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The spring 2009 honor's class is traveling to Iceland as a class trip.  Share in their adventure by following the student blogs.

"Hello, Iceland! Are you ready for me?" So begins one of the blogs as a group of Penn State Fayette honors students traveled to Iceland in May 2009. Share in their adventures by reading their archived blogs.

Cynthia's Adventures in Iceland!

DAY 4!!! ROAD TRIP!!!

Disclaimer...please ignore any and all grammatical errors and typo's...we are all sharing 2 computers, so I am in a hurry when on the internet!

Today is Tuesday, May 12, 2009.  Wake up time was 7:30am Icelandic time (3:30am EST), and at 9:00 am we headed East then South to a turn around destination of Vik, Iceland.  

Approximately 8,000 years ago, the South coast of Iceland was under water an existed as the ocean floor.  Our trusty guide Trausti, (pronounced similarly) explained that glaciers are very heavy and weigh the island down, thus increasing the level of the sea.  When the melting of the Glacial Period occurred, the island rose higher above the sea and the sea levels decreased.   Thus, the sediment washing away in the glacial rivers, extended the coastline extensively.  
On our way to Vik, we made several stops and observations along the way.  The first was the village of Selfoss, which has a population of approx. 6,000, and is used mainly as an agricultural trading post in the region.

Etymology lesson of the day.... Iceland words ending in "-fell" are usually mountains.  Ending in "-jokull" means glacier, "-tun" means town, and "-foss" means waterfall.   

Next, we passed a large farmhouse looking structure, called Bitra, which used to be a women's prison but now is currently being used as a youth hostel!  

Back to the environment...we crossed over a river that flows from Urrioafoss, which has been extensively harnessed for electricity, with 4 power station located on the river already.  There are plans to add 3 more, but environmentalists are fighting to stop the construction and the community feels it will be the next big environmental controversy in the upcoming future news.

Our next vision to behold, was Mt. Hekla, the most active volcano on the island.  It has erupted at least 20 times prior to 1947, which was the largest ever, and has settled into a new pattern, erupting every 10 years in smaller eruptions.  The last five were in:1970, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2000, and they expect it to erupt very soon because there is an indication of gas buildup in the magma chamber beneath the volcano.  

Glacial melting on the southern coast is approximately 100 meters per year since 1930.  Solheimajokull Glacier which translates in English to "Sun"+"Home"+"Glacier", is receding at an accelerated speed, and was our longest stop on the tour. To get to the base of the glacial mountain, we drove through a sediment bed, which was very rough driving.  Had the valley bed been covered in green, it would have reminded me of the rolling hills of PA.  BUT...it wasn't green, it was rich deep black.  In several areas, due to the pushing of sediment by glacial melting, the land had small ponds scattered all about, which the Icelanders call "kettle holes."  As we approach the base of Solheimajokull, I realize that this is a prime example of global warming.  The melting of glaciers and the recession of mountains and rising of sea levels.  It is disturbing, and almost frightening to see.  The bottom of the glacier was comparable to images of the moon, and we were the astronauts walking in our rain suits.  This was a geologist's dream field, and it reminded me of Scott Bush's geology class that I had last summer.  I felt the sediment, which was almost oily to the touch, and began identifying rocks praying that I paid attention enough in class to be correct in my analysis.  I do believe I am bringing back a piece of hematite, biotite, lava rock and some other porous rock, I'll get them verified first!

After leaving this awesome site, we drove through miles and miles of black sediment fields, with harsh drastic sea cliffs on the Northern side.  One of these large masses is called Petursey a, which means Peter's Island. ;o), how about that Pedro?  It was made by the rock basalt conjoining in column joints, and creating Hexagonal crystals in the process.  Quite beautiful.  

As we travel to the sea, what a gorgeous view in the distance.  A single jutting rock with waves crashing against it, threw a mist in the air that we could see form several miles away.  I didn't walk down to the stretching black sand beach at the ocean, but my view from afar was all encompassing.  How minute and solitary I felt compared to the vastness of the ocean.  Directly behind me were hundred of thousand year old volcanic rocks looming high into the sky.  It reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings.  

It was 1:45pm, and we headed through a farming area.  Many of the farmers in this region of Southern Iceland raise sheep and are dairy farmers.  Some have worked the land itself and are planting hearty grain like barley or rye to use as silage for their herds.

What a quiet and peaceful country, perfect for daydreaming or carefree escapades.  I wonder if the locals get lonely, scattered out here in the country with miles between them?  Out here, so far away from modern civilization. How I wish my children were here, so that they could experience the serenity of this island.  Away from the constant overflow of information and distraction....and into the peaceful, invigorating clean air.  

We stopped at another beach on the drive back to search for Puffins and we found them!!!  They haven't built their nests yet, but they are on the coast of the island and should be nesting soon in the vegetation growing on the cliffs.  I saw my FIRST flower since being on the island....guess what it was...a damned DANDELION!!!  One single solitary flower...all alone in a field of lava rock covered in moss and lichen and here sticks up a yellow American pain in the ass.

4:15 pm and we head back to Eldhestar Hotel to call it an evening, which takes about 45 minutes to get there.  We made another short stop to the state store, and now are relaxing in the common room before dinner.  

HOW BLESSED WE ARE!!  More tomorrow!







Eldhestar Hotel - Hveragerdi, Iceland 10pm

Yesterday was such a fun-filled, walk-intensive, shopping manic, and laughter enriched day!  Many students spent the afternoon in the indoor flea-market, which was overflowing with treasures for everyone.  I found beautiful handmade mittens for my daughters, crafted by a local woman from Icelandic sheep wool.

Edie, Amber and I spent the day trekking from one end of the main street through Reykjavik and back, stopping frequently to window shop or investigate a new smell.  The town has so many cafe's, casinos, bars. clothing and jewelry shops.  I think we hit almost every store.

Make sure to read the other blogs for a broader idea of the Reykjavik experience.  It was very windy yesterday, with plenty of drizzling rain and brisk clean air, to make our cheeks rosy.  We ate at a restaurant called the Seabaron, that was recommended by a shopkeeper in town.  I have had lobster in many cities across the states, and in cities outside of the U.S., and I have never tasted anything as succulent as what we had yesterday.  It was a hole in the wall restaurant, you picked what you wanted from the case and they grilled it fresh for you.  Delicious!!!

Today, we began the Golden Circle tour, which included viewing lava fields, a geothermal plant, a hydro-electric plant, beautiful waterfalls, woollymoss, and so many different types of birds, I can't even name one!  All of the volcanoes were awe inspiring, and there were many moments when I wish I had a photographic memory.  If only I could record everything that  my eyes observed and play it back for everyone to see, including me. 

I am at a loss for words this evening, I am so very moved by the experience.  Love to all back home!!

Until tomorrow,

Cyn



Day 2 in Iceland!

Halló from Hotel BJÖRK!

Today is Saturday, May 10, and it is 8:00am Icelandic time, 4:00am EST.  I had a great night´s sleep last night and am raring to go this morning.  As of yet, I haven´t seen another PSU face but I expect they will be wandering down soon enough...maybe too much legendary night life?  Hmmmm?   LOL!  I opted for an uninterrupted night of sleep so that I would be on schedule and refreshed for the rest of the week, plus, it had been 30+ hours since I had rested my head.

Now, on to what I have learned thus far!

Iceland is home to approximately 320,000 inhabitants, and the volcanic island is comparable in size to our state of Kentucky.  Two thirds of these wonderfully friendly and melodic speaking people live near the nation´s capitol city, Reykjavik.  The other third live in small fishing villages that are scattered along the coast.  Most Icelandicers prefer to live on the coast or near the city because the central part of the island consists of volcanoes, deserts and ice caps.

In 1950, Reykjavik was home to a U.S. strategic Naval base, during the Cold War (in this case, how ironically called), but the base was downscaled in the 1990´s, and was altogether abandoned in 2006.  It currently serves as student housing for hundreds of college students.  At this time, there is no military presence on the island.  According to Trausti, our transportation guide, Iceland is reconstructing their current government and economic system.  We will get more info from him tomorrow on that subject.

These innovated Iceland inhabitants have virtually the perfect geothermally sustainable environments.  They harness naturally heated water inland at a geyser plant and transport the hot water through a huge pipeline into the city.  Thus, heating homes, showers and anything else you would need hot water for!  The cold water has a mild sulfur smell, which comes from the natural springs.

Iceland's mild climate stems from the Gulf Stream and the warm ocean currents from the Gulf of Mexico. The weather is also affected by the East Greenland polar current curving south-eastwards round the north and east coasts.

The days are very short in mid-winter and for two to three months in summer there is continuous daylight in Iceland. Early spring and late autumn enjoy long twilight. 

Icleanders are on a GOLF CRAZE!!!  They are home to 65 golf courses, which averages 1 per 5000 inhabitants!  Had I known, I would have brought my clubs.  But WARNING...bring or buy lots of balls because they are easily lost in the lava fields!!

 

We are on the search for Puffins...

puffin.jpg

 



OOPs Edie is here, gotta go get coffee and breakfast! Then we are off to an Icelandic flea market and the mall, and possibly go to swimming in one of the naturally geothermal pools!!!  More later!!!


Bless (Goodbye)

First Day in Reykjavik!

HOLY MOLY!

What a day so far! Arrived in Iceland at 6:00am Icelandic time, which would be 2:00am back home.  Needless to say, since it was morning, we didn't go to bed, we just plugged away and started exploring.  We had a 40 minute trip to Hotel Bjork, where we will spend our first two nights.  Our bus driver, Trausti, gave us some wonderful information about Iceland on the way in.  I will post that info a little later when I have more charge on my computer. 

Many Many Many thanks to those who helped make this possible!   Susan Crampton-Frenchik and Dr. Osagie in addition to many others....especially Dr. Bev Peterson who is making this adventrue priceless.  We went to the National Museum of Iceland, took many photographs and enjoyed a detailed look into Icelandic history.  It is exciting to be in a foreign country, meet new people and have conversations about their homeland. 

Tried pickled herring this morning for breakfast...it was good, but now I have gas.  LOL!

Learned 3 Icelandic words today....Yow (Yes)....Nay (No) and Takk Fyrir...(Thank you)

I'm going to take a power nap and will download pictures and more info a little later today!

Love to all!

Cyn

Hello from JFK, NYC

Woooohoooo! We are only 5.5 hours away from flying out of NYC to go to ICELAND!!!  Edie, Nate, Vince, Steve, Brett, Caleb, Becky and I just finished eating at the SAM ADAMS Grille.  Yummy Yummy!  Now what?  How profound, that we sat in the "Green Terminal".  No environmentally notable things have happened, although, we did see a sign asking about Light bulbs and turning America green. 

On to better things in Iceland ;o) 

Cyn

Góðan daginn, Iceland!!


Hello, Iceland!!  Are you ready for me?  My suspicion is YES!!  This is a blog that will be filled with fun and witty discourse that will humor you and fill your belly with laughter! 

It is my goal to keep people informed of a realistic experience, no holds barred, from waking up in the morning, in a foreign country...which unfortunately, Iceland only has about 3-4 hours of daylight this time of year...to going to bed at night with my newly purchased sleeping mask!

What better way to amuse yourself each morning and evening than to check in and read my blog!   The fun is only 28 hours away, and hopefully I will be able to convert my camcorder DVD files and SHOW you what we are doing!  Either way, I ought not worry, I will definitely post pictures and show you what you are missing.  Penn State has funded a trip that is all about shaping students into ecologically minded people that want to make a difference in the world.  Thanks to Dr. Beverly Peterson and her devotion to improving our stay on Earth and the environment in which we live, by being conscious of our imprint, we need not be shy in sharing our experiences!

If you can't tell, I am psyched and ready to GO!!!   Check back soon with more detailed information and hopefully a video of our first day in ICELAND!!!!

Live, Love, Laugh,

Catch you on the Flip Side!

Cynthia S.B.