Trip to Iceland

So after a while, I’m going to write here something new. This time about a trip to Iceland, where I get with friends, which planned it for a while, so I was happy they offered me to join them. We drove around on a road with distinctive name – Ring Road. We had great time and did our best to see as much as possible.

For this trip we rented compact cars, so we couldn’t go inland, those roads require all-wheel-drive and also much more time. We had about nine days and even though it seems quite a lot, there are so many places to see and things to do that you can easily spend a month and not get bored. We had probably pretty common weather as there is saying on Iceland, that if you don’t like current weather, you need to wait five minutes and it will change :-). Anyway, we didn’t complained about it at all as there were great and sunny days and all uf us had a great time.

Below this article is a video and photos from this trip so you can get idea, how it looks over there. Now, I’m going to highlight what I consider as the best of what we saw and did and I wouldn’t miss those on visit.

I really liked Gullfos, one of the most famous waterfalls at Iceland since it is close to Reykjavik. On way there we also saw Geysir, which gave name to all the geysers around the world, but it’s not active any more. There are still several active like Strokkur which is impressive, but like his colleagues at Yellowstone, I wound’t need to see it again.

Next place definitely worth recommendation is smoking valley at Hveragerdi. There you can walk through many places with geothermal activities and bath in warm mountain stream for free.

I wouldn’t skip another waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. It’s specific for it’s walkway behind it and even though it does not have the mightiness of others, it is a spectacular view. Nearby is way bigger Skogafoss fall with lovely surroundings.

Also, I liked hike up to summit of mount Kristinartindar and view from the top to glaciers and park Skaftafell. Further north is then the mightiest waterfall on Iceland, Dettifoss. The only way to it is by dirt-road but this one is also made for standard car. There from height of 44 meters fall between 200 to 500 m3 of water per second (this depends on season and especially in summer it has the most thanks to melting glacier upstream).

Then in Husavik we went for sailing and saw a few whales and puffins, again something I would recommend to do once you are there. Husavik is the world best place to watch whales and get close to them. Nearby lake Mytvatn and surrounding area is full of geothermal activities and its remains, you can see it referred as all of Iceland in one place. Also, there can be a lot of black flies and mosquitoes but we had windy weather and no trouble :-).

Another amazing place is waterfall Godafoss where we had dramatic weather, but I wasn’t able to get it on my pictures, you have to see it yourself.

A few last places were Snaefellsens peninsula and waterfalls Glymur and Hraunfossar. I don’t think I need to describe exactly what to see and do as there are many other and better sources of that on the Internet.

In last days we checked the Iceland capital and only big city Reykjavik, where a third of the population of the island live.

Now the promised video and pictures.

End of the journey

I’ve finally finished subtitles for short movie from the trip and published it. You can see it below.

Also to fill the gap from my last port I’m going to write a bit what happened once I stopped traveling. I had a flight home on December 13th so I still had over a month in Canada and I filled it up with meetings with friends and visiting places in Nova Scotia which I liked a lot. Also I sold my stuff which I didn’t plan to bring back to Europe and my roomies didn’t need. One of them was my car and that I sold for only $ 1,500 as that was the best offer I got. It served me well and took me everywhere where I wanted. I hope it will do a good service to new owner as well.

 

To sum up the whole trip I have to say I liked the most Yukon and Alaska because of the wonderful wilderness and nature there. The biggest disappointment is for me Yellowstone, probably I expected too much and we had bad weather once we were there as well. I’m saying that seeing it once was enough for me :-). The car was amazing that it stayed together without big issues whole time.

Now I’m back in Europe so my next posts are probably going to be from the good old continent.

Now south and then home

So as I said in previous article we had visited the last planned park and now we were heading to Florida. First we stopped at Durango where they had Octoberfest and it had a great atmosphere and good local craft beers and local bands were playing. Then we stopped at Santa Fe to see it a bit and Cadillac Ranch near to Amarillo in Texas. In Amarillo then we went to famous Big Texan Stake Restaurant but haven’t challenged the 72 oz steak which you can eat for free if you will be able to eat it under one hour. Current best time is under five mites but we rather tried other smaller steaks and they were delicious. Then we visited also a French Quarter of New Orleans with its beautiful architecture and went on.

French Quarter

We drove around a coast up to Pensacola where we entered Florida state and go to the camp we found near city at Grassy Point. On the way there we used Google navigation but once it tried to navigate us through some 4×4 park were we didn’t stand chances we rather took normal road. Following day then we visited Pensacola Naval Base where is National Naval Aviation Museum and their display were great. It was similar to one in Seattle just smaller and more focused on Marine and this one has free entrance. Also we went to see remaining of Fort Pickens which used to protect the port and base and played a part in the Civil War.

Then we drove around coast to east to reach Atlantic coast but weather wasn’t so great and we just saw a bit of Daytona Beach and then went in direction to Orlando.

In Orlando we wanted to visit a theme park as there are several options and as we wanted one with roller coasters we choose Universal Studios where we had a great time and were sorry we didn’t get up earlier to enjoy more attractions. Then we finished great day at movie Bridge of Spies which we liked as well.

And on following day we headed towards city of Naples where we checked their beaches and then drove through Everglades where National Park Services are taking care of original Florida swaps where are living also American Alligators and we finally saw some. Later we drove through Florida Keys to the southernmost point of continental US and swam at Key West beach.

Alligator

From here it started the journey north, first night we spent at Homestead and then we spent two days near Miami at Miami Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale and then we split. My friend stayed there for several more days before flying to Hawaii and I continued north to Halifax.

Drive from Florida to Halifax took me only four days as it was raining most of the time and I haven’t enjoyed alone so much anyway. So I circled Washington, DC, then saw a bit of Philadelphia and then drove through Manhattan and cursed myself for not going around as I couldn’t see much anyway and there were so many cars everywhere. Then I continued on Interstate 95 up to New London where I turned to 395 to circle wide Bosto which I saw last year with my parents.

Once I joined the 95 again later I drove without any problem up to Portland where on a way to car parts shop where I wanted to buy part to fix my car shifter. Here I went over some glass on a road which cut through my front left tire about 7 centimetres hole and I had to buy a new tire to finish my trip. Unfortunately they didn’t had the same I have on my car and as I found later in Canadian Tire they are not being made for a few month. At least due to protection plan I get when I bought them last year I get original price for that tire back.

Now a last gallery from this trip.

17 – Cesta na jih

More beautiful places of southwest

Our next destination on this road had been Capitol Reef National Park. This valley was one of place where civilization flourished since ancient times as there are some petroglyphs on the nearby rocks and then later there were fruit orchards planted by later settlers as this was a good place and they are still there and bear fruits.

Then we went to one great place my friend told me about which is next to Goblin Valley State Park. It’s called Little Wild Horse Canyon and also Bell Canyon. Those two are easily accessible slot canyons where you can go to explore them even if you are not having equipment for canyoning. We were there after a rainy day so there was a water in the canyons so we didn’t finished whole loop since we didn’t wanted to get too much wet. Anyway this was an experience we were looking for and both canyons were breathtaking. All the colours and shapes the water created here in the sandstones are just amazing. However, it won’t be probably a good idea to go with a big backpack as there are many tight places in both canyons.

Little Wild Horse Canyon

After this we went to see Canyonlads, yet another park full of amazing canyons and we were sorry that we don’t have a jeep as there are some great trails but only for high-clearance, all wheel drive vehicles.

On the following day we paid a visit to Arches as it should have the most arches and windows in one place and also there is the most famous one – Delicate Arch which is on Utah licence plates. We planned to do a loop hike there in part called Devil’s Garden but we missed the place where it worked as we got occupied by Landscape Arch, the longest of those still standing.

Delicate Arch

From here we went to see a Needles Overlook which wasn’t on our map but I have found about it at map in rest area nearby. In the morning we drove to another part of Canyonlands called Needles because of formation which are common here. This valley was settled also in prehistoric times as there is a Newspaper Rock, rock with many petroglyphs left by different people in different epochs. Also there are ruins of granary of old puebloans and Cowboy Camp. Also we went to see nearby Goosenecks on one Colorado tributary – San Juan river.

Newspaper Rock

Following day we went to see Monument Valley. It is not a national park but tribal as it is at land which belongs to Navajo tribe and they maintain the roads and visitor centre and charging a fee to visit the place which is not a valley as name would suggest. Here we saw many well know rocks as they were scenery used in many westerns as well as movies and commercials.

Our last planned part of southwest and on this journey was Mesa Verde (means green table in Spanish). It contains several well conserved pueblos and temples of Ancestral Pueblo people. They have moved more south before year 1300 from not yet known reasons but at their time this area had to be full of life as there are many cliff dwellings as well as some on the top of the cliffs. You have to awe what they were able to build and wonder how it had to be live here at their time. It was definitely a place worth of visit where I was thinking how different they culture was to ours and still so close.

Cliff Palace

More pictures are to be found again under the article.

16 – Utah

Las Vegas and Canyons

In several miles from Death Valley we reached the Sin City – Las Vegas. We had booked a night in hotel El Cortez near Fairmont Avenue. Since there are many hotels in the city you can get a nice room for great price so we chose to pay once for our lodging and found this hotel on booking.com. It was just past some festival which closed many streets around our hotel so we circled around before we figured out how to park in their parking lot. Once we put our things into our room we went for a walk in the city. I have to say it was way more interesting in the night with all the lights. I have to say that one day for us there was enough as we didn’t played in any casino. So after lunch we went to laundry and cinema and then headed out of the city. We reached Hoover Dam just before closure so we checked it in the night and then went to desert to find some place to sleep. In the morning we returned back again and saw it during a light as well. I think that it has to be the most famous dam in US as it played in many movies.

Las Vegas

The road then took us to Grand Canyon where we walked around south rim and planned to get up earlier next day and hike down to Colorado river and back. We were lucky that it wasn’t too hot there any more so we made it down in less then two hours, took a dip in the river. To hike back up to the rim took us longer but still we made good time. Once we reached the rim we took a road which goes around it checked ruins of old puebloans village and slept out of park. Next day we reached north rim of the Canyon and once we checked it we went on our way to Zion Canyon.

Grand Canyon

At Zion we hiked to Hidden Canyon (it was really nice there) and then went to see a bit of the Narrows, after that we visited the museum and left the park for night to get closer to our next destination.

This destination was Bryce Canyon and the structures called butte which nature created here made us wonder many times and it’s really amazing how many different shapes it created here. Even though the weather wasn’t so good and we get some showers it did created amazing contrast with skies and surroundings. We have found that the shuttle buses does not operate now as it’s already off-season so we went for hike recommended to us visitor centre and hiked a loop from Sunrise to Sunset point.

Bryce Canyon

Also I managed here to lock my car with all keys inside so I used for a first time by CAA Premiere membership which I get before going to the journey as my friend talk me to it. So after some 45 minutes locksmith showed up and open a car for us for free as it is included in my membership. Even after this experience I still consider the Bryce Canyon which is not really a canyon the most beautiful of those big three canyons and you can find below a lot pictures from there.

15 – Las Vegas & Grand, Zion, Bryce Canyon