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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.

On day three, May 20th, we planned to drive highway 32 east of Selfoss through the Thjorsardalur Valley to Stong Farm and then drive back on highway 26. Hopefully we would find quite a few waterfalls on the trip.

As we drove along paved highway 32 there were some beautiful farms on our left. The farmland was just starting to turn green and the farmers were starting to work the fields. On our right was the Thjorsa River which is the longest river in Iceland with Hekla in the background. Hekla is overdue for an eruption and folks have been told to stay off of the mountain. Apparently the pressure buildup is more than normal and the next eruption could be quite large.

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Our first stop of the day was going to be Hjalparfoss. These are some of the rocky outcroppings along the road to Hjalparfoss.

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The Fossá and Thjorsa rivers join at Hjalparfoss. It was a beautiful waterfall with two falls. Once again it was a beautiful sunny day. Not the type of day I would like for waterfall photography but it is what it is. This is where we met some students from Alabama who were on a quest to find the waterfalls of Iceland.

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Our next destination was Stong Farm. As we turned down the dirt and rock road to Stong Farm we were not certain that we would make it. The road was in rough shape although it improved as we drove along. At the end it was in rough shape again.

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When we drove though the Thjorsardalur Valley things were still brown. Apparently when the vikings settled in the area it was lush and welcoming. However in 1104 Hekla erupted and devastated the area. People continued to live in the valley until the 13 hundreds but five Hekla eruptions finally convinced them to abandon the site.

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We thought there was a trail to some waterfalls up river from Stong but we had problems finding it. After several false starts we finally found the trail and after a short walk we found several beautiful waterfalls.

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Leaving Stong  we continued on highway 32 for a ways then turned off on highway 26 which was a dirt road. We were driving along the plains at the base of Hekla on our left and the Thjorsa River on our right.

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In order to get to the waterfalls we had to turn off on a single lane volcanic ash road. The road wasn’t all that bad but it was slow going. It was well worth the trip to Mount Burfell  and Trollkonuhlaup. We spent quite a bit of time taking photos and looking at the falls. While we were there a small tour group turned up for a brief visit.

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While I was taking this photo I had walked up near the edge of the canyon. As I was placing the tripod on the ground I notice the volcanic ash below my feet was disappearing. I looked down and I was straddling a large crack in the rock. I made a hasty retreat to safer ground.

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We returned to the main road and headed back toward Selfoss. Just outside of Selfoss we crossed over Thjorsa River and noticed a sign for Urridafoss. Since we can’t seem to drive by a waterfall without stopping we decided to stop. By now it was getting late and it was windy and a little cold. Just as we stopped the light came through the clouds highlighting the far shore of the river.

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We finally called it a day and headed back to our Airbnb in Hveragerdi. It was Friday night and there was a lot of traffic on the road. Folks from Reykjavik were heading out to their summer cabins.

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

The next morning we were up early for our first full day in Iceland. As I mentioned earlier we planned to stay in Hveragerdi for several days and take day trips to the sites in the region. On this day we planned to hit some of the major sites on the Golden Circle Tour.

We headed out on the ring road toward Selfoss. Just before Selfoss we turned on highway 36 heading for Thingvellir National Park. We had seen Icelandic Horses along the road but this was the first chance to stop and take a photo of them.

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There was some spectacular scenery along the road as we drove toward Thingvellir including this sod hut.

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Thingvellir is the site where parliament was established in the year 930, and because of this it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. There is also geologic significance, as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates) runs through the park. We were happy to find that Iceland does not charge an entrance fee for its Parks so we drove right in.

Our first stop was Öxarárfoss where we took a few photos of the river and the falls.

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As we walked along the trail through the Almannagja Gorge, where the tectonic plates display their separation, we encountered a number of birds. As an avid bird photographer I was more than happy to take their pictures. The Redwing reminded me of our American Robin. As I watched it it has many of the behavioral traits of the Robin.

Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose

Redwing

Redwing

The water in some of the rifts is so clear you can see the bottom in many places. This is a popular spot for divers. One whole parking lot was reserved for divers to use. As you can see it was mid May and things were just starting to bud out. The second photo shows a popular spot, PeningagJa rift pool, where people throw money into the pool.

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This is a photo of Althing, the open-air assembly representing the whole of Iceland, it was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. Over a two week period each year a year, the assembly met to set laws and settled disputes.

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The Thingvellir Church has a beautiful setting in front of the Rift with the mountains in the background.

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This is a raised platform near the Thingvellir Church. The Althing area can be seen in the background. The area in between would have been filled with people attending the Althing.

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We walked along the trail in the Almannagja Gorge until it finally petered out.

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Thingvellir is situated on the northern shore of Lake Thingvallavatn which is the largest natural lake in Iceland.

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After a lengthy stay at Thingvellir we backtracked and caught the road to the Haukadalur Valley commonly known as Geysir. There is a beautiful new visitors center at the site. Our visit was short. The Strokkur geysir is still active and was blowing off steam but after several visits to Yellowstone this was not all that impressive.

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We moved on to Gullfoss. Gulfoss is a huge waterfall with lots of spray and lots of people wandering around. They have been improving the walkways along the cliffs above the falls. Sometimes it was difficult to get photographs because of all of the people. It was at this point that I concluded that serious photographers probably did their photography at night when it was still light out but when most people were sleeping.

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Every place we stopped my wife took the opportunity to use the restrooms because they were few and far between. Most of them accepted coin and credit cards.

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After our visit to Gullfoss we decided to backtrack and look for Brúarfoss. We had driven past the area where it was located but didn’t see any sign for it. We understood it was a difficult waterfall to find. It is close to Reykjavik so lots of people have summer homes in the area and it was a spider web of unmarked dirt roads. We put the waterfall on our Google Maps and it found it. However, as we drove through the subdivision Google became confused. Apparently the locals with the summer homes would prefer that visitors stay out of the area so no attempt has been made to provide signage. We finally gave up and moved on to another waterfall. The next day we met several young people from Alabama. They were more persistent and after some effort did find Brúarfoss

Our next stop was at a small but beautiful little waterfall called Faxi Waterfall. In this case little is a relative term. It this waterfall were in the Midwest it would be huge. We actually drove past it and had to back track to find it. In addition to the waterfall there are some sheep sorting pens and a small forest.

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It was starting to get late but not dark. Our final stop of the day was Kerio Crater Lake. We hiked up to the rim of the crater and walked around the rim.

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On the way back to Hveragerdi we ended the day where it started taking pictures of Icelandic Horses. There was a summer cabin with some horses in a beautiful setting.

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