Monday, June 27, 2011

VoM2: Iceland Ring Road Update

Our Iceland exploration continues apace, with great times on the road punctuated by frequent stops to look at rocks. The weather has been mostly good, with occasional high winds and rain squalls. Much the same can be said for the roads, which are also mostly good but tricky in spots.

We’re about two thirds of the way counter-clockwise around the island and are now in the northwest fjords area. I can’t imagine a better way to explore Iceland, nor a better person to do it with than Christian!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

VoM2: Iceland Rock Hounds

Not only is my young friend Christian an all-around good guy with a great attitude and fine sense of humor, he’s also a geology student.

There’s nothing more fun than exploring Iceland with a guy who knows rocks, loves them and shares his knowledge!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

VoM2: Midnight Icescape

Midnight on Disko Bay… Pretty much says it all!… Even though it makes sleeping very difficult around here, the view is worth it!

I’m getting ready to leave Ilulissat and fly back to Reykjavik… Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

VoM2: Midnight Ice Cruise

I took a “midnight cruise” out onto Disko Bay. It was a fantastic ride among the icebergs with breathtaking views.

The sun never actually set, of course, but it did get low enough in the sky to provide some great lighting for photos. Here's the video:

Monday, June 13, 2011

VoM2: Ice Fog

Just when I thought the ice couldn’t get any more spectacular… Here’s the view at about 11pm!

VoM2: Dog Yard, Ilulissat, Greenland

Here’s a little video for dog lovers… But that’s all of us, right?

VoM2:Greenland Dogs

Ilulissat — with a human population of 2,500 and a canine population of 3,500 — claims to be “the dog capital of the world” (or something like that). I can’t vouch for the accuracy of either number, but it seems about right. There are dogs literally everywhere, spread out in haphazard dog yards just about anywhere you look.

There are also a lot of dogs running loose, which cause quite a ruckus as they wander in and around those who are tied up to rocks and/or the oddest collection of dog houses you can imagine. Their conditions are pretty basic — though quite satisfactory — and they all appear to be in good health. They certainly have one of the best views in the world!

They are the famous Greenland sled dogs, of course, somewhat bigger and hairier than Alaskan huskies. Their reputation for being vicious, however, doesn’t quite seem to add up. I’ve forced myself to heed the warning not to go too near them, but the number of wagging tails and other body-language invitations I’ve received in reply to my verbal overtures make me suspect they’re as friendly as any dogs anywhere. I hope to smooch a few before I leave!

I’ve had little luck striking up a conversation with any of their bosses due to language barriers, though I did have some pantomime communication with the local musher you see above who proudly showed me his newest puppies, a few pups who are big enough to be outside, the proud parents, his best dog, etc. (I’ve got a video clip that I’ll try to upload soon!)

I’m trying to track down a lead on a local musher who has good English — he does a show and tell for the tourists a few times a week — and see if I can get a little more of the inside story on the dogs, the similarities and differences in mushing technique, etc... Stay tuned!

VoM2: Ice Disko

Here’s a look at the Disko Bay's most prominent feature that I think you’ll find interesting… Enjoy!

VoM2: Coastal Views

I spent most of yesterday wandering around Ilulissat and the surrounding hills. This is a spectacularly beautiful place on a nice day!

Here are a few coastal views. You can see that Ilulissat is a colorful little village perched on rugged rock hills, right on the edge of the Disko Bay. The area is a UNESCO place and fairly well suited to tourists with a few large hotels, a number of places to eat and a very well run events/activities center.

It’s early enough in the season that there aren’t many folks here yet, but I imagine it can get pretty crowded in the peak seasons. Even still, I was happy to hike up one of the hills and enjoy a quiet, solitary and lengthy stare out at the ice floes. Pretty awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

VoM2: Morning Ice

Dinner last night was whale carpaccio and two kinds of roast reindeer. A bit of a stretch, but an excellent introduction to the local diet.

The overnight tide brought in what strikes me as a surprising amount of ice, but it’s probably an every day occurrence around here. If I can get myself to stop staring at it, I’ll go out for a walk around!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

VoM2: Ilulissat, Greenland

Especially for those of you who are sweltering right now, here is the view from my room in Ilulissat, Greenland. It’s raining — of course! — but I have been assured that it will start clearing at midnight. Of course, midnight doesn’t mean a lot here since I am well above the arctic circle — just about even with my previous “furthest north” in Deadhorse, Alaska — and it will be perpetually light for my entire visit.

Also in the “of course” category, I stopped in the local store during my initial recon walk and tried to buy some wine. I was willing to pay the crazy price for a crummy box of wine, but was denied at the cash register. It is apparently some kind of holiday.

The internet is very spotty, but I will try to bring you lots more icebergs, rocks and especially dogs! Stay tuned…

Friday, June 10, 2011

VoM2: Update From Reykjavik

I’ve been in Reykjavik for a few days and just realized I haven’t posted anything since I got here. I also realized I haven’t taken any photos! That doesn’t really mean anything, except maybe that everything has been normal, uneventful and not very interesting.

Reykjavik is a modest little city with a typically compact — even crowded — little “old town” which features plenty of restaurants, bars shops, etc. It’s easy to walk around, but it’s not particularly pretty or interesting to me. Surrounding that is a modern sprawl of commercial buildings and suburbs, neither of which appeals to me. I guess I’ve become too little of a “city guy” after so much time out in the wilds.

I’m heading over to Greenland tomorrow for a few days of exploration around Disko Bay. My guess is that’s “really out there” so I imagine I’ll have something more interesting to report. Assuming, of course, that there’s internet available. Either way, I’ll be back in Reykjavik late next week in time for my young friend Christian to arrive and head out on our two-week road trip all the way around the island.

So, stay tuned!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

VoM2: Akureyri, Iceland

Although Seydisfjordur — where I got off the ferry — was a nice little village, there was absolutely nothing going on there. So, I packed up and took a couple of buses around to Akureyri on the north coast of the island. This is the second largest town in Iceland, and although there’s not a lot to it there are at least some decent food options and some great coffee.

This photo up the fjord from town offers a pretty good sense of what it looks like around here. If you consider that I took this picture at about 10 o’clock this evening, you’ll also have a sense of what it’s like to have daylight almost all the time. It kinda messes with your body clock and sleep patterns. I’m going to put on my eye-shades and call it a day… Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

VoM2: Room With A View

It finally cleared up this afternoon, and I was delighted to see that my modest but comfortable little hotel is in such a nice setting. I’m just starting to work out my Iceland exploration plans… Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

VoM2: Brrrrr

Without question, today’s weather was the crappiest yet: Freezing rain blowing sideways in a bone-chilling damp, cold wind… the kind of cold you can only get when you’re at the head of a long fjord, surrounded by snow covered mountains. It was too cold even for me! I only left my room for meals and spent the rest of the time hunkered down. Let’s hope for a break soon!