A Magical place called Iceland
17th to 24th of August, 2016
Wondering where I could go on the planet that was one of the furthest places on the edge of the earth, I long dreamed of going to the Arctic. Iceland immediately called my name as the best destination in the world to truly escape reality and be transplanted onto a new world, like a modern day explorer, eagerly waiting to see what I would discover.
But how I could most successful traverse a large volcanic rock near the Arctic Circle in only a week’s time as I was searching for some kind of wisdom and inner peace with only a couple weeks off between job changes back home in Salt Lake City? The answer came relatively easy as rental cars were rather expense, the lodging sparse around the island and the abundance of RV campgrounds made it so practical to drive around with your home in your car.
My cousin had previously done a mini journey like the one I was embarking on over a year ago in the dead of winter in Iceland. Rather brave if you ask someone like me who is from the American West full of hot deserts and red sand blowing around everywhere. However, after talking to my cousin, the first immediate person I knew who made the world crossing journey to Iceland, he filled me in on all the perfect details of renting your own camper van which comes fully loaded with all the amenities to live comfortably while having the access and vehicle to traverse the island to see all the wonders it has to offer.
This is when I was convinced that for my own personal journey, both to clear my head before a new career, and the adventure of such a trip both drawing me to Iceland that I needed to rent a camper van myself. This led me to booking a great camper van with Rent.is and it was a wonderful experience. The online booking, bus station pick up and vehicle check out and return process all ran very smoothly with really great and friendly staff.
But in order to make this camper van experience complete, I would need to recruit a willing and capable copilot to assist me on the journey and share all the wonderful memories that would occur and witness the wonders of the natural beauty on the island together. I turned to many of the usual suspects in my life from my friends, families and asked several people for a first date to an exotic and cold destination (this unsurprisingly did not make for a great first date request).
Then I turned my attention overseas to my friends and network in mainland Europe. In my early twenties I lived in Amsterdam for a year playing basketball and studying international business. As one friend after another gave me expressions of disbelief that I wanted to book a last minute trip squeezed in between leaving one job and starting another and have them drop everything to join my soul-searching journey, my mission began to look bleak. To be fair to them I booked my ticket to Iceland incredibly last minute with only two weeks before departing.
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But finally, last but not least I asked one of my oldest and longest Dutch friends if he had availability to go on the trip. He responded through Whatsapp “my schedule is flexible and my budget is sizable” and immediately I thought, what a boss. Boom! Just like that we were off for an adventure of a lifetime.
Growing up in a rugged landscape full of mountains, nearby geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park in the US, and many lakes, rivers and waterfalls, I knew I would be instantly drawn to the natural beauty and exotic nature that Iceland has. But to be honest, nothing in my travels and experiences to date could ever have prepared me for the awe-inspiring and larger than life persona which Iceland imposes on all who visit.
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Most of my first few days on the island were spent in silence, pulling the camper van off to the side of the road, just to have my mouth open in kind of a stunned, getting smacked in the face, expressionless overload of intense emotions absorbing the impact of having made it to one of the most unique and beautiful places on the planet.
This deer-in-a-headlights effect was created by the sheer magnitude of being completely off the grid on a road on an ancient and volcanic piece of rock home to fierce Viking history, pulling over every few hours to see exquisite waterfalls, lakes, mountains, glaciers, lava fields, geothermal geysers, craters, and tectonic plate activity. From the beginning of the journey we started with the famous Golden Circle before making it back to the Ring Road highway which circumnavigates the entire island.
What was really remarkable during the roughly 16 hours of driving time to circle the entire island, which we split up into 5 days, was just how fast every few hours the scenery and landscape would completely change and reveal a totally different personality of the island. One of the most pleasant surprises about the journey was how many convenient camper campgrounds are in every little town around the whole island you can roll into at any time of the day, pay a small fee, and have a nice facility for cooking food, doing dishes and getting a good night’s sleep in the camper van.
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On top of this every small town also has a public hot springs pool and gym facility that for a small fee you can go in to shower, use the hot springs and pools, and get a very nice steam and sauna in before walking back to the camper and campground to relax and unwind. The van itself is absolutely the best on the island. I studied many of the other types of vans in every RV campground, but the bed was comfortable, the free WiFi internet allowed me to skype with my friends and family back home to tell them about the amazing journey I was on, Bluetooth speakers that allowed us to connect our iPhones to jam out on the road, a mini fridge to store drinks and food in it and ample storage and camping gear necessary to have a perfect road trip.
The final outcome was truly a sense of awe and inspiration that I was seeking in my life at a time of great new change and opportunity back home. But the greatest part was that time itself seemed to stand still as I drove around an ancient, mysterious and beyond beautiful, island near the Arctic Circle. I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by this experience and have since been working to let know anyone who seeks such a similar experience that anything is possible in this magical place called, Iceland.
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