Iceland: Day 3
We woke up at 7am, thanks to an alarm clock. We wanted to make sure we would be awake early enough to hit the road before the storm. Neither of us really slept much to be honest. The wind was really loud all night. We showered quickly and made breakfast which was left over sweet potato and broccoli with eggs. We packed our things and loaded them into the car. Luckily, the host had asked us to leave the keys in the cabin and the door unlocked during checkout. This was great in case we decided the weather was too bad because we knew that we could turn around and head back and we'd be able to get back in.
We set out on the ice-covered roads that we were growing used to. Our route would take us south, and then east. We figured with a wind coming from the east that the southbound leg of the drive would be the trickiest part. The wind was fairly strong, but once we left Flúðir, the main roads were pavement. Actual pavement! This drive would be a piece of cake. I told Rob that our new host said the worst roads would be around Seljalandsfoss waterfall, or about halfway through our journey. We made the drive south without any issues, and once we hit the "Ring Road" which is the main road around the island, we turned east.
From there, we were dealing with a strong headwind, which was much more manageable than the crosswinds when we were driving south. We pressed on. At the rate we were going, we would be at our destination well before noon, which is when the highway was set to close. The winds were noticeably increasing. Our weather app indicated that it was only 32 mph constant, but the gusts were predicted to reach 90mph. As we saw the sign for Seljalandsfoss waterfall, we relaxed a bit, since the worst of the driving was now behind us. East of Seljalandsfoss waterfall are several mountains. They continue all the way to the next major town of Vik. As the road began to wind it's way under the mountains after Seljalandsfoss, we realized that the driving was much worse here. I reread the message from our host. "The worst conditions will be under the mountains after Seljalandsfoss waterfall towards town of Vik." Ah. I think she meant the whole section of road between the two which made a lot more sense. I checked http://www.road.is which is a guide to road conditions all over Iceland. The segment of road to be closed was from Hvolsvöllur to Vik. We had already driven through Hvolsvöllur, 22km ago. Now we only had 60km to go winding just below and through the mountains to Vik.
We finally came up over the mountain pass and wound down the hill into Vik. We stopped for fuel and a coffee, and to stretch our legs for a bit. The weather was really intense. We had to use extra caution (and usually both hands!) when opening and closing car doors. Walking into the wind was significantly more effort. The rain/snow mixture that was coming down sideways hurt. Vik is right on the coast, and if we could have seen that far through the haze, we would have seen gigantic waves crashing on the breaker.
When we fueled up with diesel, we figured out something that had been bugging us since we picked up the car. Since day 1 with the car, there had been a smell. Almost like paint, but not quite. Smelled just like diesel, which wasn't exactly surprising, since it had a tank full of it all the time. We couldn't figure out why we could smell it. Do all diesel cars smell? Well, when the tank filled up, the pump did not shut itself off quick enough, for whatever reason, and it dumped a bunch of fuel on the quarter panel. We noticed afterwards that many of that generation Dacia Duster (of which there are tons here) have clear signs of diesel spilled down the sides, so perhaps it's a design flaw in the vehicle?
We continued east for another 45 minutes that seemed like an eternity of driving on the surface of another planet. For as far as we could see in every direction, was just white. Except directly ahead and directly behind, which were a solid black line where the road was. There were very few other cars, and the landscape was exceptionally flat. The landscape lended exceptionally well to snow drifts, which added an additional layer of driving excitement; sometimes you could see the road! We eventually arrived in Hrífunes, which is a town, we think, but there's like 3 inns that comprise the entire place, and nothing else around. Not even any houses. Normally, we'd get settled in and explore around outside. Because of the severe weather and approaching dark, we opted to stay in and relax.
We had signed up to have dinner at the guesthouse where we were staying. Dinner is at 7:30pm, and is homecooked by the innkeeps. We had pork roast, beef stew, red cabbage slaw, white cabbage curry, salad, white rice, fresh breads, and cauliflower soup. All of it was absolutely delicious. Dinner was sort of a buffet, and all the guests who opted to have dinner shared 2 large dinner tables. This was a great opportunity to meet other fellow travelers, and share itineraries and tips for places to check out. We ended up at the table with another couple for a few hours chatting until we all finally decided to head to bed.
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"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.