Full deployment

I had one more day in the hotel, but I was itching to try out my camping gear. In the evening I told the folks at the counter that I probably wouldn’t be there in the morning because I’d heard there were free campsites next to the Viking World Museum.

Fully geared up for the first time in Iceland.

The full weight of my touring gear was pretty intense, but I could manage it.

The Njardvik shipyard in the distance.

On the way to Keflavik I stopped halfway down the hill and got this nice photo of the shipyard. No patchy clouds this time, just an even blanket all the way out over the ocean, where it merged with a wall of mist.

I rode by the water, then over to a Greek restaurant where I got a tasty falafel salad. That left me with nothing to do for the rest of the night but explore with the camera. I zig-zagged south, generally approaching the Viking Museum, but got caught by some interesting plants:

Recent rain, caught on a leaf, between the 1:00am Icelandic sunlight and a sodium street lamp.

Recent rain, caught on leaves, between the 1:00am Icelandic sunlight and a sodium street lamp.

Time for some photo shenanigans!

Recent rain, caught on some leaves, between the 1:00am Icelandic sunlight and a sodium street lamp.

That got me on a roll, and I walked around collecting a few more shots, including a self-portrait or two.

Can you feel the cold air coming at you through this photo?

Just a dude with too much gear, creeping around Iceland after midnight!

Just a dude and a 15-pound camera, havin' a good time.

The coast at 1:30am.

No wonder the Icelandic are described as quiet and introspective.  The land evokes quiet.  It evokes the urge to listen for tiny sounds.  If you’re indoors and you see the view outside, you are reminded of how quiet it is, and your thoughts grow wide and smooth like the undisturbed water, or the snow, or the mountains hammered flat by ice. You summon the quiet into the room.

Back home it was just about dinner time, and I chatted with my parents over text message as I wandered. It was very quiet and with no one around the city felt depopulated. I toyed with the idea of pushing my sleep schedule forward and waking up in the late afternoon, then riding my bike through the “night”. That would sharply reduce the amount of traffic I’d be dealing with. But it would also knock me out of alignment with every hotel, AirBnB, or campsite scheudule along the way.

This boat ain't goin' anywhere!

Njardvik industrial area.

That's the viking museum in the distance. I hear they have free camping there...

That's a viking ship in there, suspended from cables.

Eventually I got to the Viking World Museum, and sure enough, there was a spartan campsite right next to the building, and half the spots were empty. Time to put this gear to work.

Tent all spread out, ready to inflate.

Tent inflated, with bicycle stowed under attached tarp. That red mark is the taillight, visible through the fabric.
Tent inflated, with bicycle stowed under, from a different angle.
Gotta have my morning music!
Snug as a bug.

Look at that light filtering through the walls! I’m glad my standard kit includes a sleep mask…

So many times as a kid I had to set up my tent for camping and struggled with the stupid bendy poles and the vinyl sleeves, getting all sweaty and frustrated when I just wanted to go play. It was the same experience with the first tent I bought for bicycle touring, even though it was great in other respects. So when I found out about a tent that didn’t need any poles, I was all over it. It takes less than three minutes to get from having this tent in a compression sack to having it deployed like this, including staking it down and stowing the bike. I have great patience for a lot of things on bike tours, but I absolutely hate fiddling with segmented aluminum tent poles, especially when it’s dark and raining and I’m tired.

Setting the tent up is easy, and taking it down is trivial. You just pull stakes, undo two valves, and roll the thing up. Done.

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