I’m not a thrill seeker. For one thing, I’m 61 and while I still bounce when I fall, I’d rather not fall at all.
I don’t love heights, though zip-lining in Costa Rica at my daughter’s insistence (3.5 hours, 13 zip-lines) cured a lot of my fear of heights. It didn’t cure my clumsiness. I’m still cautious near edges and cliffs. I’m still a klutz.
Traveling alone means I can focus on what I need to learn or gather or shoot for my art. I’m unencumbered and undistracted. It also means I don’t have back up. It means an experience can turn into an adventure in a moment.
Driving in Iceland has been dicey the last couple of days. Yesterday, I drove from Reykjavik to Borgarnes with a side trip to Akranes to see a historical lighthouse. It’s an exquisitely beautiful drive with ocean on one side, black basalt mountains on the other. Generally, the drive was a sea level. I love sea level. Mountains are pretty to look at. I want my feet in the sand.
It’s raining steadily, making me already a bit anxious. There’s a bit of ice on the road. About halfway to Akranes the road enters a tunnel, hammered out of the basalt rock. It’s 6 kilometers long, according to a sign about 2K in, and the grade is steep and going down. Steep. Very steep. Jules Verne “Journey to the Center of the Earth” steep. (That actual entrance is a volcano off the shore of Reykjavik).
For more than 5K it’s going down. The road was close to sea level — maybe 30 meters above– when we entered the tunnel. Six kilometers feels like forever. Where are we going? Why aren’t there other cars around? Then the grade slopes up and we’re out. Maybe not “adventure” level, but what the hell was that?
The rain stops when I reach the lighthouse at Akranes. It’s cold and windy, but I can shoot without getting soaked. Back in the car and on the road. It’s rainy again. Suddenly, as if I crossed an imaginary line, the temp drops, the rain turns to snow and the entire landscape and road is covered in wet, slick, white stuff. How could that happen so fast? Now we’re getting to adventure status. I can drive in snow and ice, but this was piling up fast. Arrived in Borgarnes to about 6 inches of snow. Oy.
Today I leave the home of a new artist friend in Borgarnes to set off for Snaefellsnes National Park. It’s rainy. The rain turns to ice once in a while. The road has ice on it. I laugh out loud at the 90kph speed limit… I’m doing 35kph. Maybe. All is fine UNTIL the road goes up into the mountains. Iceland hasn’t discovered guardrails yet, so cliffs on one side unnerve me a bit. Adventure is setting in. The road turns to gravel, which I’m grateful for, since it’s icy and gravel gives me more traction. The road goes up. 10 degree slope. The slope on the edge is quite a bit more. Then it heads down. 12 degree slope. No other cars around, which means I don’t have to navigate around them, but no one will find me if I slide off the edge.
Ice gives way to rain again. Hard rain. I arrive to miles and miles of lava fields covered in green moss and snow. I’m rewarded.
Still, it’s more adventure than I expected.