstone shop in downtown Reykjavik where you can stock up on their fabulous products from the land of fire and ice.

Iceland is located at 66 degrees latitude.  Here is their own Icelandic clothing line akin to North Face, but in my opinion much beter.  66 Degrees North (www.66north.com) “keeping Iceland warm since 1926”:

 

The children of 66 degree north:

More 66 Degrees North ads posted throughout Iceland:

One of many electric, eccentric coffee shops in Reykjavik where locals stay “wired”…..ok at the time (2008) my small cappuccino was US$6 and my Panini sandwich was US$10… a little steep…yet perhaps things have changed since the financial crisis.   Of course, it was still delightful!   I also enjoyed the “service with a smile”!

 

Icelanders, like most human beings, LOVE to drink beer.  Here is a sign for one of their national beers, with a very fitting name:

Iceland is not only technology savvy and cutting edge, they also like to have style.  We found many hip boutiques with relatively reasonable prices for pret-a-porter clothing in downtown Reykjavik.  Here is a shop focused on stockings:

As I mentioned earlier, our first day there was a rarity in Iceland:  Bright blue skies and a balmy temperature of 80 degrees F—-a record high!  We found a wonderful outdoor square, sat outside and fully enjoyed our US $12/glass of wine….steep, yet we were “Lost in Iceland”.

After happy hour, you can join the all night party train in which you drink til dawn!  No joke!  There is actually a bar and club hopping expedition and tradition in which party-goers start at dusk and drink til dawn.  Since it was our first night there and we were fighting serious jet lag, I opted to go back and hit the hay.  Meanwhile, my father decided to check out the next-door rock band and drank until the wee hours of the night.  Now, who was the smartest one of all?  Me, of course!  I woke the next day, fresh as a spring chicken and ready to see Iceland while my father was nursing a bad hangover and jet lag all at once.  Ok, what kind of father is that you may wonder?  “One who likes to enjoy and experience life!” I say.

If you get the late night munchies or need to nurse your overindulgence in Viking beer, you head towards the nearest hot dog stand and get a nice big, juicy fat Icelandic wiener!

The following day was not so great.  It has clouded over and turned into the “traditional” Icelandic summer weather.  Rather dreary, cool and rainy.  But at least we had the amazing, summery day before to get our fill of Vitamin D!

Views of Tjorin, the city’s central pond which is surrounded by beautiful, traditional Icelandic homes.

The City Hall:

 

The rain kicked in and we were welcomed with traditional summer weather in Iceland.  The pouring rain that makes everything so incredibly, intensely green. 

 

Here is a photo of one of many Toyota Land Cruisers, Iceland’s favorite “truck”.  They are fascinated with big rigs and large, four-wheel SUVs are quite common, especially for those adventurous souls who like to off-road it on the glaciers and no-man’s land.

Finally, a photo of the “Settlement Museum” built in 2001 after workers excavating for a parking lot found Viking ruins dating back to 871 AD…the oldest known ruins in Reykjavik.

 

It was quite a couple of days in Righteous Reykjavik!  No, I did not have pickled rams’ balls or long-dead shark.  Instead, I lavishly ate a meal at an excellent Indian restaurant and another night at an Italian darling.  Both meals were outrageously expensive at the time…at least US$200 for two people, but then again, I was in Iceland, at the most northern capital city in the world.  What could one expect?!  I had found true paradise and was looking forward to the next week there exploring the fantastic, magical countryside and seeing nature in all her glory!  This was going to be a trip I’d never forget!

Stay tuned….next post will feature my trip to the “Golden Circle”, one of Iceland’s most fabulous day trips!

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Myrdalsjökull Glacier

Lost in Iceland: A Day of Ice Trekking in Myrdalsjökull Glacier

Heading northeast on Iceland’s famous Ring Road instantly reminded me why I had always dreamed of visiting….

Ok…I lied.  I was initially going to write my next post about intimate, eccentric Reykjavik, a city of only 120,000 or so hearty souls, yet on a whim I changed my mind.  I took one look at my pictures from my first Icelandic adventure, ice trekking on a real, live glacier, that I felt I couldn’t contain my desire and thrill to write about this adventure first.  So, lovely, playful Reykjavik will have to wait.  Prepare yourself for a real glimpse at why Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, and why the wild, stark dramatic beauty of this amazing country enraptures one’s heart and soul and makes any visitor immediately promise to come back again.  Hold on tight…..and hope you enjoy the ride!

The geography of Iceland is absolutely amazing.  Despite its long history of Vikings and Sagas, it is actually a geographically young country that is still forming.  It contains some of the largest glaciers in the world (glaciers cover about 10.9% of Iceland’s total landmass.  There are over 4,328 square miles of active glaciers).   Three enormous glaciers represent 11% of the entire ice mass:  Vatnajökull, Langjökull and Hofsjökull.  These glaciers are so incredibly huge, that in the winter time Icelanders get out their Land Cruisers and actually drive across them for fun!

Iceland also has over some of the most active, turbulent volcanoes in the world.  There are over 200 post-glacial volcanoes (over 30 of them have erupted since the country was settled in the 9th century AD, per Volcano Discovery (for more information, check out their volcano website.  Recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland have caused airport closings and chaos throughout Europe.  On May 25th, The mighty Grímsvötn volcano erupted and wreaked havoc, just a little over a year after the powerful eruptions of the now world-famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

Besides volcanoes and glaciers, Iceland also prides herself in having the richest source of hot springs and geo-thermal activity in the world.   There are steam holes, geysers, bubbling mud holes and sulphuric precipitation.  Many Icelanders are known to hike to the top of a dormant volcano, swimsuit on and towel in hand, to take a dip in the hot, natural spring pool at the top of the mountain!  There is also the infamous “Blue Lagoon”, probably one of the largest, geothermal pools in the world where Icelanders and tourists alike bathe ensemble, coated in mud masks, drink beer and watch the world go by.

Iceland’s interior is uninhabitable; it is covered with glaciers, mountains and high plateaus which makes the support of any life impossible.  Therefore, all Icelanders live along or within easy reach of the coast.   A long, curvey group of roads circles the island. Although we didn’t make it all the way around, I was amazed and surprised by how much the topography and geography change.  There are endless amounts of things to see and do in Iceland, especially for the adventurous souls, which leads me to the topic of this post:  A Day of Ice Trekking in Myrdalsjökull Glacier.

The Myrdalsjökull Glacier is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland and is located about 96 miles southeast of Reykjavik.  Several adventure outfitters take the curious, adventurous and willing traveler on a full-day trip from Reykjavik which is pricey, but in my opinion, the best way to experience Iceland’s ice in the raw.

Here are some pictures from this epic, adventurous day.  Hope you enjoy!

Setting off early morning with the tour operator who of course drives a Land Cruiser, Iceland’s favorite vehicle! I chose Icelandic Mountain Guides and they were terrific.

En route following the Ring Road northeast towards Skogar, the magical Seljalandfoss waterfall, which can be seen from the highway:

Up close and personal with the Seljalandfoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s many incredible waterfalls:

As you get close, you can hear the water roar as it tumbles down and sprays all those who stand near:

As the drive continues, the scenery never ceases to amaze me.  It is God’s Country, a land so green and so beautiful that it almost hurts your eyes.  You pass through many small towns by the sea, farms loaded with white fluffy sheep, horses and hay, and nothing but green.  It is absolutely spectacular.  The beauty is stark, raw, mystical and unique.  Iceland is like no place I’d ever seen.  It is like no place on earth.

As we approached the glacier, I was curious about when I’d first be able to see it as the size and mass of Iceland’s glaciers is literally incomprehensible.  They are that big.  Unfortunately the weather began to change.  The clouds set in like a giant blanket overhead and rain began to fall lightly across the greening grass.  We arrived at the Myrdalsjökull Glacier shortly after our visit to the waterfall, just as the rain began to change from a drizzle to a downright pour.  Thankfully I was prepared.  I packed all my Gortex watergear which would definitely come in handy as we hiked the massive Myrdalsjökull Glacier.

The tongue of the glacier…there is no way possible to show the enormity of it!

The entrance to no man’s land…..

It goes on forever….

We get on our crampons in the pouring rain and set foot onto the glacier.  I’ve never walked on crampons before and we get a brief instruction on the techniques.  I felt like a penguin, it was hilarious, but once I got used to it, it was actually quite fun and such an amazing way to see the glacier.

Here is a photo from on top of the glacier:  The terminus of the glacier ends in a tiny pool of water and a river.

We see our first 100 foot crevasse.  Wouldn’t want to fall in there!  But the colors of blues are so intensely beautiful….

The clouds and rain set in and then the wind picks up speed and it was FREEZING, WET and MISERABLE!  But we were walking on a glacier so what could one expect?

A larger crevasse….

The stark beauty of the place felt like no place on Earth….

And the ice formations were unbelievable…

The rain still is pouring and I am freezing cold…yet the thrill of walking on ice from before mankind felt surreal.

And the colors of contrast between the dirty, ancient ice juxtaposed against the verdant green fields was spectacular in itself.

After 90 minutes of walking in severe wind and rain, we headed back to the terminus of the glacier and thankfully climbed into the warm, dry bus that will take us back to town.

It was an experience I’ll never forget….to be completely lost in Iceland and wandering….”Is Anybody Out There?” (A popular quote sold on t-shirts, mugs and postcards from Iceland).  After being there, I understood what this quote was all about!

If you go:

I chose Icelandic Mountain Guides who have a ton of cool tours. Check them out here. Be sure to pack waterproof clothing and lots of warm layers! It was freezing cold out there on the ice!

Like it? PIN for later!

The Myrdalsjökull Glacier is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland and is located about 96 miles southeast of Reykjavik. Several adventure outfitters take the curious, adventurous and willing traveler on a full-day trip from Reykjavik which is pricey, but in my opinion, the best way to experience Iceland’s ice in the raw.Experience a day of ice trekking on a sea of ice! 

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Absolut Iceland

I’d always wanted to go to Iceland.  As a travel wonderer at heart, Iceland was one of those mystical places that highly appealed to me.   It seemed to have it all:  Incredible nature, explosive landscape (consisting of some of the largest glaciers in the world and several active volcanoes), a small, easily accessible country, loads of active opportunities and a culturally-rich capital city. Of course I’d heard about its soaring costs (this was before the financial crisis) yet the pros definitely outweighed the cons so in early August 2008 I found myself on a non-stop flight from Minneapolis to Reykjavik along with my father to the land of fire and ice.

Over the last ten years, this once rather isolated island has become one of the hottest travel destinations in the world.  Tiny Iceland, which has a population of a little over 300,000 people and a landmass about the size of Virginia, is geologically a very young country that is still in the process of formation.   Iceland was first settled by the Vikings in the 9th century AD and shortly thereafter, established the first parliament in Pingvellir in 930 AD.   Hundreds of years of dominance and control by other Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden finally gave way to Iceland’s independence in 1918. It is often said that this violent, turbulent past similar to that of Iceland’s mighty, active volcanoes, lead Icelanders to become the highly resilient, individualistic, creative and proud people that they are famous for.   How else would they have survived?

For me, going to Iceland was a real feat.  It had nothing to do with logistics.  Fortunately I had the money, the time and the babysitting (my wonderful Mom) all lined up. Instead, it had to do with the fact that only six months earlier I had broken my left foot and spent five long, agonizing, brutal months in a boot.  For someone like me who is incredibly active (I run year-round rain, snow, sleet or shine; hike; walk; bike; golf; inline skate; and chase after my children non-stop) the news that my foot was broken was like a hammer being slammed into my heart.  I was devastated.

Ok, you may wonder how does one go about breaking their foot?  Well, this is a rather embarrassing story so I’ll try to make it short but sweet (but knowing me, that is impossible).  I was walking hand in hand with my three-year-old son across the street to the pharmacy, both of us sicker than a dog, and saw a puddle. Instinctively, I took my right arm and flung his thirty-plus-pound body over the puddle.  I obviously didn’t know my own strength and his body flew across mine, tripping me, and knocking us both down smack into the pavement….W-H-A-M.  As we fell, my left foot slammed into the edge of the sidewalk at full speed and for an instant I could not even move.  We were both crying and in the middle of a busy intersection.  Not one person stopped to help!  I couldn’t believe it!  We live in Minnesota for God’s sake,land of the infamous Minnesota Nice.

After a minute or two of being motionless on the ground, comforting my bawling son, I was finally able to stand up.  Something didn’t feel right.  My left foot killed.  I got up hesitantly, limped slowly into the pharmacy, got the cold medicine I needed and drove home.

Feeling utterly miserable with a terrible cold, I ignored the pain of my foot.  It was throbbing(yet so was my head) so I put a huge pack of frozen blueberries on it.  I peeled down my sock and examined my foot carefully.  It was in a rainbow of different shades of black, blue and yellow.  My first reaction was “Yuck”!  It looked like something on a dead person’s body.  It didn’t look good yet I was too sick to care.

I spent the next two days in bed with a terrible chest cold, still icing my foot and trying not to walk on it much.  Every time I stood up, I felt a piercing pain and it throbbed constantly.  Silly me,though, did not go to the doctor.  I had never broken a single bone in my body thus I thought it was just a bad bruise or strain.

A week later, after fully recovering from my cold I decided it was time to get back into my regular workout routine.  It was February and cold as hell but that didn’t matter.  I run year round and in fact, actually prefer running in the cold, dry air.  It calms my body and soul and is pretty much the only way I can survive the long, cold winters of Minnesota.

I got on my running shoes, bundled up in hat and gloves and set off for the lake.  To ease into it, I decided to try walking first.  I walked the first couple of blocks and it still ached. But I didn’t quit.  I had to workout.  I’m a diehard, exercise freak and running especially is a requirement for my mental health.  I need the release that running provides me.  I have too much energy and too much tension.

Despite the excruciating pain in my foot, I would not quit.   I continued to walk in the bitter cold and gray skies until about twenty minutes later I had to turn around.  The pain was worse and becoming intense.  Something was not right.  I limped the next mile home, iced my foot some more yet still did not go to the doctor (yep I know stubborn and stupid).

Finally, over two weeks after the sidewalk tripping incident, I finally decided to load my two kids into the car and head over to the doctor.   The doctor, who also happens to focus on sports medicine and injuries, ran an x-ray of my foot and came in with the grim news.  I had a four inch fracture running across one of the major bones on left edge of my foot.  He couldn’t even believe I made it so far without coming to the doctor and confirmed that I must really be able to withstand pain.  Yeah, right!  He didn’t know about my almost immediate epidural at the very onset of labor with my two children.

I was quickly “booted up” in a knee-length black boot, given a pair of crutches and the contact information for a foot specialist where I would get further x-rays and consultation. What? I thought in fear.  How on earth was I going to drive home in a stick-shift car, wearing a boot and using crutches with two young kids, one of them only a little over a year old and hardly walking!

I saw the specialist the next day and the news was bad.  My foot was indeed broken and I would have to be on crutches for a minimum of two weeks and another six weeks in a boot.  I was heartbroken and stressed out as my daughter Sophia still slept in a crib and needed assistance with everything,and my son Max was an active, high-energy three-year-old who was always on the go.  There was no way I could care for the children on my own while my husband was at work so in came my in-laws, who drove the fifteen hours straight from Virginia to help me manage.

After six weeks in a boot, I returned to the foot specialist hopeful that this would be the end, however, secretly I knew my foot stillthrobbed and ached and that it probably was not healed.  This song and dance continued for another four long, brutal months, as spring slowly moved into the long-awaited Minnesota summer and I was becoming more and more desperate and depressed.  Every time I went back to the doctor and she brought in the x-ray, I knew the bad news…it had not quite healed.  I was always filled with tears.  What was supposed to take six weeks to heal ended up taking me five months, through the heart and soul of summer with two young kids running up and down the sidewalk and me, slowly gimping after them suited up in a knee-length boot.  I could hardly go to the park, could not go to the beach or pool and was getting more and more depressed about the situation because outdoor activity is my lifeblood.  After a long, cold winter I had missed almost the entire summer being confined to a boot and could not enjoy running, walking, biking, skating, swimming or any of those other joys of a Minnesota summer.

As the heat of summer intensified and the Iceland trip approached, I began to worry that I would not be able to go.  I had earlier gone on a trip to Virginia to visit my in-laws and could hardly walk the length of the airport.  If I was instructed to only walk a couple of blocks at a time, how on earth would I be able to travel to Iceland and hike for days on end?

I got fitted to another boot, an air-boot, that was lighter weight and not so hot.  That helped the situation a little.  Then, a few weeks later, I got a “sandal” cast which allowed me to actually go in the water at the pool.  About two weeks before I was to leave for Iceland, I finally received the much-anticipated news that finally, after five long months, the break had healed and I was a free woman!

The first week of August, I was off to Iceland hoping I’d be in good enough shape to do some of the dreamy hiking and exploration.   Miraculously, I proved that I did not lose as much stamina as I had anticipated.  I only lost a little bit of my soul.  Fortunately this would soon be restored once I landed in Iceland and was surrounded by immense nature and beauty, and a love of life once again as I could move freely about, on my own two feet.  What a blessing it is to walk and be free! J

Stay tuned….next post will be on culturally divine Reykjavik.

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