June 30: Mt. Heckla and Iceland’s Golden Circle of Tourist Attractions

The clouds cleared, and Mt. Heckla was visible across the lake for the first time. An enormous volcano, it is due to go off. Small black ducks in the lake and brilliant purple peas blossoming.
Met a herd of sheep on the track. I told them they were lovely sheep and they turned tail and furry butts and ran away on their little legs.
Today had an afternoon field trip. We drove to seeĀ  the waterfall at Gullfloss. We’re basically right in the “Golden Circle” of tourist attractions. The country was high and lovely, with herds of Arctic ponies. Picked up a Dutch hitchhiker–19 year old woman who had taken a ferry into the eastern fjords. Gullfloss was spectacular—the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen (as I’ve not been to Niagra) with at least a half dozen individual streams pouring over immensely high rocks. It is hard to describe waterfalls, in part because they are about motion, but also they seem to exude a kind of force field of atmosphere like the sea (positive ions?).
The paved road ends there, so turned around and stopped at Geysir, Iceland’s first tourists attraction, an Old Faithful style geyser.At first it didn’t look that impressive, as we’ve seen a lot of steam coming out of the ground. But the pool of the main geyser rocked and swelled in science fiction style and then a shimmering azure hemisphere broke the surface and then exploded into steam. Two haunting pools, one a milky turquoise and one a blue cavern encrusted in silica.
The crowd of tourists standing around with cameras ready made me think as always of what we look at, how we direct our attention, what we really experience.
As always, the tension between writing and sightseeing plagues me. It really isn’t possible to write without putting in the time on the laptop and in various notebooks. Also, the head time–silence, expansiveness, lack of structure, openness. On the other hand, the road atlas lies on the coffee table, next to the guidebook, and the car keys. The bathing suit is packed with a snack of almonds. Who knows if I’ll pass this way again. What would you do?