Four Days in the Land of Fire and Ice Part 1: Reykjavik #Iceland #travel

It was our first time traveling without our kids, who are no longer kids, but 17 and 18 yrs. old, for more than a night. They were originally supposed to go with us in April of 2020, but the pandemic hit and plans changed. So, my husband and I used our airline vouchers and took a long weekend in the land of fire and ice to celebrate our 23 yr. wedding anniversary.

And, it was wonderful.

The area surrounding Keflavík airport

Stepping off of the plane in Keflavík feels like stepping into another world. You are greeted by a landscape devoid of trees, but filled with rocks. Black, lava rocks covered in a green-yellow moss that made me think of Dagobah. It is a dreamscape of wonder that never ceases, and gets more alive and intensely surreal the further one travels outside of the city.

“Is that a volcano,” my daughter asked when she saw this photo. The entire island is a network of volcanos, making it nearly impossible to avoid their looming presence.

Life has taken ahold of this volcanic island in a way that makes a person feel like a somewhat foolish intruder. Untamed and wildly unpredictable, it is nature at her rawest form. One misstep and she can swallow you whole or spit you out in a fury of fire.

Well, just about.

Despite having an intense love-affair with the wild beauty of Mother Nature, I don’t think I could embrace her unpredictability in quite the same way as Icelanders seem to.

Even the cats are entirely at ease here, aside from the orange tabby on the right whom I disturbed in the middle of the night from its contented slumber in front of our window.

After driving to our Airbnb on the outskirts of the city, we took a three-hour nap with the intention of making the most out of our brief trip. Reykjavik, as we discovered, is very walkable, and it is quite a joy to ditch the car and don your sneakers to get in your steps for the day.

Highlights from our walk into the city center. The parks are beautifully welcoming and maintained.

Reykjavik is a wonderful city. If wears an aura of welcome without the feeling of overwhelm that often accompanies larger cities. We spent a very fully day walking its streets, popping into shops, taking photos and enjoying its stunning art and delicious food. We even caught the end of a women’s soccer match with the locals.

It was a fully day, well spent. The kabobs at the Sea Baron are pretty much to die for, and we regret not having purchased a container of the seasoning they have for sale on the self beside the counter. If you go, go early. They are a small, no frills restaurant, but their fabulous food makes them quite popular.

A Black Bird Flies Over White Rocks #lospadres #sacredsites

When my sister-in-law told me she was taking us to a trail with white rocks, I was expecting boulders maybe the size of a car alongside a mountain trail. The drive from the center of Ojai to Piedra Blanca trailhead is only about thirty minutes. It winds through and up the Lost Padres to more than 3000 feet of elevation, offering spectacular views along the way. The only time we were happy to have rented our red Jeep was when we left the paved roads and navigated the gullies of the dirt road the parking lot. By then I was crying.

Only a hint of what awaited. A time when a photo does not come close to reality.

Well not exactly, but the mist of joy covered my eyes as I took in the wonder before me. I immediately thought of Montserrat in Spain. Who knew I would find the magic of limestone beings rocks in California a mere three months after reluctantly departing from our brief stay on that magical mountain in Spain? I had a feeling, somehow, Sue must had her wing hand in this one too. I don’t think I was wrong…

It didn’t take long for confirmation that we had arrived at somewhere sacred.

Another too-dry landscape awaited us as we stepped onto the trail and began walking towards the limestone rocks that looked more and more like the bleached bones of giants the closer we got. I was, naturally, in heaven. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only one enjoying the magic of the land.

Three of my hiking companions: My son, nephew and sister-in-law.

And then, suddenly, we had arrived at the playground of gods. An elephant loomed before us in the center. Genesha in white with folded ears and an impossibly long trunk sat above a resting camel in a valley of ghosts. Crevices beckoned eyes to peer; a perfect hideout from rattlesnakes, we kept away (with more than a bit of reluctance on my part) and continued our climb to towards the giants watching us.

Awe and wonder swirled with magic and joy that afternoon as we climbed and explored. We were all kids that day, ranged in age from 6 to 76 among the mountains of gods. Only time held us back from staying until the stars brought the secrets down from the sky. Oh, how I wished…

Still, I could imagine what once was and still could be again. I had no doubt it was once a place of ceremony, open to the sky, lifted from the body of Earth in seemingly impossible forms. Revered for the magic it held and opened to. A place that bore the tough of home. And there was one stone god, at the very least, I had to climb. Ganesha. And as I climbed, joined by my husband, Sue appeared.

It could only have been more perfect if there had been more time to explore, and perhaps a night to sleep under the opened sky. It was a feeling Sue would understand. A place she would have loved. A blessed day indeed.