Iceland – Sept. 2017

Featured Book by Ray Else
Who rules A.I., rules the World.
Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google, now self-aware, inhabit human bodies given to them by Android Einna. Life would be normal for them as humans, if it weren’t for the voices in their heads, and the epidemic of lost souls threatening humanity. To make matters worse, Android Einna, perhaps the only one who can save humanity from the epidemic, is missing.


Ray with Iceberg

Here I dare touch a small iceberg recently calved from the Jokulsarlon glacier.

If you go to Iceland be prepared for mouth-dropping scenery and creepy scenery and touched by the gods scenery.  Be prepared for geysers shooting up into the sky every five minutes and mossy rock formations transforming in your imagination to trolls and elves. Be prepared for overhead Vs of geese filling your head with the voices of a carnival of “the hidden people.” Be prepared for cold lagoons full of icebergs and hot blue lagoons full of people. Be prepared for sagas of incredible deeds by incredible people. Be prepared for a country where they still devour books and a tenth of the 300,000 people of Iceland have published their own book.

Or don’t be prepared at all – just go!


This cat welcomed me as I hiked from the car park to Centerhotel Klopp where I spent 2 nights in Reykjavik, a lovely city whose old town has that charming small town feel with friendly people.

I took a short walking tour with the company I Heart Reykjavik my first day and the guide took the group about the old town, pointing out places of interest, places to eat and eccentricities of the city like the many wall murals.

From the city of Reykjavik I traveled in my rental car the famous Golden Circle, stopping to walk about the continental rift at Thingvellir and see the Strokkur geyser at Geysir.

The next day, with my muse along as this trip was to get atmospheric details for my novel, Fountain of Souls, I drove Highway 1 along the south-east coast, stopping at Skatafell to see the glacier there, and to see the Skogafoss waterfall where suddenly a rainbow appeared and I felt blessed.


So many sights in Iceland surprise you with their natural beauty.

I continued the long drive to the Glacier Lagoon, and to my hotel at the farm Smyrlabjorg about twenty minutes past the lagoon. I loved that hotel with its friendly staff and wonderful food and view.


Beautiful colored rushes


The glaciers are enormous, and spill down their skirts all over the mountain range


Too costly (and too little traffic) to build two way bridges so a lot of bridges on Highway 1 are one lane – you just have to slow down to make sure you don’t crash.


Wonderful Hotel Smyrlabjorg about twenty minutes beyond the Glacier lagoon (and about a half hour from Hofn). Easy to spot from road and there’s a sign.

Next stop, the Glacier Lagoon. I had reserved a few days before (luckily since quite busy) a place on a rubber raft to tour the lagoon and see the glacier up close. I highly recommend the raft trip if you can take a few bumps and playful high speed racing across a lagoon full of icebergs. OK – yes I was scared, but it was fun too and the stops for pictures were out of this world. And then, the glacier calved an iceberg as we watched, the sound incredible as tons of ice hit the cold water two hundred yards from us.


View near Glacier Lagoon


Glacier Lagoon with ice patches and icebergs – note the head of a seal in the water – they were fishing for dinner when I visited


Everyone with a camera was going crazy capturing the beauty


Here is my crew with survival suits heading to the boats to visit the glacier up close


Fearless adventurer


What a trip!


Icebergs all around as we head for the glacier’s face


Blue ice indicates a young berg – the sun eventually bleaches it white


Incredible feeling to see this ice up close


A baby berg snatched from the ice water


The face of the glacier



The boat driver, who I believe was from a long line of Viking berserkers, took my picture after nearly dumping me in the ice water with his showboating 🙂


New icebergs fallen from the face


What can I say?





Maybe my favorite picture – a baby crystalline berg reflecting in the water

The next day after the glacier boat ride I visited the black sand beach at the bridge of the Glacier Lagoon, where I’d read one could find marvelous ice shapes. I’ll let you judge. I can tell you that personally, being a lover of crystal, having searched for (rock) crystal in countries all around the world, I was in heaven before these fantastical, temporary, crystal shapes.



Elephant head



Mermaid with a lion’s head catching a big fish





Bird in flight

Final stop, my last day, was the famous Blue Lagoon near the airport. The water is warm and thick with salt, and steam rises and is whipped by the cold wind, giving a mysterious appeal to the place. I thoroughly enjoyed my few hours there.

Great place Iceland, if you like nature. Magical.
Recommended reading: Egil’s Saga (then visit the Saga Museum)

Categories: foreign travel, rockhound, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paris and Barcelona with Grandsons – July, 2018

Featured Book by Ray Else

Who rules A.I., rules the World.

Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google, now self-aware, inhabit human bodies given to them by Android Einna. Life would be normal for them as humans, if it weren’t for the voices in their heads, and the epidemic of lost souls threatening humanity. To make matters worse, Android Einna, perhaps the only one who can save humanity from the epidemic, is missing.



Paris Oscar Eiffel Tower

Graduate Oscar on first trip to France and Spain

My oldest grandson Oscar graduated from high school and will be going to university in September 2018 to study music and finance. I thought he might like a trip to Europe as a kind of graduation present (with his parents helping some with the cost), so off we went, Oscar, my second oldest grandson Andrew (to keep Oscar company) and me, grandpa.

I’ll make a few comments about traveling with teens, then I will tell the rest mostly with pictures.

Travel with teens:

  1. they might not like what you think, so be flexible
    • I took them to lovely/spooky Pere Lachaise cemetery and we got lost looking for Jim Morrison’s grave and once we’d found it, all they could think to say was: “we’re thirsty” and “we’re hungry” and “why are there panties on his grave?”)
  2. they like to eat a lot / they like to eat often (find a decent not expensive restaurant and eat lunch and dinner there every day if that’s what makes them happy!)
  3. they like to sleep late (“It’s a vacation, we’re supposed to sleep til noon”)
  4. they like movies

So my brief advice is to be flexible and maybe see less than you wanted to each day, maybe just one special place a day. They’ll like that better and remember each place you visited better. For example we slept late one day and and went to the marvelous Musee D’Orsay an entire afternoon – they could really appreciate these paintings. Another afternoon we visited the Picasso Museum (nice, no crowds, but interest in him seems to be dying).

And don’t forget teens like movies! It was especially hot in Paris, so we saw 3 movies in the afternoons to beat the heat:

  1. The Shop around the Corner (1930 with Jimmy Stewart) – they loved it!
  2. Jurassic World (in French, no subtitles) – they liked it
  3. Bagdad Cafe (30th anniversary showing with hit song from 1989 – ‘I am Calling You’) – they liked it, though the ending drags

Now on to the Paris pictures:

Paris Oscar Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral – 1,000 years old

Paris us BW Selfie

Selfie in front of Notre Dame – I made it black and white just to be different. Andrew said we’re all squinting because looking into the sun.

Paris Notre Dame stained glass

Stained glass windows inside Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris Andrew tall as Eiffel Tower

Andrew grew into a giant taller than the Eiffel Tower thanks to Oscar’s expert picture taking!

Paris Galerie Lafayette interior

Impressive store in Paris – Galleries Lafayette

Paris Pere Lachaise cemetery

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Paris Pere Lachaise cemetery (2)

Great quiet place in Paris to walk if you don’t mind the tombs

Paris Pere La Chaise Cemetery

Where is Jim Morrison’s grave? This cemetery is huge!

Paris Jim Morrison of Doors

Finally found it – the grave of Jim Morrison of the 1960’s group called The Doors (Light my Fire). He died in Paris in 1971 at the age of 27. Note the panties left by some fan.

Paris boys at Saint Michael Fountain

At the Saint Michel Fountain, in the latin quarter of Paris

Paris best croissant bakery

Sign says best croissant in Paris. I tried one and they are wrong – the best croissant in the world!

Paris Andrew view from Sacre C

View from Sacre Coeur Cathedral, Paris

Paris Andrew in God's hand

Grandson Andrew in the giant’s hand, Saint Eustache Cathedral, Paris

Paris 14th of July Eiffel Tower Fireworks

Fireworks at Eiffel Tower on July 14 (France Independence day) – taken from a park some distance away because of huge crowds celebrating in Paris – I like it though as it reminds me of the impressionist paintings in the Musee D’Orsay


Now the Barcelona pictures:

Bullet train

We took the bullet train from Paris to Barcelona and back. Six and a half relaxing hours each way. First class has reclining seats. Oscar dabbles in Forex trading and wants to establish passive income to supplement his music teacher income once he graduates from college. Andrew wants to be an architect.

Barcelona Gaudi Park

Park designed by Gaudi. (Andrew liked it since he is into architecture – I was not overly impressed.)

Andrew and Oscar 2018 Barcelona

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Andrew’s braces are bothering him as you can tell from this picture.

Barcelona F.S.Towers w balls

Funny toppings on the towers

Barcelona F.S.

From this position it looks like its melting. They’ve been working on it for a hundred years and will probably be at it for another hundred

Barcelona F.S. windows

Stained glass inside the Cathedral

Barcelona F.S. interior

Inside the Cathedral

Barcelona F.S. Spiral stairway

Winding staircase down from the tower tour

Barcelona F.S. entrance

Entrance to Gaudi’s S.F. Cathederal

Barcelona beach

Beach at Barcelona. Water was clear and cool, but there were some jelly fish (which they call medusa). Optionally topless beach means culture shock for Americans.

Barcelona beach Andrew and Oscar

Right where the water meets the sandy edge, we collected smooth colored glass and clear and opaque jellybean quartz.

Found the French and the Spaniards to be nice enough, and their countries interesting.

Categories: foreign travel, travel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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