Skaftafell National Park, part 2

This floodplain area is all that lies between mainland Iceland and Puffin Island, which juts out of the sea and is home to scores of seabirds. We stood in the back of a trailer pulled by a large tractor and plowed over the sand and through water on our way to the island.

This floodplain area is all that lies between mainland Iceland and Puffin Island, which juts out of the sea and is home to scores of seabirds. We stood in the back of a trailer pulled by a large tractor and plowed over the sand and through water on our way to the island.

Partway out, we stopped for this photo opportunity.

Partway out, we stopped for this photo opportunity.

All that sand... you could have one heck of a beach volleyball tournament out here.

All that sand… you could have one heck of a beach volleyball tournament out here.

Puffins are actually much smaller than I expected... smaller than an American football.

Puffins are actually much smaller than I expected… smaller than an American football.

Yes, they do fly, although it's not the most graceful of flights- they kind of wobble and flop through the air and seem to be on the border of losing control at all times. But it's a really cute kind of clumsiness.

Yes, they do fly, although it’s not the most graceful of flights- they kind of wobble and flop through the air and seem to be on the border of losing control at all times. But it’s a really cute kind of clumsiness.

Sheep outnumber people in Iceland four to one. There were sheep everywhere we went, and boiled sheep's head is an Icelandic delicacy.

Sheep outnumber people in Iceland four to one. There were sheep everywhere we went, and boiled sheep’s head is an Icelandic delicacy.

This is Landmannalauger, which perhaps should be known as "Bent Tent Peg". It was beautiful, and we had one day of work and one day of exploring in the area before heading back to Reykjavík.

This is Landmannalauger, which perhaps should be known as “Bent Tent Peg”. It was beautiful, and we had one day of work and one day of exploring in the area before heading back to Reykjavík.

The boys stretch their legs after a long, jostling, exciting bus ride into Landmannalauger.

The boys stretch their legs after a long, jostling, exciting bus ride into Landmannalauger.

We took a quick wander to explore the area.

We took a quick wander to explore the area.

A rainbow gracing our campsite....

A rainbow gracing our campsite….

Craggy lava and greenish water... seems like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Craggy lava and greenish water… seems like something out of Lord of the Rings.

This river is hot, so campers go out and lay in it like a natural hot tub. Some spots were uncomfortably hot, but the water is constantly moving, so the hot and warm parts swirl and flow around you.

This river is hot, so campers go out and lay in it like a natural hot tub. Some spots were uncomfortably hot, but the water is constantly moving, so the hot and warm parts swirl and flow around you.

August 11, 2005
Had a bizarre moment today. On the way to a relaxing sit in the hot river, I stopped in the campground bathrooms to change into my swimming suit. Someone in there was whistling, and I recognized the tune, but couldn’t quite place it… they were spot-on with the melody. As I was walking out, still listening to the talented whistler, I remembered. It was the theme music from The Muppet Show, which I watched as a very young child.

But in Landmannalauger, Iceland, in 2005?

The rich mosses and different colors around Landmannalauger are stunning and seem almost too bright to be real. It's like someone Photoshopped the landscape.

The rich mosses and different colors around Landmannalauger are stunning and seem almost too bright to be real. It’s like someone Photoshopped the landscape.

Yep, another waterfall...

Yep, another waterfall…

Beautiful view from a little mountaintop. Our campsite is visible on the left side of the photo.

Beautiful view from a little mountaintop. Our campsite is visible on the left side of the photo.

Another lava flow. One third of Iceland is covered by active volcanic regions, and the island actually formed from the superheated magma plume escaping from the Eurasian and North American crustal plates as they pull apart. Iceland continues to grow at a rate of about six feet per century along the SW-NE diagonal.

Another lava flow. One third of Iceland is covered by active volcanic regions, and the island actually formed from the superheated magma plume escaping from the Eurasian and North American crustal plates as they pull apart. Iceland continues to grow at a rate of about six feet per century along the SW-NE diagonal.

Lunch time. (Word to my homeboys, T-Bone and Big Willy Style- peace, yo.)

Lunch time. (Word to my homeboys, T-Bone and Big Willy Style- peace, yo.)

Hard to get a grip on this picture? It's wet, shiny mud next to shallow water in the floodplain between our campsite and the mountains.

Hard to get a grip on this picture? It’s wet, shiny mud next to shallow water in the floodplain between our campsite and the mountains.

August 12, 2005
During the bus ride back from Landmannalauger, we were singing songs and spilling water and generally screwing around, and at one point Tom said, “When I signed up for this trip, I never imagined I’d be sitting in the back of a bus between two other blokes singing ‘Barbie Girl’.”

And that’s one of my favorite things about traveling… your plane ticket says where you’re going, but you never really know where you’ll end up.

This is Þhingvellir, where the first parliament took place in 930 A.D. It is now a national park.

This is Þhingvellir, where the first parliament took place in 930 A.D. It is now a national park.

Fun group photo- but Dave, Lauren, and Liz, we can't see you!

Fun group photo- but Dave, Lauren, and Liz, we can’t see you!

The last supper, sort of. We had an nice meal out in Reykjavík to celebrate our holiday. Note the pile of cameras on the table... you can't see the patient waitress taking the picture, but she gets the photo credit for this one- but thanks to Steve for sharing it.

The last supper, sort of. We had an nice meal out in Reykjavík to celebrate our holiday. Note the pile of cameras on the table… you can’t see the patient waitress taking the picture, but she gets the photo credit for this one- but thanks to Steve for sharing it.

August 13, 2005
The second group is already gone- I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. We stayed in the hostel last night, and early this morning Val, Zoe, and Chas drove the group to the airport. I said my goodbyes curbside and then went back to sleep. When Val and Zoe came back into the room a few hours later, I awoke to Val whispering excitedly: “This is AMAZING! I hung this stuff up last night, and it’s already almost dry! Buildings are FANTASTIC!!” I was a little groggy, but I enthusiastically agreed- buildings ARE fantastic. Really, they are. And as I laid my head back down onto the hostel pillow, I smiled happily to myself and added “Pillows are fantastic, too!”

What a splendid place to be- where buildings and pillows are reasons for sheer joy.

August 19, 2005
Back in Mývatn to work on the boardwalks a bit longer. Chas stopped in to drop off Steph and do a quick site visit with us, and he treated us to coffee and hot cocoa at the Zanzibar, a little cafe across the street from the campsite. We relished the feel of sitting at an actual table, of drinking out of real cups, and enjoying a hot drink with no grass floating in it and no unidentifiable grit at the bottom. My hot cocoa even had whipped cream on top. I could have ascended to nirvana right there. (But I didn’t, because we still had work to do.)


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