Saturday, December 3, 2016

Iceland 2016 Part I: Some familiar waterfalls, Dyrholaey, Vik, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, & Systrastapi

I told you we'd be back! We honestly didn't think we'd be back so soon, but our drive to come back to Iceland just a year after we left it was stronger than going to a new country at this point. We planned an 8 day trip taking us around the entire country, and then some. We were able to skip a lot of the southeast since we spent 7 days focused on that area last year.

We arrived around 7am and were on the road by 8:15. The landscape was just how we remembered it... like the world had just ended! We stopped in a familiar bakery from last year and got some breakfast and waters for the road. Jon was able to get about 6 hours of sleep on the plane (due to an extra 1.5 hours of sitting on the runway before takeoff), but I barely slept the night before. He took to the road while I slept for a little bit on the drive to Seljalandsfoss. Just a couple of hours later we were at a familiar site... Seljalandsfoss waterfall:

Jon gearing up for some nice shots

We also walked up the walkway a bit and peeked into Gljufrabui waterfall. Last time I didn't go all the way in, but this time I did and I'm so glad I took the opportunity this time! The water was cold!

Next we drove up, up, up, and around in the hope of being able to see Seljalandsfoss from a high angle. We had read about being able to do this, and although we're pretty sure we were driving in the right area, we didn't see what we had intended to see. Nevertheless, we saw some great views and it gave me a chance to practice my bathroom skills next to the car :)

Random waterfall 

We then drove to Skogafoss waterfall just a little bit down the road. We didn't spend too much time here since we spent so much time here last year and we wanted to keep driving, but we were reminded of the sheer beauty of some of these places.

We then drove about 30 minutes to Vik where we spent a few nights last year. We didn't get to see Dyrholaey and the views of the black sand beach last time so that was on our agenda. The views of this empty black sand beach with the Arctic waters crashing on them was a gorgeous sight. We spent some time here just taking in the views and relaxing. We then drove to the town of Vik for a much needed meal.

Fully fed and reenergized we drove to Fjadrargljufur Canyon. This canyon is located right off the main road and is about 100 meters deep and about two kilometers long. We were able to hike a little bit up the canyon and along the small river, and although it was rather cloudy and a little drizzly, we were able to enjoy the spectacular views of the canyon.

18 weeks!

An hour later put us near our cabin for the night. We first stopped at a beautiful waterfall that isn't on too many people's agenda - Systrastapi. There was no one in sight for this waterfall, and while it may not be as big as others it was pretty cool to see. If you happen to be passing by then it is right off the main road and I suggest making the quick stop.

By this time it was about 5:30 and we were so tired from the day and ready to check into our cabin. The drive took about 15 minutes from the waterfall and the cabin was located in the middle of a large lava field. Very beautiful and very serene! We relaxed and tried to keep our eyes open until dinner, and then crashed at around 8:30 for a full night's sleep. It was a tiring and long day, but we were so excited to be back!

The tiny little bridge that barely fit our car!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Park City, Utah, United States

Last February we chose to go to Park City, Utah for our annual west coast ski trip. Squaw Valley was a bust the year prior in terms of snowfall and we wanted to try something different. We loved everything about this trip! From the bed and breakfast we stayed in that heated the room through a gas fireplace and warmed us up with an amazing breakfast each morning, to the amazing snow conditions and not so crowded skiing. And lucky us, it snowed about two feet the first night we got there!

View from our room

I think this was the coldest skiing I've ever done!!!

We absolutely loved our bed and breakfast. It was so cozy and completely added to our trip.

Walking around the old town of Park City

We loved our time here so much that we decided to come back in June with Julia to check out the beautiful summer weather. We booked a stay with the same bed and breakfast (and were not disappointed) and despite a very very early wakeup the first day due to a toddler being on east coast time and not used to sleeping in a bed (Hmm.. what to do at 3am?) we were able to fully enjoy our long weekend and explore the area.

On the plane waiting out a two hour delay on the runway... 

Nap at 9am is reasonable when you wake up at 3!

Dan, Rachel, and Ariella met us at the b&b in the early afternoon. After some lunch we decided to head over to Park City Mountain base. Here they have all kinds of fun stuff to do like alpine slides, alpine coasters, zip lines, trampolines, and much more. Being the daredevil that she is, Julia wanted to try the alpine slide and the big trampoline, which she just made the weight minimum for. The alpine slide has over 3,000 feet of sliding down a track. We rode the lift up with Dan (Rachel stayed with Ariella at the bottom), picked up our sliding contraptions and headed to the line. Julia rode with Jon and she had such a good time! Afterwards we took her to the trampoline where she soared super high and enjoyed a great view I'm sure!

Loving the lift!

Getting ready to ride! 
All set for the trampoline

The next day we took the bus to the Canyons where we decided to do some hiking. I think Julia and Ariella would have been very content riding the bus all day. After arriving at the Canyons we rode a gondola up and then took some kind of standing scary lift up the rest of the way. We hiked up a good amount with Julia in the hiking backpack and Ariella in her carrier. The weather was gorgeous and we just loved how we were able to be outside without the excess humidity like we find with DC summers. We probably hiked about 1.5 miles up and then turned around. We stopped for lunch before getting on the gondola and then made our way back down. The kiddos just loved riding on the gondola and standing ski lift. The rest of the afternoon we hung out at the bed and breakfast and let the kids relax and play.

The next day we set out on a longer hike with Julia. We took the bus to Deer Valley in order to hike the Mid-Mountain trail across to Park City. The hike is a popular route among mountain bikers and hikers as you can make your way down to Park City from many different areas. We loved this hike, but it was way longer than we thought it would be! By the end we were hot, tired, hungry, and very thirsty as we had run out of water. We hiked about 6 miles in total and Jon's back was achy from carrying Julia the whole time. But we had a great time and next time we would definitely plan better for the afternoon out.

Julia liked it so much she fell asleep! 

We had to leave our bed and breakfast by 7:30 the next morning since we had a long journey ahead of us. Our hosts made us breakfast to go, which included egg sandwiches and delicious banana chocolate chip muffins. We seriously questioned whether we should move out west after this visit. The outdoor activity, the laid back lifestyle, the openness, and the weather makes this area very appealing! Maybe one day...