icelandmaxriveI just found out I’ll have the chance to cross a huge item off my Bucket List. I’ve wanted to go to Iceland for decades. Just this year, since I’m making a concerted effort to achieve some travel related list items, I’ve been telling Andy that I wanted to glom on to any business trip he has in Europe and take the short flight to Iceland while he works to keep us in terriers. Well, that trip has shown up on the calendar and I’m going. Better yet, Andy’s going to make that trip to Iceland with me. This also feels like the perfect year for this adventure. I have an epic roadtrip planned for August that includes Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. Now I’m going to a country that is basically one big Yellow Glacier National Park. Within months, I’ll be able to see if America really is exceptional — at least when it comes to glaciers, geysers and thermal springs. I’m hoping Iceland doesn’t make Glacier and Yellowstone pale in comparison. But Iceland does have active volcanoes!

I’m still working out the itinerary, but it definitely includes a drive around the Ring Road, which is basically the only highway in Iceland. If by “highway”, you mean two lane blacktop with no shoulder.

This is that highway! Photo by Yves Schüpbach. See more of his Iceland photos here.

This is that highway! Photo by Yves Schüpbach. See more of his Iceland photos here.

Besides the geysers, the glaciers and the incredible vistas, Iceland is also delightfully Hobbity.

This is a peat and wood church. The mounds are graves. Photo by Menno Schafer.

This is a peat and wood church. The mounds are graves. Photo by Menno Schafer.

Now that I’m going to Iceland, I realize I don’t know very much about Iceland. Except that they read a lot (even books of poetry become best sellers), Vikings who teleported from the past would still be able to understand Icelandic, and they are apparently prodigious drinkers. I have a lot of research to do. Or I need to find someone who knows Iceland to give me the low-down. Actually I do know someone from Iceland. It’s Björk.

Yes, THAT Bjork. I totally know her. Well, I met her. Sort of. But I think she'd remember me,

Yes, THAT Björk. I totally know her. Well, I met her. Sort of. But I think she’d remember me,

It’s a bit of a long story. At one point, Andy and I were invited to a Gala dinner at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The occasion was the opening of a new solo show by San Francisco artist Matthew Barney. Turns out, he’s Björk’s husband. And she is his muse. His art? Well, just let’s say, it’s challenging. The installation was a multi-floor sensory overload of photographs, videos, music and sculpture that appeared to follow a mythical water creature (played by Björk) who may or may not be Japanese and at various points was making love to a whale and then fished up (Björk, not the whale) by a Japanese trawler. All while a lightshow was going and what sounded like a Yoko Ono album was playing (but was probably Björk). As we finally got to the last floor of the installation, we entered a room with nothing but a huge, and I mean, huge blob of what looked like that beige insulation foam that you spray in buildings. I had been trying to keep an open mind and understand what the installation was saying. Andy, who favors Turner and any British artist who paints dogs and horses, was making no such effort. As we gazed down at the insulation foam, Andy said in disgust, “This looks like a big pile of whale vomit. Let’s go down to the bar and get a drink.”

That was the moment when I realized Björk, Matthew Barney and a few of the SFMOMA board members were standing just behind him and within earshot. Later, at the dinner, our table was the next one over from Björk’s. I’m pretty sure she was giving us the stink-eye all the way through to the dessert course. Come to think of it, we’ve never been invited back to another SFMOMA gala. Someone probably had our names blacklisted.

So yeah, I probably won’t ring up Björk when I land in Reykjavík.

But if any of you have been to Iceland and can give me some good travel tips, weigh in. Here are the web sites I’ll be using: this one, this one and this one.

One thing I may not see: The Northern Lights. Fall through Winter is supposed to be the best time to see the light show. Photo by Wim Denijs

One thing I may not see: The Northern Lights. Fall through Winter is the best time to see the light show. Photo by Wim Denijs

All photos were taken from this Life Buzz article. Top strip photo by J.G. Damlow.

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