Every person I talked to prior to leaving for Iceland had the same conclusion; it feels and looks like what being on Mars would feel and look like. Otherworldly, to be specific.
Those people were exactly right but verbal descriptions or even pictures don’t do it justice. Iceland is unlike any place I’ve ever been, unique to its core in terrain, language and metropolitan spaces. The weather is so dubious I wonder if meteorologists just spin a wheel and go to broadcast, knowing whatever they hit will surely come that day. You can drive for miles without seeing other headlights then stumble upon a lone restaurant in tiny town with a 20 minute wait. The ups and downs were constant, keeping us on our toes and in a perpetual state of excitement for what greeted us ahead.
In late February, we took the red eye from New York and landed at Keflavik Airport at 5am, stocked up on alcohol, and rented our car. We set off for our first hike and venture into the Icelandic wilderness, braving the elements and seeking a storied series of hot springs, heated by volcanic lava below the earth’s surface.
A warm, dense fog encapsulated us, clouding every lookout point and at times rendering our view no further than 10 feet in front of our car. Though disappointed to be visiting a park chock full of vistas on such a damp, foggy day, my best friend Jamie and I continued the twisting climb up Skyline Drive, surrounded by the lush green rolling foothills of the Shenandoah mountains.
My sister Sarah put it perfectly on our last day in Charleston: This city is like Disney World for adults. The booze flows freely, you can eat with abandon, stroll King Street for unparalleled shopping, and you can walk pretty much anywhere you need to go. Charleston, South Carolina, is made for pleasure, an epicurean city with a history as rich as a bowl of She-crab soup.
If there’s one thing California does not lack, it’s national parks. From north to south these protected wilderness areas and vast expanses of varying terrain dot the California map, ranging from bubbling fumaroles to deserts to snow-capped mountains and giving it reigning status of the having most national parks of all 50 states.
I find it easy to get bogged down by the daily grind of living in the heart of San Francisco. Even when I’m sitting in my room, door closed, there’s constant noise – people talking outside my window, the girl upstairs moving furniture, cars whizzing by and sirens in the distance. There’s a sort of balancing act in tempering the urge to demand your own space and recognizing that all these people crammed into your bus need to get to work as well. Sometimes it feels inescapable, especially for someone who grew up in a small, quiet, coastal town.