Today's five-hour drive gave us some gorgeous mountain scenery, but there were a few nerve-wracking moments when the Sailbus felt like it was actually going to blow off the side of a cliff. Setting aside the windy conditions along the ring road, this was one of the most perfect days I've ever had.
After a few pit stops (and scarfing down a gas station hot dog garnished with bacon and potato salad -- so weird, but so good), we arrived at Hverfjall, a crater about 20 minutes away from the town of Myvatn. While my friends hiked to the top of the crater, I spent some quality time with a small group of Icelandic horses near the parking area. I approached slowly and talked to them in a sing-songy voice, and though I was dying to go up and squeeze them, I knew it was best not to.
At one point I dropped my circular polarizer in a half-frozen pile of pony turds, but I don't think I ever stopped smiling. I grew up with horses, and I have to say, these were some of the happiest ones I've ever seen. They munched away on grass and one followed me around for a bit, probably hoping I had treats in my pocket. The golden afternoon light was dropping, and when two of the animals settled down for a nap, I took that as my cue to leave.
We headed straight to the Myvatn baths, where we were finally able to take a shower. We sat in the hot springs and downed a few beers just as the sun was setting, and yeah, it was just as chill as it sounds. The sky turned a shade of peachy pink, and I was tempted to shoot the reflection of the colors over the water, but I decided to be present. Funny, because I still have that perfect picture burned in my mind, and I imagine I will for many years to come. On our way out, we chatted with some locals about the best spots to see the northern lights. The forecast showed there was a 50/50 shot, so we were feeling pretty optimistic.
We drove north for 30 minutes, trying to get away from the light pollution near the town. We made dinner and kept glancing out the window, but we didn't see much yet. Sigh. Maybe what we caught earlier in the week was the best we'd get on this trip. I stepped outside to use the restroom, and when I looked up, I couldn't believe it. There was so much pink and green bouncing across the sky, I actually almost peed on myself. As soon as I pulled up my pants (all three pairs of them), I grabbed my tripod and started shooting away. I had the settings right, but I wasn't even sure where to point my camera because the aurora was literally all over the place. The columns of light danced and swirled around, and I did my best to capture it, but the images don't even come close to doing it justice.
What a day...