News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

Achievement Unlocked!

You did it!  The total of donations made to my ride has exceeded the goal of $1000.  As promised, I’ve made my $1000 contribution, bringing the total to more than $2000!  This is the most I’ve ever raised for the Food Bank.  Thanks to everyone who has donated for your support!

Interestingly, the First Giving page for the event (rather than my personal fundraising page) shows me in the top 5 fundraisers.  I’m guessing I’m not quite going to end up as one of the top people – a lot of riders are likely raising a lot of donations offline and not recording them on the site.  Still, I feel special.   🙂

Stay tuned on Sunday for the ride itself.

Posted by seaking on 09-22-2016 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

BikeFest 2016

This past Sunday, the 18th, I rode in the Northampton Cycling Club’s BikeFest.  It’s an annual event I’ve done multiple times before, and serves as a good final preparatory ride before Will Bike 4 Food.  I rode the 75-mile route, which is listed in the main links on the page as a 72-mile route, for some reason (and they call it a “metric century”, which generally means riding 100 kilometers, or 63 miles).

In any case, the route’s length was just over 75 miles, and we started riding just before 9am.  The weather was very slightly rainy at the outset, but that cleared before too long, and I just had to deal with wet roads for much of the day.  There was a fair amount of hill climbing in this route (a little more than 4600 feet worth), mostly contained in the first half of the route.  Starting from Look Park in Northampton, we rode through the town of Williamsburg, then up into Ashfield, which involves a very long, gradual climb.  Fortunately, it’s a climb I’ve done more than once in the past, so I knew what to expect.  The long climbing was rewarded after Ashfield center with a whole bunch of downhill riding into Conway, then down into Buckland to Shelburne Falls.

In Shelburne Falls, the ride had its first rest stop, at the 25-mile point.  The stop was set up by the Deerfield River, and the geologic feature known as the Glacial Potholes.

stop1-pots   potclose

From there, the route actually doubled back for a few miles, heading south into Conway the way we’d come.  It then veered off east into territory I’d never been in – an area known as Bardwell’s Ferry.  It’s a pretty area and I had to do some more hill climbing, then descended to a steel bridge that crossed the Deerfield.  Here’s the view from the bridge, looking both up and downriver, followed by the bridge itself.

bard-deer2  bard-deer1  bardbridge

The unfortunate part was that a steep, and somewhat long, climb happened immediately on the other side of the bridge.  That climb happened to have a dirt and gravel section of road near the top, apparently because of construction (I don’t think it’s always a dirt road there).  Through the Bardwell section, I passed, and was passed by, a number of riders doing the 50-mile route.  We all had to rest at points going up this hill.

There was some nice flat riding, and a little bit of downhill riding after the dirt bit, but soon another hill arrived, which I had climbed before.  This was in the town of Shelburne, still headed east toward Greenfield.  As I started up this next hill, I suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes.  There was a large field of grass by the road, and up in the middle of the field was a piper, playing for the riders (I’d experienced the piping in a previous iteration of the ride, but only at a rest area, not in the middle of the countryside like this).  I had to stop and rest before getting out of sight of the piper, so listened to the rest of the piece before continuing up the hill.  Near the top there was another piper just on the edge of the road.

Once that hill was crested, it was all downhill into Greenfield, so I got there pretty quickly, and arrived at the second rest stop.  This one was at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, and at this point I was about 43 miles into the route.

stop2-fair  frankfairgate  frankfairbldg

At this stop, we 75-milers mixed with people going 50 miles and some of those on the 100-mile trip.  From this point on, I believe the 100-mile route lined up with the 75-mile (so the century riders were further along in their ride).

From here the ride was less hilly.  There was a bit of a hill climb in Greenfield before descending and crossing the Connecticut River into Montague, and then we rode the bike trail into Turner’s Falls, and had a moderate climb out of there to head south.

I was beginning to get sore and tired by this time, so even though the terrain in Montague Center, and then Sunderland, was relatively level, I had to stop and rest a few times.  The third rest area was in the center of Sunderland, at mile 60, and I believe I spent longer there than at either of the previous 2 stops (though still only about 15 minutes or so).

The last 15 miles were almost completely flat, as I passed through Whately and Hatfield, then back into Northampton.  I still had to stop a number of times, mostly to give my legs a rest for a few minutes each time.  I still made good time, arriving back at the start 7 hours and 15 minutes after leaving.  That timing certainly puts me on track for doing the upcoming 100-miles within my time goal.

That century ride for Will Bike 4 Food is coming up in just a few days, and as I’ve done in the past, I plan to try and live blog the ride.  Look for updates in this space throughout the day Sunday.

Posted by seaking on 09-21-2016 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Training Summary

So, in preparation for the Food Bank Ride next weekend, I have gone on a number of training rides over the past couple of months.  Here’s a quick rundown of these rides, with pictures from some of them.  I did not do extensive photo taking, partly because I wanted to keep moving, but also because several of these involved riding in areas I’d photographed before.

 

July 4 – Huntington and Back:  This was almost totally a route I had followed before, and it was somewhat short.  The total distance I covered was 48 miles, but it was a very hilly 48 miles.  I traveled west out of Holyoke to Southampton, then rode up into Westhampton, and then headed west over a large ridge into Huntington.  I was climbing for almost all of that time.  One interesting highlight of that trip was, as I was resting on the way up the hill between Westhampton and Huntington, a motorcyclist coming the other way and told me about a bear.  At first I thought he was saying that the hill I was about to climb was “a bear”, but as he pulled away, I realized he was warning me that there was a bear by the road.  I was a little nervous about this, so I kept my eyes peeled, but did not see any bear myself.  I made it to Huntington center fine, though found that places I could have eaten lunch were largely closed.  I headed east from there on Route 20 and ended up getting lunch at a liquor store/deli in the town of Russell.  From there, I went on into Westfield, then headed north and east back into Holyoke.

 

July 17 – Greenfield/Montague loop:  This ride was a total of 75 miles, with some hills, but not a ton.  Pretty much all the hills were in the latter part of the trip.  I rode up to Greenfield from Holyoke on Route 5, which is a relatively flat road, stopping for lunch in Whately at a hot dog stand.  Once I got to Greenfield, I stopped again for house-made sodas at The People’s Pint (because who can resist?).  From there I went through Deerfield to the bike trail that begins there, and headed over to and through Turner’s Falls.  This path is usually good for seeing waterfowl, and in addition to seeing a lot of ducks, I passed a snowy egret in the water.

tf-egret  tf-birds1  tf-birds2

From Turner’s, I rode south through the eastern part of Montague, then through Leverett center, and along the eastern edge of Amherst.  I crossed the Holyoke Range on the not-very-busy Harris Road, and went home through Granby and South Hadley.

 

July 24 – The Trail to Connecticut:  Once before I had ridden the continuous bike trail from Westfield, MA to Farmington, CT.  In that case, I drove to Westfield with my bike and only rode on the trail.  In this case, I rode down there from home to pick up the trail (which extends further north than it used to).  It’s a fairly easy ride, with very little hill climbing.  But to make up for that, it was long – about 88 miles, which is my longest ride so far this year.  Only a couple of pics, taken from the bridge over which the trail crosses the Farmington River.

farm-riv1   farm-riv2

 

August 27 – Home from the Berkshires:  There were a few weekends when I was traveling, and so could not go for a ride.  Hence the gap between the last date and this one.  On 8/27, we drove out to Pittsfield, MA to see Elizabeth Warren speak.  The event was a bit disappointing, because, even though we had responded to an e-mail to reserve a place, we ended up in an overflow room at the venue, to watch the talk on video.  As the talk was being streamed on the Internet, this was not very different from being at home and watching it, but at least Warren came into the overflow room to greet us before giving the talk.

In any case, I had brought my bike along, and I then rode home from the event.  From there to home was 52 miles, but it was, again, a very hilly ride.  There was an initial climb when I left Pittsfield that was really difficult, as I had to stop and rest 7 times to make it up the long hill.  It was also fairly hot out, and a few times while climbing that hill I felt queasy.  Fortunately it passed quickly each time I rested.  Once I got over that hill I did not encounter any more queasiness.  I rode on some familiar roads on that afternoon, but at least one other unfamiliar road turned out to involve a long, steep climb as well.  It took me more than 6 hours to make it home.

 

September 4 – Sturbridge:  Looking for a long ride that would cover a lot of unfamiliar territory, I settled on riding east to Sturbridge, in Central Mass.  I first rode down through Chicopee to the south side of the Mass Pike, and then followed Route 20 through the towns of Wilbraham, Monson, Palmer, and Brimfield before getting to Sturbridge.  In Wilbraham, I saw this horse statue, with the springs from an old carriage behind it.

wilb-horse

While I did not take pictures in Brimfield, that town apparently plays host to a gigantic antiques market over Labor Day weekend.  There were many white tents set up for vendors on various properties as I rode through town, including some on the lawns in front of houses.

After having lunch in Sturbridge, I rode north and came through some different towns: Warren, Ware, Belchertown.  I had intended to travel through Ware and into Belchertown on a new route for me, but somehow missed my planned turn off and ended up in downtown Ware.  So I just followed Route 9 to Belchertown center, then Route 202 home from there.  Total distance for this ride was 84 miles, and yes, there were hills.

 

September 11 – Curious Orange:  I’m not saying there’s anything particularly curious about the town of Orange, just that I was curious to ride there, since I hadn’t before.  This was a fairly long ride, and included a number of good-sized hills that I’d ridden before.  I rode up through Amherst and Leverett, then passed through Shutesbury and Wendell.  It had been raining that morning, and I started out just after the rain stopped, so I rode on a lot of wet pavement.  The sun did not come out until I reached Leverett, and I stopped at the Village Co-op there to rest after some hill climbing, as well as to put on sunscreen.  The co-op has a little playground, as well as a small Buddha shrine.

villcoop   levbuddha

Here are some images taken in Orange.  The first is the town’s public library, the third is a view of the Miller’s River.

orangelib  orangebldg  miller-riv-orng

Coming back uphill into Wendell, I stopped to rest by this swamp, though I did not see any particular wildlife there:

wendswamp1  wendswamp2

I tried leaving Wendell center through a different route than  I had taken north.  It turned out to be a dirt road, and after a mile or so it abruptly stopped, giving way to a horse trail.  I say that’s the type of trail because 2 people on horseback emerged from it while I was there consulting maps on my phone.  I ended up following a side dirt road back to the road I’d taken north.  I did then head to Shutesbury center, which is another long climb, but then I got to ride a long downhill run almost all the way to North Amherst.  From there, my route home was the same as in the morning.

 

Next post: the NCC Bikefest.

Posted by seaking on 09-18-2016 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Fourth Food Fundraising Foray

I’ve signed up for this year’s Will Bike 4 Food, the cycling fundraiser held by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.  This is the 6th year the Food Bank has held the event, and it will be my fourth time participating (I wasn’t able to do it in 2014 or 2015 because of travel and moving, respectively).

As in the past, I’ll be riding the 100-mile route, and I aim to complete it in less time than I did in previous tries.  When I last rode in 2013, it took me a full 12 hours to go the distance.  This year I believe I can do it in 10 hours (or less), so that is the challenge I’ve set myself.  It looks like the route is somewhat less insane in terms of hills, so this should be doable.

The Food Bank does excellent work distributing food to partner organizations in the area who get it to people that are in need, and I hope you’ll consider donating to support this work.  You can make a donation online at my fundraising page, or contact me if you would rather send a check.  As an extra incentive, if donations to my page reach the $1000 goal that I’ve set, I will personally donate an additional $1000.  Contributions in any amount are helpful.

Thanks for your support!

 

Posted by seaking on 09-05-2016 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking, News with 0 Comments

This Year’s Quabbin Pics

As I seem to do just about once a year, I went for a bike ride last Memorial Day weekend that included riding through the Quabbin Reservoir reservation.

What I have not done every time is ride up the long hill to the observation tower there, but I did so this time.

Here are views west and north from the tower (click each image to enlarge):

quabb2014-2

quabb2014-1

quabb2014-3

quabb2014-4

 

From there I continued riding east on Route 9, through the town of Ware and just a little ways into the town of West Brookfield (which I had not been in before).  At that point I needed to turn around for time and energy reasons (I needed to save some strength for climbing the hills on the way home), and I just passed through a bit of the Quabbin park on the way back (one can pass over Winsor Dam without having to go through the hilly parts of the reservation).

Posted by seaking on 11-24-2014 at 10:11 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Iceland Summary

Just a quick post tonight, as I’m pressed for time.

When I was in the Keflavik airport, about to fly to England, I found this postcard in the duty-free shop:

icebikepostcard

(Click the photo to see it at a larger size)

 

I thought it summed up the trip pretty nicely.    😉

Posted by seaking on 11-14-2014 at 08:11 am
Posted in Biking, Humor, Travel with 0 Comments

Plane, Train, Buses, and Bike

On my last morning in Iceland I got up somewhat early so I could return my rented bike (Óli Stef).  I headed for the Reykjavik waterfront along the city’s bike paths, and partway there, I noticed geese in the median strip of the road (click photo to embiggen):

mediangeese

I also encountered this little bird at the waterfront:

reykstarling

I believe it’s a starling.  In this photo it’s poking into a seawall, presumably trying to get some food.

After dropping the bike off, I walked back toward my lodging, taking in some more of the city on my way, as I did not have to hurry.

A couple of days earlier, I had visited the home of the original Althing, the gathering of the country’s leaders to make law.  The Althing still exists, but it meets in a building in Reykjavik – this building, to be exact:

althingbldg1

althingbldg2

It’s labeled on this side section:

althingbldg4

As are the spaces on the street in front of it:

althingbldg3

That third letter is the letter thorn, by the way, which has a soft ‘th’ sound.  I’ve been transliterating it to ‘th’ in Althing and Thingvellir, among other words.

I thought this fountain was neat looking:

reykfountain

And yes, that is a hot dog stand in the background – it’s supposedly quite popular.

I came across some interesting sculptures on my way east through the city:

reyksculpt4

reyksculpt2

reyksculpt3

reyksculpt7

Not sure what to make of these folks:

reyksculpt5

reyksculpt6

or these polar bears:

reykbears

I saw similar stuffed bears in chains in front of other stores.  It’s some kind of thing…

At the far end of the street was one sight I wanted to make sure to go by:

hallgrimfar

It is Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, and of unusual architecture:

hallgrimcloser

hallgrimfront

There is a statue out front of Leif Ericsson out front:

ericsson

This inscription is above the door:

hallgrimwords

The side view:

hallgrimside

I did not go inside, but I did encounter another friendly cat outside the church before I moved on:

reykcat1

reykcat2

I got back to the apartment and packed up my stuff, then took a city bus to the bus station.  There I had some lunch (more lamb) and waited for the bus to the airport.

It had been dry that morning, and for a couple of days before, but it started raining by the time I got to the airport, just as it had been raining when I arrived in the country.

Getting my bags checked required waiting a while in line, because the luggage conveyer belt at the check-in counter had broken down.  Eventually some carts were brought to move the luggage through, and I was able to head for the gate.

On the flight to London, I watched an Icelandic documentary called Electric Reykjavik, about the electronic music scene there.

The plane flew southward over the British Isles, and I was able to glimpse some thin white things in Scotland or Northern England.  I took as best a picture as I could with my phone:

ukwindmills

They’re right in the center of the image.  I was able to figure out pretty quickly what they were, because I could see blades turning.  Apparently, windmills are visible from tens of thousands of feet in the air.

I arrived fine in Heathrow airport, and took a bus from there to Reading train station.  From there it was a short train ride to Didcot, where I was staying with a friend for a couple of nights.  The next day, she’d be showing me around Oxford.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-11-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking, Cats, Travel, Wildlife with 0 Comments

Crater and Climb

On my fourth day in Iceland, I checked out of Héradsskolínn to head back to Reykjavik.  There was finally good sunlight shining on the town of Laugarvatn, so I took some last pictures of the hostel:

heradsskolinn2

heradsskolinn3

and of the nearby mountain:

laugpeaksun

and some other buildings in the town:

laugbuildings

This is the Laugarvatn Fontana, where I had the geothermal bread and smoked trout.  It’s kind of hard to tell in the photo, but it has a grass roof:

laugfontana

I also got a picture of this re-purposed mixer inside the hostel:

mixerplanter

I took a different route back to Reykjavik than I had taken out.  I first headed south on Route 37.  Here’s a view of the lake not long after I departed:

lauglakeclouds

I headed south until I hit Route 35, which I then followed west by southwest.

At one crossroad, I made a point not to take the right turn:

borgsign

although resistance was probably futile.

 

At one point on 35, I saw signs for a tourist site called Kerid (it can also be transliterated as Kerith – the last letter is an eth).  I did not know what it was, so I stopped to take a look.

It turns out to be a huge volcanic crater:

kerid1

kerid2

To give you an idea of the scale of the place, here’s a person standing atop the slope:

kerid3

There was a path going all the way around the top, so I got to see the crater and its little lake from all angles.

kerid4

kerid5

kerid6

One can also walk near the bottom, around the water, but I didn’t want to take the time, so I got back on the road.

Not too long later I came to Route 1, near the large town of Selfoss.  I started following it west (with it angling north a bit), and after another half hour or so, stopped for lunch in a much smaller town called Hveragerdi.  There wasn’t much there, but there was a bakery in a small mall that served sandwiches, so I got a decent meal.

I walked around the little mall after eating, and discovered this:

quakesim1

quakesim2

I did not know what to make of it until I saw this sign:

quakesim3

Thorir thú, indeed?  It didn’t matter whether I dared, as it did not seem to be in operation while I was there.

The riding had been pretty level so far that day, but as I left Hveragerdi I had a good-sized hill to climb.  I did not realize just how long a hill it was.  I was in the lowest gear, pedaling as long as I could hold out, and then stopped to rest.  Then I went another good ways, and had to rest again.  I thought I was getting near the top at that point, but I found out soon enough tha my second rest was only halfway up the hill.

Here are some pics from the halfway point:

tallhillview1

tallhillview2

tallhillview3

Here’s the view up the hill:

uptallhill

Which at least contained a pretty waterfall:

tallhillfall

After 2 more rest stops, I was at the top, and rode on a fairly long straightaway.  I could tell I was on a high plateau of some kind, because the wind was fairly unrelenting.  The temperatures had been in the 50s for most of my time in the country, and it was right around 49 or 50 that day, so the wind made it uncomfortably cold.  It also was often blowing from in front of me, so it was not easy to make headway.  Another unfortunate fact is that the shoulders of the road were not very wide through this section, and on Route 1 cars were zooming by at 90 KPH or more.

I do not recommend this road as a good cycling route.   🙂

Eventually, I got to a good long downhill portion, and though I still had to contend with cold wind, the going started to get easier.  I stopped off at a gas station to warm up a bit at one point, after which the shoulders got wider as I got near Reykjavik.

Once I got to the outskirts of the city, I was able to find my way back to the paths I’d used to exit the city earlier in the week, and so I retraced my route back to the airbnb apartment (I was to stay that night in the same place I’d stayed my first night in Iceland).

I got checked in around 4:30pm, showered and changed, and then went to the shopping mall nearby to look for a cheap backpack or something like it.  I was done carrying luggage on a bike for this trip, so I thought I should replace my broken bags with something better.  I found cheap, small backpacks at a sporting good store and bought 2 of them.

After that I headed into the city to get dinner. I saw this recycling container near the harbor:

bottlebottle

I ended up at a restaurant called the Sea Baron, where you pick out skewers of raw food from a refrigerated case, and they grill them for you.  I got skewers of redfish, potatoes, and vegetables (pepper, mushroom, onion, tomato).

I looked around the downtown a bit after dinner before heading back to my lodging.  I saw this figure next to a gift shop:

vikingelf

One of many elves that populate Iceland, I believe.

I also passed by a little lake, which had ducks swimming around in the dark:

reyknightduck

Usually I’d expect them to sleep at night.

Speaking of which, I got back without incident and went to sleep for my last night in Iceland.

Next: off to the UK

 

Posted by seaking on 11-10-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Biking, Food, Travel with 0 Comments

Not-So-Plain Plain

On my third day in Iceland, I had a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola, or rather, of yogurt drink and granola.  It turned out that the stuff I thought was yogurt, Skyr, is more like a thin smoothie.  It still worked fine, as I even like having granola with plain milk.

Outside, before getting on the bike, I took a picture of Héradsskolínn itself (click any picture to see it bigger):

heradss1

And here is Óli Stef up close:

olistef1

olistef2

And here is the peak across the road, without its summit obscured by clouds:

laugmount2

I started riding west, back up Route 365.  When I say ‘up’, I mean that there is a long hill that I had to climb as I headed out of Laugarvatn.  Here’s a view of that same peak from a ways up the hill to the west:

laugmount3

This is a view looking downhill at the town:

laugdownhill

While I was paused at this point, there was a pretty stream off to the side of the road:

rt365water1

rt365water2

As I rode along 365, I took pics of mountains that I hadn’t stopped for when I came through earlier in the week:

rt365mount1

rt365mount2

rt365mount3

I also saw some more sheep, including a variegated one:

icesheep3

When I came within view of Thingfallavatn, I could see what looked like a geyser on the other side of the water:

thingfallspout

Soon I got to Route 36, and headed north into the Thingvellir park.  A little ways after getting into the park, I turned off on a side road that goes west along the north side of the lake.  There I was able to get close to the lake, as at this parking area:

hallviksign

The lake, complete with a fisherman off to the left:

thingfallclose1

thingfallclose2

I walked along the water a bit, and observed some interesting seaweed, which was very brightly colored:

thingalgae1

It was also very stringy:

thingalgae2

The plant life on the ground was mostly low-growing stuff, and not all of it green:

thingflora1

thingflora2

Continuing along toward the center of the park, I soon came to the odder parts of the landscape.  Namely, various geologic fissures:

thingfissure1

thingfissure2

thingfissure3

thingfissure4

Iceland, and the national park in particular, sits on the divide between the North American and European tectonic plates, which are moving apart very slightly each year.  It’s this action that causes much of the ground breakage there.

Around these fissures, I also saw my first view of this long rock wall:

thingwall1

That wall borders the parliament plain (the Althing Vellir) itself.  This is where the world’s first parliament met, established in the 10th century by the Viking settlers of Iceland.

When I got to the plain, I locked up the bike in a picnic area, and headed up some steps toward the rock wall.  Here are some views of the plain from most of the way up:

thingvellir1

thingvellir2

There was a path in front of the rock wall, which went slightly downhill to the north:

thingwall2

And uphill to the south:

thingwall3

I followed the line of people uphill, and came to the top of the wall, with a viewing platform, and a good view of the lake and plain:

thingvellir3

thingvellir4

thingvellir5

I could also see Óli Stef from up there:

olistef3

At the top, there was also a parking area and visitors’ center.  I went in and watched a few videos on the history and geology of the place.  Apparently, the land in the plain is slowly sinking, which is why water flows over so much of the places that people once camped for the annual assembly.

Here is the view back down the path along the wall, just before I headed down that way:

thingwall4

More of the wall:

thingwall5

thingwall6

Here, marked by the flagpole, is the Law Rock, where the Law Speaker would recite the country’s laws:

lawrock1

Looking down at the plain from here:

thingvellir6

Further along the wall, I came to water flowing down from above:

thingwater1

Looking down from a bridge over the stream:

thingwater2

And here the water flows onto the plain:

thingwater3

I headed down onto the plain after that.  Here’s a view looking south:

thingvellir7

And looking back up to the Law Rock:

lawrock2

I wandered through the little collection of buildings on the plain, including a small church.  There is a graveyard there:

thinggraves

And behind the buildings is this mysterious tree:

thingconetree

A wider fissure:

thingfissure5

And here there is a diver getting ready to swim along the tectonic divide:

thingdiver

I headed back to the bike at this point, and noticed the lava rocks found around the picnic area:

lavarock1

lavarock2

On my way away from the plain, I saw some geese – a type that I don’t generally see in the US:

thinggeese1

thinggeese2

Riding eastward, I stopped to check out a couple of hiking trails in the park.  The first one took me through some tundra:

thingland1

There was a cable running across the ground, for some reason:

thingland2

I came to a waterway which had more of the neon seaweed, as well as a much stranger growth of stuff on and in the water:

thingalgae5

thingalgae3

thingalgae4

The other trail I hiked took me through a stand of evergreen trees:

thingtrail1

And then up a hill which has a neat gully cutting across it:

thingtrail2

thingtrail3

thingtrail4

There was another pleasant view from up there (looking west):

thingtrail5

Once I hiked back down from there, I rode out of the park, back toward Laugarvatn.  At the park exit, I stopped and took this picture to the north:

thingexitmount

I had a rain-free day this time, but still wanted a shower when I got back to the hostel.

I met this individual in the hostel parking lot when I arrived back:

iceorangecat1

iceorangecat2

It was very friendly, and must belong to someone, as it was wearing a collar (but no tag).

After cleaning up, I had dinner in the hostel cafe, this time getting an item not written on the menu.  It was local trout, baked with a cheese sauce, and with fried potatoes and salad on the side:

troutdinner

It was quite delicious, and a nice end to the day.

Next: back to the city

Posted by seaking on 11-09-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Biking, Cats, Hiking, Surreal, Travel, Wildlife with 0 Comments

Water Falls and Rises

Having biked from Reykjavik to Laugarvatn, I checked in at Héradsskólinn, a hostel in a former school building.  After getting both rained on and sweaty through the day, it was nice to be someplace warm, and I took a nice shower after getting situated.  I got dinner in the cafe there, which was vegetable soup with bread and a small salad.  They had reindeer meatballs as one of the menu options, which sounded intriguing, but I passed as that dish was pretty expensive.  The soup was unlike any vegetable soup I’ve had in the US, as it was basically a cloudy broth, as though all the veggies had been pureed, and it had a dollop of sour cream on top.  The bread was freshly baked and crusty.

I had no trouble going to sleep after all the riding I had done, and I got up nice and refreshed in the morning to ride some more.  I was going to head further east to a couple of sights, and then back to the hostel.

I had the breakfast buffet in the hostel cafe, which included more fresh-baked bread, with options of jam, butter, cheese, tomato, and cucumber to put on it.  They also had thick, plain yogurt with jam and muesli to mix in, and hard-boiled eggs.  I ended up having a few slices of bread with jam, a cup of yogurt and meusli, and some tomato and cucumber on the side.

Just before hitting the road, I took this picture of a mountain just across the road from the hostel:

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And here is the lake (also called Laugarvatn) on the other side of the hostel:

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I saw a few more nice views on my way (though a bit more rain fell on me, as well):

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I also crossed a couple of rivers.  Here’s the first, helpfully labeled:

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I also saw quite a number of sheep (I had also seen some the previous day):

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That one on the left appears to be looking at me, but sheep have just about a 360-degree range of vision, so really all the sheep were looking at me, in some sense.

I also saw horses, who seemed curious about me:

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These 2 were scratching each other’s backs:

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And at one point, in the middle of a field, I saw a geothermal water spout:

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After about an hour-and-a-half of riding, I passed the site of Geysir, where there are multiple hot springs and spouts (also know, of course, as geysers, taking their name from this place).  I would be stopping off there on my way back west.

Here is the other river I crossed:

tungufljotwater

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The first rain of the day had not lasted very long, but soon after passing Geysir, I got rained on more solidly, and for longer.  It cleared just before I climbed a hill up to the site of Gullfoss, the golden waterfall.

Right near Gullfoss I saw some more, somewhat jagged-looking, mountains in the distance:

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And there appeared to be part of a glacier visible beyond them:

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I parked my bike on a rack at Gullfoss, and then started down a wooden boardwalk toward the waterfall:

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I then got a couple of pix of the fall itself:

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I was able to go a good deal closer to the water, but it started to rain again as I did so, and thus I didn’t want to get my camera or phone out for any more photos.

I went inside the cafe/gift shop after I’d had my fill of the falls and the cold rain.  It was late enough that I decided it would be a good time for lunch, and the “traditional lamb soup” sounded pretty good (it came with 1 free refill, plus bread).  The soup contained chunks of lamb, along with carrots, potatoes, onions, and cabbage.  It was very nice on a chilly, wet day.

After lunch I browsed around the gift shop a bit, then headed back into the rain.  I headed back west, with the rain continuing until I was almost back to Geysir.

The geysir site is rather surreal, as much of the ground is steaming:

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Those areas are roped off, because the water flowing over the ground is quite hot:

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Around this site you constantly smell sulphur, and there are several spots where minerals are left on the surface:

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The main geyser at the place is the original Geysir, which I did not get to see erupt.  It apparently only does so after earthquakes:

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There is one geyser there which goes off frequently (every 8 to 10 minutes or so).  It’s named Strokkur:

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Despite its regularity, I had difficulty getting a good picture of it erupting.

There was also this little bubbling pool, called “Little Geysir”:

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There were also some calm steaming pools, and I love the deep blue of this one:

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I spent some time looking around in the gift shop here, too.  At both places I saw nice looking Icelandic wool sweaters, but they were pretty expensive (and I didn’t have room to transport one anyway).

From there I headed back to Laugarvatn.  A little more rain fell, and I was once again very glad to get a hot shower.  After showering, and before dinner, I went to the town’s little grocery store:

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I picked up some granola and yogurt there, to have for the next couple of breakfasts.

I then went and had dinner at a spa near the hostel.  It’s called Luagarvatn Fontana, and its main feature is geothermal baths.  I did not take advantage of those, but in their cafe I got a slice of geothermal rye bread (yes, they bake it by burying a tin of bread dough in the hot sand by the lake) topped with smoked trout from the lake.  After eating that, I had a piece of a flourless fruit and ginger cake.  All of the food was quite good.

Next: Back to the parliament plain.

Posted by seaking on 11-08-2014 at 11:11 pm
Posted in Biking, Travel with 0 Comments

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