Someone (not Twain) said "The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I was in San Francisco." Twain did say of New England, "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes." That is what Icelanders say, too. It is even written on T-shirts and in their travel information.
For me, the coldest and wettest July I've ever spent was the birthday I was in Iceland, and if we wait five minutes, the weather does change--usually for the worst.
Yesterday morning I was awakened by gusts of wind and rain hitting the outer wall of our hotel room. My first thought was I'm sure glad we parked into the wind so the car doors wouldn't be ripped off when we opened them. That is one of the warnings the rental car gives you when you rent a vehicle here. It is also on a large sticker on the dashboard.
Our first stop was at the Tourist Information office to check road conditions. The office was crowded with backpackers and tent campers in search of heat, a dry space, and a roof over their heads. We've noticed that while the day may begin with terrible weather, by late afternoon, it is drier and less windy. That's when we hike. So far, so good.
We've been watching how others adapt to all this rain. Horses seem to stand quietly with their ass-ends toward the wind. Sheep look for cover. Sometimes they hunker down in the low bush that covers most of the land and sometimes they just stand upwind using a rock for shelter.
On one very wet hike, we saw a french couple with their own weather adaptation--very chic. They told us that they had resorted to fashioning garbage bags for cover after being soaked to the skin the prior day.
After not being able to see the stunning coast near Húsavík, we drove to the National Park in Jökulsárgljúfur. Along the gravel, pot-holed road, a backpacker stuck his thumb out, and we gave him a ride to the park. He is Belgian and walking Iceland from north to south. He told us that this is his fourth trip to Iceland and he has never had such constant rain. He told us that he has walked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (Canada to Mexico) in 100 days. The northern California portion was his all-time favorite hike.
In the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, we hiked at Hljóðaklettar with its amazing basalt formations and glacier-carved valley.
One columnar basalt formation, called "Church" does resemble the modern church we saw in Reykjavik.
Much farther down the road, but also part of the same river valley, we saw the east side of Dettifoss. These falls are the most powerful in Europe.
We visited the hot springs at Hverir near Mývatn.
And, then decided to make use of all that geothermal power and take a soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths.
On a prior day, we hiked Hrísey Island, a small island off the north coast of Iceland, situated in Eyjafjörður fjord. The clouds were quite heavy as we took the ferry to the island, but the hike was fabulous. We even saw Icelandic Poppies planted in one yard and had a few glimpses of sun. The island is a favorite summer spot for birds; we saw Arctic Terns, Ptarmigan, Snipes, Godwit, Curlew, Gulls, and more.
And, there was another waterfall about a 45 minutes drive from Akureyri. Goðafoss, the "waterfall of the Gods" is a horseshoe-shaped waterfall. "It derives its name from the momentous occasion in the year 1000, when the Chieftain, Þorgeir of Ljósavatn, threw his Pagan Idols into the falls as a demonstration of his conversion to the Christian faith. Other Icelanders took his lead and adopted the new religion...."
The weather has made this vacation a struggle for us. A couple of days ago, Dan remarked that it would be good to be home." It will be.