A Beautiful Day in West Iceland

On our last full day in Iceland, we drove north of Reykjavik to West Iceland and Snæfellsjökull National Park. The weather cooperated and provided us a relatively warm, gloriously sunny day for our trip. One memorable section of the drive was a six-kilometer-long tunnel that went under one of the inlets used for shipping.

The areas right along the coast are typically flat and striped with old lava flows. Snow-capped mountains soar up from the plains a little way inland. There aren’t any trees, just some occasional low shrubs and moss covering much of the rock and grasses in the sections with soil. I wasn’t able to get a good photo, but here and there were piles of rock with patches of grass growing on the top-most rock. At a glance, they looked a person or animal standing there – maybe what adds to the legend of trolls in Iceland.

Snæfellsjökull National Park, at the end of the peninsula, is a good place for bird watching. This was the beginning of the nesting season, so there were birds who had already laid eggs and gulls who were still building nests. There are plenty of snow geese, gray geese, arctic turns, and eider ducks, among others. The eiders sport the most interesting plumage. Eider nests dotted the grassy area beside a small pond. When you walked too close to a showy male sitting on the nest, he would waddle quickly toward the water. However, the females tended to huddle down and be still, blending in with the grass, unless you were about to step on them.

Birds weren’t the only animals ready for their photo op. One cute photo I had to take was of a lamb sunning itself in a cemetery in a small town. While Iceland has sheep and cows, the most common domestic animals are horses. We had to pull over on a shoulder-less road so I could get what to me says Iceland – an old stone building, horses grazing nearby, and mountains in the background.

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