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What I did this weekend: 11/09/2014

  • Starting / in the midst of selling off all of the “stuff” we acquired while we were here in the UK since we’re 18 days away from getting on a plane to fly back to Portland, drove into / around London on Saturday to drop off a chair to a coworker who wanted it but didn’t have a car big enough to pick it up and then went to the Crystal Palace Park which was 10 minutes away and was a place on Karen’s list because it has the Crystal Palace Dinosaur Park and also turned out to have a mini-farm. Fun. Found 2 geocaches, couldn’t find another. BTW, driving in / around London is HORRIBLE, do not recommend.
  • Spent today (Sunday) getting the yard prepped which including mowing, weeds, leaves, sticks and anything else that needed cleaning up, then did a 5m run (good, not great, heart rate was up there but I felt good for the entire run) and then did dinner at Handmade Burger Company followed by ice cream at a new franchise thing called “Creams Cafe” in Reading, which seems like a place that’ll be out of business in a year but we had a good time. Family meeting night in the car and then family videos. Good weekend.

Links: 11-3-2014

  • On Kindness — Matter — Medium
    Quote: "We seem to reserve a special rage in this world for those whose ability to be unafraid in pursuit of something new extends beyond our own. We begrudge them their strange friends and strange experiences under the guise that we find those things to be dangerous or unclean. But really we resent those people because their courage reminds us of how common and terrified we feel inside. Bravery is a virtue people revere in dead soldiers and then turn to disparage in someone extending her hand to a weirdo."
    (categories: life values fear courage )

What I did this weekend: 11/02/2014

  • Saturday I mixed up some onions, yellow peppers and potatoes for breakfast with a fried egg (yummy) and then took the vikings to a National Trust house called Newark Park which was unremarkable except for the 7 geocaches we found (they did a really nice job with this) and then had a scrumptious English dinner at Costco, because cheap food on the way home.
  • Made pancakes and berries for breakfast, the vikings played for a couple hours after breakfast while Mommy and I made my favorite thing to make on Sundays (at least this year) and then we drove out to Goring (quick drive) and had a really nice walk along the Thames, finding 3 geocaches along the way (and our first Travel Bug!) and then had a nice lunch at a small cafe (Boat House Deli & Cafe) on the river before heading home. I got my long (only 4 miles since I’m building back up after hurting my calf a couple weeks ago) run in at night.

What I did this weekend: 10/26/2014

  • Littlest dude had his birthday this weekend so we went to Legoland, which was packed but we managed to have a good time, drove home, made my sausage / sweet potato / egg hash for dinner (adults only). Good day.
  • Mommy got sick and stayed in bed so we kept super busy today. Birthday presents kept the vikings satisfied for hours while I made breakfast, mopped, did dishes, bathrooms, mowed the lawns, pulled weeds and then we did a trip to the tire store (exciting!), dropped off the car to get 2 new tires, had lunch at The Griffin, got 2 geocaches in / around Caversham Court and then picked up the car and headed back home. Sort of the opposite of a weekend driving through Iceland.

Day 9 and 10: Borgarnes, Mosfellsbær, Bláa Lónið and Reykjavík: Iceland

Woke up not too early at Sundabakki Guesthouse, had a nice breakfast and enjoyed homemade “mama” cakes from the owner of the house who has 5 of her own children and 14 grandchildren, 13 of which are boys so we got extra special nice treatment. Hit the road at 8:30ish so that we could get back to Reykjavík with a chance to see some of the sights in the city.

First stop on way back was at a museum in Borgarnes called the Settlement Center which had two very nice walk through exhibits with audio guides which our band of vikings didn’t make it completely through. We did have a very nice snack break in their coffee shop while the vikings played on the floor.

Next, Karen really wanted to get an Icelandic sweater so she found THE place (called Álafoss) in a little town called Mosfellsbær, which turned out to be a really neat stop. She shopped while walked the vikings around and then we (the vikings) discovered a shop where a guy (Palli Kristjánsson) made and sold all kinds of custom knives, which was really interesting for me and the oldest, not so much the little ones who just wanted to put sheep horns on their head:

I ended up buying a really beautiful Santoku knife with a handle made from the horn of a reinder, the hoof of an Icelandic horse, ebony and marbled padauk. I’m keeping it in a box until we get back home.

We finally found Mommy, who got her sweater and then piled back into the car to drive the rest of the way to Reykjavík. The tunnel Hvalfjörður was closed for re-paving which added an hour or so to the drive but we got back to Reykjavík in the afternoon, checked back into our hotel, drove over to the Perlan to look out over all of Reykjavík:

and also had ice cream. :)

Finally, on our last drive we headed out to jump into the tourist trap that is Bláa Lónið (The Blue Lagoon) which is about 40 minutes from downtown but was well worth it for the weary travelers:

and then ended up back in the city for dinner at Íslenski barinn, which was fantastic.

On our last day (Sunday), we had breakfast, returned the rental car and then walked around downtown, checking out Sólfar (Sun Voyager):

visiting the Maritime Museum (free for adults with kids, not highly recommended but nice if you need to waste an hour before you have to get on a plane), getting hot dogs (which are apparently some kind of Icelandic specialty but weren’t any better than what you’d get in Chicago):

and then spending our last bits of cash at a crepe shop which just happened to arrive with a giant pile of ice cream:

All told, a great trip, highly recommended, even in October although I think we got really lucky with the weather. I’d love to go back in July or August and hike around some glaciers and spend some time in the highlands, maybe in a couple years.

Stats:

  • Museums : 2
  • Hot dogs : 5
  • Giant piles of ice cream: 2
  • Geocaches: 0!

Day 8: The Longest Drive: Iceland

We thought going into the trip that there’d be a couple days of long driving but for the most part we were able to make a bunch of stops every day and see a bunch of things… except this day. Think the Google Maps estimate for this day was north of 4 hours so we tried to get an early start so that we could get somewhere and maybe do something in the latter half of the day. The guesthouse we stayed at didn’t have a formal breakfast but he provided tokens for us to use at a local “bakarí”, which was fantastic. We had donuts and ham and cheese croissants at Aðalbakarí and then hit the road.

Our first stop was for an easy to find geocache that was at a statue in the middle of nowhere, everyone got to stretch their legs for a bit and then we packed it in again and drove on roads like this:

at which point I must now pause and say that driving around Iceland was like watching a really long and slow but extremely beautiful nature movie. I thought a number of times that Iceland is like the island that resulted from Hawaii (volcanoes, oceans, etc.) and Alaska (glaciers, snow, fishing, etc..) and some state in the middle of the US (cows, sheep, horses, etc..) all getting together and saying “let’s make an island that has the best parts of all of what we have.”, which is to say that driving wasn’t a chore at all, except for the gravel roads in some places… OH and the precarious cliffs that we drove right on top of to get out of Siglufjörður, other than that though, amazing.

Second stop, which I can’t remember how we found (think it was the navigator) turned out to be really cool. I think she was looking for geocaches as a place for us to stop and she found this geocache at an abandoned house (had been abandoned for 70 years) that you had to drive off road to even get close to. Apparently it’s name is Svarðbæli, but you can read more about it here. We drove out the 4×4 road to about 1/2 mile away and then hoofed it on the gravel road the rest of the way. The geocache itself was a bear to find (had to enter the really old house, climb up to the second floor and then it was hidden away in the rafters, I couldn’t find it, Karen found it later) but the views and the walk were brilliant:

Everyone got to horse around a bit and get their wiggles out which was nice. Didn’t see an option to put an offer down on the house but if I was a hermit, I think I’d want to live here:

We made our picnic lunch in the back of the car, if I remember correctly this was the day that someone decided that they didn’t want a PB&J for lunch which meant that they had to wait until dinner for food. Doesn’t pay to be fussy in our family.
And then we drove:

until our next stop, a hill called Helgafell, which is called “holy mountain” and is a 227 meter high volcanic cone that, drum roll, had a geocache on top, which we found and then got to enjoy the views from the top:

A short drive later and we were at our “hotel” for the evening in another little town, this one called Stykkishólmur, in probably the smallest of all the rooms we had on the trip but we made do. We got there a bit early hoping to find something to do but there wasn’t much open at all (more stuff in the summer) so we hiked up to the top of the lighthouse:

which is called Súgandisey and tried to make sure no one fell off a cliff, then hoofed it back a mile or so into the little town center where the only place to eat that was open at 5pm was a little pizza shop called Stykkið, which ended up having GREAT pizza.

Kids went to bed, I missed a geocache on top of the lighthouse and had to go back at night with my headlamp to find it:

which wasn’t too hard to do, short of the wind and cold.
Stats:

  • Light houses: 1
  • Abandoned houses: 1
  • Geocaches: 4