We left Kirkjubæjarklauster after seeing the waterfall Systrafoss - very pretty. It was cloudy although not raining. Then we continued west toward Vik.
We were trying to decide whether or not to go snowmobiling, also known as snowcatting. We saw the famous Vik beach but didn't walk on it. Directions to the snowmobile place were hard to follow: exactly where was that turnoff? James and Pat had made reservations, and we ended up following them. We finally found the turnoff - with a big sign - perhaps 20 km west of Vik. We got to the base of the mountain where two white Jeeps were waiting, keys inside. Unfortunately they were 4-passenger vehicles, but we decided it would be safer to use one of them rather than our van, so we crammed the kids into the back and off we went.
It was an exciting drive up the mountain! We were in the rain, but when we got high enough, we looked behind us to see sunshine in the valley. The road was rocky and precipitous. Finally, after about 9 km, we reached the cabin where the tour started.
After we parked the Jeeps and went inside, we found to our delight that Liz, Marie, Eric and June had all arrived before us! We were then outfitted with snowsuits, boots, gloves, and helmets. We got into the bus that took us for a 10-minute ride to the glacier, and the snowmobiles. A tall blond Icelander - I missed his name - taught us how to operate the snowmobiles. We were told to stay in line, on the track, because there were fissures and other dangers on the glacier, but we would be quite safe if we followed the instructions. We paired up and off we went. We stopped once to see a waterfall, and another time to see some sled dogs. We could have had a sled ride had we wanted that experience. I found that controlling the snowmobile wasn't as easy as it appeared, but it was a lot of fun!
The snowmobile excursion took place on the glacier Mýrdalsjökull, the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. Mýrdalsjökull also has the distinction of being located on top of the volcano Katla, and the volcano has been rumbling quite a bit recently. It is expected to erupt sometime "soon", and as one can imagine, you wouldn't want to be snowmobiling on the glacier - or anywhere within many miles - on that day! Historically this is one of Iceland's most destructive volcanoes.
We finally came off the mountain at about 2 PM, and drove over to Dyrhólaey for a picnic lunch with James and Pat and their girls. We were on the west side of the rock formations that are usually in pictures of the beach at Vik. We saw lots of birds and a few puffins.
Then we continued west, stopping to see the lovely waterfall Skógafoss. It would have been fun to hike around here, but we were running out of time. We spent extra time trying to find Selyalandfoss, which wasn't well marked but was well worth looking for. We were able to walk behind the waterfall - a truly memorable experience!
By this time it was getting late, and we drove straight through to Reykjavík. We arrived at Hotel Island about 7PM, and Mike and Brian were able to go out to run at the athletic complex again. A soccer game was in progress and there was a crowd of people loudly cheering for the home team.
Dinner this night was at the Argentina Steak House, a bizarre experience and rather disappointing for our last dinner in Iceland. We perused the menus in the "Cognac Room." After we ordered they took us to the dining room. We had requested non-smoking seating, but the man at the next table was smoking a cigar. The maitre d' asked him to stop, which he agreed to do - but then he lit up again. Hmmm. It was also the most expensive menu we saw, with entrees up to 4600+ ISK (that's around $62 USD). The food was good, but not really remarkable - but maybe the cigar smoke affected our taste buds.
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