|Sómastaðir, in Reyðarfjörður|
You might recognize this house if you've been reading Iceland Eyes for a while. It's the one my great-grandfather, Hans Beck, built, and where my grandmother (one of his 23 children) was born (click on the link to read more about its history).
I last wrote about in 2006 when it was still in disrepair, but now I'm happy to say it's been renovated to an amazingly fine degree by the National Museum of Iceland Historic Buildings Collection with funding from Alcoa, the aluminum company that has erected a smelter literally just across the street from the house, on a long thin plot of land that dips down from the road into the fjord below. Thankfully, the smelter is mostly hidden by the sloping landscape, and if you stand with your back to it you can almost imagine you're back in 1913 when my amma, Ásta Beck, was born.
And once again, one of the reasons I love blogging is that I just discovered this American Forests site detailing a reforestation project for the hillside behind the house, on Sómastaðafjall!
It was my mother, Ásthildur Brynjófsdóttir Roff's, birthday present to herself to go back to Reyðarfjörður with my father, my children and me and see what's been done with the old place. Though she was also born in the area, it was in the town proper, in an old corrugated-iron clad timber house named Tunga. We went there, and also in to Eskifjörður, and to the old Helgustaðir spar-stone mine which the SEEDS volunteer project worked on in 2009. They did a wonderful job of making the area visitor-friendly. Definitely visit their link to learn about spar-stone, or transparent calcite, which is littered all about the hillside mine area. And if you've seen the History Channel's Vikings series, you'll recall Ragnar using it the second episode to navigate to England!
We had a wonderful visit out east, and I HIGHLY recommend the region to travelers. It's one of the oldest settled areas in the country, with the second oldest geology. The people are kind, the landscape stunning, and the weather generally much better (or at least more specific) than in the south and west. It took me ten hours to drive home from Egilstaðir to Reykajvik in one shot, which I had to do, though I would of course recommend stopping and staying as much as possible along the way :+)