on the road

Iceland_On The Road1South Shore on the outskirts of Rangarping Eystra

On the road. Such an interesting phrase – Jack Kerouac made it famous. We pantomime it (in a more environmental context) every few miles. Drive. See an amazing geology: waterfall, river, mountain range, rock pile. Stop. Get out – literally get “on the road.” Walk around. Choose vantage points. Greg is a delightful traveling companion. He enjoys the several dozen stops as much as I do and doesn’t complain that we essentially travel at an average speed of 20 mph or less averaging photo stops. What pushes me to ecstasy in Iceland is the shifting blankets of clouds blowing fiercely across the vast sky. We travel in June – prime tourist season – and yet rarely see another car on the road. We keep to the paved pullouts, aware of the egregious destruction by tourists pulling off the road into pristine landscapes. The verdant green expanse is intoxicating. The colors remind me of California in winter, which enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Parched yellow-beige of dead grasses from late spring, summer, and most of autumn erupt into this vermillion shade of green as winter rains influenced by El Nino/La Nina tropical weather patterns inspire the landscape to burst into life for a few short months. Too soon in Caliofornia, drought returns and colors fade. Not so in Iceland, evergreen even in winter as grasses are buried beneath the snow. I think of childhood snowstorms in upstate New York and the delight of digging deep into snowdrifts to uncover the still green landscape, frozen and brittle. Traveling Iceland in summer we bask in the ever present, luminous greens of arctic winds softened by warm ocean currents. Always at hand are insulated jackets, as winds blow clouds through at a ripping rate, rain ever looming from jagged edges of scud clouds.  Even the season’s strongest sunshine cannot warm ubiquitous arctic winds.

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