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Journal Blog

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Iceland .. the Fire, the Ice and the Steed

Karyn Planett

Iceland did, indeed, cometh as did rain in every form .. spitting, blowing, drizzling, downpouring, dropleting, and the like for five soppy days as we explored the entire 832-mile ring-road perimeter of this island nation. The endless stream of water from the heavens above is what blesses this landscape with a color wheel of green in every hue from Lime Gatorade to Dollar Bill, Range Rover to Mojito Mint. Made even more vibrant by an obsidian-black volcanic backdrop, I definitely got my money's worth. So do moviegoers who watch Star Wars VII, Pawn Sacrifice, Burial Rites, Jupiter Ascending, Interstellar and others all filmed on location in Iceland.

Along the way I felt as if I was always poking about the tips of volcanoes and ice bergs. Volcanologists told us that Iceland is basically one honker volcano plunked down smack in the middle-ish of the Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Some experts count 130 of them that exhibit some sort of volcanic activity or relative inactivity. And who can forge the Eyjafjallajökull blast off in 2010 that was so massive it threw a proverbial wrench into flights to and from Europe for longer than an Italian vacation in August. But the granddaddy of them all was in 1783 when 1/4th of the island's population (small to begin with) perished from the Lakagígar eruption when half the island's animals died from ash, poisonous gas and famine due to habitat destruction. Some claim it even affected world temperatures resulting in crop failures as far away as India.

Well, honey, that was then and this is now and what's there to enjoy are thermal pools, face-of-the-moon landscapes, and glorious produce grown in thermal-heated greenhouses. 

Then there's the ice-blue ice that's sprinkled about the countryside and beaches, lakes and mountaintops  .. even blue bergy bits broken off from glaciers grinding and finding their way to the sea. The Ice Lagoon is sort of the vortex of it all with chunks of ice bobbing off a black sand beach against a backdrop worthy of a Mad Max 3 shoot. 

Now toss in the iconic Icelandic pony seen dotted across the meadows and valleys and you've got a destination that offers something for everyone. These furry fluff-maned, 5-gaited, stout horses pass the day in carpet-thick grass with streams of gin-clear water trickling past. Long-legged colts tag along with the herd while young males buck and bite for dominance. Up close, I discovered many had Paul-Newman-blue eyes, the same color as the ice bergs, plus the gentle demeanor of an animal with no predators. Everywhere we stopped, they trotted up winnying for a nuzzle or carrot.

Iceland promised me much and delivered even more. Again, as this is my fourth trip here, I was stunned by what can only be described as the beauty of a landscape unique in the world. My photos attempt to capture this drama, but without the sound of a pounding waterfall and pumice-like stones crunching underfoot; the smell of wet hay and wet socks; the taste of sea spray and fresh-from-the-oven rye bread with cloudberry jam; and the feel of a horse's soft nose, I just simply can't do the destination justice. Best you go there one day to discover all this on your own.

We're off to explore Eastern Greenland next on The World. You can follow our progress on this link.

And watch for our collection of Iceland photos .. coming soon.