Our private guide picked us up bright and early to head to the Borgarfjordur valley. Our guide was off on his timing so when we arrived at Borgarnes village, nothing was open, including the Saga museum that I hoped Edna would see. The museum offers a re-creation of the Icelandic saga Egill. Time was an issue, so we moved on to Havalfjordur, or Whale fjord which was formed in the ice-age by glaciers. The scenery is unforgettable.
The Havalfjordur is one of the deepest in Iceland and was very important during World War II. The British and American governments both built bases, one on each side of the fjord due to the strategic importance of Iceland overall.
Some of the Quonset huts that were used as barracks for the US troops remain today. They have become treasured summer homes.
We stopped in the Icelandic forest to find that two small Icelandic women fit very well into the stunted forest where trees don’t get much taller than 8-10 feet!
Snorri Sturluson was a very important figure in Iceland, born in 1179 and murdered in 1241. He was a historian and poet and also was elected as the law speaker of the Althing twice. Snorri wrote about Old Norse Mythology including how the pagans believed in Odin, Thor and Loki. He also wrote Sagas such as Heimskringla which was an account about Norwegian kings and depicted how relations of clans, kings, and others worked in the 9th to 12th centuries. History that had been kept alive via oral tradition was written down by Snorri, providing an enduring history of Iceland.
Snorri lived in Reykholt, which now is a place where scholars and historians come for medieval studies.
Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls in a lava field that are about 900 meters long. Hraunfossar means Lava Falls. As the water trickles over the volcanic rock, there is one area that was very special to Edna and I. A place in the falls that has the appearance of an angel. When we saw her, tears came to both of our eyes. Edna has lost all three of her adult children and angels are a very important message to us. For me, my grandma used to call me her angel so there is a double meaning. When we see angels, we feel the unique sadness of losing our children as well as the joy that they are sending us messages. I always take the message of an angel that my grandma Mae is with my son Clarke and now standing here with Edna, we know that her mother, (my grandmother) is with Clarke and Edna’s three children, Kris, Keith and Tracy. It was a powerful moment that I was able to share with Edna.
It is a very short walk to Barnafoss; the Children’s Falls. There is a fable about a mother who left her children home and went to church on Christmas but warned the children not to leave the house. They didn’t listen and as they played on a rock bridge, they fell into the water and drowned. The mother had the bridge destroyed and put a curse on the falls so no one could cross the river again. That’s the story and the grimness fits into the traditional Icelandic fables of trying to keep children behaving.
My special Volcano adventure
In 2015, Cathy and I were supposed to take a helicopter tour of the lava fields and the weather was too bad to do it. In 2021, a volcano erupted, and we were supposed to take a helicopter tour and the volcano STOPPED ERUPTING the day before our tour, or as the locals told us, ‘It took a pause’ … Yup! A volcano can pause, who knew? And it kept pausing until after we left and then resumed!
So, now Fagradalsfjall is erupting again and what I want most at the moment is get in a helicopter and fly over it. Edna, who lost her two sons in a small plane accident, didn’t want to go but told me that I needed to fulfill the dream. As we drove back to Reyjkavik, I was notified that my flight to see the erupting volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula was secured. I headed to the local airport to board Norderflug helicopter tours. The pilot was actually from Germany and flew his helicopter to Iceland specifically to provide volcano tours.
The ride was all I had hoped for and I not only experienced the erupting volcano, but also had a beautiful view of Reykjavik. I was able to film in real time and share it with Edna as she waited for me in our hotel room. I knew she was worried considering the loss of her sons, but it was yet again a testament as to who she is that she told me to go even knowing that if disaster struck, she would be in a foreign country alone — eek. Because Cathy and I had missed out on our volcano tour the year before since it went ‘on pause,’ I also sent videos and pictures to her. It was my attempt to share, what was for me, a lifetime event. I would take another volcano tour any time!
The pilot lined up with the 2021 crater in the foreground and the currently erupting one in the background. We had a lot of fun as he swirled around the area and gave us all different views of the volcano.
As we came in for our landing, my heart leapt. I believe in ‘signs.’ I believe that my son is always with me and that he shows me that in various ways. Whether it’s angels in a waterfall, pennies that have a specific meaning to him, or a dime because it’s worth 10 and in archery a perfect shot is also a 10, or in this case special numbers. Of the various landing strips at the airport, we landed on 13-31. 13 is my oldest sons birthdate and 31 is my youngest. Clarke is always there and I just loved it.