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Iceland in winter Day6 Myvatn, boiling mud, and more windy mountain driving
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
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We began the day
 
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by driving around
 
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the crater
 
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and lava filled
 
iceland Pana Day 6
landscape of
 
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Mıvatn.
 
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Like every day on our drive around island
 
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the scenery was something unique
 
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but still contained the black-lava background topped with fresh snow that we'd seen all trip.
 
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We went off the beaten-path to a 4WD road that led
 
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to a little park
 
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we started to walk around in the park, but quickly got too cold and headed back to the
 
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Suzuki
 
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where the icy hill that Ilaria slid us up to get to the park still awaited us (thankfully going down that sheet of ice was less adventurous than climbing it).
 
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crater
 
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crater
 
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crater
 
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We backtracked a little past the hotel we ate at the previous nite.
 
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And headed
 
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around the lake clockwise.
 
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Now Iceland driving veterans, we welcomed the constant snow powder blowing across the road.
 
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And soon
 
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we met our first
 
Iceland sheep
sheep.
 
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Map of Iceland day 6  1
Then we stopped in Reykjahlid for some fuel
 
Iceland hamburger
and a burger.
 
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Don't ask me what the weird mayo replacement is on my burger, but it was pretty tasty.
 
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They also substitute cucumbers for pickles.

Reykjahlid is actually a pretty important place to refuel, because the next place with food and gas is more than 100 km away across one of the least habitable areas on the Ring Road (there are no towns in the mountainous stretch).
 
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We made a stop at Námafjall Hverir,
 
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which was one of my favorite stops on the trip.
 
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This is one of the places where the geothermal activity is right at the Earth's crust.
 
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Similar to Yellowstone National Park
 
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but unlike a typical day at Yellowstone
 
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we were alone in exploring these
 
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boiling mud pots.
 
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I was completely captivated by the mud boiling right in the middle of a snow-filled landscape.
 
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And with Ilaria and I being the only ones there,
 
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it felt like we were exploring a different planet.
 
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This was by far the most bizarre piece of nature I've ever seen in my life.
 
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It was some kinda vent-like thing that had formed; I filmed it for a long time completely baffled by the hissing piece of earth that looked
 
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straight out of Star Wars.
 
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The boiling mud marked the last fun part of the drive for a while, as we learned why no one lives along this 100 km stretch of Iceland.
 
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We crossed this
 
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bridge and were shortly in the worst weather of the trip.
 
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The visibility was similar to when Ilaria was driving on our previous horrible weather day (somewhere between 20 and 70 meters), only it was 3x as far that we had to drive to get out of it. The wind was just something I had never experienced before. I was the lucky driver this time and I couldn't believe how much the wind was pushing the Suzuki around the icy road.
 
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To remind us that this was not a normal way to live and that it really was dangerous, we saw one car stuck on the side of the road and another that had slid on a steeper part of the mountain, flipped upside down, all dented up with shattered windows, and clearly it had happened very recently because there wasn't a drop of snow on the car.

I couldn't imagine living like this; but the thing that amazed me the most were how hard the Iceland road crews worked to maintain the roads at even this shitty condition. Every 50 meters on the road there are yellow markers (you can see one on the right and barely see another two in the distance). When it gets windy/snowy like this those yellow markers are what keeps you alive. You just search for the next marker and when you get close enough to see it, you can make sure you stay on the road. When it gets really windy sometimes one or two of the markers will be missing (I guess they fly away). Out in this worst-of-the-worst conditions, we saw the Iceland road crews pounding new ones back in. It was so windy that they were laying down to keep from drifting all over the place. The snow must have been beating the crap out of them. All of this putting your life at risk to maintain a mobile economy.
 
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After about 40 minutes,
 
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the worst of it was over;
 
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the Icelandic people must be a strong culture to live with this everyday. As a tourist it was a nerve-wracking thrill ride, but as a way of life -- not for me.
 
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When we arrived in Egilsstağir, I felt I'd burned enough energy on the crazy drive to earn one of the most cherished Icelandic delicacies: the bacon wrapped hot dog.
 
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I still find it funny that one of Iceland's most common quick foods is a hot dog from a gas station.
 
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We headed to
 
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Hallormsstağur, which is the largest forested area in Iceland.
 
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Forest aren't really common in Iceland (this is the only one we saw and we had to go out of our way to see it),
 
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but apparently Iceland originally had lots of forests that were removed for lumber and to prepare the land for farms.
 
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The forest also contained
 
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a large
 
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frozen lake.
 
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we really liked these
 
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blue ice chunks.
 
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Then we drove to our farmhouse
 
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in Egilsstağir.
 
Map of Iceland day 6  3
 
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This was a giant farmhouse/hotel that clearly has a lot of visitors in the summer. Ilaria and I had the place to ourselves; the owner was nice enough to allow us to use their fancy commercial-scale kitchen.
 
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A hot pasta was great after the long day.
 
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And a beer as a nite cap. This Kaldi beer gets my award for best-beer in Iceland.