Flowers and trails and boats, oh my!

Only a few hours of irregular sleep, and when I opened my eyes it was half an hour before my 10:45am “oh crap get out” alarm. I always do this; calculating the absolute minimum amount of time I’d need to get out of a hotel room in the morning and then setting my alarm based on that. The idea is, sleep is super important, and I’d rather stay asleep if my body wants to, for as long as it wants, and then pack up in a rush, instead of waking myself up pointlessly with an hour or two to spare. But if I wake up organically before that alarm, that’s great.

As it was, with only half an hour difference, I’d never fall back asleep in time. Might as well get up and start packing…

As soon as I rolled out of bed, the shriek of a wood-cutting instrument pierced in from the hallway just outside my door.  I peeked outside, and saw two workmen cutting a hole in the drywall above my bathroom, trying to find the extent of a leak from an upper floor.

I jammed in earphones and finished my few remaining packing tasks, then shoved the bike into the hallway and pushed my two empty suitcases out behind it.  The workmen had a ladder and a lamp on a stand blocking the way to the lobby, but there was a rear exit so I muscled the bike around to that.

So, with the bike loaded, the box shipped, and the hotel room cleared out, there was only one thing to deal with: These cheap-o suitcases I’d used on the airplane.

A container big enough to dispose of a suitcase.

Getting rid of trash in Iceland is quite hard, actually. It’s rare to find an open-access dumpster you can just chuck things into. Luckily there was one behind the hotel. I was probably not supposed to be using it at all. The very idea that one person would generate an amount of waste that would require a dumpster is appalling to Icelanders, no doubt.

But no one was looking, so I stuffed them in.

Only one of these gets you back into the room...

They handed it to me before I knew what it was! I swear!

Checking my pockets afterward I discovered there was one more thing to discard: The hotel key. In fact I had two of them. How had that happened? And this plastic bottle of “Icelandic water” they gave me on check-in… What an embarrassment. It was empty so I chucked that in too.

I took off down towards the city, and stopped at the shoulder of the hill to look out over the bay, thinking, “This will be the last time I get this view.  Better enjoy it.”  Then I realized, “It was the last time last time as well.  You never know!  If there’s a next time perhaps you’ll be sharing this view with a nephew or a girlfriend.”

At the bottom of the hill I turned right, headed for the Subway again.  I wanted a meatball sandwich but they were out of meatballs, so I got a tuna salad in a to-go box and ate it sitting near the window while I organized photos.

Several dozen pop songs from the 80’s played as I sat there.  I remembered hating most of this music when I was young because it was always being piped into my consciousness at what felt like very inappropriate times.  It was the same now.  I wanted to eat my tuna salad and look at my little collection of Iceland photos.  I did not want this activity underscored by some flashy vocalist doing a go-for-broke screaming chorus about how broken his life was since his lover vanished.  “WELL TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOOOW-OOWWW!  THERE’S JUST AN EMPTY SPAAACE!”  Shut up Phil Collins, and get out of my Iceland photos.

How do people just carry on with their lives in these spaces – eating and talking and thinking – with this stuff burrowing into their ears? I will never understand it.

After an hour I packed up again and cruised around town, debating with myself about whether to buy more snacks.

I don't know what it means, but it's compelling.
This is how you grow sunflowers up here.
The massive Skipasmíðastöð Njarðvíkur in Keflavik
This is growing all over Iceland.
Iceland is a pretty safe place from predators.
Gotta stick close to mom's butt!

I couldn’t help stopping by the Viking museum for a photo or two. It’s just so cute!

I prefer my two-wheeled vessel!

Perhaps I should put some anachronistic horns on my helmet?

Actually my plan was to spend the night in the little camping area in front of the museum, but when I went inside to pay for my spot, the outrageously attractive woman behind the counter told me that the campsites had all been shut down for the season due to lack of cleaning staff and tourism. She offered to find me alternative lodgings using her phone, and in less than a minute she did, pointing me to a campground in the tiny hamlet of Vogar that offered sites for ten dollars a day. I reserved one on my phone, and thanked her.

There didn’t seem to be anyone else in the whole museum. A slow day in a slow season. I asked if there was still food left in the brunch area and she told me in her melodic English that they weren’t doing brunch, but there were some pastries in the kitchen area if I wanted to go pick one out. I wandered over there and grabbed one, then wandered back.

She asked if I wanted museum admission too, but I told her I’d already gone through it top-to-bottom a few years ago. We chatted about the best times to visit Iceland, and what tourists usually tried to see in a rush on their typical one-week timeframe.

Her eyes were almond-shaped and angled downward towards the bridge of her nose, giving her a catlike gaze, which she held on me for much longer than seemed necessary in a simple shop transaction. They were an intense, otherworldly green. She put her elbows on the counter and leaned forward to talk to me.

In the back of my mind, some lunatic part of me jumped up and shouted, “Hey! Forget about this bicycle trip and just hunker down here, and ask this lady on a date! And then stay for three months and then apply for a work visa and then get some of your stuff shipped here and then get an apartment and get hitched and have some Icelandic kids! IT’S A GREAT IDEA DO IT. LOOK AT THOSE EEEYES.”

That lunatic is not in charge. I threw a chair at him and he ducked back down. Then I tore myself away from the woman’s gaze, wished her a fine day, and walked outside.

I had a work meeting coming up and the museum closed at 4:00pm, right in the middle of the meeting, so I couldn’t have it there.  The Subway had free wifi. I decided more snacks was a good idea after all, and rode back down there a second time, ordering a steak sandwich in the form of a wrap.

Meeting done, I used the bathroom a final time (very important!) and then set off for Vogar, hoping to be there before my next work meeting started so I could use their wifi — assuming they had any.

The pace was casual. I could have cycled the shoulder of the main highway but I knew there was this fine coastal path. I slowed way down and waved hello to four different people walking dogs of various sizes.

I remember these cliffs from last time. So lovely.

Some time in the last few years, whimsical residents had started painting little heart shapes all along the path!

Little hearts all along the path!

Apparently other people love this path as much as I do.

I zig-zagged out to the main highway and began to plod along.  The wind intensified and began to deliver sleet into my face.  I realized I’d forgotten to put the rain cover on my backpack, so I stopped to do that. I also noticed that my gloves were leaking a little bit at the fingers.  Why do gloves always do this within a year, no matter how expensive and fancy they claim to be? Am I just getting unlucky?

“I hope there’s a place to dry some of this stuff in Vogar,” I muttered, “Or I’m gonna hate being in my tent.”

The dense skyline in the roadsign is a little misleading...

Vogar was not very far away. The shoulder was narrow but there was zero traffic. The sleet turned into rain, blasting sideways into my eyes and forcing me to put on sunglasses even though the cloud cover stole the light. After a while I remembered that I brought a new piece of gear for this very situation: Little plastic goggles!

Too much water; not enough light.

Aaah; that's better!

They were pretty effective. I could see and my face was a little warmer as well. After a while my gloves got so wet that wiping them clear was difficult, but they were still better than the sunglasses. Good job, previous me!

When I got to the campground I discovered that they also had cute little cabins for only a bit more money. I had an AirBnB scheduled in Reykjavik but I had budgeted two days to get there, and I was a day ahead of schedule now, so I rented a cabin for two days. If it proved comfortable I would rent it for a third night and fill the gap.

Yep, it's tiny, but that means the heater is more effective!

Four coathooks but just one coat? No problem!

There wasn’t enough room for the bicycle, so I parked it next to the door. I briefly thought about trying to lock it to something, but … This is Iceland.

I arrayed my gear around the room, pointed at the space heater, then did some corresponding with workmates.  I was too fatigued to write code but I could do all my other job-related tasks.  By 10:00pm I was pooped, so I deployed the sleeping bag onto the bed and played some ambient music.  Only halfway through the playlist, I was out.

As dark as it gets in this tiny room.

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