Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Steam

It was sure cold last night, down to the high 30's! Although the camper van has a small heater, we discover it runs on diesel and the fumes would obliterate tent campers on the grass around us, so we huddle deep in our sleeping bags and  look forward to hot coffee with bell pepper/ham egg scramble in the morning. The campground at Lake Myvatn is basically a place to park; I have to say the bathrooms in all the campgrounds are too few in number but really clean. The hot water from the faucet, heated geotherally, is burning hot. 

Lake Myvatn (Midge Lake) district is one of the most volcanically active on earth. Oddly shaped pillars of lava dominate the landscape, the smaller ones covered with moss. Surrounding wetlands are a breeding ground for waterfowl. The lake (14 sq mi and average depth 7 ft) is covered in ice for 7 months of the year and I imagine winters are harsh! Clouds of midges fly into your face- tis the season - but also for big Atlantic Salmon and trout in the River Laxa,  which feed on them. Yes, Ray will go out with a guide tomorrow to check it out. 

The one town, Reykjahlíð, has a church, small hotel, gas station/convenience store, atm, and bar/restaurant. North of town, the landscape is so barren that NASA sent its Apollo 11 crew to train in the 1960's. 

Our first stop around the lake is Dimmuborgir "black castles", a 2,000 year old field of arches, caves, tunnels and contorted volcanic pillars some 65 ft high. In the distance, the flat top of crater 
Hverfall, shrouded in clouds can be seen.

The road runs to the southern end, a lovely conservation area with footpaths in the woods and rising to a viewpoint overlooking small grassy isles in the lake. 
Skutustaðir has a dozen or so grassy pseudo craters, formed by lava flowing over the marshland and water boiling up to form craters. 

Back to the northern end of Bjarnarflag, a thermal zone, we stop at the steaming aquamarine hot spring pool Grjotagja and small geothermal power stations. Behind it is a sandy hill and geothermal pipes billowing clouds of steam. Across the road, I explore Iceland's"largest" "geyser bread bakery", two small circles with assorted steaming underground pit ovens, each covered with scrap metal covers and rocks/bricks. It is hard to imagine that the geyser bread "hverabrauð" we ate last night is made with rye dough, yeast and molasses, baked underground overnight in milk cartons. What is baked is sold in town and for promulgate consumption. There is no one manning the place; it is just out in the open! 

Down the road a bit are the Myvatn Jarðböðin Nature Baths. We pass on that but watch others soaking in the 30-40C pools. 

The skies are darkening and it is misting. As we have pretty much seen everything here, we decide to head out toward Akureyi. The land is flat and reminds us of Nebraska. We camp across from the roaring Goðafoss, about 30 min. From Akureyi. The campground, a grassy fieldbehind  the guest houses - the bathroom - a converted container with sinks on one side and stalls on the other. There are no tent campers only one other campervan here -yeah, we can use our heater. We eat our fresh lox and frozen veggies and call it a night. 





Geyser bread bakery

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