After sleeping in at Godafoss, had a breakfast bar and headed west along the Ring Road knowing full well at some point I would have to make the choice between searching for Haifoss that was missed during my initial pass through, or go all the way to Reykjavic and see a little of the city. The moment of truth came when I hit route 30 and pulled over to check some map things. The drive up to the falls would have to be doubled back on just to get to where I was currently, and it was not just a few minutes away, with a sketchy stretch of F-road involved. So I thought I would give nature a break, somehow find the famous cathedral and parking and hit one of the more famous tourist locations, a big departure from trying to avoid crowds. The cathedral wasn’t too difficult to find, and was lucky to find a parking spot just two blocks away; but the tough part was figuring out how to pay for the spot. It seems you have to use a particular machine for the specific area in which you park. Finally figured out the computer part of it, but still thought I was buying enough time to last until the next day!! I had read the hours for tourists begin at 9am, and by now it was a little past 10am, so I should be good to go. No entry fee, only if you want to take the elevator to the top for a view of the city. The only snafu was that it was closed to tourists until 12:15 because of a special holiday service. So back to the car and grabbed the tripod and wandered a while among the narrow streets in the vicinity until I figured I’d have a really early lunch. I thought that this meal should be my departure meal, so I had a local fish dish with vegetables and rice and as a finalizer, some French Chocolate Cake with cream and a strong cup of coffee to go with it to keep me awake through the remainder of the day. Then back up up the cathedral where there was no problem getting in, but the crowd needed to be dealt with. It seemed everyone was taking pictures and generally respecting their space, when I have the camera up to my eye, focusing on the ceiling, when from behind, this guy steps directly in front of me, so close that his backpack hits me in the chest, and proceeds to take a picture!! I said “Excuse me?” and the guy never even acknowledged me. So he walks up ahead and begins to point his camera up at the ceiling, and I did the exact same thing to him and didn’t even turn around to see if it mattered to him. That’s why I tend to stay away from crowds if at all possible. It may get me in trouble.
Afterward, I drove toward the Reykjanes area south of the airport just to have a look around before the light gets better much later in the day. It’s a vast area of ancient lava flows with almost nothing growing on the ground; a stark landscape of lava rock and black dust where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. There were two particular areas of interest though, the sea stacks and thermal areas. Found them both, eventually, and from the looks of things, the sea stacks looked to be a dud. But they did have a 6-foot tall statue of an auk (a bird) there. But it was a dud, not because of the stacks themselves, but due to a serious lack of drama. The skies were still cloudless, the tide was low, so minimal interaction of the ocean with the rocks, and the ocean itself was as calm as I’ve seen it…just nothing happening.
Time to check into the hotel which was nearly impossible to find, and unload all the crap from the house (car) to begin the repack after I return from Reykjanes sunset. The sea stacks remained a bust with a second viewing, but the lighthouse with some flowering lupine was an unexpected bonus.
But it was getting late and the only opportunity left was the thermal area. Just after I got there, a group shows up for a photo shoot that I believe was for the sunglasses the “models” were wearing. Boom, Boom, Boom, they were done and on their way. I just kept making photos of the steam rising in front of the setting sun, moving as the wind changed and just waiting for the right moment of steam wrapped around the sun to trip the shutter.
As the sun neared the horizon, I packed up and thought I’d drive slowly along the coast just in case I see something. One thing I did see was a small meadow of blooming lupine in front of a graveyard of white wooden crosses still lit by the setting sun. Found a spot to park, unpacked the camera and rattled off some shots in hope of combining one of the sky properly exposed and focused, and two others of the close lupine focused on and properly exposed. As I finished, the sun was done for the day, dropping below the horizon. Everything was packed up and continued the drive. As I looked out at the ocean, I was amazed to see that the ocean was much brighter than the sky!! It’s usually the other way around with the sky brighter than the ocean. I thought to record this anomaly, but there would be no subject, so what’s the point. Rounded a bend, and there was an ocean liner casually cruising along the coast!! Found a spot to park, broke out the gear again and clicked away trying to place the ship in a “notch” of the rocky coastline. Wow, that was great, two possibilities right in a row. Packed up the gear again and headed for the hotel. But then I saw what I believe to be Snaefellsjokul, the ice-capped volcano way out at the end of the Snaefellsness Peninsula which is a few hours drive away!! It shone light blue against the reddening (really peachening or coralizing) sky, still with the bright ocean. But, as an added bonus, the black shoreline had a solitary house silhouetted within which, you could actually see brightness in a few of its windows. Found a place to park, and unpacked the gear for a third time. These may be great additions to the bright pastel long distant telephoto shots I’ve been taking this whole trip. And usually I leave the camera on the tripod in the back of the SUV (in the bedroom) all ready to go on a moments notice. But, it being the end of the day with nothing else anticipated, I packed it all up each time, only to have to unpack it again a few moments later.
All in all, the end of the day was great…what a way to end the trip photographically!! And it truly was the end of the day as I turned into a pumpkin…