Volcanic Mountains on the Coast Road of Snaefellsnes
The circuit of ocean road around the Snaefellsnes Pennisula expands into marshlands and sea to the right with mountains of varying volcanic geology rising to the left. It mirrors the spectacular folds of ocean and mountains on our home peninsula of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Only here the mountains are three times the size of our modest Vision Peak. It reminds us how fortunate we are to live in one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, enthralling us with a sweet mix of mountains, ocean, and marine geology. The coast road is sunny and lovely – our best day yet for pleasant weather. we have specifically chosen this route to travel through the national parks on the eastern shores; lava field harbors, black sand beaches, volcanic tuff mountains. The scenery dazzles around ever turn.
We stop beside a lovely inlet with an expanse of waterfalls on the far side. Clouds foam above in billowing torrents but sun prevails. We stop again along a series of marshy pastures to photograph Icelandic horses grazing and then cavorting in the wetlands, splashing in chase. Such a pleasure to watch horses everywhere running wild and free, enjoying the world as much as we do.
Their range of coloring delights me: buff with dark mane, dappled gray, tawny with coat and mane exactly matching, chestnut with black mane, black with light mane, black coat and mane, the combinations are dazzling. The peninsula is punctuated by the extremes of volcanic mountains, craggy cliffs, green fields and wetlands draining towards the ocean: marshes, sloughs, streams, creeks slipping out to sea. Another stop for lunch of hot chocolate, fish stew with homemade flatbreads provides a stunning book with photo-essays on the geology of Iceland.
We wind along the circular route to the scenic town of Stykkishólmur, dramatically coming in from above with the town below the cliffs, an amazing perspective of colorful harbor and boats. The rows of lovely houses and buildings slide down the cliffs to sea level with an arc of white clouds and blue sky as celestial arbor.
The quaint profile of town is highlighted by the stunning curved lines of Stykkishólmskirkja Church, perched upon the highest point. We drive up to walk around the white-washed concrete church.
Disappointed that the Volcano Museum is closed, we press on along a dirt track that looks as if it will save us some time getting back to the main road to our inland destination of Laugarvatn. It is a grand choice as the dirt road winds around inlet after outlet of ocean with spectacular views and switchback roads rising along each set of cliffs.
We stop at a farm for ice cream, savoring the ambiance as much as the homemade ice cream or chilled skyr (a richer version of frozen yogurt) and sit outside with the farm dogs and children.Once again we are lost in time, chasing the landscape as the sun bounces along the horizon line giving us the illusion of never-ending days.
Clouds darken slightly to hint at us that it might be getting later than we think, and once again we also pull into our evening destination of Laugarvatn, just before restaurant closing time at 11pm, grateful for how well the locals have timed things to anticipate the time warped tourists.