Completing the Ring Road and an Active Volcano Eruption

June 19:

Today we completed the ring road! It’s so fun to think that we were able to drive completely around an entire country in just over one week. We only had a short drive back into Reykjavik from our camp site.

101 Reykjavik Street Food

We went to this restaurant the first day we arrived in Iceland, and we couldn’t stop talking about it during the entire drive around the island. So of course, our first day back in Reykjavik, we had to stop in for another bite. It was just as good as we remembered! We got the Icelandic meat soup again – a lamb stew with potatoes, broth, and spices. This time we tried the traditional Icelandic fish stew as well – not really a stew as the name suggests, but essentially mashed potatoes, onion, and cod fish. Everything was delicious! We met the owners son while we were there. We told them we will most likely be back one more time before we leave. We love the food so much!

Fish stew directly in front of Graham (who took this picture), and Icelandic meat stew on the other side of the table in front of Lizzie.

Fagradalsfjall Volcano

The Fagradalsfjall volcano began erupting March 19, 2021 and is still emitting fresh lava as of today. It was about a 35 minute drive from Reykjavik to the makeshift parking lot they set up for tourists after it began erupting. We parked our car and began the hike. We first came to a field of lava hardened on the top, but boiling underneath. We were able to get a couple small lava rocks from the top because it had cooled enough to touch! There were many people taking bags full of lava rocks home.

Cooling lava as it oozed down the side of the mountain near the active eruption.

The lava field, even though it looked like it had been there for some time, was still extremely hot. If you looked across the field, you could see the distortions from the heat waves coming off the surface. In some cracks in the cooled magma, you could look inside and see that it was still glowing red hot as the lava continued to slowly seep beneath.

Beyond the hill at the far side of the lava field was the active eruption site.
Along the ridge, lava continuing to flow into the valley. If you look closely at the bottom of the “cooled” magma, you can see a crack in the rock showing that it’s still red hot beneath.
An up-close look at a crack in the “cooled” magma showing the red-hot lava flow beneath. We were only inches away from this!

As the magma cooled in this valley, it solidified into rock and expanded/contracted as it cooled and was reheated by the lava beneath. As this happened, you could hear it crackle and pop with almost a tin sound. It sounded like a tin can with carbonation in it, or after you drive an old car that’s all-metal and turn it off – the “pinging” sound of the metal parts.

It smelled like a mixture of smooth cigar smoke and gunpowder.

After we spent some time being mesmerized by this field (and probably becoming highly intoxicated by the toxic fumes), we began the insane hike up the side of a mountain to get a good look at the center of the actively erupting volcano. Huh… Maybe we were intoxicated by the volcano fumes…

Hiking up the ridge – the Atlantic Ocean in the background!

The hike was really challenging. Neither of us had hiking shoes or hiking poles as a lot of the folks around us did. The wind was also stronger than we’ve ever experienced as there were no trees nearby to stop it from blowing. That being said, the view from the top of the ridge made the challenging hike totally worth it! This was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. The lava was mesmerizing as it bubbled/splashed out and poured over the side of the mountain into the valley below. It sounded like strong waves crashing into the sand at a beach.

The lava bubbled like water and shot out of the cauldron – it was mesmerizing.

Sandgerði Camping

After the long hike, we swung into a local fast food joint for some burgers and fries. Interestingly, burgers, ice cream, and hot dogs are some of the most popular dishes here – especially as it relates to fast food!

We got to our final campsite of the trip around midnight – the ring road completed in 8 days. The campground was right next to a beautiful lake – it had hot showers, clean bathrooms, and a common area to charge our phones. This was our last night in the campervan. Tomorrow we turn in the van and head to our Airbnb for the last 2 nights here in Iceland.

The inside of our camper van – a comfy bed sat up on top of storage. The van came with dishes, a stove with gas, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, 2 camping chairs and a fold-out table.

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