Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ice: black and blue

This is Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park. We really wanted to see the Vatnajokull glacier which covers about a tenth of Iceland and is one of the largest glaciers in Iceland. There are tongues of the glacier that flow out between the mountain ridges. This one is Skftafellsjokull: the glacier ends in a lagoon and pieces of ice break off and float around in the lagoon:

The guide explained to us that there are sometimes holes in the ice that fill with black sand. The black sand insulates the ice so that it doesn't melt underneath, while all the ice around it melts. This causes the black sand to become cone shaped. So there are all these weird black sand cones covering the glaciers. Here's one that has partially melted as it moved into the lagoon:

We later went to the Svinafellsjokull glacier. Leo had the time of his life jumping on floating glaciers: 

We walked to the edge of the lagoon, jumped from a sand/mudpile to a glacier and hiked about, but it was really dicey. At one point, I thought I was stepping over a little bit of mud but it ended up being a quicksand type mud that dragged me in a bit:

Here's some nice blue ice. The blue ice is super dense. All the air bubbles have been pushed out. It takes 12 meters of snow to make 1 cm of blue ice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Water and Ice

We visited Seljalandsfoss which is one of the more famous waterfalls in Iceland. There are waterfalls everywhere here. Big green cliffs and melting glaciers atop.

You can walk behind the waterfall. Here's Leo trying not to get wet

They have weird plants growing here. The black flies which are thick here (one flew into my eye and I screamed for a while, until we could get it out) love this plant:

Then we went to the sólheimajökull glacier and took a glacier tour. We all geared up in crampons and ice-axes.

This is how Paul drinks from the glacier:

The guide offered to hold each of us at the edge of the crevasse so we could look in. Paul was like, yeah, I trust you like I trust my cat. He just sort of stood at the edge and looked down:

Leo looking for whales

We went whale watching. Here's Leo is in sea-faring outfit. They give you these overalls to keep you dry and warm. They have built in flotation.

We left this beautiful sunny harbor

An event center on the waterfront

We didn't see any whales, despite their 92% success rate. We did encounter a lot of wind and waves which left the boat passengers looking really green. Leo has special little bands that keep him ok, and at the very end of the trip, he saved me by giving me one. I ended up wearing it all night, just to keep my cookies down.

Then we celebrated by eating raw reindeer! It was super tasty.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Some pix -Iceland

Cute water fountain in the downtown shopping area:

Family portrait through some art project next to the Hallgrimskirkja church:

I'm bad with history. Didn't know Leif Erikson discovered the US or that it was called Vineland:

Leo showing off the crazy fire hydrant:

Not sure what he's doing but it involves ducks:

Hey, a rock just fell on this statue's head!

Fermented shark!

Fresh Greenland shark is poisonous when fresh, because of high levels of urea and trimethylamine oxide. So you have to let the shark fully rot to get rid of the toxins. You dig a hole in the sand and bury the shark for a couple months and then you dry it. Hákarl has a lot of ammonia and thus smells like floor cleaner. I wish I had known beforehand that I was supposed to wash it down with the local grain alcohol.