Friday, June 29, 2012

Iceland – Day 3: Suðureyri to Húsavík

I am still running a day behind in my postings.  I plan to catch up on Sunday when we have a day free from a lot of planned activities or travel.

On our third day in Iceland we spent almost the whole day traveling from Suðureyri to Húsavík.  Suðureyri, our starting point for the day, is only 300 kilometers or less from our destination, Húsavík as the crow flies.  However, due to the extremely rugged coast line and the number of fjords between Suðureyri and Húsavík our overall travel would be in excess of 600 kilometers.  Even through this was only kilometers as opposed to miles, it was still a very substantial distance to cover.

After a “hotel” breakfast we packed up and left Suðureyri.  However before we left the general vicinity of the town, we took a comprehensive tour of it all.  First we drove as far to the west as I felt comfortable driving as the road quickly gave way to a 4 wheel drive track and I didn’t want to push our little rental too far.  The scenery past the breakwall of the town was absolutely beautiful.  Though we were very close to the end of the head lands surrounding the fjord, there were numerous farms that dotted the desolate terrain to the west of the town.  With the intense beauty of the land beyond the break wall, I can only wonder about all the unseen landmarks of natural beauty that are only known to the few people who live that far out from civilization.  

Checking out the local ship packing plant, we found that it was a very small operation but it produced a large quantity of frozen fish ready for shipping to overseas markets.  The fish processed in this plant came from the small fishing ships that make Suðureyri their home port.

(Land beyond the breakwater in Suðureyri.)

After that we filled up on gas and began the long trek to our next destination.  At the upper reaches of the fjord we once again encountered the marvelously long tunnel that would lead us out of this wonderful little paradise on Earth.  This time however we took the opposite direction in when we came to the turn in the tunnel and headed to the much larger port town of Ísafjörður.  This town has a full time population of around 2800 and seems worlds larger than Suðureyri.

We stopped in Ísafjörður for a while and wandered around the town.  It was very exciting to be at the port as it was a hub of activity.  A large fishing vessel, by all appearances a bottom trawler was unloading it’s catch of fish.  The fish had already been processed and was in frozen cases for shipment to Japan by the looks of things.  It appeared like it was headed to Japan as half the writing on the cases was Japanese.  (I am not a fan of bottom trawling as it takes in all kinds of fish and there is a high amount of wastage as a result.)

 (Fishing trawler being unloaded of it's already processed catch.  Hard to see in this picture by there is an army of young men working to move and re-stack the boxes as they come off.)

We also spent some time hanging looking around the local museum that is dedicated to the fishing trade.  There was a considerable amount of fish out side the museum curing.  I can’t say I have every had cured fish they way they make it here, but certainly looks interesting.

After our time in Ísafjörður, we hit the road again and began our constantly curving journey through the fjords.  We stopped a short time later in the small town of Sudavik, which is home to the Arctic Fox Research Center.  For whatever reason, Zack has long had a fascination with Arctic Foxes.  I don’t know why, but for whatever reason he seems to love them.  Granted they are very cute, but Zack seems to have a real passion for them.  Regardless we stopped and paid the 800 kronnar fee to enter and explore the center.  The center presented exhibits on the biology of the foxes and how they have been extensively hunted in the past.  An interesting fact about Arctic Foxes is they are the only terrestrial land mammal that is native to Iceland.  All other large land mammals have been brought to Iceland by people.  Biologists are uncertain how the foxes got to Iceland, but there is speculation that at some point they may have floated to the island via ice flows. Or perhaps they came during the last ice age when Iceland may have been connected via ice to other large land masses.

After that we settled down to the routing of driving in spectacular scenery.  I am sure that Zack found it annoy but I would stop every 20 – 30 minutes to take more pictures of yet another amazing scene out in front of us.  The trip was routine except for two incidents involving birds.  In the first incident I stop the car to take a picture of a beautiful fjord.  As soon as I exited the car I was literally attacked by a bird.  It wasn’t a gull, but it was bigger than a robin and it just didn’t like me.  While I was taking the picture it kept trying to dive bomb me.  It would go for my head while continuously crying at me.  I defended myself with my camera until I realized it wasn’t really going to strike me.  At that point I let him fake dive bomb me all he wanted.  Needless to say I was glad to get back in the car and get away from that bird!

 (Wonderful views but there is lots of emptiness and desolation in the fjords.)

 (Lots and lots of emptiness and quiet out here!)

The second bird incident was no where near as funny as we ended up killing a bird – I believe with the car.  We were motoring down the road and suddenly a bird flew up from the side of the road and flew into the car.  The bird struck the car on the passenger side front, bounced up into the air and came down on the road.  I really couldn’t tell if it was killed or not, but I can’t imagine that it survived.  I felt very bad about the whole situation as I hate killing anything.

After that our ride settled down into a routine normal drive.  However I still felt bad about hitting the bird.  Despite the distance we arrived in Húsavík shortly before 8:00PM.  The sun was still shining brightly and it was a lovely day in Húsavík.  After grabbing a quick dinner in the hotel restaurant we spent what little of the evening we had left in our room doing some things on our computers.  I wrote and uploaded photos to Facebook and Zack played video games.

That wrapped up our third day in Iceland.  Our fourth day definitely brought lots more adventure, but I will save that story for tomorrow’s writing.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

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