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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Day six , May 23rd, was going to be another long day with scheduled major stops at Vatnajökull National Park, Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.


We were up early the next morning and drove out to for Kirkjugólf (the church floor) so we could photograph it in better lighting conditions. I’m not quite sure why we spent so much time at Kirkjugólf because it is not that impressive. It is a bunch of rocks that appeared to be laid like a floor. It was a beautiful lication early in the morning.


There were a bunch of sheep wandering around. After all Kirkjugólf is located in a farm field. The short trail to the church floor passes Hildir’s Grave Mound.



On our way back to Horgsland for breakfast we decided to stop at the N1 and get gas. Up to this point we had purchased gas at manned stations but in this case it was early in the morning and the station wasn’t open. Unfortunately the instructions were not in English, some stations let you select the language for the instructions but this wasn’t one of them. To make matters worse the credit card did not work and we couldn’t figure out why so we continued on our way back to Horgsland. Just before we arrived for breakfast  a bus load of German tourists came in. It was like locus invading a prime field.



Just after leaving Horgsland we encountered a wasterfall along the road. Unfortunately we couldn’t get really close to Foss a Sidu but it was a beautiful setting.


We only drove a short way when we encountered Dverghammar (Dwarf Cliffs). Our German friends had stopped so we thought we had better stop. Interesting organ like basalt column rock formations like those at the Church Floor. In both photos you can also see Foss a Sidu in the background.



We had just gotten back on the road when we encountered this little unnamed waterfall along the road. We stopped but at this rate were never going to make it to Hofn which was our final stop of the day.

Unnamed-Waterfall East of-Dverghamrar-Iceland-16-6-_2563

Our next major stop was to be Vatnajökull National Park which is about half way between Kirkjubaejarklaustur and Hofn. On the way we stopped periodically to take photos of the surrounding area. At first we passed along a volcanic escarpment. As we continued on we started to see the glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park.



At one point we pulled off after driving over the new Skeidararsandur Bridge. This is a shot of what remains of the old Skeidararsandur Bridge after the a volcanic eruption caused a huge glacial flow down the Skeiðará river. Ice bolders the size of houses and weighing 100’s of tons crushed the bridge.


We turned off onto the road to the visitors center Vatnajökull National Park. Our plan was to spend some time hiking in the park. Some of the trails were closed because of the conditions but the trail to Svartifoss was open. Svartifoss is known for its columnar basalt amphitheater. There were quite a few people hiking to it the day we were there and it was difficult to photograph because of the small viewing area and all of the people.



We decided to circle hike so from Svartifoss  we hiked over the mountain to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint overlooking the Skaftafell glacier and surrounding mountains. On the way we pass this view of an unknown waterfall.



We spent quite a bit of time at the Sjónarnípa overlook. There were a surprising number of hikers at the overlook although not nearly as many as were at Svartifoss. There were some beautiful views of the glacier and surrounding mountains. I managed to get a few close-up photos of the glacier.






The trail up to this point was fairly good but the trail above the glacier leading back to the visitors center was steep and rocky. I’m glad my wife made me bring a hiking pole stick because it came in handy on this portion of the trail. Iceland is not a place you can pick up a hiking stick along the trail.


After finishing our hike we were off to our next destination which turned out to be Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. We passed glacier after glacier on our way to the Lagoon.


Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon is the smaller of two lagoons emanating from the  Vatnajökull glacier. It was almost solid with icebergs that had broken off from the glacier.


Just a short drive down the road is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It is larger and a much more popular destination. As I started looking at the pictures of the Lagoon I realized that my wife spent her time photographing the Lagoon as a whole.



I spent most of my time photographing close-ups. of various things. Ice in the Lagoon, Ice on the shore, and a couple of brave girls standing in the freezing water.




There were about a half dozen Common Elders swimming around in the Lagoon. As we walked along they came quite close to us. It was clearly mating season and the males were giving the mating call. There was, what appeared to be, a pair of Elders with another male showing great interest in the female. It was fun to watch the interaction as we walked along the shore with them.



I was actually a bit disappointed with our visit to Jökulsárlón. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon empties into the ocean through a small inlet. The ice in the lagoon flows out into the ocean then is pushed back onto black sand beaches. This creates a backdrop for some stunning photographs. Unfortunately the tide was coming in and keeping the icebergs in the Lagoon. There were none on the beach to photograph.

We finally arrived in Hofn late in the day.

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

The USCGC Mackinaw was docked in Duluth over the 4th of July. I was hoping that it would be open for tours but it wasn’t. The crew did have a great view of the fireworks from where it was docked.




I happened to be down watching the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. enter the harbor when I took this photo. About 15 minutes later I looked out the window of the condo and noticed the Mackinaw was leaving the harbor. Too bad I miss it.


This has indeed been a strange summer for bird watching at Canadian Hill Farm. About a month ago a Red-headed Woodpecker turned up at my feeder. This was the first one I have seen in 45 years of living on the Farm.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Just before the 4th of July I noticed an American Robin building a nest under my deck. I assumed she was getting ready for the second batch of babies for the summer.  I was gone for the next week.  When I returned, the following week, I noticed that the nest was finished but didn’t really pay much attention. Later in the week I stopped to look in the nest and found two fledglings. One of them flew out of the nest when I approached. I backed off. The next day the nest was empty. I’m still trying to figure out how a robin can build a nest and fledge the babies in two weeks? The only thing I can think of is something happened to the first nest and she built another nest for the fledglings.

American Robin

American Robin

This past week I notice a fledgling sitting on my bird perch by the feeders. It was a bird I didn’t recognize. It was about the size of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the color of a female Grosbeak. It would just sit there and made no attempt to feed at the feeder. Subsequently I noticed it several more times sitting in the same place. I took some photos but wasn’t able to figure out what it was.


Yesterday I noticed it again and this time there were several Grosbeaks at the feeder so when the fledgling started fluttering its wings wanting to be fed I figured a Grosbeak would feed it.


All of a sudden a small bird flew up from the ground and fed it. Turned out the mother was a song sparrow and the fledgling was a Brown-headed Cowbird. The poor little Song Sparrow thought the Cowbird was its baby. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen at the feeders.


Never a dull moment when watching birds.

We got up early, really early, and drove over to Wisconsin Point to watch the sunrise. Sometimes we are lucky and sometimes we are not. This time we were lucky to get a nice sunrise and some interesting clouds.





Notice the fisherman walking out to the lighthouse.



One of my favorite photography locations in the summer is the Duluth Rose Garden. As is usually the case the wind was blowing so all of the shots were hand held. It would be great to be able to photograph the roses with a tripod but so far no such luck.







Late in the evening I noticed some nice color in the sky over Lake Superior so I decided to take a late evening walk along the lakewalk to the harbor entrance. By the time I had reached the lighthouses I noticed the sky had lost some of its color.

North Breakwater Light

North Breakwater Light

As I looked back over the city I noticed that there were some clouds that were just reaching peak color.



I walked from the lighthouses under the lift bridge toward Waterfront Plaza. The clouds had reached peak color over the hills above Duluth. I took several shots of Waterfront Plaza and the surrounding area with the sunset in the background.

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Waterfront Plaza Marina

Water Towers

Water Towers

The sun quickly set so I walked over to Bayfront Park to get some photos of the reflections off of the harbor. There was almost no breeze to interfere with the reflections. The only thing making it difficult was the number of mosquitoes.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

Blatnick Bridge

We were up early on May 22nd, for our first full day driving the Ring Road and our last day in Hveragerdi.  Our major scheduled stops on the day would be Dyrhólaey, Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, Vik and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. This is a photo of the Black Beach of Dyrhólaey with the Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks in the background.


We decided to have breakfast at the Almar Bakari. They have the best coffee I’ve ever tasted and a great selection of pastries and bread. I picked the biggest pastry I could find.


Our goal was to drive from Hveragerdi to Kirkjubaejarklaustur with stops along the way. As I mentioned we had already stopped at some of the major sites on the previous day. This allowed us a little more time as we drove through South Iceland. Just after Selfoss we crossed over Thjorsa River and the waterfall Urridafoss.


We next Stopped at Seljalandsfoss where we spent quite a bit of time the previous day. This was just a bathroom break. Always be prepared.


We drove past the Farm Below Eyjafjallajokull. We would have liked to stop at the museum but it wasn’t open early in the morning.


Yesterday we noticed an old farmstead along the road but didn’t stop. Today we decided to stop at Drangshlid 2 and look around. Apparently this Drangshlid farm is an ancient property and folklore tells us that elves live in the rocks into which the buildings are constructed. There is a place to contribute money for the reconstruction of the old buildings. The newer farm buildings are back off of the road.



After a short drive we passed Skogafoss. There were already quite a few people at the falls.


Our first major stop on today’s drive was Dyrhólaey and the Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve. the major attractions in this are the black beaches, sea arch and the birds. There is also a lighthouse but we decided not to take the time to drive up the long steep road. Looking west you can see the sea arch and black beaches.




Looking east toward Vik there is a beautiful black beach and the Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks in the distance.



After leaving Dyrhólaey we encountered some beautiful farms. Note the black farm buildings. This was a bit unusual. One wonders how they find the buildings during the winter when it is dark most of the time.



Our next stop was Reynisdrangar Beach and the Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks. There was also a good view of Dyrhólaey from the road. We walked along the beach and snapped a few photos. There have been quite a few deaths in this area because people were a little to anxious to capture photos of the sea stacks.



Shortly after our visit someone had to be rescued from these rocks. Apparently they had climbed up and then didn’t know how to get down.


As we left the area we stopped to take a photo of the Reyniskirkja Church and some lambs that were sleeping along the road.



In Vik our first stop was the Vik Church which sits high on a hill overlooking the city. As luck would have it the Lupine was in almost full bloom and provide a beautiful foreground.



We drove down to the beach where we had a view of the Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks and the Vik Church. There was an N1 gas station at the beach so we decided to try our first of many N1 hotdogs. Hotdogs and drinks at N1 stations were relatively inexpensive and quite good.



Heading east out of Vik the land flattened out. There was this one hill along the road. It looked like some hikers were going to attempt to hike to the top.


The next area that we found interesting was a vast area of mossy covered volcanic rocks. We encountered this sight periodically though the rest of the day interspersed with areas of just rock. They were just starting to turn green when as we passed through.




We kept seeing what appeared to be clouds in the distance but as we got closer we discovered it was a sand storm coming down out of the mountains. I noted the sign on the dashboard of the car reminding me that damage caused by sand storms was not covered.


We drove through Kirkjubaejarklaustur and found our guesthouse. Once we checked into our room at the Horgsland Guesthouse, which was in the middle of nowhere. We decided to drive back to Kirkjubaejarklaustur and look for Kirkjugólf (the church floor). Unfortunately the light was not good so we decided that we would come back in the morning when the light was better.

We backtracked west on the Ring Road to the turnoff for Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon where we spent the rest of the evening looking around. There is a trail that follows along the canyon rim . Deep down in the canyon are a number of waterfalls but they were difficult to photograph because of the light. In the spring when the water levels are low you can walk up into the canyon until you encounter the waterfalls.




We returned to Kirkjubaejarklaustur which is basically a couple of gas stations and a roundabout and then continued on to our Guesthouse. This is the setting for the Horgsland Guesthouse and Cottages. This capped off a day of driving through an incredible range of scenery. I don’t think I have ever encountered such a diverse landscape in such a short distance anywhere in the U.S.


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

In the summer one of my favorite places to watch the ships is behind the South Pier Inn. The owners of the South Pier Inn have a beautiful flower garden along the shore. The garden provides a perfect foreground for the ships as they enter the harbor. On this particular day the American Spirit was entering the harbor.

American-Spirit -Duluth-Minnesota-16-7-_1504

American-Spirit -Duluth-Minnesota-16-7-_1514American-Spirit -Duluth-Minnesota-16-7-_1543

American-Spirit Duluth-Minnesota-16-7-_0292

Day four, May 21st, was a day for photographing some of the major waterfalls of Iceland. We planned to drive partway down the ring road then return to Hveragerdi for our last evening in the Airbnb.



In the morning we headed east on the Ring Road to Hvolsvollur. As we entered town I notice a group of horse riders on one of the local trails. Riding Icelandic Horses is a very popular pastime in Iceland. It was fun watching them with very unusual gait. Unfortunately they were moving too fast for me to get a photo. I don’t recall seeing as many horses when driving through the western United States as we saw in Iceland. These horses were just standing in a field probably waiting for the tourist season to get underway.


In Hvolsvollur we stopped at the Saga Center for a lengthy visit. My wife majored in Norwegian and has studied the sagas. I didn’t have a clue as to what was going on and had not realized the Vikings were such a bloodthirsty bunch  among themselves.


After leaving Hvolsvollur we drove northeast on highway 261. We were getting our first glimpse of Eyjafjallajokull which last erupted in 2010 and resulted in serious disruptions of air travel in Europe.


On the way to Gluggafoss we drove by a beautiful church up on a hillside. It appears that most of the churches in Iceland are white with red roofs. In fact, a lot of buildings in Iceland are white with read roofs. Red and white are the colors of Denmark which ruled Iceland for many years. In the Lutheran church, red is the color of blood and fire, signifying sacrifice, while white is the color of holiness, purity, and salvation.


After a short drive we reached Gluggafoss which is a small waterfall just off of the road. There are several other waterfalls along the same escarpment. It was difficult to get a full photo of the waterfall because the upper part of the falls is back in an opening in the rocks.


We encountered some “free campers” at the falls. These are folks that have a small van without toilet facilities and are camping along the road. A beautiful location but there were no toilet facilities at the falls. A serious problem in Iceland.


At Mulakot we caught highway 150 heading south toward Seljalandsfoss. We were fortunate to find fields of blooming Lupine. Lupine was first introduced to Iceland in the first half of the 20th century and was used combat erosion, speed up land reclamation and help with reforestation. Lupine has proved an ideal plant for reclaiming volcanic soil in Iceland.



Shortly after picking up highway 1 we arrived at  Seljalandsfoss. When we arrived the parking lot was almost full. Seljalandsfoss was partially in the shade so we decided to walk down to photograph a couple of smaller waterfalls to the north.


The most interesting one is called Gljúfurárfoss. The water level was low enough so we could walk back into the rocks to a grotto that was formed by the falling water. Because of the large number of people visiting the area we had to wait our turn to enter or all we would have managed to capture would have been people wandering around.


This is a nice little waterfall between Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfurárfoss. I suspect it only runs in the spring.


By the time we finished looking at the other waterfalls Seljalandsfoss was in full sun.


The neat thing about this waterfall is you can follow a trail that leads around the back of the falls. As we found before leaving, when we were testing our gear at High Falls on the Pigeon River in Minnesota, it was much easier for my wife to get photos with her phone camera that it was for me with DSLR because of the large amount of spray. I was constantly wiping off my camera and lens.




After leaving Seljalandsfoss we drove down to Skogafoss. The plan was to take in some of the sites along the Ring Road so we could make better time the next day because we had a long drive from Hveragerdi to Hofn and there was a lot to see. We stopped to look at this farm which is famous because it appeared in a 2010 documentary about the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. the farm was covered in ash by the eruption and at first they didn’t know if they would be able to continue farming. Fortunately the crops came up through the ash and not they not only run the farm but have a museum across the road which has become a tourist attraction.


At Skogafoss there were also large crowds. It was the weekend so you had locals as well as tourists visiting the site. With all of the spray from the falls a rainbow was showing up to the right of the falls. The constant mist also created a lush area around the falls.



We started driving back toward Hveragerdi but stopped along the way to take some photos of the escarpment. The sun was just right taking photos.



When we reached Seljalandsfoss we decided to stop a second time. We were rewarded because there was a beautiful rainbow at the falls. We walked around it a second time. It was difficult to photograph the rainbow because we had to deal with all of the folks wanting to take selfies. It’s really getting frustrating being a landscape photographer when everyone and his brother wants to stand in front of the beautiful landscape and take a selfie.



If I had it to do over I would probably have checked out of the Airbnb in Hveragerdi and stayed someplace fruther south on the Ring Road. As it was we had to drive back to Hveragerdi and then retrace our steps the next day. Keep in mind that the area between Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss is probably best photographed in the afternoon when the sun is on the waterfalls and the escarpment.

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

We stopped at Amnicon Falls State Park to check things out. The water levels were a little low and I didn’t see any photos that I didn’t already have. Just before we left I decided to walk over to Now and Then Falls. I didn’t think there would be any water running but I wanted to see if the remains from some large trees had been removed. They had not been removed but there was a little water running. I decided to get the camera and photograph a small waterfall.




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