Keflavík to Borgarnes_travel notes 1
Total distance covered: 260 km | 161 miles
After a short night on the plane, we turned our clocks ahead 4 hours. Despite our lack of sleep, our anticipation and adrenalin was running high. We had barley slept, but we were ready for our first day’s adventure!
We picked up our 16-year old rental car from SAD Cars (by far the cheapest rental around), hoping that I had made the right decision to pinch pennies. SAD Cars wasn’t kidding when they said, “Our cars have experience, but are very well maintained.” In this case: experience = age.
We saw our first Icelandic lava field as we drove from the Keflavik Airport towards Reykjavik. My response: GREY. Not much vegetation. Incredible texture. Rugged. STARK. lots of ROCK, dark hardened lava with a grey lichen coating. This condition was unlike anything I have seen before. Steam clouds billowed from the southwest in the direction of the Svartsengi Power Plant and the Blue Lagoon. It all felt very otherworldly…
Geologically, historically, and culturally Þingvellir is a location of great national importance. Listed as a World Heritage Site, Þingvellir is physically stunning, geologically remarkable, and an important convergence place for Icelandic people. It is incredible to me that in the year 930 A.D., the first parliament (Alþingi) commenced at this very site – this site, where two tectonic plates (the North American & the Eurasian) are separating along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. In choosing this location for the annual assembly, Iceland people, early on exhibited their strong ties to this unique ground. Stunning basalt walls tower above as you descend into the gap between these two plates. I found it impossible not to consider my own size in comparison to this enormous, growing landscape. From 930 A.D. to 1798 A.D., Icelandic people, including all of the all Chieftains, would journey a few days or a few weeks, for the annual two-week assembly. Here they would discuss issues of national politics and law. In the large panorama below, the flag indicates where the Lögberg (Law Rock) was located. This natural rock platform was the focal point of the assembly. In 1930 A.D, Þingvellir became a National park. Today, important events are still held in this space. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in how Iceland continues to make National history at this National Park.
Nesjavellir Power Plant is located in the Hengill volcanic area (a high temperature region), adjacent to þinvallavatn (Iceland’s largest natural lake). While no tour or information was provided at the plant, I poked around as much as I felt comfortable. I saw two men diligently going about their work, both completely focused on the task at hand. I felt neither welcomed nor discouraged.
Transmission lines and huge pipes were transporting energy from this station. Nesjavellir is a combination heat and power plant (CHP). This means it produces both electricity and hot water.The pipes themselves were stunning: shiny metallic lines standing out on the tree-less horizon. This station formally commencing operation in 1990. There are 26 bore holes, not all of which are in use. Something I find particularly fascinating is the depth at which these holes are drilled: between 3,280 ft to 7,218 ft (whoa!).
A great resource is the Nesjavellier Power Plant brochure: http://www.or.is/media/PDF/Nesjavellir_Enska.pdf
After our visit to the plant we headed for Borjarnes, where we were due to spend the night. Along the way, we discovered a waterfall, called ðrufuss. Next to the waterfall, we were pleasantly surprised to find blueberries and another blacker berry. Could this be edible? At Fossarrett, another small waterfall, we came across remnants of old stone walls. These old walls served as a reminder of times past and currently provid a starting point for numerous hikes. In addition to the walls we also observed large metal pipelines running alongside the major roadway (Route 1 / The Ring Rd.).
After a meal at the Heritage Center of wolf fish (a delicate tasting whitefish), we were more than ready for sleep.