A Travellerspoint blog

Waterfalls and Glaciers: Vestmannaeyjar


View Iceland 2021 on zzlangerhans's travel map.

large_Vestmannaeyjar.png

So far things had gone smoothly for us in Iceland. We had accomplished everything I had planned in the first day and a half and we were now proceeding to one of my most eagerly anticipated destinations. Eighteen years earlier I had stood alone atop the dormant volcano Helgafell and seen the most breathtaking view of my life up to that point. With no one to share it with, I resolved to return one day with a family of my own. That moment had now arrived although our late ferry departure meant it would have to wait until the next day. The short ferry ride passed quickly as I braved the sharp wind to watch birds swooping around the uninhabited islets of Elliðaey and Bjarney. The islands are ringed by steep cliffs and each has a single puffin-hunting lodge that is the only sign of human intrusion.
large_IMG_7270.JPGlarge_IMG_7271.JPG

Heimaey is the only inhabited island of Vestmannaeyjar, which is known to English speakers as the Westman Islands. The rocky outcrops surrounding the harbor were like natural versions of the stone forts ringing the port of Valletta, Malta. The twin volcanoes of Eldfell and Helgafell loomed behind the town with the former's enormous crater clearly visible.
large_IMG_20210809_185000.jpglarge_IMG_7278a.JPGlarge_IMG_20210809_185351.jpg

The town seemed larger and more impersonal than on my last visit, but perhaps my memory had faded over time. The sky was overcast and there were few people on the windy streets. I had to drag the large suitcase with its eroding wheels about half a kilometer to our hotel, where our room was mercifully on the ground floor. We only had a short time to unpack and recuperate before walking around the corner for dinner. My first and second restaurant choices were closed on Mondays, but Einsi Kaldi provided us with a solid meal. Our friendly waitress helped address my confusion about the different names I'd heard for the town. Of Vestmannaeyjar, Vestmannaeyjabær, and Heimaey which referred to the archipelago, which was this island, and which was the town on the island? The waitress assured us all the terms were interchangeable and could refer to any of the locations but I think she just wanted to spare us from having to pronounce the longer words. We asked her about eating puffin and she told us it could no longer be found on restaurant menus due to a decline in the population from my last visit. Apparently there's still some limited hunting permitted and she actually called her aunt to bring in some cured puffin breast for us to try. The heavily spiced raw meat wasn't anywhere near as enjoyable as the savory grilled puffin breast I'd enjoyed on my prior visit but at least Mei Ling could say that she'd tried it.
large_IMG_1266.JPG

In the morning we fortified ourselves with breakfast at a no-frills bakery down by the port. According to my weather app it was low 50's, same as every summer day in Iceland, but it felt a lot colder thanks to a biting wind that whistled unimpeded through the low buildings. I knew if we headed southeast to the outskirts of town we would find our way to the base of Eldfell. It wasn't possible for us to miss it - the twin peaks were visible from every spot on the island. Not far from our hotel we passed through the beautifully-landscaped town park. There was a small playground with a colorful trampoline made of a vinyl sheet stretched over trapped air underneath. It was a quite effective piece of equipment and I wondered why I'd never seen anything like it before. Later we would see the same kind of trampoline in half a dozen other towns in Iceland.
large_IMG_7283.JPGlarge_IMG_7287.JPG

As we continued onward the wind grew stronger and more chilling. Thankfully we'd brought and worn our heavy winter coats but I'd decided against the long underwear that day. The islanders obviously took great pride in their small plots of land and many had quite creative arrangements of plants and flowers. I saw a sign for the Eldheimar Museum and we ducked inside more to get out of the cold for a short time than out of any particular desire to see the exhibits. The museum is dedicated to the 1973 volcanic eruption that created Eldfell and buried half the town under a lava field. Due to a series of fortunate coincidences no lives were lost during the eruption and much of the town was spared from incineration by the incandescent material ejected from the volcano. Although Heimaey could easily have been rendered uninhabited like the other islands in the archipelago, the town recovered and thrived and is now more populous than ever. Outside the museum we found an abandoned ball and passed it around for a bit before it was lost over the hillside.
large_IMG_20210810_100056.jpg

Behind Eldheimar we found a dirt path leading up a steep hillside. This was the beginning of the trail to the Eldfell crater. Even though the top of the hill was always in sight, it never seemed to get closer no matter how long we scrambled up through the green scrub. Spenser and Cleo tore off ahead and seemed to have limitless energy while I had to struggle to keep up. I couldn't let them get too far ahead because I didn't really know for sure what we'd find at the top. Warning signs are a rare sight in Iceland. Meanwhile the town below us was gradually beginning to look like it was made out of Lego.
large_IMG_7292.JPGlarge_IMG_7293.JPG

Once we finally clambered over the lip of the hill there was a sudden change in terrain. We were now on a wide platform at the edge of Eldfell crater, about halfway between the upper and lower lips. There was no sign of plant life on the edge, just volcanic gravel with a scattering of larger porous rocks. The northern cliffs, Norðurklettar, formed an imposing green backdrop to the town. They looked tame and surmountable from this angle but I knew from my research that it was one of the more treacherous areas of the island. Looking over the lower lip of the crater I could see the lava field from the most recent eruption, now coated with moss, and the mountains of the peninsula on the far side of the harbor.
large_IMG_7295.JPGlarge_IMG_7305.JPG

.
The beauty of Heimaey was beginning to reveal itself but we were still only halfway up the sloping crater. We could see a few scattered figures walking precariously on the upper edge, and I was weighing whether it was safe and advisable to push on to the top. Mei Ling, Spenser and Cleo took the decision out of my hands by tackling the upward path along the ridge while I was still trying to judge the force of the winds at the top. I had no choice but to chase after them, dragging Ian along with me.
large_IMG_7311.JPG

It would have been tragic if we had called off our ascent at the middle. As soon as we reached the upper edge I was reminded of why I had maintained my desire to return to Vestmannaeyjar for so many years. To the north Bjarnarey's green surface provided a sharp contrast to the volcanic barrenness we were standing on. Behind it the mainland blurred into the ocean so that the glacier Eyjafjallajökull appeared suspended in midair. To the south the lush Stórhöfði peninsula projected into the ocean and beyond that just a few rocky islets broke the serenity of the watery expanse. I pointed out to the kids how the wind created waves and ripples in the grass on Helgafell that made it seem like water. It's difficult to find words to describe the complexity of the exhilaration I felt at the ridge above the crater. It was a simultaneous awareness of the heights of the world's beauty, the constant struggle of living things to adapt to and overcome the environment, and the cruel indifference of our planet to the life that makes it unique in the known universe. The wind was frighteningly loud and gusty but never threatened to push the kids off their footing.
large_IMG_7313.JPGlarge_IMG_7310.JPG

.

We spent some time exploring the upper rim but there really wasn't much to do except gape at the views and examine some of the larger blocks of tephra from the eruption. I realized that there was no way we'd be able to walk to the end of Stórhöfði as I had planned. It was much further than I had remembered, and there was probably more to see if we walked north. On the descent I regretted not wearing my hiking boots as my knees kept twisting on the loose lava. We tried to find a trail that would take us directly through the lava field but eventually we gave up and followed the road to Gaujulundur, a whimsical garden carved out of the lava field a few years after the eruption. Besides hundreds of varieties of local plants, the garden contains elf houses and a miniature windmill.
large_IMG_7323.JPGlarge_IMG_20210810_123637.jpg

Here we found a walking path towards town that allowed us to enjoy some waist-high scrub and an overlook with views of the harbor channel. Some kind of quarrying operation was taking place at the water's edge but it didn't detract from the beauty of the ocean as it slipped serenely between the peninsula and the mainland.
large_IMG_7325.JPGlarge_IMG_7326.JPGlarge_IMG_7333.JPG

A few hours after departing town from the south we re-entered it from the east, close to the port. We ate at the popular restaurant next to our hotel which was awful, the first bad meal we had had in Iceland. We still had a couple of hours to kill before our ferry departure so we went to the Sæheimar Aquarium, which is also a beluga whale sanctuary. I'd been warned that the belugas were sometimes away in open water and there was very little else to justify the high admission price, so I was careful to ensure that they would in fact be present before we went inside. They were indeed there and very interactive with the humans they could see through the glass wall of the enclosure. It was my first time being up close with these beautiful and graceful animals and I was glad we had chosen to stop by. The only other part of the aquarium worth noting was a puffin rescue center with just one occupant. I'm not sure if he was a recent rescue or one of the permanent inhabitants they get from time to time.
large_af694760-0c1d-11ec-bc1e-f9eeb21ef9ea.JPGlarge_IMG_20210810_144608.jpg

We had spent less than half an hour in the whale sanctuary and still had time to kill. We followed the road past the port to the northwestern corner of town which was an industrial area with a strong odor of fish. We scrambled up a low wall and a grassy bank and we found ourselves at the foot of the northern cliffs. I was instantly wary because I had already researched this area and concluded it was far too dangerous for us to climb in. From one cliff we found a rope that the locals used for practicing spranga, the island sport of rappelling. Mei Ling and Cleo still seemed to have inexhaustible energy and took off up the steep grassy slope with Spenser not far behind. I really didn't want them to climb all the way up to the ridge and I didn't feel like chasing down the kids so I implored them to stop halfway up. Thankfully they acquiesced and turned their attention to following around some bemused sheep. After five or ten minutes of that it was time to head down to the terminal and catch our ferry back to the mainland. It had been an extremely productive day of hiking and although we hadn't explored the island completely I felt I had kept the promise I made to myself almost two decades earlier.
large_ce9db8d0-0c51-11ec-a40e-534056b3ac00.JPGlarge_IMG_7347.JPGlarge_IMG_20210810_155120.jpg

Posted by zzlangerhans 00:09 Archived in Iceland Tagged road_trip tony family_travel travel_blog westman_islands tony_friedman family_travel_blog Comments (0)

Waterfalls and Glaciers: Selfoss to Landeyjahöfn


View Iceland 2021 on zzlangerhans's travel map.

large_731680b0-0aac-11ec-b3b7-7ddc1e222953.png

Selfoss is an idyllic small town that sits on the bank of the Ölfusá river, nor far from where it empties into a wide estuary on the southern coast. Although well short of ten thousand people, Selfoss is the largest town on the south coast and the fourth largest in all of Iceland (if all the municipalities of Reykjavik are lumped together). Selfoss is the only significant town that sits on a river and the town is clearly proud of the distinction, with most of the major commercial establishments arranged along the riverside thoroughfare of Arvegur. I wish I could say we stayed in a fashionable abode with a view of the water, but our Airbnb was a pokey converted garage set several blocks back from the river.
large_IMG_7239.JPGlarge_IMG_7238.JPG

As tempting as the meager twin beds appeared after a day and a half of sleep deprivation, we forced ourselves to unpack for the first time and get our gear sorted. The top restaurant in town was undoubtedly Tryggvaskáli, situated in a renovated 19th century house filled with antiques. The crowded first floor provided immediate validation of my strategy of making dinner reservations for the entire trip. I gave my name and we were immediately escorted to one of the private dining rooms upstairs where we had a solid meal which included horse tenderloin. If I hadn't known better I would have thought I was eating beef. As is common in Iceland the bill was paid at the front desk. When I arrived a man with a Spanish accent was demanding to leave a tip even though the waitress told him it wasn't necessary. It seems with every year that the American custom of tipping is becoming the default for the rest of the world, even in countries that generally want no part of it. Iceland in particular doesn't subscribe to the practice but here was a customer who wasn't even American himself pushing a tip on his server. Eventually she laughed and told him she wouldn't refuse it which seemed to satisfy him. I'm a committed 20% tipper in the United States, but only for the specific reason that certain service workers are underpaid with the expectation they will make up the difference in tips. In most of the rest of the world those service charges are included in the prices so it is silly to duplicate them. Americans still believe they are demonstrating their exceptional generosity by tipping in Europe, but they would laugh at a tourist in the United States who tried to give a tip to a supermarket cashier or a clerk at an electronics store.
large_IMG_7234.JPG

On the way back to our car we detoured for a closer look at the elegant grey and white town church Selfosskirkja, sitting serenely at the edge of the Ölfusá. It was a peaceful conclusion to a very exhausting day and a half that had begun with a frantic near-catastrophe at the Miami Airport and had taken us through two plane flights and an adventure-filled drive through just one tiny segment of the fascinating country that would be our home for the next two weeks.
large_IMG_20210808_204405.jpglarge_19ef58c0-09f0-11ec-be5e-1f52e6bc31e8.JPG

I anticipated that the kids would wake up at some unholy hour of the night during jetlag, but all three of them and Mei Ling slept blissfully until the morning. It was actually I who awoke at 1:30 in the morning despite having been awake for thirty-six hours before finally putting my head on the pillow. I knew this meant I would have a second exhausting day but I was wide awake with no chance of going back to sleep. I used the time to review our itinerary for the next two days and also caught an early e-mail from the horseback riding tour we were scheduled to meet up with in the morning. They wanted to know if we could change from 9 AM to 1 PM because of some conflict they had. I didn't really like to disrupt our tight schedule but I try to accommodate people as much as I can when they ask a favor. I figured we could still make our ferry to Vestmannaeyjar if we drove straight there after riding. That meant we wouldn't be able to visit the swimming pool at Hella but that hadn't been a very high priority stop in the first place. Instead we could drive a short way back west towards Reykjanes and visit the Raufarhólshellir lava tunnel, which I had previously planned on seeing when we did the Golden Circle at the end of the trip. By the time everyone else had woken up I had reorganized our day. After a buffet breakfast at one of the hotels on the river we headed south towards the coastal road. As soon as we reached the coast we saw a pretty little village wedged between the road and the coastline. This was Eyrarbakki, once a major trading port but now a very modest fishing village. We had a little extra time so we pulled off the road and drove down the single main street admiring the colorful houses and the stately church in its own little square.

Raufarhólshellir is one of the better known lava tubes in Iceland, partly because it is one of the largest and also because it is easily accessible from Reykjavik for day trippers. For our guided tour we got to wear helmets with lights, which was exciting for the kids and frustrating for us as we kept having to escalate our threats to keep them from constantly clicking through the different brightness settings. A gravel path led to an ominous hole in a lava field which permitted our group's descent into the underworld.
large_IMG_7258.JPGlarge_IMG_7250.JPG

The cave was a good choice for us as it required a little bit of clambering to reach the metal walkway but nothing too strenuous, and there were no tight squeezes or areas of danger. The walls of the spacious tube had an intriguing jagged and rocky composition, almost as though they had been constructed by a giant gluing boulders together. Deeper inside some of the walls had a smoother, grooved surface testifying to the passage of lava centuries earlier. We had chosen the standard one hour tour but there is also an option for a more rigorous four hour tour which requires significantly more climbing and navigation of tight spaces. Our kids were nowhere near the minimum age of twelve so this was never a consideration for us, and it remains to be seen if we'll be up for that kind of adventure in five or six years.
large_IMG_7257.JPGlarge_IMG_7254.JPG

We had to pass back through Selfoss on the way to horseback riding so we decided to eat at Mjólkurbúið Mathöll, a food hall in the center of town that we'd accidentally discovered the previous evening while walking to our dinner restaurant. The operation occupies an old dairy building and is part of a major renovation of the center of town that was ongoing at the time of our visit. It was a small food hall with only six or seven restaurants but still quite impressive for a town the size of Selfoss, and quite busy as well. We had Thai food along with some skyr, a cultured dairy product similar to yogurt that has been a part of Icelandic cuisine since medieval times.
large_IMG_7232.JPGlarge_IMG_7233.JPG

Horseback riding is a very popular activity for travelers in Iceland mainly because of the small stature of the horses, their friendly dispositions, and their flowing manes. It's common for travelers to feed horses close to the Ring Road much to the annoyance of farmers. Our riding experience was with Riding Tours South Iceland on a small farm called Syðra Langholt. It was the prototypical Icelandic farm with bales of hay rolled into white coverings like giant marshmallows on the pastures. I was a little nervous about the trip because on our last attempt in Belize a few months earlier Spenser had been too afraid to go through with the ride. It hadn't mattered because Mei Ling had taken his spot and Spenser had hung out with me at the barn, but this time all five of us were planning on riding together. I spent the minutes before we got on the horse building up his confidence and the guides were very patient with him as well. They taught us how to control the horses with the reins, although I think it was an illusion as our horses generally followed the lead of the guides. The only exception was that since our pace was slow they would frequently stop to chew on some favorite grasses and weeds. The kids were also impressed by the volume and duration of flatulence a couple of the horses emitted on the trail. It was a pleasant experience although Mei Ling and I were mainly in it for the kids and our butts were pretty sore at the conclusion of the experience. Spenser finished his ride despite some initial anxiousness and was quite pleased with himself.
large_IMG_20210809_141842.jpglarge_IMG_7261.JPGlarge_IMG_20210809_141627.jpg

We finished horseback riding half an hour later than scheduled which meant there was no way we'd be able to make our scheduled ferry to Vestmannaeyjar. This seemed unlikely to be a tragedy since the boats left every couple of hours and there didn't seem to be any problem with space, especially as we weren't planning on bringing our car. I confirmed this by calling ahead and they assured me there was plenty of room on the later departure, although I would have to wait until I arrived physically to change the ticket. That gave us an additional hour and a half which I hoped to spend at the Lava Centre, but when I checked the hours online I saw a very early closing time of four o'clock. The earliest we could make it there would be a few minutes before closing. I had no other plan except to wait at the ferry terminal but fortunately I let Mei Ling convince me to drive to the Lava Centre anyway. When we arrived we learned that four o'clock was just the time they played their last movie and that visitors could stay until five. As usual Mei Ling had made the right call. The admission price was pretty steep but the Centre had glowing reviews online so we decided to go ahead with it. The exhibit turned out to be pretty small with just one or two interactive features. The part my kids enjoyed the most was a video timeline of Iceland's formation that could be advanced or reversed by spinning a giant wheel. On the roof there were placards explaining the different volcanos that were visible on the horizon. Overall I would say the Lava Centre definitely wasn't worth the price of admission but it was better than sitting in the lobby of the ferry terminal.
large_IMG_7263.JPG

The ferry to Vestmannaeyjar usually sails from the port Landeyjahöfn which sits on the closest part of the southern coast to the island, in which case the ride is about forty minutes. In times of bad weather, which is much more common in the winter, the ferry sails from the small town of Þorlákshöfn at the base of the Reykjanes peninsula and takes almost three hours. I can only imagine what a miserable experience that must be on a rolling ocean. Fortunately luck was on our side and the seas were calm when we arrived at Landeyjahöfn. It was clear we had arrived at the right place from the large puffin statue at the turnoff from the Ring Road. We had to sort our belongings in the parking lot to avoid bringing both large suitcases to the island while being careful not to leave behind anything essential. I changed the time of our departure after paying a tiny fee and soon enough we were shoveling our kids and belongings onto the ferry. After eighteen years I was finally making good on my promise to return to Vestmannaeyjar.
large_IMG_20210809_165641.jpglarge_IMG_1254.JPG

Posted by zzlangerhans 15:58 Archived in Iceland Tagged road_trip family_travel travel_blog selfoss reykjanes tony_friedman family_travel_blog raufarhólshellir lava_centre icelandic_horses Comments (0)

Waterfalls and Glaciers: Arrival and Reykjanes peninisula


View Iceland 2021 on zzlangerhans's travel map.

2021 has been a wild year so far for our family in many ways. After not traveling at all in 2020 due to COVID we've overloaded our plate this year with spring break in Belize and not one but two huge summer trips. For the first we were able to thread the needle with a month-long road trip in the American Southwest that ended just before the delta wave of COVID crashed into the United States. We were exhausted on our return and had to decide quickly if we were going to cram another trip into the tail end of summer vacation. It seemed fateful that Iceland, one of our most desirable targets, had recently relaxed their entry restrictions and we would now be able to enter the country without any quarantine as long as we were fully vaccinated with negative pre-departure tests. Our small children had no requirements at all. Our only other choice was Alaska and we were ready for a dose of a different culture that only another country could provide. Painful as it was to abandon the comforts of home so soon, I nevertheless got hold of a Lonely Planet for Iceland and went to work. I quickly realized that it's not easy to book accommodations in Iceland three weeks in advance. I was able to find a place at every stop I wanted but at one remote location I had no choice except to put down a non-refundable payment of over $700 for one night. The other accommodations were generally quite expensive as well, partly because there's almost no Airbnb/Vrbo presence in Iceland outside of the capital. Whether that is because of the sparse population or government restrictions I don't know. The cost of our two week 4WD SUV rental was over $5000 as well and that was with a local Icelandic outfit called Lotus. The international brands were considerably more expensive. This two week trip was going to cost us more than our month in the Southwest, even excluding the airfare difference.

The choice of Iceland wasn't based purely on word-of-mouth and impulse. I'd been there alone on a brief visit almost twenty years previously and only seen Reykjavik and the island of Vestmannaeyjar. I'd especially loved the island and clearly remembered standing atop a mountain there looking down at the only village and the surrounding islets, vowing to myself I would one day return when I had someone with whom to share this indescribably view. I now had four of those people in my life and I eagerly anticipated returning to that island. I was also excited about finally driving the legendary Ring Road and seeing all the natural wonders that are near it, as well as the myriad opportunities for family adventure that Iceland provides. I created a two week itinerary that covered the entire Ring Road with enough time to experience all of Iceland's more accessible adventures. The only regions excluded were the Westfjords, which would have required another two or three days, and the Highlands which seemed too risky and strenuous for the kids. Realizing how difficult it had been just to arrange accommodations, I had taken the extra step of making restaurant reservations for almost every night of the trip as well. Being forced to scrounge for dinner at a gas station convenience store would have been a lousy way to end an exciting day of travel.

large_bf6f93f0-0478-11ec-bed4-8bf43ab0fa1a.png

Our trip to Iceland was almost over before it began. We packed two days in advance and carefully reviewed our checklist. I even remembered the binoculars I had forgotten to take to the Southwest. We arrived at the Delta check-in desk with our passports and COVID tests in hand and the agent asked us about our vaccination records. I had kept mine in my wallet ever since it was first issued, but I saw a stunned look come over Mei Ling's face. This was the first time we'd needed vaccination in order to travel and she'd never thought to take the card out of her folder in the filing cabinet. We had a little more than an hour to departure, nowhere near enough time to take an Uber back to the house. The only person at the house was Mei Ling's mom who didn't know how to drive or even text us a picture of the card. Mei Ling started frantically calling her friends and found someone on the third call who was available. Meanwhile the gate agent was on the phone and confirmed we needed the actual card to get us through screening in Iceland, not just a photo. I simply could not conceive how someone could drive to our house, find the card in the filing cabinet, and bring it to the airport in time for our flight. Taking the flight to Iceland without proof of vaccination was not an option. We were almost certain to get quarantined in a grim hotel for the first five days of our fourteen day trip which would have been worse than just staying home. Meanwhile Mei Ling was unable to contact her mother because she was napping in Spenser's room and had left her phone on the other side of the house. Mei Ling's friend arrived about ten minutes later to a locked house with no one answering the bell. Here our luck finally started to turn. Spenser's bedroom is at the front of our single-story house and I was able to direct our helper to the window facing the front yard. Mei Ling's mom must have had the shock of her life to be awoken by banging on the window. When she came to the front door she finally picked up her phone and Mei Ling explained to her what was going on. Then I had to guide Mei Ling's friend to my office, to the correct filing cabinet, and then to the actual folder. The next moment of despair came when she emptied Mei Ling's medical folder onto my desk and the vaccination card wasn't there, followed shortly afterwards by a return to exhilaration when she found it in the adjacent folder. We now had forty minutes until departure and our check-in agent had very patiently waited for us for about twenty minutes. The card had been retrieved but our home was twenty-five minutes from the airport under the best of conditions. We decided that I would take the kids through security while Mei Ling waited for her friend at check-in. The agent weighed and tagged our bags and stored them behind the counter pending the arrival of the vaccination card. I'd been through so many cycles of despondency and elation in the last half hour that I was almost numb. Even though we were in a much better position than when we first realized Mei Ling hadn't brought her card, I still couldn't see how we would make our flight. I'd put so much work into organizing every step of our trip and now our itinerary would have to be cut short if there was even space for us on a flight in the coming days. We shuffled along on the way to the TSA desk and then after what seemed an impossibly brief period of time Mei Ling ran over with vaccination card in hand. It couldn't have been more than twenty minutes since her friend had been in our house. I still have no idea how she managed to get to the airport so quickly but somehow the universe just seems to flex in all the right ways when Mei Ling needs help. Amazingly our flight was departing from the very first gate after we got through security. We arrived just as people were starting to line up to board without even suffering the indignity of a mad rush through the airport. I planted myself in my seat in a state of complete shock, my head spinning as I contemplated the emotional roller coaster we had experienced over the last hour. It was time to put the trauma out of mind because we were now embarking on the first leg of our trip to Iceland and it seemed that we had skirted disaster. Just to keep our karma in good shape Mei Ling Zelle'd a solid tip to the check-in agent who had let us occupy his station for half an hour while we frantically dealt with our self-inflicted wound. The funniest part was that this wasn't even the first time we had come so close to missing an entire vacation. Four years ago we forgot to renew Cleo's passport and Mei Ling conducted a Jedi-like act of persuasion on the supervisor at check-in that got us on a flight to Mexico.

Iceland is a relatively easy journey from Miami but it requires a connection through NYC or Boston. Red eyes are a good option for us because Mei Ling and the kids sleep pretty well on planes, allowing us to start fresh in the morning rather than arriving exhausted. The flip side of that is that I can rarely sleep at all on a plane and I do most of the driving. I've discovered from experience that my long years of working overnight combined with the adrenalin of kicking off a road trip are enough to keep me active and alert through that first day as long as we don't try to push ourselves too late. Mei Ling and I wore N95's under our cloth masks on the way to NYC and then relaxed our precautions a little on the international leg, figuring virtually everyone on that flight had both been vaccinated and recently tested negative (with the exception of the kids). At the baggage carousel we had to endure one final episode of suspense as our suitcases failed to appear after almost every other passenger had moved onward. Had the gate agent remembered to load our checked bags onto the carousel or had he left them at the desk? Mei Ling had been so consumed with the vaccination card that she hadn't paid attention. Then our bags popped out together at the top of the ramp and we could finally breathe again.

Although Iceland's international airport is often referred to as being in Reykjavik, it is actually located near Keflavik at the end of the boot-like Reykjanes peninsula forty-five minutes drive from the capital. We picked up our rental, a Kia Sportage 4WD SUV, from Lotus Car Rentals without incident. There was a GPS that came with the car but we were able to use Google Maps for the entire trip without any difficulty. Google Maps is always the best choice when it's working because GPS is very difficult to use without a street address, and canyons and waterfalls rarely come with street addresses. Years ago we encountered lots of problems using Google Maps in Europe but the app has come a long way since then and in Iceland it was almost infallible. We stopped at the first gas station we came to for a snack and a Siminn prepaid SIM card. For a little over twenty bucks I got 5GB of data and 50 minutes of call time which proved to be more than adequate over our two week stay. It was a major price improvement over the $140 it would have cost me to roam my iPhone, and I had the best network for rural areas. I don't know what coverage would have been like with roaming but with Siminn I only lost service when we were out on a glacier. There were no activation annoyances either. I switched the SIM cards and my phone was immediately up and running.

large_b07b2490-0793-11ec-884f-37e95548e8dd.png

The Reykjanes peninsula gets ignored by most travelers who are rushing to either Reykjavik or the Ring Road, but sometimes the least visited places turn out to be the most interesting for us. As soon as we left the airport area we found ourselves in a completely unfamiliar landscape. The ground was uneven and rocky with patchy areas of long grass. It was clear we were driving over land that was in various stages of evolution after volcanic eruptions. On our way to our first planned stop we saw cars pulling into a small parking lot by the side of the highway. On instinct I followed them even though our scheduled visit to the Blue Lagoon didn't leave us much time. A path led to a shallow chasm traversed by a metal footbridge, and I immediately recognized we were at the Bridge Between Continents. This is one of several locations in Iceland where one can observe the meeting of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The bridge spans the two plates and a popular activity is to toss a football across the chasm from one continent to another.
large_IMG_7165.JPG

.
At the heel of the Reykjanes boot are the cliffs of Valahnúkamöl. This area contains some of the peninsula's most dramatic scenery. A side road from the highway took us first past the hill topped by the Reykjanes lighthouse, which was surrounded by flocks of circling and swooping Arctic terns. We drove slowly to avoid the birds which flew low around the car and even paced on the road in front of us. Other drivers clearly hadn't afforded them the same courtesy as there were several squashed birds on the asphalt.
large_PAOTE6232.JPG

Next to the parking area was an incongruous statue of a solitary great auk, a flightless species that once frequented the area but was hunted to extinction. Close to the shore was the tiny islet of Eldey, a bizarre-appearing rock that looked like it had been cleaved obliquely with a giant sword. The slanted facet facing us was patterned with long white stripes of guano. The cliffs were jagged and daunting, tantalizingly hilly and climbable from the landward side but then ending in abrupt precipices. I couldn't deny the kids their first opportunity for a real scramble but it was quite unnerving trying to keep between all three of them and the seaward side of the cliffs.
large_IMG_7176.JPGlarge_IMG_7173.JPGlarge_IMG_7174.JPG

One popular attraction that almost everyone visits on the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon, a man-made spa filled with cloudy, sky-blue water that is ideal for Instagram posturing. Although the water enjoys a reputation for being beneficial to the skin, most patrons would probably be horrified to discover that it is actually the discharged water from a geothermal power plant that has been directed into a hollowed out lava field. The water acquires its unearthly and photogenic color from dissolved silica and blue algae. After the lagoon started becoming popular among locals the site was expanded and upgraded to make it more amenable for visitors and it has now become one of the crucial boxes to check for international visitors. The admission prices vary by demand but typically range from $60-76 for the most basic package which only provides a towel and one free drink. Children under 14 are free which was nice for us. We had booked well in advance to get a lower price and to be sure to get the time slot we needed. I hadn't planned on eating at the Lava Restaurant at the lagoon since it had a reputation for being overpriced and uneven on quality, but when we arrived we were starving and the restaurant was almost empty. We ordered the Icelandic standards of cod and grilled lamb and were quite pleased with the food. Afterwards we spent about an hour in the pleasantly warm water wading around and getting our free silica masks, which were a lot easier to put on than to wash off.
large_IMG_7178.JPGlarge_IMG_7181.JPGlarge_IMG_20210808_132313.jpg

.
Our next stop was the geothermal area Seltún, positioned conveniently right by the road and traversed by a well-maintained boardwalk. Although we would see more impressive hot springs and mudpots later in our journey, this was the first time the kids had seen anything like it. They were even more amazed that the earth could produce a sulfurous stench more intense than the most noxious flatulence any of them had ever emitted. There are opportunities for more extensive hikes in Seltún but we opted for the simple walk along the boardwalk and then took a dirt footpath back to the car. Across the road was a pond that was bright blue with algae and an abandoned farm with graffitied silos.
large_IMG_20210808_152527.jpglarge_IMG_7214.JPGlarge_IMG_7205.JPGlarge_IMG_7209.JPG

Just a few minutes drive north is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula. The water was an amazingly deep shade of blue that contrasted with the surrounding black sand beach. As we approached an enormous flock of white birds rose from the beach in synchrony, swirled in the air, and departed.
large_IMG_20210808_154252.jpg

By now we had checked off all our planned sights on the peninsula and we were ready to drive inland to our Airbnb in Selfoss. I saw that Google Maps was directing us all the way to Reykjavik to pick up the Ring Road when there seemed to be a perfectly acceptable shortcut via Highway 417. We decided to take the shorter route but after just ten minutes we found that the highway was completely closed in both directions. Before we turned back we noticed a car emerging from a small parking area next to the barricade. We pulled into the now-empty area and saw a sign indicating we were near the Leiðarendi Lava Cave. We followed a gravel path from the parking area into the lava field by the highway. We had already seen a few of these lava fields from the road but it was totally different to walk through the middle of one. The lumpy basalt was covered in patches of thick spongy moss as far as the eye could see. The dark grey rock that was still exposed was a patchwork of lichen in white and tan. In the background were steep hills with the characteristic striped pattern caused by flows of black volcanic sand over the green carpet of grass at the base.
large_IMG_7225.JPGlarge_IMG_7224.JPG

Most lava tubes form when the outside of a lava flow cools and solidifies while the hot lava underneath continues to pass through. If the flow is fast enough the deep magma will pass through and leave an empty space behind. Iceland has many lava tubes, some of which are vast and highly popular as tourist attractions. Leiðarendi isn't one of the most famous but it seems to be fairly well-known. We arrived at the opening of the tube and I clambered down into the small entrance chamber. I couldn't see to the back and my cautious nature inhibited me from trying to proceed any further. I didn't even have a flashlight, let alone a helmet or any familiarity with the cave so it was probably a wise decision not to push onward. We made our way back through the lava field and charted out our new route to Selfoss.
large_ef620c40-0857-11ec-b795-63215ea1c818.JPGlarge_IMG_7221.JPG

Posted by zzlangerhans 23:15 Archived in Iceland Tagged iceland family_travel reykjanes tony_friedman family_travel_blog Comments (0)

A Southwestern USA Expedition: St. George & trip conclusion


View Southwest USA road trip on zzlangerhans's travel map.

large_3da69310-8f82-11ec-8b9e-b9bcefa276f8.png

I had never heard of St. George but we needed one last place to spend a night between Zion and Las Vegas. St. George was big enough to have some decent restaurants and there were a couple of interesting things to do in the morning, and that was all we needed. Our Airbnb was in the residential suburb of Ivins west of town. The parkway that connected the cities was regularly interrupted by traffic circles containing landscape installations with marvelous sculptures with western themes. The Airbnb was on a quiet street with small, utilitarian houses that had gravel yards and an interesting mixture of palms and evergreens. A red massif provided a formidable background to the end of the street. The 117 degree temperature when we arrived in the late afternoon was the highest I had ever experienced by far. I was anxious enough about it that I made sure to have the house door unlocked and then hustled the kids straight from the interior of the car to the interior of the house in less than ten seconds. I don't know if I expected them to burst into flames spontaneously but it felt like walking through a gauntlet of ovens that had just been opened. I commemorated the occasion with a photograph of the thermometer on the front porch.
large_IMG_0413.JPGlarge_IMG_6993.jpgIMG_6985.jpg

We cowered indoors until the sun began to go down and then ventured out to dinner in St. George. We had a hankering for Asian food now that we were back in a real city but the highly-rated Korean restaurant we chose turned out to be a dispirited cafeteria-style place where we ordered and received our food at a window. It was still quite good so it felt like a success, and then we drove to a restaurant on top of the huge bluff on the west side of town for dessert and the view. Even though it was dusk it felt like we were being slowly baked in the heavy, torrid air on the patio. We could see the entire expanse of the city in the flat valley surrounded by a ring of buttes. Most of the buildings were just one or two stories tall with the exception of a solitary church-like structure that glowed gold in the dusk. I made a mental note to look it up and discovered later it was the city's Mormon temple.
large_IMG_6989.jpglarge_IMG_6991.jpg

In the morning it was substantially cooler, although the temperature still hovered around the century mark. We decided to play it by ear and see as much as we could around town, knowing that it would be unbearable outdoors after noon. The entire northern side of St. George is defined by a large protected expanse called Red Cliffs National Conservation Area which is filled with scenic wilderness and trails for hiking and biking. It's not a bad place to have on one's doorstep. At the southern edge of the conservation area adjacent to the town is a more orderly section called Pioneer Park which is filled with natural red rock formations to explore and also contains a unique botanical garden called Red Hills Desert Garden. The garden was created from a featureless area of arid red desert in 2014 and displays countless species of cacti and other water-efficient plants in a well-manicured plot with its own stream and a replica of a slot canyon.
large_IMG_6994.jpglarge_IMG_6998.jpglarge_IMG_7004.jpg

Next door at Pioneer Park we found a safe-looking chunk of rock to scramble up. As always in the southwest I was amazed by the prioritization of naturalness over safety, not that I objected to it. I kept a watchful eye on the kids as there were numerous wide fissures on the rocky surface and it wasn't easy to tell the difference between a change in grade and a drop-off. We had no protection from the sun here and the heat quickly became uncomfortable so it wasn't too hard to convince the kids to head back to the car.
large_IMG_7005.jpglarge_54c52e90-89b4-11ec-a8cf-2b17218eba8e.jpglarge_IMG_20210711_100039.jpg

The outdoor portion of our morning was essentially completed by ten. Anything else we did in St George would consist of hustling between air-conditioned environments. The other area of interest to us was a neighborhood called Kayenta in the northwest corner of Ivins. The Kayenta Art Village is an aggregation of interesting galleries with fascinating collections of southwestern sculpture, paintings, and photography. It also contains one of St. George's most celebrated lunch restaurants, Xetava Gardens Cafe. We browsed the galleries and chatted with some artists while we waited for the restaurant to open. The restaurant was designed and decorated in that unmistakable southern Utah style with red rock elements and Native American themes. Lunch was delicious and refreshing, especially the homemade lemonade.
large_IMG_7011.jpglarge_IMG_7009.jpglarge_IMG_7010.jpg

The residential area around the Art Village looked interesting so we went for a drive along the black asphalt roads that curved through the desert landscape. The crumbling red cliffs of the conservation area formed a grandiose background. The homes around us all had a similar aesthetic, adobe ranches with a large footprint yet unobtrusive. Many were almost hidden by the low scrub that enveloped them, partially due to the sloping ground and partially because of the foundations having been poured lower than the surrounding land. We had stumbled upon a very unusual planned community. It was clear that these were expensive, luxury residences yet the location was so isolated we wondered what could attract people here when there were so many other options. Later we came across a video that helped explain the draw of this particular community, although it seemed like there were plenty of completed homes and lots that remained unsold. There was even one street that ended abruptly in the desert as if funding had evaporated in the middle of the job. It definitely wasn't a place we could ever live but it was beautiful in its own way and I hope the community survives and prospers in that parched and secluded spot.
large_IMG_7013.jpglarge_IMG_7016.jpglarge_WLYT6664.JPG

.
St. George had proved to be an unexpectedly interesting city, and even more surprisingly the insane temperatures hadn't prevented us from seeing everything we had planned and more. We had one final task which was to check out the Mormon temple we had seen from the restaurant patio the night before. When we arrived we found that the temple itself was closed for renovation, just like the main one in Salt Lake City, but we could still see it through the windows of the visitor center. There were some interactive displays in the visitor center as well that the kids had fun with, as well as an impressive shelf of copies of the Book of Mormon translated into dozens of languages.
large_IMG_20210711_130343.jpglarge_IMG_0460.JPG

By mow we were disappointed if we weren't surrounded by amazing landscape on our drives between cities, and the first part of Interstate 15 that passed through the northwestern corner of Arizona was no disappointment. Massive dark cliffs loomed on either side of the curving highway, almost devoid of vegetation. Once we entered Nevada our surroundings reverted quickly to nondescript flatland. We passed close by one of Nevada's most celebrated natural attractions, the Valley of Fire, but it was far too hot to consider any hiking and I had plans for our last few hours in Las Vegas.
large_37414e70-8f82-11ec-8b9e-b9bcefa276f8.pnglarge_IMG_20210711_134313.jpglarge_IMG_20210711_134430.jpg

We returned to Las Vegas from the north, passing through a seemingly endless flat expanse of warehouses and commercial buildings. The relative compactness of the Strip belies the enormousness of the sharply defined Las Vegas metropolitan area. We drove straight to Area 15 to try out Particle Quest, the augmented reality scavenger hunt we hadn't had time for on our first visit. It felt strange to be back in the same place a month later having completed the huge itinerary that had stretched before us on our first visit. Area 15 had the same avant garde energy as before although the 110 degree heat meant that virtually no one was around the outdoor installations. The game was entertaining, especially for the older kids, although it was a little confusing and lacked much of a payoff for solving the puzzles. I hope the Area 15 concept will spread to more cities since it's a fascinating, although expensive, alternative to the typical forms of entertainment available in large cities.
large_IMG_7027a.JPG

.
One of the few things I remembered about visiting Las Vegas as a kid more than forty years previously was getting taken to Circus Circus. Most of the entertainment on the Strip is designed for adults but this casino's selling point is the entire floor devoted to arcade games and circus acts. Parents will drop their kids off in the arcade and gamble for hours, and hopefully will find their kids still there when they finish. I wanted to finish the trip with a fun and memorable experience for the kids so this would be our final stop of the journey except for dinner. We got off to a great start when Cleo miraculously won a large stuffed animal for placing first in her first game, a Roll-A-Ball horse race. I never expected her to win because there were several adults among her seven competitors so I didn't bother to take a video. Much to everyone's amazement her balls kept dropping in the highest scoring holes and she finished comfortably ahead of the next contestant. Afterwards I videoed every game she played in the hope that lightning would strike again but it wasn't to be.She got interested in another game in which the goal was to launch chickens into pots by hitting a lever with a mallet, but it was clear she wasn't strong enough to achieve the required distance. I took the game over and I was able to win another small prize so that Ian wouldn't have to leave without anything.
large_IMG_7030a.JPG

.
Our timing worked out well because just as our prepaid cards ran out of funds it was time to head over to the stage for the hourly show, a talented acrobat performing on aerial silks. I don't think anyone would have mistaken it for Cirque du Soleil but it was another nice piece of entertainment for the kids to leave them with good final memories of the trip before the long flight home.

.
Our last dinner was at Trattoria Nakamura-Ya, the first Italian Japanese fusion restaurant we've ever encountered. It was a cool concept and some of the dishes were good, but it didn't meet our expectations of being one of the best meals of the trip. With that our itinerary was complete and there was nothing left to do except drive to the airport and check in for our red eye flight back to Miami. At the time all I can remember feeling was a huge sense of relief that we'd made it through all those challenging environments without any injuries, illnesses, or other disasters and COVID had only resulted in some minor inconveniences. It was only after I had time to reflect on everything we accomplished that I realized that this journey was at least the equal of any of the long road trips we had taken in Europe. Of course it's hard to compare national parks and Southwestern Americana with the rich and historic atmosphere of major European cities, but in terms of the thrill of adventure and new experiences this trip was unparalleled. One of my favorite ways to cope with annoying aspects of daily life such as traffic jams and dental cleanings is to cast myself back mentally to a period of travel, and lately I've found myself choosing episodes from the Southwest trip more than any other. The ten greatest experiences were scattered around all four states and from the beginning to the end of the journey. There were so many incredible adventures that even the Grand Canyon didn't make the top ten, although I think if I extended the list to eleven it would have been on there.

10. Shiprock
9. Rafting the Sevier
8. Fishing in Lake Powell
7. Jerome, Arizona
6. Exploring Albuquerque
5. Antelope Island
4. Las Vegas Strip
3. Bisti Wilderness
2. Low Road to Taos
1. Bryce Canyon and the Hogback

With that trip we've explored most of the iconic regions of the United States, having already done the Deep South, Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Great Lakes, and New England. If I ever need to make an itinerary for a month-long summer road trip in the US again I will probably do Appalachia with a focus on Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and the Virginias. However I truly hope we don't have to take that trip this summer, as I'm more than ready to return to continental Europe after a four year absence due to COVID.

Posted by zzlangerhans 22:22 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip family_travel travel_blog friedman tony_friedman family_travel_blog Comments (0)

A Southwestern USA Expedition: Zion National Park

large_66c68330-8501-11ec-8026-a11efa6a9296.png

For the third morning in a row we were up at the crack of dawn. The reason this time was that we had to reach the parking lots at Zion National Park by eight in the morning or we might not be able to find a spot. I wasn't sure what would happen then and it I didn't want to find out. The other factor was that temperatures in the park were projected to reach 108 and we needed to be done with anything involving physical exertion before noon. We had an easy half hour journey along an empty highway from Kanab and then a beautiful drive to the Visitor Center once we had entered the park. We were surrounded by massive cliffs of striated sandstone in every direction. Towards the end we drove right into a mountain via a tunnel and emerged into a set of tight switchbacks surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
large_IMG_20210710_073741.jpg

.
We arrived at the parking lots right about eight and had to drive to the farthest one before we found some open spots. We made our way to the shuttle bus station and realized that we wouldn't be allowed on the bus without masks, which I had forgotten in the car. I had to jog all the way back to the parking lot which by now was completely full just twenty minutes after we'd arrived. We had cut it a lot closer than I had realized. Fortunately there wasn't much of a line for the buses, despite the horror stories I had read. In fact there had been a reservation system in place to cut down on crowding up until a month before we arrived. I had been prepared to get up at midnight to be among the first to reserve our place once the July schedule opened, but they ended up canceling that system before it became an issue. The shuttle is the only way to travel along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, as private cars are forbidden. The most famous Zion hikes, Angel's Landing and The Narrows, originate from the last two stops on the route. We had no intention of attempting either of these so we got off the bus at the Zion Lodge stop, about halfway to the end, to tackle the Emerald Pools Trail. I'd done a good amount of research and the hike to the lower of the three pools seemed fairly easy and straightforward, with the option to continue onward to the other two pools if the heat wasn't overwhelming. We passed by the lodge and crossed a wooden bridge over the Virgin River to reach the trailhead.
large_IMG_20210710_083858.jpglarge_IMG_0343a.JPG

The walk to the lower pools was an easy, shady stroll without much change in elevation. At one point the path went underneath a gentle waterfall that emanated from the edge of the cliff above us and fed the lower pools. The spray of cool water was even more welcome when we returned at the end of the hike.
large_ced46af0-815a-11ec-acf9-61df127987fa.JPGlarge_IMG_6943.jpg

We hadn't expended too much energy getting to the lower pools so we decided to continue on as far as we could. As I expected, the route to the middle and upper pools was steeper and less protected but we still managed to complete it, although the kids were clearly getting tired and uncomfortable towards the end. The shallow pools of water didn't really live up to their romantic name, but the massive sandstone cliffs and the views of the unspoiled wilderness around us more than made up for that. The satisfaction of completing the hike made the hard work totally worth it.
large_IMG_6955.jpglarge_IMG_6954a.JPG

It was only ten thirty by the time we got back to the shuttle but the temperature had increased dramatically. My other goal at Zion was to see the beginning of the famed Narrows but I wasn't sure if we would be able to withstand the heat on the one mile trek to the trailhead. Fortunately the one mile Riverside Walk was an easy, paved path sheltered from the sun by the towering cliffs on either side of us. It was a long walk but eventually we got there and we got the iconic view of the beginning of The Narrows and all the hikers with their water shoes and walking sticks starting to disappear up the river. We hung out for a while soaking up the energy and the excitement of all the people around us getting ready to set off on the journey or just enjoying the view like we were.
large_IMG_6970.jpglarge_IMG_6961.jpglarge_IMG_6968.jpg

The last thing I wanted to do before leaving Zion was see people walking along the ridge that is the final section of the Angel's Landing hike. This is a hike I would never consider doing myself, let alone with the kids. I don't think of myself as tremendously afraid of heights but I'm not exactly comfortable around them, and being on a narrow walkway with thousand foot drops on either side is absolutely out of the question for me. Nevertheless an enormous number of people complete this hike every day and since 1908 there have been only seventeen deadly falls, far fewer than at the Grand Canyon. We took the shuttle back one stop to Weeping Rock and got out to peer at the top of the cliff on the opposite side of the river. Of course we couldn't make out the ridge from ground level so I just stared at the top of the cliff as hard as I could. Just as I was about to conclude that there was nothing to be seen I realized that a couple of the tiny dots I had assumed were bushes were unmistakably moving. I tracked them for a while as they made their way along the top but the sight of the colossal, impassive cliff reinforced my conviction that I would never find myself up there personally.
large_e00b34a0-822e-11ec-9023-a301f21117cd.JPG

Zion is one of the most iconic and beloved of America's national parks but we aren't at a level where we could take full advantage of it. I can't say we felt the same euphoria at Zion that we had experienced at Bryce Canyon or Arches or Canyon de Chelly but it was still a beautiful and rewarding morning. By noon we were already in the town of Springdale, just outside the west entrance of the park. Despite being even tinier than the other National Park towns we had visited there was a sizable collection of restaurants and galleries to feed the bellies and minds of the throngs of park visitors. Virtually all of these were strung along the main road that provided access to the park. The prodigious and colorful cliffs of Zion were still in view and provided an inspiring backdrop to the modest businesses on the road. We'd barely eaten anything that morning so our first stop was a Mexican-inspired grill where we had a pretty satisfying lunch.
large_IMG_6974.jpglarge_IMG_6976.jpg

The art galleries in the southwest are always amazing so we visited a couple of those and enjoyed some landscape paintings and an endless variety of beautiful and creative ceramics. Afterwards we browsed through an awesome outdoor rock shop for as long as we could withstand the heat before getting back on the main road that followed the Virgin River west.
large_IMG_6977.jpglarge_IMG_6978.jpglarge_IMG_6980.jpg

We still had the whole afternoon ahead of us and we didn't want to arrive in St. George too early , since it was going to be far too hot to do anything outdoors. Instead we hooked a right at the barely noticeable town of Virgin and embarked on the Kolob Terrace Road, another well-known scenic drive. We had a very enjoyable and solitary forty minute drive through spectacular landscape to the Kolob Reservoir, where many people were spending the weekend camping and kayaking. From here I had hoped to continue north all the way to Cedar City but there was no cellular signal to be had and I could not find a route on Google Maps without the GPS. Instead we had to return to Virgin the way we came and then continue westward to St. George.
large_IMG_20210710_155126.jpglarge_IMG_20210710_163128.jpglarge_IMG_20210710_164016.jpglarge_IMG_20210710_163513_1.jpg

Posted by zzlangerhans 00:47 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip hiking utah family_travel travel_blog tony_friedman family_travel_blog springdale kolob_terrace_road Comments (2)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 236) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »