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Posted by Clay Carlson on



Well, to be fair we had gone to yoga a couple times together before and chatted on the phone for a few weeks. I left for the summer on a Europe wedding extravaganza to get my "me" time in and not expecting to be FaceTiming every other day excited to share my experiences with this dude I had gone to one movie with before I left.

Turns out I was going to be in Iceland for longer than I had planned.

Turns out it was his 30th birthday that exact week and his only time off work all summer.

Turns out we were about to live in a van for 2 weeks traveling around a foreign country.

Welp, guess that's a good way to figure out if you really like someone or want to kill them,



Turns out Iceland is expensive as balls.

A normal entre at any restaurant runs around $40-60

So we got tipped that this supermarket "Bonus" was the bang for the buck deal (with a piggy bank logo) and loaded up, deciding to make all of our meals with a little camper stove.

In this moment I learned Alex used to be a bag boy at Whole Foods in college.


Was the "hot river".

By the time we arrived to the said parking area, it was packed with about 100 cars.

Crowds are not something we like to deal with on vacation, but we realized something here that would be the backbone to the entire trip:

It's summer in Iceland & the sun never fully sets.

Why don't we just sleep during the daytime and go to places in the nighttime? Brilliant. The plan started here at 7pm and we cooked dinner and took a long nap.

We started our hike out at 1am and there were no cars left in the lot.

Geothermal sulfur clouds everywhere from the running water.

Exciting, we were chilly and had on our onesies.


Success. There was no one else around except for two Swedish chicks that seemed to be on another party level. So we went upstream to find the perfect temperature, celebrated with joint and whipped out the Chillbo Don Poolio to test it in the warm waters. It was perfect for when we needed a little breather from the heat.

We stayed until the light started to warm up.

The hills were a lot more vibrant than I had realized.

I also tested out my new little drone and crash landed up on a big hill, it somehow perfectly landed on a moss pile without a scratch.


We passed through a little town and popped out for a coffee a this little library cafe. Spent the afternoon reading in velvety chairs.

This now stable blue jacket was a thrift store find in the town of Reykjavik.


Is one of many epic waterfalls of this country and our first.

We caught it at the perfect time.


We decided we wanted a view with a cushion and backrest, so the Chillbo Shwaggins it was.


There was another waterfall named Skogafoss nearby so we decided to make some dinner, sip some Icelandic beers and wake up to a nice view.


The town with the little church on the hill.

This cute little town on the south east coast of the country is green and peaceful. We wanted to see the church up close so we spent the afternoon on the hill and made lunch.

the perfect pathway for an inflation.

We tried to draw each location we stopped at to add to our little van map.


Right out of Game of Thrones, these rock structures were so fascinating. This was my first black sand beach experience. Really beautiful but definitely now comfortable to lounge on. So it was poolio time.


The poolio served as a nice take off point and I was a comfy pilot.

Alex on the other hand, no so comfy.


This lovely little woman had a tiny wool boutique with a bright colorful patterns theme that popped off of the walls. Her shop cat also just had a kitten and she told us we could have it.

Alex then learned of my affinity for cats and the longing desire for an adventure cat.

It was perfect?! Van cat through Iceland?!

Turns out it needed a visa to come home with us and that was not gonna happen in time :(


This deep and winding river canyon is about 2 million years old.


Cairns in Iceland are little rock mounds the vikings use to build to keep track of their path.

This area sits below a big volcano. In the old days traditionally everybody passing by Laufskálavarða for the first time added a stone to a cairn at Laufskálavarða for good fortune on their journey through this dangerous area. These stone cairns have piled up for the past millennia.


We could see the snow capped mountains right ahead of us. Before we entered this chilly territory we spent the night at this amazing green campsite right under the mountains. A lot of other travelers and adventurers were gearing up for what was ahead. I met a very nice photographer that gave us some travel advice as he had just came from where we were going.

Earlier before we met he had snapped a photo of us lounge napping in the sunlight, I caught him in the act but was not weirded out as a photographer myself. I just smiled and nodded. Later told me he had to capture what he saw as "pure happiness".

This was the photo he took:


Holy shit this place was insane.


Alex thought it was a good idea to bring the poolio and maybe float in the water. I immediately shot the idea down. He said "Yeah, you're totally right that's pretty dangerous." Paused. "You know what, I'm just gonna bring it anyway."

I responded with an "Ok then, but we need to find a paddle first."

Low and behold we found our trust mini green dust pan from the van. That'll do.

testing. testing.

For me, it was more of a question of possibly being taken away by the current. I actually was in no way fearful that I would fall over into the freezing waters because the Don Poolio is built for water stability and I've definitely had my fair share of experiences with it.

Apparently I trust it with my life.


It seemed as though we were on a another planet most of the time.


Out in the middle of no where this place was, on a farm surrounded by a bunch of dingy buildings. It was a tiny eclectic brewery run by a little family and their dog.

This was a recommendation from our Airbnb host in Reykjavik. He was a graphic designer and had designed the label for them seen on the beer.


Wasn't that long but boy was this rock landscape a trip. It reminded me of The Never Ending Story and we stared deeply into it's walls waiting for a face to start talking.

I had pretty bad cramps this day.


I can never look at another waterfall the same after experiencing this one.

I sat there for an hour just mesmerized by the movement of water.


There was a tiny little farm house that looked very residential, it had a front yard with a swing and a little kitchen with a few tiny tables. We had a pastry and some coffee before hitting the road.

My favorite thing about this way of traveling is that it is all just one big playground. We could stop anywhere at anytime and followed no schedule but our intuition.

We spent the night in this campsite next to the river and got to rejuvenate with a little yoga session the next morning.


That river eventually let to this massive waterfall. The sun was setting and the moon was rising as we sat on the edge and took that shit in.


We found an online locals only map to all the hot springs or "hot pots" in the country. We made friends and marinated.


We had joked in texts before that we shouldn't be stressed out with work because soon we would be drinking tea in Icelandic fields together. I had sent him this photo as a reference and sure enough, we made it come true.


Was a difficult task for us as this machine was not in English, but we found some umbrella hats and fueled up before the return.


Of our happy campers van was pretty delightful. They had a fun place to hang out inside before they shuttled up to the airport and out attendee was the Icelandic version of Alex.


This trip was taken in August of 2017.

Turns out I didn't want to kill him in the end.

It is currently April of 2018 and the two of us now live together.

Footnotes: Photos and Story by Syra McCarthy (@syranara)


© 2018 Chillbo

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