Iceland

I never thought that a country would wow me as much as Iceland did.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life.  Granted, I’ve never been to Europe so this was my first time in this part of the world, but I have to say... it was love at first sight. 

Waking up to the sounds of glaciers grazing the rocks as they float by

Waking up to the sounds of glaciers grazing the rocks as they float by

I partnered with Camp Easy CamperVan rentals for the nine days I had in the country.  As much as I wanted to be present in the moment, each day had me wishing I had more time in the country.  Each day was a unique experience in every way.  Although I only had a little over a week, I decided to drive around the country on the ring road.  All of the travel books said you need at least 10 or more days and looking back, that would have been a bit easier to have more time but I am so glad I took that route.

Morning at the Blue Lagoon

Morning at the Blue Lagoon

My first stop was the very popular Blue Lagoon. Tourists come in bus loads so I wanted to be the first one there when it opened at 9am.  For anyone wanting to go and experience it with the least amount of people, I would recommend doing the same.  I have to say that the experience was surreal.  I’ve read so much about it and looked at photographs so actually being there to experience it was something I will never forget.

Once I soaked for a few hours, I started my journey on the ring road.  I didn’t prepare where to go or what to see.  I had a guide book that I would look at each day and look for some of the sights it mentioned.  Most of the time, I would drive and pull over if I saw something interesting.  Needless to say, I pulled over a lot.  

Icelantic horses greeting me as I passed by

Icelantic horses greeting me as I passed by

I soaked up the waterfalls towards the South.  I spent the night near one and woke up to an amazing sight without a tourist in sight.  Once you veer off the ring road, you are pretty much on your own and alone.  The further west I traveled, the less busses and tourists I saw.  Traveling in April, the weather was still cold but I had sunlight until around 9pm.  I came across the Glacier Lagoon and decided to stay overnight.  Hearing the seagulls while the sounds of ice crashing against each other was unreal.  Also, there were endless families of seals weaving in and out of the glaciers.  It was pure magic.

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I headed to the Western Fjords which was a sight to see.  I suppose I should just say that everything was amazing.  Once I turned the corner on the ring road to head back East, it got colder and a tricky windy unpaved road of snow kept my heart rate up.  That was the only time I kept thinking, “is this right?” “is this the main road?”  After about 40 minutes of steep incline of snowy road with no guardrail, I got to a valley of snow and at least I knew I wouldn’t slide off the side of the road.  The snowy hills went on forever without a human in sight. 

The next few days were spent exploring the North until I came around to the Peninsula on the west.  This area had to be my favorite.  Although, it’s difficult to choose a favorite experience.  The key to being able to travel during this time is heat in the van from Camp Easy. Having wifi was a huge bonus for directions and looking things up on the spot.  

If you want to visit Iceland, I would recommend booking one of the many different camper vans from Camp Easy.  Sure, you can stay at a hotel and take the huge tour bus to the few attractions nearby, but you won’t have the freedom to explore.  

As usual... my head in the clouds

As usual... my head in the clouds

It was an experience I will never forget. 

To see more images of my trip, follow me on Instagram

To book at camper van with CampEasy, click here or on the photo below

My camper van for the week. 

My camper van for the week. 

Letting Go Of Things

A year ago today, I embarked on my dream trip of traveling New Zealand for three weeks to wander around in a camper van.  It was a gift to myself for my five year anniversary of not having a drink of alcohol. Today marks my sixth year.

Once I arrived in Auckland, I took a city bus to the camper van rental company to get a quick orientation of how to drive and camp (thank my lucky stars that someone finally told me how it's done).  Once I got the nerve to drive out of the lot on the left side of the street and made my way through the city on the left side, singing "left, left, left, left, stay left, stay left" out loud to myself, I finally came to a stop to get some gas and a bite to eat. 

My daily, "where should I go today" morning.

My daily, "where should I go today" morning.

When I returned to the van, a couple approached me to tell me that they saw two people break into my van.  I stepped closer to look in the window to see that everything was gone. Since I just arrived, I haven't unpacked so grabbing my large duffel and backpack was a snap to the thieves.  I stood there staring at the back seat thinking that it would magically appear again.  In my mind, I started thinking about what I had... my expensive camera, kindle (you know...in case nature gets boring and I need to read a book), all my clothing gear for all types of weather situations, and everything else I packed that I thought I needed to live in a borrowed van for three weeks.

So, exactly a year ago I was sitting on a patch of grass waiting for the police to show up and not really knowing what I would be doing next.  You never know exactly how it feels unless it happens to you, and for some strange reason, I wasn't upset.  I mean, how could I be? I was in New Zealand!  Even though my view consisted of cars coming in and out of the gas station, it didn't matter.  I was on an adventure and people taking all of my gear wasn't going to stop me from having fun.  I started appreciating things that perhaps I wouldn't have taken the time to notice.  A worker at the coffee shop saw me sitting on the grass and came over with a coffee and a lemon custard bar.  That was the best damn lemon bar and coffee I've ever had.

After I spent the entire day with the police officer going over what had happened, I spent the night in the parking lot at the police station and was finally on my way the next day... traveling LIGHT.  I stopped for a few essentials but I was fortunate to have grabbed my passport at the last second to put in my purse before I left the van at the gas station. 

Even though I wore the same clothes for the trip, it didn't matter.  I was seeing an amazing country and experiencing moments that perhaps I wouldn't have noticed before the robbery.  Stuff is just stuff and it can be replaced.  When I reflect back to my most treasured moments in life, it's not the outfit, camera or fancy shoes I remember.  It's the experience and the feeling.

I was lucky to have had my iPhone on me when the van was robbed.  I took a photo out of the van window at many of my stops to give the viewer a sense of what it's like to be there.  This is a sample of my "vanscape" series that I did on this trip.

I was lucky to have had my iPhone on me when the van was robbed.  I took a photo out of the van window at many of my stops to give the viewer a sense of what it's like to be there.  This is a sample of my "vanscape" series that I did on this trip.

Once I detach feelings and emotions from "stuff", it gets easier and easier to live on less.  To me, it's a freeing feeling to donate things and getting them out of my life and into someones else's. I have boxes of things that I've kept over the years and every time I see the boxes, I immediately feel overwhelmed, trapped and stuck.  Just by looking at stuff, I get that feeling.  It's been a constant job of mine to go through every box I have and get rid of things that no longer serve a purpose.  If I don't use it, it's easy to justify it by thinking it has meaning because, "my grandmother gave it to me."  The fact is, it doesn't matter.  Sure, good feelings are nice to have and of course memories are precious, but is it worth it to pack that item up and shove it in a corner to feel overwhelmed each time you look at the boxes? To me... no.  My memory of my grandmother is always with me and I can spend time reflecting on her whenever I want to.  

If you are young, now is the time to stop.  Stop collecting things and putting them in boxes to carry to your next home.  If you use it, great.  If not, donate it.  You'll thank me later, trust me.  

Walking on a swing bridge in New Zealand.  Something I thought I would never do since I am afraid of heights.

Walking on a swing bridge in New Zealand.  Something I thought I would never do since I am afraid of heights.