Iceland 2021

Table of Contents

Iceland Redux: Is Bicycle Touring Romantic Doom?

I have a lifelong habit of continuing in uncomfortable situations that are predictable and safe, rather than changing the situation in some uncomfortable way to pursue a greater happiness that is not guaranteed. I’m sure we all suffer from this habit to a degree, but I feel like it’s really messed with my life. It’s too easy to reinforce, because playing it safe today is more likely to get you to tomorrow.

At many points in my life I have also used the possible inconvenience of other people as an excuse to delay my actions, without consulting the people involved. This is the worst kind of selfishness, based on the conceited idea that you know better than other people what they would choose if they had all the facts.

In the depths of this kind of self-imposed purgatory, I’ve often asked myself the question, “If I keep doing it, what am I doing it for?” After all, if I didn’t derive some strong benefit from this pathology I would have ditched it long ago. Over time I’ve realized that the reason is subtle, but powerful: I keep trying to play a role, of someone who is as stable and committed and undemanding as the masculine role models I aspired to early in life. And while there definitely is a part of me that is remarkably stable – you need to have nerves of steel to deal with many aspects of long range bike touring, complex software development, and living in Oakland – there is also a part of me that is intense, difficult, boundary-pushing, and swings between craving solitude and craving disruptive, creative mayhem.

Without hard-won wisdom to temper it, this disposition has the following outward appearance: I find something that works really well and do it happily for long stretches of time, running it into the ground, and then with little external warning or apparent reason, I abandon it and make a lateral leap into something else. Sometimes I leap a few times very quickly. Then I find the next thing that works really well and burrow into it, for another long stable run.

The tempering wisdom is this: Being entirely stable is not the goal to aspire to, despite what the role models – of cowboys, and suburban husbands, and workaday dads – were insisting to me when I was young. The goal is to safely integrate change and adventure with the rest of your life, and the people in it. And that includes advocating for what you need in relationships, with a mixture of insistence and empathy, instead of being quietly discontent. And knowing the difference between what you really need, and what just sounds good because it would make you feel better. (Or eventually, feel anything.)

In the recent past I have not been particularly good at applying this wisdom, so I feel like I need to nail it down in words right now, and re-read it a few times to myself for good measure.

Now it’s time to take a left turn into a major part of my life: Bicycle touring.

DCF 1.0

For a long time I believed that my desire to go on long-range tours was pathological. I believed I was either obsessed with the idea of touring because it was a convenient distraction from other problems in my life and a good excuse to avoid “settling down”, or I believed it was a kind of curse because if I went on long-range tours I would be logistically unsuitable as a partner for a committed romantic relationship. And for almost all my adult life, I’ve always either been in, or been eagerly pursuing, a committed romantic relationship. So it’s either a case of: I’m avoiding my problems, or I’m screwing myself out of what I want.

Over the last ten years, without really understanding what I was doing, I tried multiple times to make a specific compromise to this: Having my romantic partner go with me on these journeys. One time I outright pitched the idea, and helped her shop for a bike, but she was physically unsuited to such long rides and found it miserable. Other times the idea arose organically, but got derailed by my own lack of experience guiding people comfortably into it. The most recent time I approached it with a healthy skepticism: My partner was already interested in touring before I met her, and as we got to know each other she casually set about buying a touring bike and gathering gear and discussing potential trips, and I soft-pedaled the pursuit because I needed to be sure she wasn’t doing it because she thought it was necessary for getting closer to me. Meanwhile, whether these relationships were going well or going poorly, the desire to go on bike tours remained.

In fact I began to be plagued increasingly by a grand vision of going on a bike tour around the entire world, which would charge into the front of my mind and thoroughly distract me, then vanish for a while. It got the most intense a few years ago, when I found myself newly single, and with the financial and logistical means for the first time to actually attempt such a thing. I traveled for three months and then deliberately set it aside to attend to other matters in life, involving my family and career, and though I was not entirely at peace with the decision, it felt like the right one. I realized I could pick up the epic journey where I left off, and do it in segments. I planned the next segment with my nephew, and folded it into a foreign vacation with a big chunk of my family. We did practice rides and I made an itinerary and bought plane tickets. It was going to be awesome! Then COVID blasted those plans apart.

I shrugged my shoulders and planned some smaller trips. I was exploring a long-term relationship during COVID times anyway, and put most of my attention into that and my job. At the end of last year I went on a pretty epic trip with my nephew, then jumped through a series of exhausting COVID-related logistical hoops to get myself to the East Coast to visit my significant other, but when I arrived I was exhausted and uncomfortable and she was distracted, and then some absurd drama piled on top of that. I suddenly found myself entirely alone on the wrong side of the country with a bike and a pile of gear, three days from my birthday, with a massive storm approaching. It was another logistical nightmare getting out of that, with repercussions that took months to sort out.

The foul taste of that experience informed my most recent span of dating: I became convinced that any attempts to combine my bike touring plans with my romantic life would turn into a disaster, and the only sane option was to put one on hold in favor of the other. That worked for a good while, then the “grand tour” idea ran rampant in my mind again and I decided the only way to be rid of it was to clear everything else from my life – developing romance included – and just do it. I put a plan together, and then it was immediately derailed by a family emergency that made me reassess what I was doing. Instead, once things were under control again back home, I assembled a much smaller and easier trip, a return to a known quantity I wanted more time to explore: Iceland.

Detail of the Carta marina created by Swedish ecclesiastic Olaus Magnus and initially published in 1539

In this era of my life, after so much experience, I can confidently say that I am not pursuing bike tours in order to avoid problems at home. I go on bike tours, and I have problems, but the two don’t correlate any more than other parts of my life. Still, they are great fun to think about, and I am guilty of obsessively planning the next one when my attention would be more useful elsewhere. It’s taken a lot of effort to move away from that habit. It helps that I’ve accumulated a big list of potential trip plans I can just dip randomly into when there’s time for a journey. Many of those are suitable for casual bike tourists, and perhaps I’ll start a relationship with someone with that level of interest, and we’ll explore those together. But I don’t need that to feel fulfilled.

Now I’m happily single, and embarking on another bike tour, and the other potential pathology comes to the foreground: Am I no good for a long-term relationship with all this traveling? Does a hobby like this really factor me out as a desirable romantic partner?

I don’t believe that any more. I found a pretty good compromise in my last long-term relationship, with frequent enthusiastic sharing and check-ins and the engineering of visits along the way, and in retrospect that relationship died on its own terms, for its own reasons. That said, I do know I’m not in a position to start or nurture a long-term relationship while touring — without some pretty specific coloring outside the lines of courtship. And I’m okay with that. What matters to me right now is the adventure I’m having, the work I’m doing, the stories I get to share with my family and the plans I can make to involve them, and so on. The bike touring is not the lateral leap; it’s not the unstable question mark, it’s not the vision quest or the segue into something else. It’s a part of who I am long-term, and it can fit into other things without crowding them out. It provides a measure of both the solitude and the creative mayhem that I need in my life to complement the stability I desire, and that is extremely useful. I don’t sleep around, I’m not emotionally distant, I don’t escalate conflict, I don’t get drunk and carouse, I don’t blow through my money, I don’t have ridiculous expectations … but I do this. It’s a pretty good package.

I look forward to the next romance, and aspire to make it long term. I’m looking forward to all the sharing, and jokes, and dancing in the kitchen, and the adventures. But dang if I’m not also happy riding around, building software and hanging out with cats.

Iceland Round 2 Gear And Bike Setup

For my own reference, here is the overwhelming amount of gear I packed for my second Iceland tour, and how I arranged it.

This is what everything looks like packed on the bike. It’s basically the same as my 2019 trip:

Here are the bags without the bicycle:

In the back: Two Ortlieb sport packer plus bags, each with an add-on net pocket and an add-on large roll-top pocket.

In the middle: Two ortlieb recumbent bags. The one on the left has three net bags attached to its underside in a row. The one on the right has a net bag, and then two small roll-top bags attached below, since it hangs over the drivetrain of the bike.

In the foreground: A Kelty Redwing backpack. On the loaded bike, this is placed sideways on top of the recumbent bags, where it fits nicely behind the seat, and is held down with two bungee cords.

All the gear I'm taking with me. Can you believe this all fits on a bike?

This is everything that’s packed onto the bike, including the bags shown above. As with the 2019 trip, the majority of the weight and space is claimed by the sleeping bag and the tent, shown on the far left.

In The Large Bags

These items went into the recumbent-style bags on the rear rack, or into the attached pockets:

In The Small Bags

These items went directly into the sport packer bags below the seat, or into the attached pockets:

The following mesh bags and their contents went into the sport packer bags as well:

The white bag: Assorted USB cables and adapters.

The green bag: Media cards and drives, and the cables for reading them.

The biggest change here is, I left out any kind of multi-port USBC hub doodad. I have wasted money on so many of them, and they all have problems. Some get very hot. Some of them have misshapen connectors. Most of them can’t read from an SD card and a Micro SD card at the same time. And almost all of them have annoying power problems and fail to reliably charge or stay connected to more than one USB device at once.

A pox on the lot of them!

The pink bag: Lens and laptop cleaning supplies.

  • Generic lens-cleaning wipes (For cleaning laptop and camera.)
  • Microfiber cloth (For cleaning/drying lenses.)
  • Extra microfiber cloth (In case the big one is soiled.)

A lightweight power brick with 3 USB-A and 1 45-watt USB-C.

This charger has one fewer USB ports than the one I took in 2019, but it’s a good amount lighter. Like the old one it allows me to charge the laptop and my other doodads at the same time, from one outlet — which in turn means I need only one international plug adapter when I’m traveling.

My Frankensteined portable speakers, and an iPod Nano to drive them.

I use the iPod Nano to play bedtime music. An iPod shuffle is not suitable for this purpose since it has no ability to stop playing! It will always repeat the current playlist forever or until it runs out of power! How silly.

Not that it matters, since all iPods have been discontinued and will soon die out, and we will all be locked into digital subscription services and completely abandon the whole idea of controlling what we listen to without it being mediated from one minute to the next by a jealous corporate overlord in the sky. (I’m not bitter.)

A good wind-resistant microphone for conference calls.

The above items attach to my headphones. The resulting setup works with the laptop and the iPhone lightning adapter, there’s no flaky Bluetooth involved, and it sounds far better than anything else I’ve tried. The strangest place I’ve used this so far is by the side of the road next to a geothermal power plant in the middle of Iceland.

The sport packer bags also hold two SenReal Mesh Makeup Organizer Pouches that contain camera-related gadgets:

In The Backpack

These items went into the Kelty Redwing backpack:

The toiletries bag. Basic stuff for a mixture of hotels and camping.

In Other Bags Or Directly Attached

The following items were attached directly to the bike:

These items went into the Allnice 1L PVC Bicycle Pouch just behind the seat:

These items went into the FastBack NorBack Frame Pack between the seat and the front wheel:

Also in the NorBack pack, my toolkit:

Replaced or Removed

These are items I brought in 2019 but have replaced with newer items for this trip:

These are items I brought in 2019 but decided to leave out entirely for this trip, with no replacements for them. They were just not useful enough.

Me And Some Big Boxes Take A Trip

I woke up in my van, stowed my bedsheets, and re-packed my toiletries bag. It was time to set in motion that long, weird collection of gears that would move me and three big chunks of luggage nearly four thousand miles across land and ocean in less than a day.

My friend Zog had plans to use the van while I was gone, so I gave him a brief tour and promised to write him an official guide later. While he helped me lug the suitcases and bicycle box into the cargo area, I chatted with his relatives, and they gave me some messages to send along to the Icelandic people, as follows:

Dear Iceland,

Lawrence A. Bell says he’s sorry about Mr Trump, but he takes responsibility.  Jeremy is sorry too, but does not take responsibility.

And then we were on our way to the Portland airport!

Zog is my co-pilot.

We chatted about work and groovy electronics projects, and listened to some throwback 90’s-era goth electronica by Gods Of Luxury. (Sooo deliciously pretentious and cheezy and well produced…) In short order I was hugging Zog at the terminal curb, and then I was alone with my giant pile of stuff and a couple of hours to get on a plane.

Two disposable suitcases, each right up at the 50 pound limit, and one oversize bike box, right up at the 70 pound limit.

A handcart was only a few feet away, so I stacked everything onto that. The little wheels that I’d roped onto the bottom of the bike box turned out to be redundant, which was great news.

Check in went easier than usual. I didn’t encounter any sarcastic resistance from airline agents who didn’t know their own luggage rules. They knew the box was legal, and they knew it could go up to 70 pounds as long as I paid the oversize fee. I was asked to haul it to a special roped area, and allowed to watch as they unbuckled the straps and poked through the equipment inside.

Inspecting the box in the open, where I could see. I like that.

I appreciated that a lot because it meant I could watch them reassemble the box as well, and make sure they got everything back inside and properly tightened the straps.

With that done, all I had to do was get a few labels attached, then check my other suitcases along with the giant box and wave goodbye to the whole set.

It was exactly 70 pounds, but the clerk approved it anyway.

In the trip through security, my hands tested positive for some chemical contaminant so they padded me down and then searched my backpack. No big deal; I’ve got lots of time. I wonder if it was something from the van?

They also said my second camera lens – the 50mm f1.2 – was a strange object on the scanner, so they asked me to take it out of the bag and show them. The woman looking it over said, “holy mackerel, that’s a serious lens!”

“Yeah it’s nice,” I said, “but my arm just about falls off after using it for a while.”

She laughed and waved it through. I was happy to stop talking about it, because I really didn’t like drawing attention to the fact that I was hauling around thousands of dollars of electronics in a sack. I have this probably incorrect assumption that if my luggage looks ratty and old, thieves will assume there’s nothing valuable inside and target someone else. And I don’t like breaking that illusion.

But I have to be paranoid about my carry-on, because I obviously can’t be putting all this fancy gear into a checked bag. Back home in Oakland, thieves will roll up in the arrivals lane using a stolen car, run inside, and yank unclaimed bags off the carousel. They go for classy monochrome bags with discreet labels that look like they could belong to several people, and once they’ve sped out of the airport, the quality of the bag makes only a few minutes’ difference in how long it takes for them to wedge it open, rifle the contents, and then shove the rest out the door and all over the sidewalk. Then it’s back for another round. Unless you’re checking luggage in a heavy steel trunk with a nasty built-in lock, the container you use is irrelevant.

(You may be wondering how I know what kinds of bags these criminals prefer. It’s because I see them scattered around Oakland, mostly on the fridge of the homeless encampments.)

At least three times, over the years, I’ve been biking around the city and discovered a heap of clothing and paperwork all over a sidewalk next to a suitcase, and used the paperwork or the label on the suitcase to contact the unlucky victim and tell them where their stuff is. One memorable time I reached the victim by getting their phone number off a receipt from a gun shop, and in the ensuing dialogue they told me that their luggage had contained several handguns in boxes, now in the possession of some random Oakland criminal. Freakin’ whoops.

Anyway, yeah. I digress. Laptop, camera, lenses… That’s gotta stay with me.

Boarding went smoothly. I couldn’t see the baggage handlers as they loaded the plane so I had no idea if my bicycle was on the same flight. Nothing I could do about it now. Distracted, I bumped my head on the overhead bins, and declared I should just wear my bike helmet all the time, even if it does make me look like a dangerous lunatic.  Airport security would get worried though…

Skirting Mt. Hood as we take off.

As the plane vaulted into the sky and Portland shrank below me, I felt like the journey was truly started. I thought about the next few months. A return to Iceland was something I never thought I’d make — because of time, logistics, and personal reasons. And why return to such a far away place when there are so many other places I haven’t seen at all?

Well, the past resolved itself various ways to lead me here, and I’d worked through that decision. But a question I hadn’t asked was: What do I want to accomplish?

What felt most important was including my father on this trip, more than I’d done in 2019. We share an enthusiasm for trekking out into strange places and then telling stories about what we learned and saw. He with his 35mm slide projector, and me with my digital camera and phone. Actually I suppose this isn’t a trait we share, so much as a trait I absorbed from him in bits and pieces as I grew up, and telling him all my stories is – among other things – a way of turning a line of inheritance into a circle. He’s too frail these days to join me on a bike, and the rough weather of Iceland would be too risky for him even if he could get there, but I can still send pictures and call him up and make sure he’s part of the journey as it happens.

Let me pause here and marvel yet again at the astonishing changes wrought by electronics, in his lifetime. He was born two years before the invention of the printed circuit. The first prototype electronic computer didn’t show up on the planet until he was eight years old. (It was built at Iowa State and weighed 750 pounds.) And now I can do a real-time video chat with him, standing on a street, in a time zone eight hours away, while he sits at his desk in Oregon.

And the location is remarkable as well: When he was born, Iceland was still a Kingdom, not yet a Republic, and was home to about 90 thousand people, almost all of them subsistence fishermen and ranchers. There was no international airport, no ring road, and the capital city was still burning imported coal to generate electricity. (The first hydroelectric power station didn’t take over there until 1937.) Now I can fly there on a plane, assemble a bicycle, ride it around the country eating fish in restaurants and camping as I go, and pay for everything with a credit card. My goodness, the changes…

Anyway, yes. That’s the number one goal: Make sure he’s part of the trip. I made plans to call him as soon as I got to the hotel.

My second goal was to try and get into the highlands this time. I’d seen a lot of amazing terrain along the northern coast in 2019, but I had to scrap my plan to cross the highlands after I found out how rough the roads were. Now I had a chance to use the “partially improved” roads in the southern half.

That was it, really. I cast around in my head for additional goals, but all I found was a general desire to explore, learn, and eat more fish. I had some residual angst about my recent dating life to mull over, but that wasn’t essential, and I knew it would happen organically. The rest was up to the road, my feelings each day, and my desire to improvise.

I knew I should lay back and sleep to combat the approaching jet-lag, but as I often do in planes, I glued myself to the window and watched the clouds scroll by instead. Being this far up in the air is an absolute wonder.  I had an audiobook about material science playing, and listened to the chapter about water and clouds.

We moved north up towards the latitude of Iceland, and passed over the sea. It was white — a solid blanket of ice and show. After a few hours the ice broke up into patches. It didn’t look thick enough to walk on, but it was definitely enough to endanger any ship without a specialized hull.

In time, the patches dispersed a little, and I could look down and see the forbidding coastline of the Nunavut territory of Canada.

Looks cold down there.

Somewhere around here, I did my best to take a nap. I would be losing most of a day upon landing in Iceland, and getting through the next one would be challenging.

Believe it or not, the Qikiqtarjuaq airport is down there.

As I dozed I imagined the freezing air streaming all around the plane, and the churning ocean far below, and how utterly impossible it would be for me to make this journey if I had to deal with the surface.

How many paths was I crossing over, from thousands of forgotten explorers in the near and distant past, who endured loneliness and desolation beyond anything I’ve felt, as they searched for a place to live?

I bet the Inuit people have some amazing history to share that has been almost entirely hidden from me by language and cultural barriers. If I was down there, perhaps I would encounter it organically. Plane travel is miraculous, but every time I use it, I am struck by how much I am missing from the spaces in between.

The chance to see those in-between places is why I love bicycle touring so much. Ironic that I’d start out a tour with a plane flight, yeah? If I had the time, I’d cycle all the way to the eastern-most chunk of the Canadian archipelago instead, then look for some way to cross the ocean.

Barring that, I’d go to the eastern-most airport. I already figured out where that is, of course, being the obsessive planner I am. It’s St. John’s International Airport on the Avalon Peninsula. At some point perhaps I’ll close this link by cycling across North America and ending up there. But not this time.

Landing in Iceland again

Some uncomfortable dozing brought me near Iceland, and we began the slow descent into the clouds.

Like before, we exited the plane directly into the cold open air and a light rain. A short walk brought us to a bus, which brought us to a building, which funneled us to a long line for checking paperwork.

Exiting the plane and heading for the shuttle.

I was too tired for an audiobook so I just stood around and gazed at people. Ahead of me, an older woman with a smart-looking jacket and a wheeled suitcase was talking to a couple in hiking gear. She explained that she was returning home from Portland, after spending six months tutoring a woman there in the Icelandic language.

“I go all over the place teaching people,” she said. “It’s a good job because I get to be a tourist too. Usually it’s business people that want to learn, but this woman said she wanted to find an Icelandic husband and get married.”

She had just a hint of exasperation in her voice, as though she thought the woman was wasting her time. I couldn’t decide if it was because she thought there was no chance of impressing an Icelandic man… Or because she thought Icelandic men were not worth so much effort. Maybe both. I didn’t have the guts to ask.

The immigration desk went easy on me. I just handed out my passport and that little card I got from CVS Pharmacy declaring that I’d had two shots of the Moderna COVID vaccine, and they rubber-stamped me and let me in. No warning about quarantine, no request for a more official document, no reference to the questionnaire I filled out online before I left Portland. And just like that, I was back in a world where nobody wore a mask indoors.

“If I end up getting sick in the next few days,” I thought, “I’m going to feel like a complete idiot for taking this trip.”

The airport pooped my box out of the wall, safe and sound.

Just like before, the bicycle was waiting in the oversize area, unattended and unmolested. I stuck it on a pushcart and collected my other bags. From there I manhandled the cart out into a very crowded post-security waiting area.

I couldn’t figure out where my hotel shuttle was, or the next time it was due, and though I had an Icelandic data plan ready for my phone I couldn’t call any local numbers. The shuttle had to be booked a day in advance, and I’d forgotten to do it, so unless someone else booked it the shuttle might not appear at all.

I walked my tired, hungry butt up to a taxi driver, who quoted me 40 dollars to get to the hotel — a steep price because my baggage would fill up his entire minivan. Ouch. Well, this luggage will pay for itself in the coming days. I’ll be out of the red again as soon as I hit the first campsite.

I think this is supposed to symbolize exploration and transformation. Instead it makes me think of parasites and aliens.

The hotel was the same one I’d used before, and I was delighted to see that I remembered the landmarks along the route.  There’s the jet on a stick, there’s the guy playing guitar… Somehow I’d expected the place to feel as consistently foreign this time as it did the first time.

Turns out I arrived way too early for check-in. It would be four hours before the room was empty and clean. The desk clerk very kindly let me store my enormous luggage in a utility room.

I was starving, and found a vending machine in the lobby that sold candy (hello again, Prince Pollo bars!) but I had no idea where to get cash. I couldn’t remember where I’d got it from last time. A bank in downtown Keflavik maybe?

There were restaurants over there, but it was a very long walk. I asked the desk clerk what she thought I should do, and she opened a drawer and handed me a slip of paper, then winked at me. It was a ticket for the upstairs breakfast buffet. Thank goodness!

This time I was ready for the milk carton that actually contained yogurt.  I poured it on a pile of granola, then poured soy milk on top to loosen it up, and chomped down my American breakfast abomination.

First Iceland meal. Anything's good after eleven hours.

When I came back downstairs there was a crowd of people in military uniform gathered around the desk, reminding me that this hotel was next to a military base. It seems weird from my perspective, but in fact the military base could be credited with the existence of these hotels, and this airport, and most of the city of Keflavik; and the existence of the base in turn can be credited to World War II, and the ensuing nuclear arms race. All the infrastructure I’m using to have a nice vacation is here because taxpayers in my Dad’s generation financed it, as America tried to reduce the chance of yet another global war.

I sat around for a while thinking that over, and texting hello to friends and family back home, and eventually just dozing. When my room was ready I had just enough brainpower to haul the box and suitcases inside and crawl onto the bed.

Assembly Day

After catching up on sleep and checking in with work, it was time for the traditional (by now) all-day bicycle assembly, where I carefully turn a box and several bags of parts into a self-contained touring machine.

The traditional all-day bike assembly.

This time things were a little more complicated because I had to locate a box from DHL. It contained a kickstand, taken from my other bike.

A week earlier I was double-checking my boxes in Portland and realized I didn’t have a kickstand, so I called up my nephew James in Oakland and walked him through removing the one from Alice. He boxed it up and sent it ahead to the hotel at considerable cost, but it was either do that, or go without a kickstand for my entire trip, which would be extremely annoying. James had never taken a bicycle apart before. And Alice is a greasy bike. It took him hours. He’s a real mensch!

As an aside, I still can’t believe that cycle tourists go without a kickstand just to save weight… I stop at the side of the road dozens of times in the average day and sometimes there’s no place to lay the bike down, or it’s raining and laying it down would soak my gear. Maybe those other people are just younger and they never slow down, and they only have to pee twice a day instead of ten times like I do when I’m on a trip?

It was still light out when I rolled the assembled bike outside. Well… Of course.

Do I look pleased? Well I am!

For my first outing I left the big bags and camping gear in the hotel. It was time to scoot around town and see the sights, and see how much I recognized.

Valoria is back together and ready to look around!

There was that familiar, scintillating line of the ocean in the distance…

The ocean beckons us to our doom.

There’s that giant sword, like a radio beacon for tourists…

Whosoever pulls this sword out of the stone shall be -- way too damn tall, even for an Icelander.

There’s the hilarious Icelandic graffiti. Perhaps a few new scribbles since last time…

Icelandic graffiti wants to be edgy, but it's just cute.

But hang on. There’s something new this time…

What's that in the distance?

Okay, that giant orange light definitely wasn’t there two years ago.

Apparently a mountain is exploding nearby.

It’s the volcano Fagradalsfjall, further north along the Reykjanes peninsula, erupting for the first time in at least 6000 years. Pretty cool!

I perched on the hillside and stared at it for a while, then decided I was too tired. Back to the hotel for a nap, and then I need to deal with the bicycle box…

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