Northern Iceland, March 20-23, 2015
Our Iceland tour with Betchart Expeditions http://www.solareclipsetrips.com/pdf_fi ... 015_Jx.pdf landed in Akureyri in time for lunch March 20 after the eclipse. From there we moved to the Hotel Laxa near Lake Myvatn. On the way we stopped at one of Iceland's famous wateralls, Godafoss:
Hotel Laxa is very isolated and normally only open only in summer, but with 3 busloads of us, Betchart arranged for it to open. Here were could view the aurora after dinner from the hotel parking lot.
It was very windy but easy to take breaks inside to thaw out.
March 21 was spent touring the Myvatn area. We started with the unusual lava formations at Dimmuborgir, formed when a lava lake drained and left behind pillars over the formerly boiling marshland. Liz with our guide Mike Jackson.
Next stop was Sigurgeir's Bird Museum. Here's the largest eagle in the collection.
The museum opened in 2008 and is on a lake where live birdwatching is excellent in summer. The boathouse has some antique equipment, including skis and skates.
We visited a geothermal power plant (27% of Iceland's electricity and 99% of its heat is geothermal), had lunch and then went to Namafjall geothermal area. Fumarole:
We spent the late afternoon at Myvatn Nature Baths.
On March 22 we relocated to Husavik and first visited the whale museum. There were exhibits and skeletons of many species. Here's a narwhal skelton.
After lunch we drove north and stopped at a farmhouse. Some of the buildings are preserved as they were 80-100 years ago. Liz is by a sod house with the coast and baled hay in the background.
Everywhere we saw in Iceland baled hay is wrapped in plastic, and the diary cows and breeding sheep are kept inside in winter.
This farm had a barn with dairy cows and also maintained an aurora research station on this roof.
The aurora station is run remotely by the Japanese.
We finished the day at the Husavik Museum, best known for its anthropological and maritime sections. Liz with a polar bear which floated to Iceland on an iceberg in 1969.
That night was our final dinner with Betchart, featuring a talk by Owen Garriott, who spent 59 days in space on Skylab 3 in 1973.
On March 23 the Betchart tour left for Akureyri airport to send everyone home, but Liz and I got a rental car for the next 2 days. We drove to Asbyrgi Canyon, a horseshoe-shaped rock formation likely formed by a volcano-induced flash flood.
We hiked about a mile in this birch forest, one of the largest remaining in Iceland. They tend to form in areas like this sheltered from the wind.
Coastline in the same area where we visited the farmhouse the previous day, now with a coat of overnight snow.
Later that day we rode the Icelandic horses near Grenevik.
We were out there an hour and a half in full-on blizzard conditions. The horses have evolved over several hundred years to live outside 24/7/365 so the weather does not bother them much. The Icelandic horses are also noted for intelligence and have learned a unique gait, the tolt, that is the speed of a trot but much smoother ride. Liz has a riding background so this was on her checklist for Iceland. Our guide kept a careful eye on me but let Liz hang back and then gallop her horse a few times.
March 24 we began the ski portion of the trip.