Excellent weekend to visit Asheville. We stopped by the Zip N Slip Snow Tubing Park where it was about 18* outside, and covered in a nice fresh layer of real snow.
Visited the Space Shuttle Endeavour
During our trip to California last week, we visited the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Our goal is to see all of them, and with this latest visit, we’ve only got the Enterprise in New York left to see. However, this does conclude our list of all of the actual shuttles that visited space.
I wanted to share these photos for everyone to enjoy. It’s housed in a temporary location, as they’re building a new space to store it, standing with the fuel tank and boosters attached. That’ll be worth visiting again for sure, but it’ll be a few years before they’re done.
For now, it’s a little cramped in the space, so it’s hard to get as detailed of shots as the Discovery and Atlantis were. However, it’s absolutely worth the visit. The rest of the science center was incredibly cool, so plan ahead to spend at least half a day there. We were pressed for time.
Visited the Space Shuttle Atlantis
Recently we were in Cape Canaveral before driving down to the port to hop on the cruise ship Carnival Elation. On my bucket list has been visiting all of the space shuttles across the country. This trip to the Kennedy Space Center was my first time, and seeing the Atlantis checked off shuttle #2 from my list. Though technically with them having pieces of Columbia and Challenger on display, I have seen 4 at this point. Which leaves me with Endeavor and Enterprise.
Snapped a few shots of Atlantis that I wanted to share, and felt that KSC did a really good job of displaying the space bird. With it set up the way it is, you can actually get closer to it than you can Discovery at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Trying Fermented Shark in Iceland
In Iceland, we had to try out Fermented Shark. This was on our last night in Iceland, staying in Reykjavik. The place we were at was called Cafe Loki, which was the first place we stopped for food when we arrived. So it was a good send off for an excellent trip.
We just returned from our trip to Iceland. We landed in Reykjavik on October 3rd earlier in the morning, and returned back to Atlanta on the 10th. I backdated a few blog posts that you’ll find below this one. We traveled to a lot of traveling to cities that I can’t spell, or pronounce the names of. But I did get around to editing/uploading photos in a timely manner which can be viewed clicking the image below.
Back to where we began
We headed out early back to Reykjavik, retracing our steps back across the south. After checking into Fosshotel Baron, we headed to explore the city in the rain. Kat and I got hotdogs for lunch from the famous stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. They were good, but tasted pretty much the same as the ones we had a gas station earlier in the week. The best way to describe them is having a bit of a crunch, as the casing is made from lamb instead of pork. We then went to the Kolaportið flea market, where I found a PSP and Kat found some lava jewelry.
We visited the harbor, then went to the Phallological Museum, which has many different species on display & was far more educational than we expected! We returned to the hotel via Laugavegur Street, picking up a few more souvenirs, before getting everything repacked for our flights home in the morning.
We returned to Café Loki for dinner, where Casey & myself tried fermented shark and Brennevin, traditional Icelandic food and drink. We were not a fan! We’re told our faces were great as we choked it down. We stopped for a few more drinks at Lebowski bar & Reykjavik Bar before heading back to the room to sleep.
A better weather day in Iceland
Today started as a beautiful sunny day, making up for the poor conditions the previous day. We had breakfast at the hotel & headed to Skaftafell National park, where we walked to the edge of the glacier lagoon created from the melting Skaftafellsjökull, a glacier spur of the largest Icelandic glacier Vatnajökull.
We then drove to our furthest east point, Jökulsárlón, the enormous glacier lagoon where the runoff of the melting Vatnajökull meets the ocean, with many icebergs of various sizes floating throughout the lagoon & washing up on the black sand beach, nicknamed Diamond Beach.
The variety in colors of the iceburgs, with stunning blues were breathtaking. We had wonderful weather to wander up and down the shoreline and along the beach, photographing the scenery & watching for wildlife – we briefly saw 2 seal heads pop out of the water before disappearing from view again.
The weather was starting to turn and we headed back to Kirkjubæjarklaustur for the night in the rain, getting dinner at the other restaurant in town.
Stormy day across South Iceland
The weather report was not good for today, but we had to get over to our next hotel, down the south coast, so headed off after another good breakfast spread. We stopped at Seljalandsfoss, where we walked behind the waterfall & saw several others further along the cliffs.
It was raining & windy by our next stop, Skogafoss Waterfall, so we skipped the walk to the top and just took some photos at the base before getting back into the Duster and pressing on to Vik. It was crazy windy & stormy as we drove, and we passed a small tour bus that had clearly rolled of the road, people already had been removed. When we entered the town to Vik, there was a large truck blocking the road out of town with a sign noting the road was closed.
We ate lunch at The Soup Company and stopped at a grocery store & souvenir store area, trying to kill some time & hoping the weather conditions would improve. We were right at the Reynishfjara black sand beach, so I crossed to the edge for some photos in the storm, though everyone else stayed dry in the car. Vik is about an hour from our hotel in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, and we decided to try the road.
We were behind a bus heading out of town, and passed a sign that was mostly in Icelandic, but did flash to say “closed” in English. Shortly passed the sign, the tour bus pulled off into a parking lot. There was no barrier or blocking vehicle, so Donny decided to keep going.
It was a very tense & quiet car ride, with mye fighting the winds, sometimes with the steering wheel angled sideways in order to keep us going straight down the road. We crossed lava fields with the car buffeted by very high winds, and did eventually make it into Kirkjubæjarklaustur, again passing a vehicle blocking traffic out of town along the road we just drove.
When we got to the hotel, the front desk clerk was surprised we were there, as that road we drove was closed & no one should have crossed it, as the winds were hurricane strength. Hotel Klaustur was the largest place we stayed, with a bar & restaurant inside the hotel. We just stayed inside for the night.
Golden Circle and Snowmobiling!
After a delicious breakfast spread at the guesthouse, we headed off to finish the golden circle. Our first stop was Kerið Crater, a collapsed volcanic crater that now has a small lake in the center. We circled the top of the crater & drove north to Geysir, where there are a number of hot springs & geysers, including one that goes off every 5-10 minutes.
We saw the explosion several times, got lunch at the visitor center, then went to meet our snowmobile tour. We took a van with enormous tires off the road & up to the snow line, where we were suited up for the tour and dropped at the snowmobiles on the edge of the Langjokull glacier.
Our guide led us around on the glacier, showing where an ash covered protrusion, left by the explosion of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 is protecting further ice melt. He gave us some ash to take home as souvenirs. He pointed out the various glaciers, connected through the center of Iceland & had all of us stay silent & still, to hear what true quietness is. There was not a single sound on that glacier.
Myself and Casey mounted GoPros to the snowmobiles & we had a wonderful time riding on them. Eventually we were taken back down the mountain and returned to our rental, for our last stop on the golden circle, Gullfoss – the enormous double waterfall into a ravine, as the sun set.
New wipers for the Duster
We started the day with coffee & pastries from a local bakery before trying to locate replacement windshield wipers for the car. The mechanic in Stykkishólmur advised that ours used a new style that would be unlikely to be found outside of the Dacia dealership, back in Reykjavik.
We detoured back to Reykjavik, obtained new wipers, and then continued our trip to begin the Golden Circle with a visit to Þingvellir National Park.
This is where the original parliament of Iceland formed back in 930. And also where the tectonic plates are pulling apart, separating the Eurasian plate from the North American. We walked through the park, seeing early Icelandic cultural sites & enjoying the natural beauty. We spent the next 2 nights at Lambastadir Guesthouse, on a small farm outside of Selfoss. We had a wonderful dinner (seafood pizza for me, lamb for Donny) & relaxed in the hot tub before heading to bed.