The Beautiful Problem

September 08, 2012

After reading Josh’s blog and feeling like I’ve seriously been put to shame with regards to my lack of story and image sharing, I’m now determined to up the quality of my posts and images!

^ A cool random sheep shearing shed in the West Fjords

On Saturday morning I awoke early, we had spent another night sleeping in the car and I woke to the painful numb feeling in both of my legs. Figuring that this wasn’t good, I spent a few minutes stretching and attempting to massage some feeling back into them. The extreme cold and the sleeping positions have been playing havoc with my back and body, it’s not used to this roughage.

An hour and a half later, and after I had posted by Blog from yesterday morning, Josh awoke and it was not long after that we headed out to finish the last of the winding roads in the West Fjords. Think gravel, blind rises, edges of a cliff so steep you’re leaning away from the window, dangerously thin lanes and many kilometres of it. There’s very few guard rails, no doubt they figure that Darwinism is a better gene-pool cleanser than natural attrition.

^ For illustrative purposes I’ve highlighted the road… keep in mind there’s no barriers and the supposed speed is 70Kmh…

The rain that had plagued us for the last few days had set in again. Hungry, cold and needing a bit of a break, we pulled into a truck stop for a hot breakfast. This turned into hot lunch and leeching Wi-Fi for over 5 hours. A welcome change to process and play with images. Leaving, and heading towards Akureyri, our destination for the next two nights, a chance to see another town in Iceland and to stock up on essentials we found that we had needed these last few days, but had done without.

^ A farmers property. This is usually quite standard, however there’s rarely a saddled horse eating grass.

During the days travels, we had kept getting interrupted by farmers herding sheep across the road.

Further investigation into this strange occurrence – of it happening EVERYWHERE we had been that day – proved that it is an Icelandic tradition that on the first weekend of September, the first week of Autumn, the farmers herd the sheep back from the highlands where they had been roaming during summer, back into their paddocks for the winter ahead. This is not only a task the farmers participate in, but all the civilians from the city bring their families and participate in the sheep herding with the farmers. This was quite a sight, as mothers and children hung around their cars before dashing out to help chase down the strays from the pack. The unmistakable bleating from the sheep helped only humour the situation as people dressed in their shepherding bests waved their arms frantically in an attempt to scare the sheep into their pens. I didn’t get any pictures of this, not having much of a reach on my iphone and camera in the back. Josh got some pictures and movie, so when he uploads those photos Ill link you.

We were making our way out to a remote lighthouse known for its strange architecture and basalt columns that surrounded its place on the land. After the Aurora the other night, all my camera batteries had been exhausted, and I was running on empty, swapping cells between cameras in the hope of getting a bit more use, and stashing the dying ones into my armpits in the feintest hope that warming them up would allow me to get another few shots.

On the way back from the lighthouse, we got stuck behind a herd of wild Icelandic horses runing single-file on the road. They initially stopped to smell our car, before running on. They were so beautiful and differently coloured. One even had the markings of a cow!

^ A view out the windscreen with my iPhone. Josh was filming it on his GoPro as we drove (pictured)

We came across many stunning landscapes of snow-capped mountains. I honestly don’t know if the people here realise how lucky they are. Around every corner, every rise, dip, hill or bend there is a new breathtaking landscape in front of me. The problem is stopping. The road shoulders (if any, or, if its not a 100m cliff face) are thin at best, and stopping is limited to pulling over in someone’s driveway.


We’re starting to encounter another problem : The Beautiful Problem.

Let me explain: On our first day, we went around snap happy. Taking photos of everything that was new and exciting. It was all new to us, it was beautiful in ways Australia isn’t. It was different and intriguing, it was a black-and-white photo waiting to happen, a panorama, HDR or a conglomeration of all of the above. As we ventured into the further regions, Snaefelesness, West Fjords and onwards, the beautiful became even more beautiful.

After sitting down, looking at our shots and reviewing, those initial first few things that we thought were stunning, just weren’t looking so on-camera. So for the last few days, we’ve been seeing things, and opting not to take photos because they’re not as beautiful as how we see them. There are just some things that don’t translate well into a picture. The usual problem here is elevation and finding a place to stop. When it is first seen, its normally 1km back from where we first spied it, and of course, we can’t just stop in the middle of the road, get out and take the pictures, because I do actually want to live long enough to get home. So while my DSLRs are taking the Fine-art pictures, my iPhone is recording all these not-so-fine-arty photos, but keeping them for future reference. 2700 RAW photos on my hard drive later… I’m not sure how many of them are keepers. But I’m still going to hold onto all of them until I get home.

Until then, it’s a matter of trying to override the Beautiful Problem or find a workable solution. While we have a 4wd, we cannot go off-road, as its illegal in Iceland to do so. Having a 4wd just means the trip down a gravel road is a little easier on a busting bladder.

Due to the extreme cold, the lack of warmth that my Australia-bought adventure clothing provides (damn you Mountain Designs/ Kathmandu), the rain, the long hours and sleeping in the car, I’m now trying my best to get over a sickness which has plagued me for the last 12 hours, coming on suddenly yesterday afternoon. Thanks to the small pharmacy that my doctor made me bring, have antibiotics for it, and the rest break in Akureyri means that I should be able to get a grasp on it, before it gets a worse grasp on me. I’m still going to go sight-seeing and shopping here (as I really want a Lopi sweater), but keep the extreme-weather photo activities to a minimum to give my body a chance to heal.

The next two days are forecast to be rainy here in the north, and we’ve planned to start heading south on Monday morning, in time to catch some higher Auroral activity that is supposed to be happening Tues/Wed, weather permitting of course… The rain here is becoming that creepy uncle at family gatherings. Part of the deal but horrible to be around.

Today should see me getting some more photos of this town, it seems more quaint and organised than greater Reykjavik. Can’t wait to get out and see what’s around!

If you’d like to see me discuss anything different, or differently, please do tell me!

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