Found film: Iceland, May 2015

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Hiking in Iceland was gleefully devoid of warning signs. We stayed on the trail, walking through apocalyptic-feeling sulfur clouds, bathing suits and towels and water packed on our backs. There were one or two signs that let us know to be careful, but a few miles in the trail was devoid of directions.

I like that. I liked the idea that the Icelandic government, the people, whoever, just didn’t bother to post warning signs everywhere, unlike the sign-strewn Yellowstone National Park, which at some points shows children being boiled and burned alive encountering geysers, just in case the wooden boardwalks and the bubbling mud pots weren’t enough of an encouragement to stay on the path. I secretly, morbidly loved the idea that people who were dumb, who didn’t pay attention, could end up in trouble out here, in this barren, strange land with billowing steam clouds, plushy moss, hot ground, snow patches, and rushing creeks coming from sandy, rocky, steep hills. Get your shit together people, just pay attention. 43856350020_1ac2615a49_c43856347250_d43bb8e140_c31802027998_89683ba317_c31802030858_5881a88466_c

We hiked to the hot springs, which were full of loud, naked German men. We immediately decided to keep hiking and wait them out, not wanting spring-mates in the form of slightly intoxicated, boisterous boys who were without a shred of clothing and likely decorum. Nein, danke. As we hiked, it got lonelier, and we encountered fewer and fewer people.

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The land was part Yellowstone, part meadow, part alien. It was bare, with moss, lichen, colorful soil, and lots of pocked, bare volcanic rock. Emily and I were amazed, not even close to tired, even after we’d been hiking for hours. We eventually turned back, and found the river mostly to ourselves, enough that we put down our packs and slipped in. It wasn’t hot; it was warm enough that the day we went it was comfortable, but on a colder day I wouldn’t want to swim! Eventually more and more people packed up and left, and we took off our bathing suits and, like the prudish Americans we were, enjoyed the privacy. I felt like a nymph from a painting in the water, silly and un-bothered by anything.

It really was a joy to re-discover some photos of one of the best days I’ve had on this earth, with one of my favorite humans, in a place neither of us knew and marveled at.

Last summer: Iceland nostalgia!

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Rain, rain, and more rain. Waking at 3 am, confused by the lighting, thinking it was breakfast time. Jostling through the crowded grocery store, hearing Icelandic and understanding not a single word. Eating as much skyr as my stomach could handle, and devouring bags of chocolate covered raisins we picked up at the gas stations. We drove and drove, dodging sheep and seeing mist, fog, and soil in colors that didn’t seem natural.

Right now I find myself so engulfed in nostalgia for going elsewhere that my mind is constnatly dredging up memories. How tired, completely wiped out we were, after driving 12 hours all the way from Hafnarfjordur to Hofn and back in one day. We picked up hitchhikers, stopped and saw icebergs, listened to sea birds, sunk our feet in black, warm sand, and escaped a fast coming high tide while wandering in some rocks.

In my dream world I go back for several months, living out of a car, exploring and photographing this magnificent country more.

All the Icelandic Angst: Alliterations and (finally) some film

Victoria thankfully has several worthy developers of black and white film, so after putting about 3 rolls through my mum’s trusty 1980’s Olympus I dropped them off. Three days later I held sleek beautiful rolls of film in my hands and felt exhilarated. I love my DSLR, I love how practical it is to take a digital camera and be able to make several hundred photographs in one day and process them and really get some good ones.

But film, oh film. You have to respect it- your hands can’t be oily, you handle everything with cotton, you must keep them from heat and cold. Cutting negatives, carefully putting them in the trays, and calibrating your scanner, all of these are conscious, direct actions that you do. You have to work for and with your film. Even if I don’t develop my own, I still get one on one with making my pictures a reality in a way I never can with digital.

Anyway, I forgot I had taken a roll of black and white film in Iceland, so when I unrolled the negs on the light table at Prism Imaging some rocky landscapes caught my eye and made me smile. Unfortunately I think my poor camera has some light leaks- might DIY with a flashlight in a dark room and see if I can identify any and just put some electrical tape somewhere but if not…well….luckily old cameras like Olympus were mass-produced, so if I need a new body it’ll be pretty cheap.

Emily and I wish we had spent our whole 3 weeks abroad in Iceland. It was unsettling but familiar. I feel homesick like crazy right now, but if I had to be somewhere else I wouldn’t mind being there. Someday it would be a blast to get a group of 4/5 people and do a month driving around the Ring Road, camping out of a van and spending a few days here and there. We barely scratched the surface of this beautiful country, I feel like I experienced 0.0000001% of the potential awesomeness.

It was a lot of quiet moments. Emily drove us around, as I can’t drive stick (yet- I want to learn!) and I read aloud from The Gunslinger, the first of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series throughout the days. Emily thought it was bizarre but awesome. We ate chocolate covered raisins everywhere and I drove her crazy making her stop at different places while I looked for somewhere that sold stamps (an information office outside of a National Park finally did!). We picked up two sets of hitchhikers- two sisters from France, and two best friends from France.There was black sand in the floor mats and my hair was a tangled mess. It was never dark and sleeping was a chaotic mess because you’d wake up and it would be 3 am out but it would look like 9 am. All the hot water has a sulfuric smell so after showering you didn’t feel like you really smelled any better, more like a minion from Hell. Living out of backpacks meant that our clothes were wrinkled messes constantly. The tiny heater in our cottage was hyper-efficient and perfectly located for me to put a chair right next to it and press my cold feet against it.

More to come. It’s rainy and chilly here, but I do want to take a walk. Yesterday it was raining all evening and the streets were so beautiful. The bus floors were slippery though and several people had trouble getting into their seats with dignity. (As a clumsy fool I empathized).

A hike near Hveragerði

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I took multiple rolls of film on this hike. It was impossible not to- the whole hike had such a varying degree of landscapes, lighting, and weather patterns. It was cloudy, then sunny, than rainy, then windy- or a mix of various parts of those. Emily and I hiked with our swimsuits packed, excited to see the naturally heated creek that gushed down the valley.

The soil on the hike varied in color, from burnt orange to hues of purple, deep grey, blue, and brown. I couldn’t put my camera down. I regretted not bringing my DSLR, but if I had I would have taken hundreds of images rather than less than 100 on film. Pacing myself, I tried to just revel in the landscape and in how lucky we were to be there. I was thankful Emily had driven us this far, because it was worth it. I was glad the weather held until almost the end of our day.

We found pits in the earth that gushed steam and gurgled water. We did not dare get too close to the edge of these pits, as the soil or earth might have been weakened. We saw few people- one group graciously pointed us to a hidden waterfall as they walked away from it. Everybody respected the fact that this was a place of extreme solitude and beauty. Emily and I wished we had a tent so we could just camp in a meadow. Such a beautiful place deserved more than a day of our attention, but sadly that’s all we could give it.

Iceland + Netherlands + Belgium 2015

Come May, we’ll be packing our bags and getting on a big jet plane to several amazing places!

I’m excited/nervous/already ready to go.

I haven’t ever lived out of my backpack for a whole 3+ weeks, and Em has never been out of North America. This will be epic and exciting and I’m sure at some points stressful and tiring. We’re returning to the Dutch homeland at last!

We’re on a pretty strict budget and one thing I am sort of worried about is getting around in Iceland. I know it’s a very expensive place, so I’m really unsure how to go about getting out of Reykjavik and getting to the other parts of the country! I’m sure we’ll manage one way or another.

I’m really ready to eat new foods, meet new people, and experience the oddness that comes with sleeping in rooms with strangers, staying out late dancing, showering in shared bathrooms, and digging around ones pack looking for that one thing that no doubt is now at the bottom of the pack avoiding your searching fingertips.

If anybody has any recommendations/things to do/see/eat in Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Bruges, or Brussels leave me a comment! We’re stoked and we’ll have a great time no matter what happens but I love hearing from other world travelers.

It’s absolutely nuts to me that it will have been 4 years since I left ‘Murica for foreign soil. I will never ever let it be that long ever again as long as I live. For me, traveling is a way to stay sane. After you travel there is a switch turned on somewhere in your soul that cannot ever be turned off, and if you don’t travel you have to distract yourself like a fiend because otherwise something in you goes a little crazy. In the mean time I’ve gone to California, Texas, New York, Cape Cod, Washington, and lots of other beautiful places, but something about long plane rides and getting a stamp in my passport hums the right tune.