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We Spent an Afternoon in Secret Hvalfjörður

Lupin love to pose : )

This photo doesn't really need explanation, does it? 

If you've been visiting Iceland Eyes for a while, you'll know that I love taking intimate, macro photos of plants and flowers, and getting up close and personal with this lupin bloom paid off well.

Óðinn and I drove Hvalfjörður on our way back into town from our awesome trip to Arnarstapi and Snæfellsnes last weekend, something I don't do often enough. On the north side of the fjord we stopped at an abandoned liparite quarry and poked around  (liparít as it's known in Icelandic is actually rhyolite, the kind of rock that makes the landscape at Landmannalaugar famously colorful. For the curious, there's also a cool ghost town of the same name in the Nevada part of Death Valley.) 

The abandoned rhyolite quarry. You can see the helpful gull at the top.

Stopping at the quarry was of course my idea. 9 year old Óðinn had his nose in a Donald Duck comic, and was ready to just stay in the car until we got back into town. But I made him get out, and as soon as he realized what was on offer, he was stoked. There were two rusty yellow Caterpillars, a digger and a bulldozer, just sitting there.

A big yellow machine! 
He immediately climbed onto
the bulldozer, tried its doors, and whooped when one opened. In he went, jiggling all the gears and testing out every possible lever or button to see if they worked. I had one of those glorious moments where I knew everything was totally fine: the place was totally empty (so no one was there to judge me for Bad Parenting for letting my son do what any boy and most girls would want - no, need - to do!), the Cat machines weren't going anywhere, and the worst that could happen was maybe a bite from an irritated spider or a scratch if he wasn't careful with his movements. But my son is so agile (like my daughter has always been) and has had it drummed into him to be a reasonable, intelligent and responsible Adventurer, so I felt happy that he was getting a chance to explore this huge machine like he wanted to. (I just knocked on wood, adding the Icelandic sjö, níu, þrettán, or seven, nine, thirteen while knocking, just so that I don't jinx him with that last sentence!)

The tractor we were warned away from by the gull.

When we went over to the other Cat, some kind of gull-ish flying creature came zooming in to the quarry, literally yelling at us almost hysterically. Of course my first thought was that she had a nest there, but there was something about her voice, and how totally urgent it sounded that made me know that she was warning us to move away from that unit, and that inner edge of the site. We had Kría, or Arctic Terns, dive-bombing and screeching at us at Arnarstapi, but I've rarely heard gulls make such a fuss, and in such a weird location, otherwise totally devoid of birdlife. She perched on a cliff shoulder about fifteen feet away, and kept on squawking in this strange, almost human voice. So I called calmly up to her that we weren't any danger, wouldn't be doing any harm. She responded with another loud cry. Then I thanked her for what I considered was a warning for us, and told her we'd heed it, takk, takk. She squawked one more light squawk, stayed for a few more moments, then flew away. 

Óðinn rock collecting at river by the quarry.

At the western end of the quarry is a river, so we had to go there and rock hunt. We've now got a fine collection of rhyolite in our kitchen, to one day be added to the rockery we're going to create (Óðinn actually wants to get me a house with an entire room just for rocks : ) I also got a few macro shots of flora from the rocky riverbank, as well as one of a nice spider who was just in the process of wrapping up her bug meal when we found her. 

Spider wrapping her dinner.

It was a great hour we spent. I love being able to give my kids the chance to explore the world the way my father let my sister and I explore - it was fully instilled in to us that we had to play smart, and use our wits, and to never assume that nothing's going to happen, to Be Prepared, but to take some exciting risks anyway. That's harder to do now, and nearly impossible in the States, where helicopter/over-parenting is epidemic (I guess I'm doing what's now termed Free Range parenting!) I'm glad I listened to the gull, though, because of course any abandoned site, with rusty metal and potentially loose rock and such, could get scary all too quickly...

After leaving the quarry, we rounded the bottom of the fjord (absolutely gorgeous region, btw) and, on the southern side, stopped at a cute little waterfall at Fossá (here's a pic of my Valentina standing under it  from 2008) with a 700,000-tree forest planted by the Forestry Association of Kópavogur, part of the larger national association. There's also a bunch of lupin, hence the top photo.

Fossá by the forest. You can see an ancient stacked-stone sheep-herding pen at center right. 

We played around there, got our feet wet and climbed to the top of the falls, then, happy, called our adventure a day, and headed back into big city life once more...


1 comment:

Jono said...

Nice way to spend a day.