Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trip Timeline (The night of Terror)

So here's how our trip went down...

Rent a car in Reykjavik and get a nice upgrade due to National's car availability.

Stop at Seljalandsfoss (The waterfall with the frozen wonderland around it).

Stop at Dyrholaey (the black sand beach surrounded by column-like rock formations).

Arrive at Skaftafell, a national park, and quickly hike to see Svartifoss (the waterfall with the crazy organ pipe looking rocks around it).

Arrive at Jokulsarlor (the glacier lake).


Drive across the road to see the glaciers that had made it out to sea. There is a flattened area that seems to be the parking lot. I, however, drive about 50 feet too far. Kate and I both notice that the ground seems to be getting a little rough so I immediately stop. Instead of reversing, I turn the car to park. And just like that, we are stuck in the sand. This might sound pretty stupid, but I assure you that it didn’t seem like a dangerous idea at the time. We get out and try to dig a little. Attempt backing out, but it’s a no go. The car just sinks deeper.

Start digging hardcore style for like 45 minutes. Both of us are lying under the car, trying to completely free it from the sand (we are in it pretty deep). Put the rubber car mats against the wheels with some rock wedges in an attempt to get some traction.

Try to back her out again but just dig ourselves deeper. The mats get sucked under the wheels and are torn up pretty bad. The car now looks like I drove it into a freaking hole in the ground and the sun is peacin’ out for the night. Head up to the road and pray that someone can save us. The praying was pretty necessary because we had only seen like three cars since we had arrived at the lake.

A nice man stops, basically because we jump in front of his car, which we later realize was probably pretty frightening. The man pulls us out in no time and we are on our way. It is now completely dark.

Stop in a small town to recover and eat some food. Then we hit the road again, hoping to arrive in a town called Egilsstadir around midnight. Kate takes over the driving, having nothing to do with the sand incident.

Driving in Iceland at night is scary. There are no lights around, just your car, the road, and the reflective things along the road. Despite the fact that we are driving on the main highway in Iceland, some parts of the road remain gravel, which is sort of refreshing in a way, but not in this context. An occasional glance to either side might find a gigantic creepy mountain, a cliff with a jagged bottom, or any number of other things, not all of which remain still.

It starts to snow a little and the wind begins to whip.


Startled by a random gust of sleet that mysteriously smacks into the windshield out of nowhere. Later described as being similar to a sneeze from an ice dragon. This simply increases the stress of driving at night.


SCREAM at the sight, through the falling snow, of yellow eyes in the middle of the road belonging to a large sheep that had wandered onto the road. Kate sees him just in time to avoid the collision by a generous two feet.

Hold back tears


Arrive safely in Egilsstadir and find a nice place to park and sleep. We both put on about six layers of clothes, fold the back seats down, and try to get some shut eye. This doesn’t work so well, partially because our nerves are still a little shaken, but mostly because it’s freaking freezing.

Decide to screw it all and try driving to Myvatn, a lake in the north surrounded by some cool sights. The plan is to get there, get some rest before the sun comes up, see the sights real early, return the car to Akureyri, and hitchhike back to Skagastrond in the afternoon, as opposed to staying an additional night.

** ~~

It starts to snow pretty good and the wind is a rockin’. Unfortunately, there are no towns between Egilsstadir and Myvatn. But the roads seem fine so slow and steady it is.

** ~~

Turn a corner while ascending a mountainside and drive into an 8-10 inch deep snowdrift that has accumulated on the road. By the time I can stop the car, we have plowed about 40 feet into it. It is too dark to see how much lies ahead. Spend about 20 minutes turning the wheels back and forth, going backward and forward, until the car eventually backs out of the drift. Frustratingly turn around and head back towards civilization.

** ~~

Stop at a gas station along the road and get some actual sleep by turning the car on and heating it up every time I wake up from being too cold.

Wake up and realize that there’s no one around and nothing to do but drive the rest of the way back to Egilsstadir, making the middle of the night drive worthless. Thankfully, however, the sun is up. The night is over.

Arrive in Egilsstadir and ask at the gas station about road conditions. We are told the road should be fine now and head back toward Myvatn. Kate takes over driving again.

Pass the place where the snowdrift was. There is snow on the road but it has been cleared enough for us to get through. We nervously giggle at the realization that a nice cliff was alongside of the road.

Arrive at Myvatn. Check out Haverarond (the purple bubbly mud pots).

Attempt to see some other stuff but decide the roads are too snowy. Drive around a little bit and take some pictures of stuff and decide to head toward Akureyri.

Stop to see Godafoss.

On the way to Akureyri
Notice that the car rental company has a place in Sauderkrokur, which is much closer to Skagastrond than Akureyri. I call them up and sure enough, we can return the car there. No hitchhiking from Akureyri for us. A friend calls us from Skagastrond and says she can pick us up there. Our luck has finally turned.

Arrive in Akureyri. Park and walk around a little while to unwind.

Leave Akureyri and head toward Sauderkrokur.

Arrive in Sauderkrokur. Pack up, clean the car, and wait for our friend to pick us up.

Get picked up by Olafia and head toward Skagastrond.

Arrive in Skagastrond. Attempt to relax but to be completely honest, I think my body goes into minor shock from having a 36 hour adrenaline rush. Eventually unwind and sleep for like 13 hours.

** DWT (Driving While Terrified). Imagine being in a horror flick and driving at night knowing there are zombies outside that want to eat you. This is sort of what it felt like.

~~ DWS (Driving Without Sleep). Simply increases the stress and fear of the situation.


Ólafía said...

sounds like a great trip :)

Starri said...

I will be sure to take you up on your offer next time... I would kill for some DWT - DWS as an early winter thrill :)
Love you drawings man...
say hi to kate, hugs