Iceland: land of fire and nice

It was a dream of mine to go to Iceland. Ever since I met Solveig in 1998, I said that someday I would visit her country. She had told me so many great stories about her farm in Iceland over tea while we both lived in Sweden.

When we arrived we were SO tired after a night of no sleep. We needed to drive for 6 (read: 9 hours with kids) to Husavik where Solveig lived. As soon as we did some exciting grocery shopping (One of our favorite things to do in a new country!) we drove out of Reykjavik, and were in a quiet heaven of beautiful landscapes with sheep, sheep and more sheep.

It feels crazy to say it, but I think Iceland is the best place I have ever been. The beauty of the land combined with nice people and strong ties to their culture all added up to THE BEST PLACE EVER!  I just ADORED it! I can’t wait to go back in October, and Tenzin would like to move there permanently. I never thought that the pictures in my mind would be exceeded, but they were indeed!

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We arrived in Húsavík to find a house full of sweet people, and Solveig with a little baby bump! The kids made made quick friends with Gretar and Solveig Lara, and they made playing without language look easy.

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We learned how to properly eat dried fish- covered with (the most delicious) Icelandic butter. Tai ate a bag on the way up, but now we know better. This is definitively the way to go, and Tai and I are both addicted now.  We even brought dried fish and butter to Sweden, that’s how much we loved it!

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We went to a cool whale museum in Húsavík, where whales and fishing are the big things.

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Solveig Lara found herself in a photo with her class at the museum and pointed it out to Myla.

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Solveig took us to visit a traditional Icelandic turf home. They were built like this to insulate from the harsh weather, but did they know how cute they were?

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SO cute, right?!

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They were filled with all kinds of old Icelandic things. Living must have been hard, but they still made time for beautiful things.

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More dried fish for the road. And yes, I am wearing a down jacket in July.

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On our way to the farm, we stopped at a geothermal greenhouse. They were growing all kinds of tasty vegetables. A great idea that is apparently really taking off here.

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Welcome to the farm! It is called Baldursheimur, which translates to Baldur’s World. Baldur was the Norse God of light and purity. Purity is just what we felt when we went through this gate. Solveig’s family farm is 3000 hectares of pure beauty, which is 7400 acres. 7400 ACRES! It was so beautiful and expansive…I’ve never been anywhere so wonderful. It was breathtaking, peaceful, and yes, so pure!

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The kids went right to work playing farm children. They were pretty much as happy as they could be. Tenzin helped to bring the cows in, and both of the kids LOVED the fresh cows milk.

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Solveig Lara and Tenzin munching on chamomile after taking the cows out to pasture.

 

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Tenzin as an Icelandic Cowboy

One of the first things I saw after arrival was a baby wearing this little headscarf. (I also saw the best dressed man of my life at 7am, but that’s a different post!) I thought they were pretty cute, so Myla borrowed one. I asked where I could buy them, but Solveig said companies just gave them out. I’ll find one next time we’re there!

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“Cafe latte?”
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Looks like he was born here.

Possibly the cutest root cellar in the world. IMG_6354

Okay, let’s talk about the food. Everything tastes fantastic. I read something about Iceland having some of the best food in the world (on a pureness scale) Also, since a lot of it has been handmade on a farm…. it was so good. So below you will see me eating a smoked salmon sandwich, which is often offered at parties and special occasions. This special occasion was going to see a waterfall with some good friends. The salmon was also smoked with sheep poop, giving it that little extra kick.IMG_6592We also had the amazing experience of eating bread that was cooked underground in a hot spring! Solveig’s mom has her own little oven that she goes to, and bakes this delicious sticky, sweet, dense, dark bread. It was too good.

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Hot steam ovens are always hot and ready to go!

Solveig and Deddi took us to see the most amazing waterfall I have seen yet, Dettifoss! Here we are, on our way.

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the best, not to mention cutest kids in the world

 

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Dettifoss!

Although I don’t have a lot of photos to show the two hotsprings we visited, let me tell you that they were AMAZING! The first was a natural hot spring inside a cave. It was HOT! The kids and I could only go up to our tush line, but Tai went full on swimming in the 115 degree water. The whole cave was steamy and warm. It was really a cool experience, and I guess my first hot spring cave! We also went to a mini blue lagoon near Myvatn. The icy blue water was so beautiful!

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We went to a really old crater for a coffee and a hike. Apparently Tom Cruise filmed a movie here. It’s true, I saw his tiny foot prints!

 

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Solveig and I, just hanging out in a volcano.

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This is Solveig’s mother, Thorunn. She’s as sweet as pie, and she knits Icelandic sweaters! From their own sheep’s wool! How awesome is that?! She is also known to keep coffee and cake (marriage bliss cake! Yummy!) on at all times. She’s one of the most warm and delightful women you will ever meet. Lucky me.

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All over Iceland you will see sheep and Icelandic horses. They are so healthy looking and beautiful, and so peaceful. I loved seeing them all over!

 

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These guys just lined up for the photo. Posers.

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We went to see some steam vents and bubbling mud. It felt like we might get swallowed up by the earth at any moment, but it was worth it!

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The steam was stinky, obviously.

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We went to pick potatoes in a place where the soil was warmer near the springs. Solveig’s family had a little plot near some other potato plots. Seemed so quaint and sweet to have a potato plot with other people in the middle of nowhere. Those were some delicious potatoes!

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We saw another old volcanic area, with more beautiful silica laden springs. It was unbelievably beautiful!

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….and smelly.
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what a color! I loved it!
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Myla feeling the warm igneous rock.

Here’s one last look at this beautiful place that knocked my socks off.

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So, this is Iceland. A fiercely beautiful place, with kind and gentle people. I am in love.

 

Canada Day (or month..)

As usual, we arrived in Canada just in time for Canada Day.

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We went to Polson Park with Nana for some flag waving festivities and got some ice cream on this incredibly hot day!

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We went to a cabin with Pop and Grandma Sue for some boating and fishing fun. There was only one fish caught, but Tenzin caught several more in Kal lake. He was pretty happy about it!

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A giant chess board where we were camping

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We got to see a bunch of friends back in Vernon- it’s always fun and comforting to hang out with the same people in the same place again. We also made sure to do all of the Vernon tourist things like Davidson’s Orchards, Planet Bee, and Ellison Park. The kids also got to have a classic Vernon Screamer, which means I won that bet! DSCN0107 DSCN0146

We spent a beautiful day with Auntie Nina and their cousins Koral and Kefton out at Kaloya. I had fun taking photos of the sweet cousins. Although they don’t see each other too often, they have a special bond. We sisters do too of course! IMG_5750 IMG_5753 IMG_5775 IMG_5793 IMG_5830 IMG_5896 IMG_5917

 

Myla turned 6 in Vernon. She seems to always have her birthday when we’re traveling, but she loved having her family around for her party! I can’t believe she’s 6! My baby!

IMG_5969 IMG_5984 IMG_5996 I think I appreciated Vernon more than ever on this trip. Canada in general is a little nicer to families. Myla took swimming lessons, and Tenzin took a challenger camp where he went hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and white water rafting. They loved it! Vernon is so accessible for outdoor activities, which I can now fully appreciate. So, we’ll be back Vernon, at least for some nice long vacations! Also, a shout out to Pop and Grandma Sue for having us at their house for almost a month, and taking the kids to the cabin and fishing. Nana for taking the kids over night several times and out for special outings. The Aunties and Uncles were Awesome too! Thanks to everyone that made our time in Canada so memorable. We loved it! Here are some parting shots.

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