The best part of a family vacation is not the destination or the activities. It is not in what we see, what we eat, and what we buy.
The best thing about a family vacation is the time together as a family. The creation of shared memories that we will laugh and smile about for years and years. It is in seeing the smile of a family member experiencing one of their favorite things, the sense of awe and wonder family can share together. The time together is priceless and is the vacation in and of itself. Focused time to bond, to connect, and to to share. On family vacation we have time to be present with each other – one of the greatest gifts of life.
This trip has been mind-blowing, perception altering, and inspiring. I’ve seen things I’ve never dreamt possible, found fodder for future imaginations and day dreams, and have added more ideas to my dream list. All that said, I’m most thankful for the time with my family.
Gotta love a view like this when i’m about to blog. I had a handful of thoughts and ideas of where to go with the gratitude today, but then I got my laptop outside and sat on the porch. All around me are the sounds of birds I wouldn’t have recognized a little over a week ago. The tail feathers of a snipe. The angry shouts of a tern. Countless others I don’t know.
Across the yard are a large hill and a mountain. Behind me and to the right are snow capped mountains and glaciers. Over my left shoulder are a few waterfalls.
In front of me is a tide pool slowly rising. Across from that is a giant bay and then the next peninsula of Iceland and its own set of snow covered mountains.
The sun is out and only occasionally ducks behind a cloud. There’s a cool little breeze blowing across my face. It is the perfect temperature to type while wearing a long sleeve shirt and a pair of shorts.
This is heaven. This is heaven and I have the opportunity to blog here. What a perfect moment.
For clarity, we did have to get out of the car to take this picture, but it was on our way heading to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Yes, that’s a ridiculously large and majestic waterfall surrounded by bright green vegetation under a perfectly balanced cloudy blue sky complete with rainbow.
All day long our views have felt like they were pulled straight out of a postcard. Mountains. Glaciers. Giant plains filled with sheep. A sea of purple Alaskan lupins. Sun shining down on a mountain while rain buffets another mountain. Driving along the ocean. Waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls. All around us was picturesque scene after scene.
Driving a handful of hours isn’t nearly as bad when there are views like this!
As I type this we’re all winding down, taking turns heading to the shower, and will then be grabbing supper. After we eat we’ll play some games and head off to bed. We’ve hiked just shy of 40 miles with an elevation gain of 6,700′ over the past three days and I’m definitely feeling it. Bed sounds fantastic.
Yesterday I accomplished something I have on my dream list – spending a day in Iceland when it is daylight all day long. The longest day of sunlight was yesterday and I was here in Iceland to enjoy it. Gavin even helped me document the sunrise and sunset of the day as seen below:
To be honest, there wasn’t anything noble or bigger picture in that dream other than having the opportunity to experience daylight for 24 straight hours. Not gonna lie, it’s cool, but it’s not great for sleep. The cabin we’re staying in has dark out curtains, but there’s no bathroom. In order to go in the middle of the night I have to get up, head outside, and walk to another building. I’m used to that from camping no big deal there. What I’m definitely not used to is the daylight when making said walk. Talk about throwing my brain for a loop!
I’m glad I’ve done it, I’m thankful to have knocked one off my dream list, and I’m also questioning if I really want to have the “spend a day in Iceland during the shortest day of daylight” dream on my list anymore. It’s definitely at least dropped in priority.
All joking aside, I am so appreciative of learning the power of writing dreams down on paper. This was another opportunity to remind myself that I need to keep dreaming big (and sometimes a little weird).
Words cannot do justice to what we experienced today. One of our hikes culminated in something so extraordinary and naturally beautiful I was moved to tears as I stood soaking it in. The sense of awe overcame me with emotion.
After hiking close to five miles and crossing a handful of rivers and streams (some by rock hopping and some by wading barefoot) we got to what we thought was a sad end. For sure, it was about one of the most gorgeous dead ends of all time, stopped by raging glacial rivers and gusting winds while surrounded by 100+ meter cliffs on either side. When we turned to head back we remembered the advice from the front desk help earlier in the day. “When it look like the trail ends stay left until you get to the cave and waterfall.” As luck would have it we were able to find what appeared to be another dead end but actually led to the cave.
Once we entered the cave it opened up into a natural spiral staircase made of stone. The rock seemed to be a hard baked clay with huge chunks of obsidian and other rocks mixed in, almost like a volcanic concrete. Rising above us was an opening to the sky with a waterfall dropping well over a hundred feet into the round circular area we were standing in. The water dropped from one level to the next, splitting into two streams and then merging back into one before the water reached the floor. The walls were coated with emerald green moss and vegetation which also caused additional water to fall from the walls like rain. The cool air was misty and the roar of the water the only sound. It was awesome.
We all just stood there and took it all in. I couldn’t even begin to guess how long we were there, I was caught in such a sense of wonderment that all I could think of was trying to absorb as much of the memory as possible. There was no sense of time, only a sense of awe. In that moment all I could do was stand and let the emotion of such beauty wash over me.
I type this as I lay in my bunk bed at 8:05pm on Monday. I’m exhausted from waking up early and driving a little over three hours. My feet feel a little swollen. My right Achilles is a little tender. My back is a little sore. My legs are feeling a little rough. Keeping my eyes open is a bit of a struggle. Even though it will not be dark anytime soon (pretty sure that happens here again in July😉) there will be no issue with me calling asleep quickly. I’m wore out.
Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and do it all over again and I’ll be smiling the entire time, even when I’m tired by the end of the day. This feels like heaven.
I know, to many this probably sounds nuts. Maybe the exact opposite of what you’d like vacation to be. Personally, I’m a huge fan of active vacations like this. Maybe it’s the fact I spend much of my professionals life in a state of stillness rather than activeness. More likely, the activities which bring me joy usually involve action or require me to work to get to what I want to see. Either way, active vacations are the right ones for me!
My morning started off in a pretty outstanding way – the boys each made me a Father’s Day card before we left and gave them to me before we went out for a hike. Getting those handcrafted cards always makes me smile, what they write in them each year gets better and better.
Spending the entire day with the whole family was exactly what I wanted for Father’s Day. Spending the entire day with them as we were outside hiking and exploring just south of the Arctic Circle was even better!
Today we spent more time at Diamond Beach and Glacier Lagoon. Becky picked out a mind blowingly surreal hike 1,500 up from the floor of the valley to a cliff top overlooking the glaciers, glacial lagoons, rock formations, valleys, and well over half a dozen waterfalls. During the hike I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the majestic beauty surrounding us, it seemed like something straight out of dream.
Time with my family, time outdoors, time lost in an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. What a perfect Father’s Day gift!
Our day was memorable for many reasons – especially the wind. The gusts were up to 50-55mph while we were hiking in the afternoon and while walking after dinner. It was ridiculous! Talk about something we’ll all remember!
To wrap up the night we spent time as a family doing something we always do on vacation. We sit around the table, busy out a couple of decks of cards, and play “Golf.” It’s the game we’ve been playing for several years now on all of our vacations. It is one of our most “normal” vacation activities and I appreciate the family time we have with it tremendously.
Completely wild and memorable combined with normal – perfect!
My mind is still struggling to comprehend everything it has witnessed today. We woke up to a handful more waterfalls outside our AirBNB, saw icebergs in a glacial lagoon, watched seals, hiked up a glacier, went ice climbing, saw chunks of icebergs on an ocean beach, and watched a whale at 10pm while the sun was still up. Yup, let all that sink in. My head still is having trouble processing all of it. All of this in just our first full day in Iceland – incredible!!!
While each of those were amazing moments, I think one of the moments – or more specifically a couple of moments – I’ll remember most was the two minutes of quiet we spent on the glacier overlooking a spectacular valley. Our tour guide really wanted us to appreciate the Iceland that he and his fellow Icelanders enjoy… moments of quiet and stillness while being lost in a state of awe and wonder. We all spread out, sat down, and just listened to the sound of nature. The wind blew gently and I gazed across the valley and took in all that was around me. I was 100% still and present in the moment, no thoughts in mind, only the quiet calm of Nature and all of her wonderful gifts surrounding me. With those moments of stillness I was able to completely carve their memory into my brain for eternity. When life gets busy or loud I can close my eyes for a moment, take a deep breath, and remember those moments. What a gift!
Wow!!! Iceland is even more ridiculously majestic than I dreamy it would be! Around each bend in the road was a new surprise, some new crazy feature of the horizon. Waterfalls, cliffs, hot springs, steam vents, rivers, islands, glaciers, and even icebergs! The several hours we spent driving across the southern side of Iceland were well worth it in so many ways.
Time to crash, wake up, and actually dive into some sight seeing.