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We’re home, and jetlagged.

jetlag

I don’t remember being jetlagged for anything less than a four-time-zone trip – and those only when there’s a redeye involved. This six-zone trip home wasn’t nearly as bad, from a jetlag perspective, as the trip East was – but I don’t want to pretend that there aren’t any effects; doing that will only set me up for frustration and depression.

I’ve got several things going on right now – I’m not getting much done in the way of workouts, because a) I’m injured, and can’t run, and b) since I can’t run, it’s difficult for me to actually do my other workouts. That’s a motivational problem.

So, I’m not getting anything like my normal physical activity, AND I (no doubt) have some situational depression going on because of that.

In addition – ten days ago, I started on BHRT – Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Basically, this means that they opened up a hole in my right buttock, up near the hip, and shoved in eight tiny testosterone pellets. It’s supposed to help compensate for aging. So far, though, it hasn’t had any real effects that I can see – but I’m aware that there’s an adjustment period, so many there is an effect, and maybe also I’m suffering somewhat from the adjustment period. So there’s that.

Then there’s the whole “gee I wonder when or if I’m going to retire”. The Book of James says that when I ask God for guidance but ain’t sure that I’m going to get it, that I will become “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”. That ain’t good for one’s mental or emotional state.

And there’s the fact that we’re about 60-70% through the process of building a house, which is a whiplash all its own. And there’s the fact that we just returned from a vacation to the ends of the earth – a place I’ve always wanted to go to, where I saw things I’ve always dreamed about. And now we’re home.

So, on top of all this, I’m jetlagged.

I’m such a mess that I can’t even figure out which parts of my mess are caused by which parts of my life. And now, today, I’m supposed to make decisions and take actions – and I don’t trust my ability to do so.

I did manage a one-hour ride today, while watching the ladies win the World Cup – and, yes, I was cheering for the USA, but I thought that the Nederlanders were cuter 🙂 Ethel has been working to get us unpacked, and get the home up and functional. Right now, it’s early afternoon, and we could be done for the day.  Might get to rest now.

They say that one recovers from jet lag at the rate of one to two time zones per day – that six zones take three to five days. I need to remember that this week, when I feel like giving up and quitting on Monday or Tuesday. It’s not going to be quick, and it’s not going to be easy.

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So, when I’m laying in bed waiting to die, and Ethel has gathered the dogs around (that’s all we’ve got – kids are all far away. Don’t have any close friends in Whitefish that are “hang around while you’re dying” friends. It’ll pretty much be Ethel and the dogs) I’m going to look at her and say “Do you remember touring the ice lagoon?”

“Lemme ‘splain. No – is too much. Lemme sum up.” – Inigo Montoya

First off, we started out bad. Not a good morning. They didn’t have much in the way of coffee at the Icelandair Hotel Egilstadir, so we went to the local gas station/convenience store – “N1” – to get coffee and pastries to start our day.

First thing was – they didn’t even open until 8 AM. So we had to wait.

(editor’s note: one of the strange things about Iceland is the limited operating hours for just about everything. You’d think, in a place that never gets dark, that stores and restaurants would keep extended hours. Nope.)

So, we waited until the convenience store opened – but, no coffee? That’s right. They opened, but they didn’t have coffee ready until 8:10 or 8:15. Now, this is not Aunt Olga’s tiny store in a frame house; this is the national brand. Brand new building, large and well appointed – you wouldn’t blink an eye if you saw it in your home town, until you looked at the brand names (and did the math and realized that the gasoline is about $6.50/gallon).

But the convenience store doesn’t open until 8 AM, and when it’s open, it has no coffee at the coffee bar.

But eventually they brought the coffee; but when they did, we found out that I didn’t have my credit card. Seems that I’d left it in the gasoline machine the previous evening. What’s strange about that is this is one of those places where you leave your card in during the transaction; but apparently it spit it back out, and never took it back in, because the card was gone.

So I had to call Capital One and take care of that. Fortunately, we’ve still both got our debit cards, and Ethel has her Capital One, so we’re good.

But this caused us to drive away with expensive late coffee and head south on Highway 1/95 while I was on the phone with Capital One, and this caused us to miss our turn (seems that they’ve been busy renumbering the highways – but the maps and the road signs don’t match). Then, when we did make our turn, we didn’t believe it;we hit a road sign for Highway 1 – the Ring Road, the touristy way to circumnavigate the island – that said, basically, “DANGER! If you take this road, you’re in trouble. If anything happens, your vehicle will be recovered at great expense. Oh – BTW – there’s a 17% downgrade during this stretch of bad road.”

And we took it.

And that’s where the bad morning ended – because that road was AMAZING. A fantastic hour or so of rock road through amazing terrain, with a 1500 or so foot descent at the end through a volcanic canyon down to a fjord.

We got back on pavement at the coast, and headed south – and the views and weather kept getting better and better.

And then we got to the Ice Lagoon.

Bottleneck

The Ice Lagoon is a big body of water at the base of a glacier (I can almost pronounce the name, because they taught it to us, but I ain’t about to try to spell it) that is a finger off of the huge Vatnajökull glacial cap that covers a large part of southeast Iceland. Where the glacier meets the water, the icebergs calve off – but they are stuck in the lagoon, because there’s a bottleneck (seen above) where the lagoon goes out to sea, and the icebergs have to float around the lagoo until they are small enough to make it out the bottleneck.

There are a few ways to see the Ice Lagoon, but Ethel booked us into the absolute best, for folks like us – small Zodiac boats that go out and scoot around the lagoon, shooting between the icebergs and getting as close to the face of the glacier as safety allows.

Since we’re in these fast, inflatable rafts, they put us into survival gear in case we fall out. The survival suits are waterproof and poofy – either for warmth, or floatation – and  the wearer winds up looking like Ralphie’s little brother in “Christmas Story”. Here’s Ethel, modeling it while getting on the bus:

SurvivalEthel

They drove us to the dock and we got on the Zodiacs –

zodiacethel

And then we took off across the water. It was a seven-kilometer ride across the lagoon.

Here’s where I admit that I have no pictures of the ride through the icebergs, or even of the face. I was too busy being in the moment to try to capture the moments. If you want to see that stuff, go be Facebook friends with Ethel – she’s got it all recorded in stills and videos.

I will say that it was an experience that I hope I never forget – shooting between big chunks of floating ice on a Zodiac like we were Navy Seals on a mission. Seeing seals – we saw four of them, including one baby who had one of the sweetest faces I’ve ever seen.

Laying off the face of the glacier about 600 meters, and seeing the big chunks fall – we saw at least two of them falling into the water, saw the aftermath of a third, and heard a fourth but couldn’t find it. An iceberg falling off a glacier makes a sound like a cannon in a canyon.

We had to stay that far away in order to be save from calving – not just the big chunks falling OFF, but also there are icebergs that break off from the underside of the glacier, and those shoot up through the water and break the surface – and will toss your boat through the air if they happen to come up below you.

On the way back from the face, I did manage to take some pics of some of the larger bergs that we inspected close-up:

icehole

BigBlue

Then we docked, drove, got out of the puffy suits, and got in the car and drove south – but we couldn’t stop grinning. We both knew that this would be one of those that we’d be talking about forever.

We pretty much stopped taking pictures after this – the four-hour ride home was mostly in rain. We did stop and see one fantastic waterfall (Skogarfoss) and I have to admit that the pass between Selfoss and Reykjavik was one of the most beautiful we’d ever seen.

Now we’re back in Reykjavik. Today we’re going to go see some stuff – Halgrimskirje and the museum with the dead Vikings and maybe do some shopping. Tomorrow we’re booked with Mr Puffin – a company that does tours in the bay that let you see puffins. I never thought I’d pay money to get in a boat to ride out and look at a bird, but – there you have it.

 

What a day!

Woke up in Akureyri, for starters. I really love this town. It ain’t what I expected, at all!

We’re driving farther and farther north, and finally come down from the mountains into this city of 20K plus citizens on the southern end of the fjord. I’m expecting, here so far away from everything, to be in an outpost – stark, forbidding. Hard walls and hard people living on the edge of civilization.

I was thinking, probably, something along the lines of Point Barrow. I was willing to consider maybe Cicely.

Instead, I got Mayberry.

A beautiful city, welcoming and warm. Well cared for, well landscaped, and clean. Great hotel, across from the local pool. Where I expected Eskimo children sitting by igloos, instead I got folks doing swim repeats in a geothermally heated public lap pool, and a play pool and children’s pools full of laughing kids.

So I woke up there this morning, and decided that I wanted to get a run in while I was above the 65th parallel. I reckoned my PT might complain if he knew that I was chancing it, but I won’t tell him until I get back. I ran two of the slowest miles in my running log – but I ran them on a beautiful street between the stark mountain range on the west – above treeline – while looking down at the fjord in the east. Beautiful!

Then we headed out. We had some main objectives today – two major waterfalls, a drive around Myvatn, and going to the furthest north point in Iceland before arriving at Egilstadir. All were achieved.

One of the things that we noticed today was that we found the Arctic. Any time we went up higher than 1000 feet, suddenly we were on the Moon – miles and miles of volcanic rock with little growing. Some sulpher hills and steam. Beauty, but not comfortable beauty.

The first falls, Godafoss, was lovely and clean. Impressive, but….TAME. I got near the edge, and had to admit that I thought about making the jump – maybe 40-50 feet. Sure, I knew the water was cold, but the river quickly hit shoals where I could get out and dry off while Ethel yelled at me….but I realized that, with the glacial water, I couldn’t be sure just how deep the pool was at the base of the falls.

So I didn’t do it.

gothafoss

We then hit many mile of hard dirt road to go to Dettifoss. Most of this trip was up in the moonscape to which I was referring. Dettifoss was WILD, UNTAMED and VIOLENT. I’ve never seen such raging violence. The river here has gone over many miles of that moonscape, and was full of volcanic dirt and ash – and it SLAMMED it into the sides of the falls, and slammed into the base, and everything was banging into everything.

I didn’t think about jumping.

dettifoss

After Dettifoss, it was time to head towards Hraunhafnartangi Lighthouse at the northernmost point. I wanted to get as close to the Arctic Circle as possible. (It seems that there was one island in Iceland that actually touched the Arctic Circle, but apparently the Arctic Circle actually WOBBLES – and it has wobbled just north of said island now). That lighthouse was my closest approach.

We passed through Kopasker, a town which did fit the “outpost” image in our heads – a nice little town, but stark, and composed apparently of fisherfolk and their families, and a small fish processing plant, wherein their daily catch could be prepared for the trip south.

We heading north from there, deep into the Arctic part of this country, passing small farm houses of extremely hardy folk, who were raising sheep in the salty soil up against the Greenland Sea. The road turned to mud to gravel, and finally flattened out some miles before the lighthouse.

And then I was stonewalled – because the road out to the lighthouse said “No motor travel” and “Access forbidden”.

So we drove a bit east, and then I got out of the car and just headed across the tundra towards the far north beach.

I was actually running here – doing the best sort of run I could do in hiking boots, on what felt like heather; it seemed that when I placed my foot on this loamy vegetation, it would sink in about three inches. This made it a bit of work. And I almost made it to the rock pile at the beach – and the arctic terns decided that I wasn’t going into their nesting grounds.

They started screeching and divebombing me, and so I gave up and turned around 🙂

I think I got about even with the lighthouse, though, before they forced me into the detour, so I’m calling it a win 🙂

lighthouse

(Those black marks in the sky are the arctic terns telling me to get the heck out of Dodge).

I finally got my hand into the water as far north as possible – touching a body of water with no land between my fingers and the North Pole.

arctic water

(When I got back in the car, Ethel was not as taken by the drama of the moment as I was; apparently, she was much more concerned that my hiking boots smelled like decomposing fish and vegetation. I managed to maintain the magic of the experience).

Now we’re four hours drive southeast of there, in Egilstradir, where we’ll spend tonight before going to the Ice Lagoon tomorrow – we have a noon reservation on a Zodiac boat going out into the lagoon below the glacier, where we’ll dodge icebergs while working our way towards the face. That sounds like a good time. We probably won’t get into Reykjavik until 9 or 10 tomorrow night.

Not that that’s a problem. It’ll still be light 🙂

My eldest brother wrote a song called “Goodbye Wyoming” back in the 70s. I think he went there once.

I’ve spent the last 25 years in the Intermountain West (with one brief sally out to Vermont). I have spent much time in Wyoming. I know what Wyoming looks like.

This….looks like Wyoming.

wyoming

But this is NOT Wyoming. This – is northern Iceland.

For five hours today we drove from Reykjavik up to Akureyri, and it mostly looked just like this. A whole lot of Wyoming. There were even sheep and cattle – and lots of horses, although Iceland horses are….shorter than other horses.

The population density looked about the same, although the architecture was a little different – and one major difference is that about every ten miles or so, one of the “ranches” would have its own little church (almost certainly Lutheran). Other than that, it was Wyoming.

Oh – one other major difference. Coming out of Reykjavik, before getting into the world of Arctic Wyoming, we were stuck behind a truck for a bit. Now, there is a LOT of hay being produced up here – most of the farms that we saw produced nothing but that. Again, Wyoming….but the truck we saw, that we thought had hay bales, didn’t. It had sod. Big, huge rolls of sod.

roofing

We’re wondering – what would you do with sod in this area?

And we realized that out on the peninsula, we had seen homes with sod roofs.

So the sod truck was most likely for a roofing company. That’s a weird thought.

So now we’re in Akureyri. We crossed the 65th parallel just after lunch. We’re way up there – farther north than I’ve ever been. And, tomorrow, we’re going up over the 66th – to the farthest north point on the island. Just shy of the Arctic Circle – actually, about 800 meters south of the Arctic Circle.

I could perhaps have made it to the Arctic Circle had I brought my tri wetsuit and tried the swim – but I’m not sure that I’d’a made it back. I decided NOT to swim in the Greenland Sea. I’m sure – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that I’m going to regret that. But I might have regretted doing it – and had I regretted doing it, it would have been because I was dead.

Okay, so maybe I would NOT have regretted doing it because I’d be dead, and being dead is a good thing. But that wouldn’t be fair to Ethel. So I weighed the certainty of regret about not swimming to the Arctic Circle against the possibility of disappointing Ethel by dying, and drew the short straw.

There are two overwhelming facts about Iceland. One is the beauty. It’s in your face, and dramatic. Nobody questions it.

The other big fact about Iceland is that it is ridiculously expensive. I live in a ski town – and it’s the fifth ski town I’ve lived in. I work in California, in the bay area, and spend a lot of time there. I’ve had three prolonged vacations in Hawaii. I’m used to “expensive” placed.

I’ve never imagined that a place could be this expensive. Every meal is a shock. Every purchase makes my eyes bulge out.

The only place where I’ve spent much time that is even marginally close to this expensive is Jackson Hole. And guess where that is?

Wyoming 🙂

(EDITOR’S NOTE – this was supposed to be posted on Saturday, June 29th – apparently it got stuck in the pipeline. But you should read this one before you read the one about Snuffleuppaguss).

 

This, if you can believe it, is Ethel standing in line, in the rain, for the chance to pay four dollars for an Icelandic hot dog.

hotdog

It wasn’t worth it 🙂

 

It’s been a long day – it started yesterday morning at around 4:50 AM. We got up then because we wanted to make sure that we’d sleep well on the plane. That didn’t work as well as we had hoped.

By the time we got here this morning, we felt the effects – it was 3 AM by our body clocks, and 9 AM locally. We went to the hotel and got an early checkin and got a nap; about 90 minutes later, we got up and headed out to see some Iceland.

The guide books said that this place had the best hot dogs ever tasted. I’m willing to assume that somebody else might think that; as they were definitely DIFFERENT. But I’d rather have one off the rolling rack at the local convenience store.

For dinner, we went to a “street food” restaurant billed as having the best fish and chips. Those were, indeed, pretty good.

The day was rainy and overcast, and we’re jetlagged. So we’re probably not getting the bang for our buck – and, lemme tell ya, they do, indeed, take our bucks while providing whatever bang results. This place is more expensive than anyplace else I’ve ever been.

I’m willing to assume that it might not get dark tonight, which is why I came – but, then, it never really got LIGHT, either, so I’m willing to go ahead and just sleep tonight.

This morning, we had pastries at Braud (which I think means “bread”) and then headed for the Snæfellsnes peninsula (I had to cut and paste to get that dipthongy vowel thing) to see some Iceland.

We saw us some Iceland 🙂

The first cool part of the trip was hitting the tunnel under one fjord – a tunnel that was six kilometers long. Only time I’ve gone farther than that was the Chunnel.

(editor’s note: we were driving along in a rented Hyundai when we approached the tunnel. Ethel said, “Hey, we’re in a fjord!” I said (wait for it…) “No, this is a Hiyunday” (spelling changed to indicate the pronunciation necessary to make this a good joke. Fact that I’m explaining it means – never mind) 🙂

Of course, we wore ourselves out trying to say Snæfellsnes, so we just said “Snuffleuppaguss”.

We drove out on the south side of the peninsula. Pretty quickly, I noticed that the mountain range to the north had a LOT of waterfalls. I kept saying “Hey, let’s go hike up to that one!….okay, then, how about this next one?” until Ethel finally got tired and pulled over, and we hiked one of the falls.

It was pretty nice 🙂

firstfoss

I kept wanting to hike more waterfalls, but the next hike we took was up to a slot canyon at Rauofeldsgja – it was like the ones in Utah, only it had moss on the walls. Lovely!

slot

I hiked further up in this one than Ethel cared to go, and while up there, it occurred to me that the walls were so gnarly and knobby that I could probably climb up and out. However, I didn’t think that I could DOWNclimb those walls – so there I’d be, up on the plateau, and Ethel would be down at sea level, mad at me. So I didn’t.

We stopped and had fish and chips at a food truck in Anarstapi, then drove through the national park – I wanted to go up and see the glacier, but we knew that there was an English-speaking AA meeting back in Reykjavik at 7 PM, so we were starting to concern ourselves about the passage of time.

So we didn’t drive up to the glacier. And Ethel voice something that will stay in the Puckett lexicon for the rest of our married life – “I’m not stopping at every waterfall in Iceland!”

But we DID stop at Kirkjufell – something that I had on my agenda. And that I’ll remember.

kirkjufell

I think that the Pixel 2 takes pretty good pictures.

As soon as I started looking at pictures of Iceland, I kept seeing this mountain – “Church Mountain” is what the name means, but it just snagged my attention. Turns out that this was used in some “Game of Thrones” story line – I dunno, never seen GoT. But I’ll remember this.

We did make it back for the AA meeting, which was nice – lots of nationalities in that little room. And now we’re back at the hotel, cleaning up before dinner – although we’re still pretty full of fish and chips (“fiskur og franskar”). I wanted a salad tonight, but no luck. I don’t think that they have salads in Iceland.

When’s the last time that Google dropped something?

The last time I used this acronym in our development team’s slack channel, Google recognized it correctly – BMBaCMaB means “Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit”.

bmbacmab

But this morning, I used it, and one of my co-workers went looking – and it couldn’t find it.

So, for the first time in my memory, Google’s reach has actually SHRUNK. Something that I could look up before, I now can’t find.

(Google did find several usages of “#bmbacmab”, but nowhere that the acronym was explained. I call that a loss).

I figured I’d go ahead and post this, by way of associating the acronym with the phrase. I hope it works.

I do know that Google knows about Fat Charlie’s Diary; when I google for “no huhu, cobber”, the first two links are leads to MIAHM pdfs, but the third is an old FCD post. I have no idea whether or not other folks seem the same thing when they google that phrase; I’m not other folks, and I’m not interested enough to find out 🙂

The first time I heard the phrase “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit” was, I believe, in the movie Cars – I’m sure that it was Tow Mater who said it. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it used other than that in any mass media.

(N.B. – I’m only talking about this because I don’t want to talk about anything else today. Thursdays are always a one hour Eichorn bike workout, 40 minutes to an hour run or ellip, and a core workout; today, none of that happened. I’m a bit sick to my stomach today; I even found myself drinking some Pepto. But I don’t think that that’s the problem. I wonder if it’s depression; could be stress. It can’t be fatigue – I haven’t done enough in the last week for this to be fatigue. So I’m sort of in avoidance mode today – I’ve felt it, and I’ve prayed about it, but I ain’t done anything about it. In the meantime, I’ll talk about stuff that doesn’t matter).