The Continuing Dream
07.11.2015 - 08.11.2015
Need to quickly get some stuff out of my mind before my memories get wiped by imbued treats. Today did a combo of adventure time antics. Got up at the crack of dawn, or more like the crack of dusk as Iceland starts to gradually move into that weird part of the year with short days. Did a Volcano and Caving tour, which was a step into yet another weird world. Got a potted history, in glacial terms about Icelands tectonic formation. Dofri, my first guide of the day, related the time scale of Icelands formation into 24hrs, I think Vikings arrived about 6 seconds ago. Was one of those moments, as he said, when you realise the insignificance of all you do and are, a fleeting moment in time is all we have. Truelly, it was quite a humbling experience the entire day. The majesty of nature, and for that matter existence, often smacks you in the face and leaves you a blubbering mess of incomphrehension and awe. So it was today. The landscape that is Iceland, is simply mezmorising. So there are a number of active volcano systems scattered throughout the island. Most of the land is, well more or less all of it is formed from the lava flows, over eons, from volcanic eruptions that have occurred. So the predominate landscape is black, hardened lava flows, with only a moss/ lichen that grows on it. The occaisional tuft of hardy straw grass pokes stubbornly out, defying the cold, blistering winds and inevitable snow. Much like a nations characteristics and humour is derived from the living conditions, this was evident that their harsh exterior is really covering a soft porous inside, just like the landscape.
The area we went to was, Krýsuvík so if you again play along at home it should be fairly easy to find, south southeast of Reykjavik. I would recommend having a look at some photos on the interweb because my paltry attempts cannot convey the majesty of this area. I mean the colours are of the charts. Something about having a black backdrop, with the verdant green moss, then the elemental colours from the geothermal springs causing a de-nucleosynthesis into prime spectral goodness. Everyone probably knows about geology and geothermal antics, I don't really so was excited to learn about all this stuff. To keep things interesting I'll spare you my thesis, just remember that the red comes from iron oxidising when it comes into contact with the air, the greens and blues and yellows from all your other cool chemicals like sulphur and magnesium probably some beryllium in there, other nitrates as well, mixing around and getting up to all kinds of elemental mischief. How about a photo now just to give a bit of an idea.
Actually, to get an idea of the colours just check out photos on the web. Here is the general area we were in. It was cold as a thick blanket of rain/fog rolled in.
Interestingly, Dofri decided to start this tour when he was a councilmen during the GFC. This obviously got him thinking as to why no one saw it coming, or had planned for it. Around the same time he had a physic friend tell him of a vision of lava running through Reyykavik. He began to ask geologist friends if this was a possibilitiy. Found out that it was, in fact one of the closest and potentially more destructively located volcanos, in terms of its lava flow, erupts around once every 500-800 years. The last time was 850 yrs ago. So. He then investigated if the city council had a plan for such an event. A mass evacuation of Reykjavik in the event of a volcanic eruption. No. Some seven years later, there is a plan for a plan. Both Dofri and his brother, who led the lava tube caving trip in the afternoon, displayed brilliant Nordic humour. More on that later.So he said that they are trying to become a really good tour group, and have now raised the proportion of people they bring back to 70%. Quite a high standard.
Following our trip up and down the geothermal active area, located above a magma pond some 1km, we got to talking about the Finninsh and their drinking abilities. So it seems, as I remember from ProgPower that of all the Nordic countries, the Finns are the crazy drinkers. They, the Finns, have three kinds of coffee he told us; coffee, which has a dash of vodka in it; coffee normal, which is 50:50 coffee to Vodka and; coffee royal, which is straight Vodka. Also, the Swedish who had a fair few fights with the Finns, have a saying; 'we fight to the last Finn'. Not sure as to the veracity of this claim.
After this tour ended we had an hours break for lunch then met for the second tour, which was run by Dofri's brother. Both of these guys work for the search and rescue service, so are pretty accomplished mountaineers. They also run the Stormhike, which only operates when everything else has been cancelled. I was pretty keen on doing this, but it operates only from around March, when the weather is totally nuts. They do a bit of a an education about the search and rescue operations, then don some quality gear and drive to a blizzard. Then have fun in the extreme weather. So, need to come back here in Winter. Actually, James, I'm sure you have been told to come here, but the scenery is just insane. Rekon you would dig it a lot. On that note, I'm going to break out of the city and hire some wheels on my Sunday and go to the South coast. Just need to remember they drive on the right hand side.
Some more lava based information then. The natives in Hawaii have a word for the two kinds of lava flows that solidify as they cool. One for the smooth slowly cooled flow is, can't actually remember. Which is not the point. The sharp edged, rough crazy formed stuff is called Owei owei, because it hurts to walk on. Not sure if this is true or just Dofri humour. Anyway, there are definitely very different kinds of flows. The lava tubing we did was pretty spectacular. Completely different to the limestone caving that we are familiar at places like Buchan Caves. They form when a lava flow cools, hardens then there is some kind of tectonic movement that occurs and kind of drains the still hot inside lava out, forming a tube. This then, during the next flow can be filled with fresh flows, creating all kinds of weird structures within the tube. Seriously, despite having no colour like limestone, there are similar structures but formed in a different way. So cool. the best part was after crawling through narrow spaces and getting all kinds of cranial knocks, we all turned our headlights out.
Now, I generally use the tried and true method of sleeping with my eyes closed to keep the monsters out at night time. That is not darkness. Darkness is been underground. It fills your vision, smothering and creeping into every pore of your conscious. It was dark. I mean, stick your head into a tub of black paint. Then close the curtains and head over to the dark side of the moon. But don't listen to the album, cause that will destroy the effect. Instead, slightly turn on every tap within a 3oom radius so they all drip at different intervals. Try and get some Fibonacci drip sequence happening. That was kind of what it was like. Imagine, then, if someone sings an Icelandic lullaby. About a women telling her daughter about all the horrible things that are out in the world. The trolls. Monsters. Evil spirits. And worst of all, Love. Because that is the most horrible thing that can happen to anyone. To love and loose. Just to clarify, this is part of the lullaby sung to Icelandic children when they go to sleep. I don't nescesarily endorse the opinions contained herein. The sentiment of the song is that you should hurry up and go to sleep and stay asleep as long as possible.
Again this partly helps explain the character of our guides and perhaps the country more broadly. They have been whispered this lullaby from an early age and consequently have a low expectation of what life can offer. They will then never be disappointed in what the day may bring. This part I dig. In all cerealness it was a beautiful lullaby. Especially sung in a such a void. Not for the last time I had the old tingle down the spine. As well as a waterdrop that constantly found a way to penetrate my neck and cascade down around my nodule. That was shout out. So if it makes no sense it wasn't for you. We saw plenty of evidence of trolls and elves throughout this lava tube. But that may be a conversation for those younger of spirit. This entry has been written al over the time space continuum, so apologies if the sentence are more
Disjointed than usual.
Now, I just got back from kicking around downtown, not for the last time. Thought I had found all the urban delights. But like a deliscious roast pork, when you think you have scraped every last portion of yumminess from your plate, there always seems to be seconds. Now the ratio is never the same as you first serve, but that often makes it better. Always more vegetables, less of the meat and generally all the potatoes are gone. But hey, you get a massive smothering of gravy, and if your sitting opposite someone who doesn't like their pig fat/ crackling. Boom. Jackpot. Throw in some day old bread. This is straight out of a conversation I had recently. I might open up a bar that does Sunday roast every night. And you can ask for seconds, for a reduced price and as stated, the ratio is all changed. So, I picked up a few additional sweet treats from Reykjavik, urban style. I mean I hit some primo locations. Big pieces. There really is a stack, but I'll only post a few. And a panoramic picture. Sorry this has been a pretty massive entry. But hey, gotta keep myself entertained.
Till next time. May the monsters stay out of your dreams.
Sorry, can't make the panoramic photo any bigger.