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Monthly Archives: July 2016

The next morning, May 26th, we had a great breakfast at the Guesthouse Storu-Laugar. It reminded me of the breakfasts that we had on our trip to Norway.

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We thought that we might be able to drive back to Reykjahlíð and Lake Myvatn to look around but the wind had not let up. I watched several guests trying to load their cars without having the doors blow off.

Given the conditions we decided to drive to Akureyri where we would be staying the night. We didn’t stop to take a single photo along the way. When we arrived it was still blowing hard. We stopped at the visitors cente,r located in the new Hof Culture Center, to pick up some information on the area.

We watched the wind blow for a while. We could see out over the fiord which was the landing approach for airplanes flying into Akureyri. It was like watching Air Alaska as the planes slowly crabbed toward a landing.

Since we it was too early to check into the lodging for the night we decided to drive up to Dalvik and look around. It was starting to clear and we had some nice views of the mountains.

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We stopped in Dalvik and took a photo of the harbor and some Red-breasted Mergansers. We stopped and picked up some literature of whale watching tours in town and then headed back to our Airbnb in Akureyri.

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One of the reasons we picked our Airbnb was because it had a washer and dryer. It is almost impossible to find washers and dryers available to the public in Iceland. If it had been up to me I would have used the sink. On one of my first trips overseas I spent 3 months traveling in Europe and my philosophy was wear one wash one. Two sets of clothes was all I needed. Things have changed since I’ve gotten older. Apparently you can get laundry done at hotels or hostels but it costs an arm and a leg.

After dinner we took a walk around town taking a few photos along the way.

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Akureyrarkirkja

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Some of the stoplights in Iceland were a bit interesting. First of all the only place you find stoplights are in the larger cities. In fact, it is difficult to find a stop sign in Iceland. At most intersections you find yield signs. The red on this one was a heart. In another place the green was a smiley face.

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We went back to our Airbnb and booked a whale watching tour in Dalvik for the following morning.

More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.

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When I took these photos of the Algoma Guardian leaving Duluth I had no idea of the dramatic events that had occurred as it entered Duluth Harbor. Duluth experienced a violent storm with 80 mph winds last Thursday. Power was out for large portions of the city for several days and many of Duluth’s beautiful trees were destroyed.

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The Algoma Guardian had just entered the Ship Canal when the storm hit. On the video you can see the wind start to pick up. The ship clocked the top wind speed at 103 mph. The ship started to go sideways in the canal but the captain was able to correct for the wind and make it into the harbor.

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The Duluth Lift Bridge was up at this point and the wind was causing the bridge deck to vibrate violently. Fortunately it came through as well.

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Here is a link to the video of the Algoma Guardian arriving in Duluth during the storm.

We were up early and had a small breakfast at the hostel in Seydisfjordur. It was May 25th and the first leg of our trip would take us back over the mountains to Egilsstaðir. Our scheduled stops for the day were Selfoss, Dettifoss, Goðafoss Namafjall and Myvatn.

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We encountered this small waterfall as we were leaving Seydisfjordur. It would have been great to have more time to explore the area around Seydisfjordur because it has so many waterfalls.

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As we drove up the steep winding road out of Seydisfjordur we passed a group of cyclists heading into the highlands. I’m not sure cycling around Iceland is the best thing to do. The roads are narrow and there are no shoulders on the roads.

There was still a lot of snow in the mountains. There were not many places to pull off and take photos. Fortunately early in the morning there was almost no traffic so we just stopped in the middle of the road and took a few photos.

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As we came back down to Egilsstaðir which is the largest town of East Iceland and its main service, transportation, and administration center for the region. We stopped to take photos of the large forest outside the town. Large is a relative term. It was a large forest for Iceland but nothing like the forest on the farm.

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We stopped at a bakery on our way out of town and purchased some treats to go with our free coffee from the gas station. As we drove toward the highlands along the Jökulsá á Dal River we encountered a number of waterfalls.

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We soon reached the highlands where there was still a lot of snow. There were small ponds where the snow had started to melt and some of the rivers were open in spots. We did spot quite a few Whooper Swans swimming around in small ponds. Unfortunately there was never a place to stop to get a photo.

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In the USA almost every gas station has something to clean the bugs off of the car window. We had been driving for eight days and had yet to find anything to clean the windows with at gas stations. Maybe it was too early in the season because there were not that many bugs out. The red neck solution to the problem was to stop along the road and use some snow to clean off the windows. I should note that we later discovered that many gas stations have an area where you can wash your car for free. Once we found this out we did take advantage of it.

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Our next stop was two of the major waterfalls in northern Iceland. We crossed the bridge over the Jokulsa a Fjollum River before making the turn to Selfoss and Dettifoss.

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On the road to Selfoss we started encountering more snow. When we reached the parking lot it had not been totally cleared of snow and what was cleared was almost full of cars. We had to drive through some snow to find a spot to park. The trail into the falls was covered with deep snow and there were only a few tracks that were packed down. Signs along the trail indicated that there was deep water below the snow so it was best to stay on the trails. To make matters worse it started to rain just as we were leaving to hike to the falls.

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Selfoss was the first waterfall we hiked to. Conditions were not very good. It was raining and the viewing area was limited and photographers had to take turns to get their photos. I managed to get a few shots.

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We then backtracked and walked over to Dettifoss. Conditions were much worse and it was difficult to get any good photos. Clearly this is a place that should be visited later in the summer. Our original plan was to photograph the waterfalls from both sides. Unfortunately the road to the other side was closed. We found out a few days later that access from this side was also closed because of poor trail conditions.

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This was the only day on our 21 day trip that we encountered any rain and this only occurred while we were at the waterfalls. We started to wonder why we spent so much time selecting rain gear and testing it out before we left home. Of course if we didn’t have rain gear it would have rained every day.

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As we left the waterfall area it started to clear and there were some beautiful views of the highlands and the mountains. our next planned stop was Goðafoss. However when we reached this waterfall the weather was not good and the wind was blowing so hard that it was almost impossible to stand up. We decided to keep going to Namafjall.

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When we reached Namafjall the winds were howling. We thought this might be one of the times when the door would blow off of the car. We sat it the car for a little while then took a couple of quick shots of people looking at the geysers.  What appears to be steam blowing in the photo is actually volcanic ash blowing around. We decided to keep going.

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When we reached Reykjahlíð we stopped at the visitors center. They said there were gale warnings out. This was a bit rare for this time of year but occurred several times a week in the winter. Sounds like a fun place to live. Given the weather we decided to drive on to our Laugar where we stayed in a guesthouse.

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Called it an early day because of the weather. It was difficult to unload the car because of the wind. We had a choice of eating at the guesthouse for 6,000 kroner each or driving back to the N1 station. The N1 pizza was very good. We even broke down and purchased a beer.

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The wind continued to blow throughout the night. The whole building shook.

More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.

The Lake Guardian, a great lake environmental research ship, was in Duluth for a Science Friday visit. During the summer the Blue Heron normally docks by the Great Lakes Aquarium and is open to the public. She was joined this week by the Lake Guardian which comes to Duluth periodically.

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One of the items on my bucket list has been to watch the Board Across the Bay paddle board race in Washburn, Wisconsin. We almost didn’t make the trip again this year. A week earlier the Ashland area had a bad storm with 10 inches of rain that washed out some of the key roads. A few days later a bad storm came through Duluth and caused widespread damage. It also went through the Ashland area and folks were still without power in both locations by the weekend. In addition, the weather report for Saturday indicated violent storms by noon with heavy rain and flash flooding. We didn’t want to get caught in a storm. We woke up at 5:30am and checked the weather. It look like it wouldn’t hit before we could make it back to Duluth so we took off for Washburn.

We were a little late in getting started. The mandatory meeting of paddlers was just ending as we pulled into West End Park. I quickly made my way down to the beach to get photos of the participants as they prepared for the start of the races. There were two races taking place. The 14 mile race which went across Chequamegon Bay from Washburn to Ashland and back and a 3 mile race that went up the coast and back.

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We watched the participants take off then we jumped in our car and drove over to Ashland where we were going to watch the start of the 7 mile race from Ashland to Washburn.

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When we arrived at Bayview Beach in Ashland a group of paddlers were carrying a large birch bark canoe down to the water.

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Some of the paddlers were already in the water and starting to loosen up. A second birch bark canoe was put in the lake. The canoers agreed to let the paddle boarders go first so as not to interfere with the start of their race.

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The racers lined up and they were off for Washburn. A short time later the canoes started out.

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I could see some of the participants from the 14 mile race heading toward the beach so we hung around until the first group of them made the turn at the halfway mark. The first one to make the turn was a woman. Three more racers were in hot pursuit.

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After watching the first half dozen racers reach the halfway point we jumped back in the car and headed back to Washburn to watch the participants in the 7 and 14 mile race finish.

While I was waiting I walked out onto the docks and started talking to a woman who worked with the Big Top Big Top Chautauqua. She was keeping her dog entertained while her husband participated in the race. She had just gotten her electricity back after the mid week storm. A house 3 doors down still didn’t have power. Fortunately the winds that had taken down trees in the area went right over the top of the Big Top Chautauqua tent and didn’t do any damage.

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It wasn’t long before the first racers started crossing the finish line. They were participating in the 7 mile race. One of the canoes was racing a paddle border to the finish line. He turned around and paddled across the finish line backwards.

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While I was watching the race I turned around and notice a group participating in a paddle board yoga class.

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A group of geese were swimming along in the middle of the racers. All of a sudden they took flight.

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My wife was meeting a friend at the finish line and we were going to grab lunch before returning to Duluth. When I came off of the docks I noticed she had a cat on a leash. My worst fear was that someone convinced her to take a cat. They did but she was just cat sitting Bugsy. His owner was out on the course racing. Apparently he takes Bugsy everywhere. Normally Bugsy rides with him on the paddle board but not during races. When his owner turned up Bugsy did not appear to be a happy cat because he had been left behind. Photos of Bugsy and his owner finishing the race.

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It was a great day for watching the paddle board race. It got even better when the bad storm that was predicted never materialized and we made it back to Duluth without any problems.

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More photos from Board Across the Bay can be found on my website.

My wife and I took a 21 day vacation to Iceland this spring. I’ve been documenting our experiences in a blog that I publish as I have a chance to look at our photos.

We did not have any particular goal in mind for May 24th, other than reach Seydisfjordur before dark. Not that it gets dark in Iceland this time of the year. The most spectacular part of the drive was along the Djupavogshreppur coast.

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Once again we woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Hofn. We drove over to the grocery store to get something for breakfast and then drove back to the Nyibaer Guesthouse to have breakfast.

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Before setting off for the day we decided to walk along the harbor. Fog and clouds hung over the mountains to the east. It looked like we would be driving into it.

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We headed out to catch the Ring Road driving east before heading north along the east coast of Iceland. These are a few of the views we had early in the morning.

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When we reached Hvalnes Nature Reserve we decided to stop and photograph the clouds hanging down over the mountains.

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As we walked along the black beach we found these flowers growing among the rocks.

 

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Heading north we encountered Iceland’s spectacular eastern coast. Djupavogshreppur has some of the most spectacular scenery you will find anywhere. We spent quite a while driving along the coast. I wish we had allotted more time to explore and photograph this rugged coastline. There was a lot of bird life on this leg of the trip. I only wish we had more time and I had pulled out my birding lens.

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We found this sea stack on a black beach and spent some time walking on the beach. I decided to put on my neutral density filter and try to capture the wave patterns against the black beach.

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This is one of the single lane bridges we encountered on the ring road south of Djúpivogur. It was rare to encounter a two lane bridge in Iceland outside of Reykjavik.

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When we arrived in Djúpivogur we stopped to check out the town and small harbor before driving around the fiord. We came to find it very frustrating driving around fiords. We could usually see the place we wanted to go but it seemed like hours before we actually arrived.

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This was a fish farm we encountered shortly after leaving Djúpivogur.

 

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At Pverhamar we encountered a gravel portion of the Ring Road. The Ring Road continued into the highlands at on to Egilsstaðir.  We decided to branch off on highway 96 and follow it along the coast. We were lucky we did because after a short drive we encountered a small heard of Raindeer.

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After driving around a number of fiords we entered a long single lane tunnel before catching highway 92 into the highlands for Egilsstaðir. There was still a lot of snow. If you look closely at the third photo you can see two pair of ski tracks heading into the snow. The skiers are just dots in the middle of the photo.

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By the time we reached Egilsstaðir it was getting late. We still had to drive over the mountains to Seydisfjordur so we started looking for something to eat. We noticed an N1 gas station and though about getting a hot dog but we discovered they has a veggie pizza so we gave that a try. It was really good.

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After fueling up ourselves and the car we headed over the highlands to Seydisfjordur. As we neared Seydisfjordur we could see it at the end of the fiord far below us.

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As we wound our way down the mountain we encountered Gufufoss Waterfall on the Fjarðará River. It is the largest of over 25 waterfalls on the river between the highlands and Seydisfjordur. It would have been great if we had time to hike along the river to view more waterfalls.

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When we reached Seydisfjordur We checked into the Post Hostel. From our window we could see a beautiful little waterfall in back of the Hostel so we decided to hike up to it. That’s me in the second photo getting some close-up photos of the waterfall.

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On the way down from the waterfall we had a good view of the town and the Danish Ferry that was in port. It runs between Iceland and Denmark with a stop in the Faroe Islands. It was loading a lot of buses as we walked by.

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After viewing the waterfall we decided to walk around town and check out the town. Our first stop was the harbor. There were some beautiful reflections of the mountains and fishing boats.

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Seydisfjordur is a small town so it didn’t take long to walk around. It was fortunate that we ate in Egilsstaðir because there wasn’t much open when we arrived.

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After another long day we headed back to the Hostel.

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More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.

Four of by birdhouses are currently occupied by House Wrens. I walked around the farm photographing them last week. They seem to spend all of their time singing.

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I spend a few days wandering around the Duluth, Minnesota waterfront taking photos of various things. These are some of the photos that didn’t fit into any particular category.

A carnival was at the DECC during the fourth of July week. I happened to walk by in the evening and took a photo just before the rides closed for the evening.

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I’ve always wanted to stand in the road and take a photo of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge as it was going up. I finally had the opportunity.

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It was a foggy morning in Duluth. I happened to be walking along the Lakewalk toward Fitger’s just as the fog was lifting.

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A photo of the Waterfront Plaza Marina.

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Construction continues along the slip for the Pier B Resort. Later in the day we stopped by the Silos Restaurant for lunch. I had by firs Lamb Burger. Probably was thinking of Lamb because of our recent trip to Iceland.

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The Vista Star tour boat approaching the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.

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We happened to be walking along the waterfront and noticed the Tug Kentucky near the Paulucci Building in Duluth’s Harbor. Normally this would ring a bell that a foreign ship would be entering the harbor but It didn’t.

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We walked over by Bayfront Park. When we turned around we noticed that the Aerial Lift Bridge was up and a ship was entering the harbor. It was the Sjard which was heading over to load grain.

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We watched as the Tug Kentucky helped it make the turn in the harbor.

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The Gloriosa Daisies are in full bloom on the farm. I’m not sure why I have these growing in my prairie. What I think happened is I have a cluster of Black-eyed Susan’s planted in the yard. They are all the color of the daisy in the last photo but quite a bit smaller. At the end of the season I cut them back and dump them out in the prairie. I think these came up from seed and when they did they seemed to have taken on different characteristics.

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