What does a retiree do? He goes on tour! I'd hoped to get out of my job before the end of summer, but as seen on my trip to Hornstrandir, summer was over. We'd had our sun. I managed to hurt an ankle in Ísafjörður somehow, so I also ended up spending almost two weeks at home "resting" before I was finally ready to head out.
I'd been planning a couple of mini-projects, looking down every side road, and also visiting all the places in the back of my road atlas that start with "Reyk" (it's a prefix that means smokey, and is often associated with natural hot springs). In preparation for going to Hornstrandir I'd finally replaced my old busted GPS, so I'd also been doing a lot of mapping for Open Street Map while I was resting at home. (You can thank me for just about every street in Reykjavík, as of September 2007, I drove them all)
Well, I started driving down some side roads, and it was fun enough, but I quickly came to realise that most side roads simply lead you to a farm at the end of a road. Still lots of roads to drive though, and I will continue with this project, but not necessarily neighbouring side roads :)
The second project, visiting places that start with Reyk, also sort of fizzled. I'd been to some, and I drove past a few more, even driving down farm roads. Maybe when I feel comfortable explaining the project to someone, I might try and take a photo of all the farm houses, maybe even get them to show me why the reason for the name. But most of them were simply a pretty generic farm. I decided to focus on other things :)
Day 1, I didn't really get very far, I'd been driving slowly, taking slightly different routes to normal, headed roughly towards Hveravellir, or somewhere near Gullfoss. I was following my road book pretty closely, seeing what it had to say, and not driving fast at all. Pretty grey weather, when I saw a tourist sign (the woven logo of an "attraction") and the words "Faxi" and decided to investigate. I was also getting pretty tired by this time.
Faxi was an unexpected delight. Barely mentioned in my road book, except a small mark on the map, and not having the usual "Foss" name, this was quite a cool waterfall. Oh, and a campground! A quite beautiful setting on the banks of the river above the falls, then a nice wide fall, followed by a 90 degree bend. When I arrived I noticed a big sign advertising "NO FISHING" but not long after parking the car, a big shiny black jeep pulled up, with "Laxá fishing tours" on the side, and disgorged a raincoated fisherman to start fly fishing in the pool below the falls (where I could see salmon flopping about occasionally) while the "guide" stayed up warm in the car.
I took a couple of indignant pictures of the car and the fisherman, before a closer investigation of the sign revealed that it was "no fishing" because it was the private river of Laxá fishing tours. I think a private river is probably even worse. I wonder who they had to pay or bribe at some distant point in the past to have sole fishing rights to the river. It must be worth it though, I've heard stories of 20,000 euro just for the license for a single day of icelandic salmon fishing. A bit nuts if you ask me.
Anyway, It was a nice spot. And I had it to myself. I was also rather wet though. My old ski jacket, purchased at a warehouse sale in San Jose some years before had really done it's last trip in the west fjords. It was raining here, but not thatttt much, but still, just walking around and taking pictures, I got rather wet shoulders and upper body. It does have a tear on the top shoulder. This made it rather cold and uncomfortable when it came time to cook dinner after I'd stopped moving about taking pictures. I ended up having cold sandwhichs in the roomy toilet block, rather than stand around in the cold outside.
This was not a good start. I thought about my planned 3 weeks or so ahead, and after much debate, decided to simply return to Reykjavík in the morning, and buy a new shell. It wasn't sale time, but I'd looked at sales for a while and not seen anything, and I damn well needed a new one. It was only going to make me unhappy dealing with shitty weather in bad gear, and I didn't want to come to that decision when I was at the far side of the country, and skipping things simply because I was inadequately equipped.
Happy to have reached a decision, I slept soundly, through the rain, and in the morning headed back the way I'd come, spending a day shopping, and as luck would have it, even getting a coffee with Lee and a dinner with Rakel.