Fun in the Sun in Iceland

Fun in the Sun in Iceland

Well, since we’re here in Isafjörður for a few days, Boogie, Marlies and I are mixing in a bit of fun with the chores required to prep the boat for our run to Greenland. That included breaking out the big dinghy yesterday — complete with a 65-horsepower outboard — and running the eight miles or so upfjord to the small island of Vigur. It’s an old farming island that’s been in one family for generations and now makes a living from tourism.

Visitors make the run from town and wander the island, seeing how farming once provided a living and taking in a bit birdwatching. A flock of eiders reside on the farm and are so tame that two of the ducks followed us as we wandered around all around the place. A ton of puffins make their home on the island too, but they’re a bit more wary of humans than the eiders. Still, you could sit among the puffins’ burrows and hear them just underground — they sound like cows off in the distance — and eventually they’d emerge close enough to see up close (but I still couldn’t get any good photos, dammit!). Arctic terns hovered overhead in great numbers, screeching at the interruption (managed to get a few good shots of these aerobats). Guillemots and gulls round out the avian residents on Vigur; there were also a couple of sheep around, too.

After wandering a bit, visitors return to the cozy little farmhouse and enjoy some tea or coffee and some homemade pastries. The pastries, in particular, were magnificent — especially the pie made from the farm’s own rhubarb.

It’s a beautiful spot and the solitude must be fantastic. And when you need the amenities of town, Ísafjörður is just a 30-minute boat ride away. Ironically, as secluded as you’d be on Vigur, the road from town back to the rest of Iceland snakes by on the thin strip of land between the steep mountains and the sea just a half-mile in places from Vigur. So you can hear traffic — admittedly, a couple of vehicles an hour at peak times, it seems like — from this little bit of nirvana.

The other irony about this part of Iceland is the topography. With the flat-topped mountains and the chossy rock, I was reminded overy strongly of parts of the Colorado Plateau in the western U.S. — albeit with green streaks running up the sides of the mountains and a green foundation at their bases. Think of, say, Grand Junction, Colorado, or Moab, Utah, or even Monument Valley or some part of Arizona, in the spring, during that brief couple of weeks when there’s some low-level green present among the red and brown rocks. There are no trees here, as there, and, of course, you need to ignore the sea that dominates the scene here in Iceland. There’s a reason NASA sent the early astronauts to this island in the North Atlantic to prepare for the moon landing: it’s definitely a lunar landscape.

I’d post the photos here but I seem to have made a grave error: I left my laptop back in the States when I returned to Polar Bear. I’m using my iPad alone at this point, but the Blogger upload tool is, apparently, a Flash-based tool so…I’m up the creek with regard to posting photos. Sorry, folks. I’ve used the Facebook email-a-photo tool to post a photo of a tern and a video from the dinghy ride back over on that site…best I can do until I figure out what works on Blogger (anyone with any ideas is welcome — nay, begged — to email a solution).

And I have time to implement any solutions sent along: the current plan is to wait here until Saturday, when Boy Wonder and two friends of Boogie and Marlies are due to arrive. And while Ísafjörður is a charming little town, there ain’t much to do. A hike here and there; I might rent a bike…beyond that, umm… And naturally enough, when looking at the weather forecast this morning, Boogie discovered that next week’s weather is expected to be brutal: winds in the 40- to 60-knot range (with higher gusts) and right on the nose. With weather like that, there’s no way we’ll make Greenland. The perfect condition for the run across the Denmark Strait is right now — but we’re only three crew at this point and you really need four to be able to handle the ice and weather (read: fog) conditions that one can expect in that bit of water. Boogie is on the phone right now with Boy Wonder, in an attempt to change the plan enough to enable us to reach Ittoqqortoormiit and Scoresby Sund. So stay tuned…

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