Friday, July 28, 2017

Weekend getaway

The forecast is sunny for the weekend so as soon as I can get away, I throw a few things into the car (including my bike) and head off for a short weekend getaway. My destination isn’t far away. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road. The sun is shining and I just want to walk on the beach, take an evening bike ride, and crawl satisfied into my warm sleeping bag. 

I reach the beautiful fjord Dýrafjörður in less than an hour and drive past the old boarding school (which is now a hotel) at Núpur. Former mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr wrote about his time at Núpur in his book, Útlaginn (The Outlaw). At the farm named Alviðra, I park and unpack my things. This beautiful place is where my neighbor grew up and the kind family is allowing me to camp on their land so I can use it as a base camp for some fun and relaxation. All I need is a grassy spot to pitch the tent, but there is much more luxury than I expected – a small toilet and sink to fetch water, and the possibility of going into the barn for shelter if it gets cold. 

After setting up camp, I start with a long walk on the beach. The baldursbrá is still in full bloom here and it‘s fun to poke at all the stones and seashells. The sand is light-colored and fluffy and I take off my shoes and walk barefoot (Iceland has beaches of all different colos: many with black sand and even one with red sand). The mountains across the fjord have prominent shapes. One looks like a crater although it was probably formed by glacial erosion rather than a volcano. There are no active volcanoes in the Westfjords and the fjords themselves were formed by the glaciers as well. Hvilft is the word that designates a cirque, although tourists often call them troll seats. This one is named Hólahvilft. Another nice looking mountain to my left is Mýrafell, and the highest mountain in the Westfjords, Kaldbakur, rages across the fjord.

After a quick dinner back at camp, I hop on roadrunner for a short bike tour to the end of the road and the abandoned farm at Arnarnes. It’s very picturesque in the setting sun. The house that is still standing is dated 1913. It would be a beautiful place to live, with a fantastic view, at the end of the road, at the end of the world. But all of these remote places look so warm and welcoming in the summer sun. I can imagine life was very difficult here in the winter. 

On the way home, I see a fox! He’s poking around at the side of the road, but runs when he sees me. I get off my bike to explore and look for his den, but no such luck. By 11pm I crawl into my little red tent with the luxury of a hot water bottle at my feet.