Leaving on the ferry

Waiting patiently for scraps. My contribution was a piece of bacon saved from dinner.

I shall name her Brunhilde!

Cats know what is best in life!

I said goodbye to Brunhilde, then made my way to the giant boat.

That's the boat that will take me out of Iceland.

The cyclists were all told to wait in a line together, than dispatched all at once into the belly of the beast.

Lots of cars loading up.

Guides with radios and greasy uniforms directed us to a corner.

This guy directed me to the right spot on the deck for bikes.

We tethered our bikes in place with whatever we could find. In a few days, after stopping at the Faroe islands, the area around us would be packed almost solid with truck trailers. The ferry was obviously a major supply route.

Kick-standed, tagged, and roped in place. for the journey.

My first task on the ship was to convert some of my Icelandic Króna (ISK) to Danish Krone (DKK). Good thing the Danes are scrupulous people because it would be easy to scam tourists: One currency is worth about twenty times the other.

The last of my Icelandic coinage.

New country, new money.

Next I had to find a locker to store my stuff. I didn’t feel comfortable carrying it around on my back, and I didn’t want to leave it by my bedside. The lockers were coin operated and cost the equivalent of about two dollars every time you opened one. At least they were spacious.

Everything you need to carry around, when you have a locker: Your badge, the locker key, and enough coins to open it six more times.

Plenty of room to store all the things I'll need, since I can't access my bike.

About 2/3 of the lockers had keys broken off in them. The work of some disgruntled passenger.

Finally found one with a usable key. Accidentally turned it the wrong way after I put in the first coin. Two bucks wasted...

The sleeping area was more “hostel” than the hostel I’d just left. All five of my bunkmates were men, since the rooms were split by gender for safety purposes. (Nevertheless, on day two of the trip, a woman began sleeping in one of the bunks, intertwined with her lover. Exceptions to the rule!)

Heavy swinging doors so people didn't have to constantly fumble with noisy handles.

It was only bearable because everyone was as quiet as possible.

Yeah, it was as cramped as it looks.

I prepared my bed and locked up most of my gear, then went upstairs and had my first open-faced Danish sandwich. I ate it with a knife and fork like a proper gentleman, as my mother taught me!

Eating my first open-faced sandwich with a knife and fork, like a civilized person.

The boat got underway and Iceland began to slide past the window, then move to the horizon. I wandered around the ship for a while and did some more writing.

Do you feel like the physical end of the trip coincided with some emotional or mental resolutions?
In the movie version, of course it would. But real life is messier than that…

Yeah — in the movie, I would suddenly reach a whole pile of amazing conclusions in my head just a day or two before closing the lid on the bicycle box and riding the shuttle to the airport for the flight home. Then I’d be looking out the window of the plane, all smiling and fulfilled, as credits began to roll up the side of the sky.

Reality didn’t have such a great sense of timing. But about 3/4 of the way through the ride I did get to a weird place in my head, and I think the best way to describe it is with a metaphor about travel:

In the time before by decision to go on this journey, there had been a giant slow-moving explosion in my emotional landscape. When I pedaled away from civilization – probably best identified as the city of Reykjavik – I was also pedaling away from the center of that explosion — and as I moved along, I found pieces.

Some of those pieces were twisted and unrecognizable at first, but clearly part of myself, so I picked them up and carried them.  Then there were parts that I found sitting on undisturbed ground, obscured by weeds. They had been discarded before the explosion, when I was going somewhere else.  I picked those up too.

Every night I would arrange them around me and try to make them fit together. Hammer at a few of them. Some I connected with and took into myself. I found my love of in-depth conversation; I found my joy at open spaces and quiet presence in them; I found my curiosity of the natural world.  (That piece was fully intact, and I realized I’d dropped it quite a long time ago when I stopped pushing to go on nature-oriented trips with my ex.)

I found my enthusiasm for writing.  I found pieces of my ability to stand up for what I needed. Somewhere around the crossing to Flatey Island I had a little epiphany that I wrote down in one short sentence: There is often a difference between what I want, and what other people want me to want, and I’m tired of ignoring the first in favor of the second. Even if it would make someone really happy for me to want or like or care about something, if I don’t feel that way, I really shouldn’t defer to their happiness.

I think my struggle with that has been a struggle with confrontation, and with the part of me that wants to please the people around me. I’m very fortunate to have the time and independence to work on it; to even have the choice, instead of circumstances making it for me.

I saw this view a lot.

Over the next couple of days I would often find myself sitting on the floor of the locker room, down in the depths of the ship, listening to the throbbing of the engine. It was the only place anywhere that had a door I could close, allowing me to be entirely alone for extended periods of time. I was still too used to the wilderness.

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