Category Archives: 2018 Trip to Iceland

Trump Calls for Insurrection (Again)


On September 15, 2022 Donald Trump was asked what would happen if he was indicted. This is what he said,

“I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”


Then he was asked by Mr. Hewitt, “what kind of troubles, Mr. President?” Trump responded this way: “I think they’d have big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it.”

Don Lemon, when he was on CNN,  asked Phillip Mudd, a CNN analyst and former counterterrorism analyst if that was a threat.  Mr. Mudd’s answer was about as direct as you can get.  His answer was “Yes.”  Yet, Mr. Mudd went further. He added this,

“I don’t know if that is a subtle enough answer, Don. That’s a yes Don. Let me be clear about what this is.  In the world of extremism which I followed for decades that is what I would refer to as validation… You don’t have to tell someone to go out there and commit an act of violence for them to say, ‘Well if we were robbed then it is my constitutional right and responsibility to go to the Congress and storm it.’ That is the president of the United States having witnessed January 6th saying, ‘Well let me have a redo of that. That redo will happen if I ever get indicted.’  To me as an extremist follower that is not a political statement, that is a statement that anybody who follows extremists can understand. That is validation…”


Juliette Kayyem a CNN National Security Analyst agreed completely. She said,

“It is not even hinting anymore. We used to use the word “dog whistle” when we talk about Trump. This is now directing. Don’t just listen to Trump’s words. Imagine what his supporters are hearing. They are hearing the call to action…We need to call it what it is that we have a former president who is inciting violence as an extension of his political defeat. That’s what it is now.”


I know Trump’s supporters don’t believe anything CNN says, but I think CNN got this right from Trump’s own words. I agree with the CNN interpretation. This was the only logical interpretation of what Trump said. This was a call to violent action without mentioning the word. The message was absolutely clear, just as his words were absolutely clear to his supporters on January 6th. They knew what to do. And Trump was threatening to do it all over again if he was charged! This was doing what Donald Trump always does when he is cornered. He does not back down. He doubles down.

In November of 2023 a Colorado judge District Judge, Sarah B. Wallace, after hearing all the evidence and arguments from lawyers for Trump, and the District Attorney, and then ruled that former President Donald Trump “engaged in insurrection” during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol but rejected an effort to keep him off the state’s primary ballot because it’s unclear. The judge rejected the claim that the constitutional amendment that bars insurrectionists from public office applies to the presidency, but that is irrelevant.  The judge clearly said Trump was an insurrectionist based only on evidence.

This was not a judgement by the libs. This was not the “failing New York Times” claiming that Trump was an insurrectionist. Nor was it “fake news” CNN.  Nor was it a “biased House of Representatives committee. This was the decision of an impartial judge after weighing all the evidence and listening to the argument of the lawyers. Is this not something Republicans, and in fact all Americans, should take seriously? That judgment makes it absolutely clear, beyond any doubt in my view, that Trump was guilty of insurrection? Yet, as far as I know, his support among Republicans in the current presidential election campaign has not dropped! How is that possible?

Millions of Americans are prepared to elect an insurrectionist as President of their country! They don’t care!

I recall Trump once said that he could shoot someone in Times Square New York City and it would not affect his support. It looks like he was absolutely right!

Americans must realize what Trump is doing. He is doing the same thing Hitler did after the German Reichstag burned down. The German people continued to support Hitler. We must always remember that Germans elected Hitler because they wanted him to make Germany great again,

Now the question is what will the American people do? Will they acquiesce with  this dangerous slide into fascism?  I know many of his supporters will do that. They will accept that with the enthusiasm they showed on January 6, 2021.

I am not sure of what the majority of Americans will do, but I am uneasy.

Deeply uneasy.


You started it

A good friend of mine said Hamas was more to blame than Israel in their latest dispute because they started this current fight?  Is he right?

I suspect a lot of people would agree with him. After all, it was the common defense we used when growing up and our father or mother told us to stop fighting. ‘But he started it,’ we would shout out. We thought that was a good defense, but our parents rarely accepted it. Why was that?

In the current war in Gaza between Hamas, reputedly on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas launched a vicious attack against Israel about 2 weeks ago. So, you could say Hamas started it, but is it really that simple?

I don’t believe it is that simple, because really this dispute between Palestinians and Jews started 75 years ago, or earlier, right after the state of Israel was declared in 1948 and during that long history a lot has happened. Both sides have often acted badly. Frankly I have a lot of trouble figuring out which side is worse.

The recent brutal violence by Hamas was brutal beyond my imagination.  The retaliation by Israel has also been horrific.  As Democratic strategist Paul Gegala said,

“The violence was so barbaric that 14 days later, 200 of the 1,400 bodies can still not be identified. That is how savagely mutilated they were.”

As a result of the Israeli bombing and complete siege of Gaza  the crowded hospitals are running out of medicine, the fuel for generators in those hospitals needed for light and equipment is often insufficient and may soon run out, and physicians are forced to perform surgeries using sewing needles and patients are given vinegar as disinfectant and nothing for pain. No anesthetics in some cases. Think about that. Surgeries without anesthesia.

Recently, Israel has allowed some  paltry  supplies  of medicines to trickle in that are wholly inadequate for a population of about 2 million people under siege.

I am not saying the two sides are equivalent. I am just saying that  weighing the atrocities against each other is not that simple. Neither is it sufficient to say who started it all. That is impossible to untangle. Unfortunately, war and terrorism are ugly, and sometimes it’s is very difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.

 You pick which side you want to cheer for.

Where the Earth is being Pulled Apart


Iceland is one of the most recently formed places on earth. That is because it is so volcanically active. Steaming lava fields are common. So are inactive lava fields, glaciers, hot pools, and geysers.  This makes Iceland unforgettable.   Much of that elemental handiwork is the result of the awesome power of volcanoes and tectonic plates.

What really astounded me is how Iceland makes visible for all to see, how tectonic plates operate. The earth’s surface comprises a number of massive plates. There are thought to be 7 major plates and many more minor plates. Those tectonic plates are not static. Instead those tectonic plates float on the mass of superheated magma beneath them. These plates, for example, have caused the earth’s crust in many places to form huge mountain ranges. The earth is not inert.  It is a living moving thing.

Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall have described these plates very poetically:

We now know that planet Earth is a giant engine fuelled by the heat generated by the radioactive decay of uranium, thorium, and potassium in its interior. In effect, Earth is a giant nuclear reactor. We live on its thin wet and brittle crust that is broken into rigid plates like panels on a soccer ball. These plates move over the Earth’s surface atop giant convection currents stirring deep within the mantle. Carrying continents as passengers, these migrating plates crate a dynamic, always changing jigsaw puzzle as one plate interacts with its neighbours. The term plate tectonics refers to the creation of new plates and inexorable destruction of old ones. .[1]

Scientists are still trying to unravel the history of  how the continents have moved, but what we have learned so far is mind-boggling. Newfoundland and Northern Africa used to be locked together.

Tectonic plates move, but they don’t move fast. They move at about the speed  of 2 cm (0.75 inches) per year which is about the speed that your fingernails grow.

The history of how the science of plate tectonics developed is deeply fascinating. As Eyles and Miall explained,


“The concentration of radioactive elements in the mantle (such as uranium, thorium, and potassium) is very small but the mantle’s volume is so large that even after 4.5 billion years, more than 10 trillion Watts of power continues to be produced radioactive decay every second! Cooling of the Earth’s surface and heating of the interior forces motion in the mantle—a process known as mantle convection—where enormous slabs of cool dense rock sink deep into he planet below subduction zones. In addition to its own radioactive heating, the mantle is warmed by trillions of Watts of heat released from its underlying core. The core’s own heat produces 200-kilometre thick hot layer at the base of the mantle …. Gigantic columns of hot buoyant material known as plumes, rise from this layer and slowly creep upwards towards the surface. Diamonds ejected to the Earth’s surface through kimberlite pipes originate in this layer.

Convection of the Earth’s deep interior drives the relentless motion of tectonic plate of the Earth’s crust.  Despite its long history, the Earth has an enormous reserve of heat yet to be realized: consequently, the process of mantle convection, and thus plate tectonics will continue for billions of years to come”.[2]

Most geological activity around the world is concentrated along boundaries between plates as, for example, the famous Pacific Rim. This is caused by the dynamic interaction of one plate with an adjacent plate or plates.

Volcanoes and earthquakes are symptoms of these moving plates colliding with each other at the place where tectonic plates meet such as the Pacific Rim. The boundaries of the plates can be convergentor divergent. Where the plates move together they are called convergent plates. Where the plates move apart they are referred to as divergent plates. Where plates are divergent they tear apart and then magma rises to the surface of the earth at that place. As a result this magma forms a new crust of the Earth. Where the edge of one plate the edge of one plate is forced underneath another plate mountains can rise up.

Iceland straddles a divergent boundarycalled the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are being pulled apart. We saw that clearly in Pingvellir where a UNESCO world heritage site has been declared as a result of that and its unique contribution to world culture (the world’s first parliament). It was astounding to see. According to our guide AO this and Africa are the only two places on the planet where this can actually be seen as clearly as this.


Pingvellir is the place where the two halves of Iceland and a good part of the part world, are breaking apart. The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates tear apart right here.




The Mid-Atlantic Ridge actually runs right across the island from the southwest to the northeast. I believe that some day, as a result Iceland will be split apart. This ridge is marked by a belt of volcanic craters, hot springs, steam springs, solfatars (areas of high temperature activity) and earthquakes.  Frankly it always felt as if a volcano would erupt at any moment or an earthquake would make its presence felt. This belt is about 40 km (25 miles) wide in the north and up to 60 km. (40 miles) across the south. About 25% of Iceland is covered by this belt. It is everywhere.

The lava plain of Pingvellir is covered in wild flowers in the summer and we were very pleased to enjoy and photograph those flowers. We actually walked right through the place where the world seems to be splitting apart! As Insight Guide to Icelandputs it,


This is also a spot where the two halves of Iceland—the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates—are tearing apart.  Aerial photographs show that the great crack of Almannagjá (everyman’s chasm) on whose flanks the Alpingi was held, is just one fissure in a huge series running north east like an ancient wound through the plains. Occasional earthquakes have reshaped the site: a quake in 1789 caused the plain to drop about 1 metre (3ft.).[3]


As part of this process they created a commonwealth Alpingi in 930. This was the first Parliament in the world and the Icelanders are justifiably proud of it

[1]Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall, Canada Rocks, (2007) p. 23

[2]Nick Eyles and Andrew Miall, Canada Rocks, (2007) p. 27

[3]Insight Guides:Iceland(2017) p. 170

Travel  is like sex


At the end of the trip I reflected on travel. Travel is increasingly difficult. Particularly in airports and aircraft for large people like me. Increasingly, Flying is torture. At the beginning of these chronicles of Iceland I complained about the time wasted in the airport. I did not mean to imply that we were not having a great time. Once we arrived in Iceland we had awonderfultime. Getting therewas something else entirely. It was torture, but I still think it was “worth the trip.”

When we were leaving Iceland, A.O. again showed up to drive us to the airport. We all loved him by then. That was where the fun ended. The airport experience was a melee.

First we stood in line to get our boarding passes from a machine. This was meant to speed things up. It created turmoil as many people could not figure out how to use the machines.

Then came another long line-up for security. Always fun. Walking around in socks with belts removed leaving pantaloons precariously held up by the ether.

Next came waiting to board. We sat for about an hour by our gate and then were forced to get up and standoutside the gate. It appeared there was no reason for this. The Ticket Agent was not there. He showed up about 20 minutes late. Many of the old people in our group (OK we were all old people) found the standing intolerable. But no one could talk to the officials to let one or two sit in plain view of the staff. That was much too risky. What they feared I did not know.

The trip to Toronto was almost unbearable. No food and hardly any service for 5 and ¼ hours. Even though I had paid for extra legroom it was still very uncomfortable. I wish I could afford first class or business class. Or I wish I was not so cheap. Life is hard when you are stupid. Travel is always hard.

Travel opens the mind like fresh air can open a house. Travel allows us to learn that there is much more to life than the opinions we hear from our local pundits around our favorite watering holes in our own hometowns. Thank god for that.

Travel is like sex: the positions are untenable; the pain insufferable; the cost abominable; but the results are immeasurable.



Travel like Religion is Suffering


Suffering is essential for religious enlightenment. This is an ancient concept employed by many religions. Suffering in some sense is good.

In his book The First Circle, abut life in a Russian concentration camp in the Siberian Gulag. Solzhenitsyn said, “to the real philosopher as a consequence difficulties must be viewed as a hidden treasure!” He even goes so far as to assert that “anyone who hasn’t suffered in twenty years shouldn’t be allowed to dabble in philosophy.”

Another reason that Solzhenitsyn finds that suffering is a good is that with it one can achieve perfect freedom.  It is sort of like Kris Kristofferson who said, famously, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose; freedom ain’t worth nothin but its free.”  Or Bob Dylan who said, “when you ain’t got nothing you ain’t got nothing to lose.” That is why Bobynin, one of the camp prisoners says in The First Circle, that he has nothing.  Not one thing.  He no longer has a wife or child since they were killed.   So too with his parents.  His belongings fit into a bandana.  He has nothing other than his coveralls and underwear without buttons. His jailor needs him, but he doesn’t need his jailor.  The jailor took his freedom away, but has no power to give it back, because he has no freedom himself.  There is nothing more that the jailor can threaten him with.  He tells the jailor to tell his superiors that “for a person you’ve taken everything from is no longer in your power.  He’s free all over again.”

One should be grateful for being in a concentration camp! One is lucky to be a prisoner! There is no better place than a prison, to learn the role of good and evil in human life. That is how he learned that a person shouldn’t regard prison solely as a curse, but also as a blessing.” He sees his grief as the raw materials that allow him to illuminate his speculations about history.

My uncle Peter, who survived the Russian Revolution and was appalled deeply by the shallowness of those in western society, where they had been continually coddled would have agreed wholly with this sentiment.  I remember one day when I told him I was on my way to a local bar,  he said to me,  that had I lived through the Revolution I would not waste my time that way.  He probably had a point.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn also explored this theme in another book about the concentration camps, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. He showed that there is peace that comes to a person who has suffered so much that he no longer has any fear. He said this was a spiritual peaceA deep religious calm.  Such a person in a concentration camp can become happy. This is what happened to Shukov at the very end of Solzhenitsyn’s book,.  He was happy because he had a good day.  Even though he was cold, hungry, beaten, and tired,


“…he was happy.  He’d had a lot of luck today.  They hadn’t put him in the cooler.  The gang hadn’t been chased out to work in the Socialist Community Development. He’d finagled an extra bowl of mush at noon.  The boss had gotten them good rates for their work.  He’d felt good making that wall.  They hadn’t found that piece of steel in the frisk.  Caesar had paid him off in the evening.  He’d bought some tobacco.  And he’d gotten over that sickness.

Nothing had spoiled the day and it had been almost happy.

There were three thousand six hundred and fifty three days like this in this sentence, from reveille to lights out.

The three extra ones were because of the leap years…”


Sometimes it feels like that when one has been travelling.  Sometimes the suffering is atrocious.  Like when I spent 10 hours sitting in Pearson International Airport. Or when I spent 5&1/2 hours cramped in an airplane.

In the camps, it did not take much to make a person with peace and fearlessness happy.  An extra bowl of mush might be enough. That takes a person with deep spiritual equanimity to be happy under such circumstances.  That was why Shukov felt that he was luckyto be in a concentration camp.  “When he painted the number on your cap, it was like a priest anointing your brow.” It was a religious experience to live in a camp.  Outsiders were not blessed.  They did not have the opportunity to learn from suffering.  One should feel sorryfor the unblessed.  There is glory in suffering. Solzhenitsyn believed those who do not suffer cannot find God.

A friend of mine took this a step farther, he said, “Religion is suffering.”  That could be true in more than one sense. I have said before that travel is travail. Travel and religion are suffering, but to some extent that is a good thing.

Too Big to Save


Our guide, A.O  pointed out how Iceland was coming back from their recession that was brought about when their 3 major banks failed. Proudly, he said that Iceland was the only country to have paid back its IMF emergency loans. He said that now the country was back in a big spending mode. I had already noticed that cranes were omnipresent.  I hope that this spending does not mean that another bust will follow the current boom. I remember what John Kenneth Galbraith had said, “A balloon never deflates in an orderly fashion.”

In 2008 the world suffered a major recession as a result of reckless actions by bankers around the world, but particularly in the United States. Canada was actually one of the countries that largely escaped it except to the extent that Canada is an exporting country and its major trading partner was mired deep in it.          Iceland suffered the crisis more directly. Its banking system was not anything as strong as the Canadian system. It was even weaker than the American banking system. The problems of Iceland occurred as a result of trying  trying to mimic the feats of neo-liberalism economics around the globe.  It paid a heavy price for that. As Richard Partington of the Guardian reported,

“The problems came as the country began to emulate the neoliberal policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher by cutting taxes to stimulate private investment throughout the early 2,000s. Inflation soared and the central bank was forced to use dizzyingly high interest rates to keep control, jacking them up to 15.5% in the months before the crash.”

         As a result of such interest rates money flowed into Iceland from around the world. Everyone wanted a piece of the action, driving up inflation even more. After all these interest rates could not be beat anywhere. Yet the lenders in Iceland were not satisfied. They never are. They wanted more business. With funding from the financial markets Iceland’s banks went on a spending spree.  They finance the acquisition of foreign firms, property and football teams.  As a result the Icelandic banks were “taking their assets to about 10 times the size of the domestic economy.”

Because Iceland is such a small country, about half the population of Winnipeg, its currency fluctuates wildly. This was not a good situation to be in, when the world financial system came close to collapsing. As Partington explained,

“When the global economic storm of 2008 landed, with the US sub-prime bubble bursting and the world’s banks ceasing to lend to one another for fear they would never be repaid, Iceland’s big three lenders–Kaupthing, Glitner, and Landsbanki–had debts worth more than six times national annual output. They quickly came crashing down.”  Economist Jessica Hinds said “Even compared to other very highly financialiced centres such as Luxembourg or Singapore, Iceland’s looked ridiculous.’


When this happened in other countries, most notably the United States, their government stepped in to save the banks, their executives, and even their shareholders and depositors from financial ruin in order to preserve the financial system.  Many thought this was wise, at the time. The policy was started by George W. Bush and Barack Obama was already waiting the wings as the heir apparent and he too agreed. Bush and Obama both thought the American banks were “too big to fail,” so American and world taxpayers paid more than a trillion dollars to rescue them even though they had caused the problem in the first place by their reckless banking and business arrangements. As we all know those bankers quickly took advantage of the largesse of American taxpayers.

Iceland took a different approach. As Partington reported, “But rather than stepping in with taxpayers money like the British and Americans did, the Icelandic government lets its banks go bust. Unlike the complex UK economy and its globally significant financial system, so the argument went, relatively small Iceland could afford to do so.”

In the US and Europe many people, including those who later supported Donald Trump did not understand how the government would rescue fat bankers and let ordinary people suck socks. Thousands of Americans lost their homes. Thousands lost their jobs. It was horrible, except for comfortable bankers who accepted the government generosity , and soon started paying themselves lavish bonuses again. Very few restriction were placed on the bankers who had nearly caused  the financial ruin of everyone. Like pigs at the trough, they were more than happy to except the bailouts and pay themselves huge bonuses for a job well done. Ordinary taxpayers were mystified how this could happen. They should not have been surprised. The world economies are run by the wealthy for the wealthy. It is hardly surprising that they managed to rescue their own privileged positions with such ease while ordinary citizens suffered.  In Iceland “the banks were not regarded as too big to fail but, says finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson “too big to save.”

Things in Iceland were tough–for a while.  Iceland went to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout loan of 2.4 billion dollars. That is equal to about $7,000 for every man woman and child in Iceland. Then Iceland imposed capital controls to keep that capital in the country. That made sense. The króna lost half its value in the first 3 years after 2008. Its GDP dropped precipitously by 15%.  This was “the biggest contraction recorded by a wealthy economy during the crisis.”

Many thought Iceland was doomed. It was not. It recovered. Having come through the crisis a decade ago. Its economy soon revived. Tourism led the way. Tourist numbers rose by about 25% each year after 2010, reaching 2.2 million in 2017. Today things look pretty good, economically, in Iceland. Iceland took a different approach and is happy it did. Perhaps we could all learn something from Iceland. Whats good for the banks is not necessarily good for Iceland, or any other country.

Why Iceland?

Many people have asked us why travel to Iceland?  That is pretty darn good question. Iceland had never been on my bucket list. I never had a driving urge to go to Iceland. I came without much forethought. Chris and I had coffee one day with our Tuesday coffee friends and some of them mentioned they were going to Iceland on a trip organized by the University Women’s Club and there was still room. Why didn’t we come too? That was a pretty darn good question too.

Chris and I talked it over for a couple of minutes and decided this sounded like a fun trip with good friends. Really we went on a whim in other words and it turned out to be a great decision.         I really believe this little island deserves our attention. It is not yet swamped by tourists, though their number have increased dramatically in the last few years for some strange reason. No one really knows why.

This little island is so far from any neighbours it has managed to keep its identity. It has not yet been swamped by Euro-American culture. The people are unique. Reserved yet friendly. Shy but welcoming. Unspoiled by too much attention. No doubt that will happen soon enough. I hope not, but it seems inevitable.

It was nice to visit a country not yet crawling with tourists. In that respect it was like the Balkan countries of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Slovenia that we had visited a few years ago.  Perhaps it is not surprising that my 2 favorite trips were these two. Both decided on a near whim with very little information about the destination.   Both were outstanding places to visit.

In Iceland I loved the volcanoes, mud hot pots, and volcanic landscapes that reminded me of Yellowstone or New Zealand. Lovely to look at even though intimidating. Realizing that we were standing over huge incredibly hot chambers of lava indicated by rising steam or bubbles of mud and water from just under our feet is extremely disconcerting. But always interesting. Then to think that some of these volcanoes have affected people and places around the world, made it even more surreal. This is such a small country with so few people but it has influenced the world.

A Country almost without trees

It’s Parliament, though far from democratic, started the idea that no one king could rule a people, and that was an extremely important lesson for the world to learn. That idea changed the world entirely. At least until the arrival of Donald Trump a little more than a thousand years later.

Their sagas, so old and yet so loved by the people were the forerunners of the novel, the greatest achievement of literature. And it all started here.


Iceland was one of the first countries to embrace the role of women in politics. Perhaps that is why they have no army and see no need for one. Perhaps we could all learn from Iceland.

Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. It is right up there with Croatia (again). I loved the glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls, small churches, and amazing treeless landscapes.

Concerned football fans

Iceland punches above its weight. Perhaps only Ireland could compare in that respect and I loved Ireland too.

Why Iceland? Why not?

Sometimes travelling is a pain in the Ass

Toilets are not really one of my favorite subjects for photographs or blog posts. But this one in our hotel in Reykjavik drove me nuts.  OK it drove me even more nuts. Notice the huge “button” behind the bowl. While sitting on this reading chair or throne or whatever you want to call it, if you leaned back a tiny bit toofar you would push the button with your back and have sudden blast of cold water that shocked you awake from any slumbering. And you hoped it was not a golden shower, or worse!

Golden Circle Tour


Our last day of the Iceland tour was something called the Golden Circle Tour. This has nothing to do with Trumpian hijinks. The Circle Tour is a famous one-day trip around many sites within a couple of hours of Reykjavik. That is all most tourists see of Iceland. Don’t get me wrong, it is a a wonderful part of Iceland, but it is only a small part. We were very fortunate to be able to see large part of the  island from west to east and north to south.

Skálholt, which is Iceland’s first Bishopric (that is not Bishop’s prick). Christianity in Iceland  has been a powerful religious force for more than 1,000 years. This power was carefully built up over hundreds of years by an influential dynasty of chieftain priests. Naturally, like the rest of Europe no one believed in the separation of church and state. The first of the bishops was Gissur the White a bombastic priest who led the pro-Christian faction at the AD 1,000 Alpingi where the people’s leaders decided to convert to Christianity mainly to improve their chances of trade with Europe rather than out of any sincere religious convictions. The people of course had no say in their conversion to Christianity, not unlike the princes of Germany in the German Reformation. Commerce was more important than religion. Sort of like it is now.

Often the best part of church interiors is the stained glass. This was one of those churches.


On the Circle Tour was Geysir which has lent its names to all water spouts around the world. Actually Great Geysir started erupting in 1294 and reached heights of 60 metres (200 ft.) but it has not kept up for decades.  In the 20thcentury, eager (read stupid) tourists tipped gravel and garbage into its mouth hoping to cause an explosion. They also used soapy water on special occasions such as Independence Day but that did not help either. As a result of this abuse, the geyser became nearly dormant. Surprisingly, in 2000 it sprang back to life spouting 40 metres (130 ft.) into the air. It is no longer that robust but still lifted off impressively.

I am supposed to be the orchid guy, but while we were looking at the geyser and some hot pots of water, Chris spotted an orchid with her eagle eye. According to a German tourist near us it is called Knabenkrautin German. I think the common English name is marsh orchid or Common twayblade.  I tried to photograph it, but we were too far away and were not allowed to walk closer.


After that we drove to Gullfoss(Golden Falls). No this was not a golden shower either. This is one more spectacular waterfall. Actually, it is a double water fall. First the River Hvítá tumbles 11 metres and then the lower falls drops 21 metres. The rock of the riverbed was formed during an interglacial period. Apparently it has flowed for thousands of years. It was a very impressive falls.

We learned that at one time Iceland was planning to build a hydro electric dam and plant here, but a heroic protester led the opposition. She said, “I don’t sell my friends.”  Now it is a UNESCO world heritage site, one of two we visited today on our golden circle tour. No doubt Iceland has earned more money from tourists visiting the site than they would have from the electrical power from one more damn dam. I promise this is the last waterfall I will show from Iceland.

Our last stop on our Golden Circle Tour was Thingvellir National Park the historical heart of Iceland and now the second UNESCO world heritage site we saw in one day!  It is a fantastic natural site as well as the site of the Viking Parliament, the first in the world. The National Assembly was established there by the Vikings in 930 AD and was regularly convened there until 1798. As well the geology there is incredibly important because one can see the continental tectonic plates pulling apart.

This was the end of our tour around the island of Iceland. we finished our visit with a  couple of days in Reykjavik.



The Most Dangerous Animal in iceland

I don’t know if the rabbit is Iceland’s most dangerous mammal, but it could be.  Really Iceland has no dangerous animals. In fact the only land based Icelandic mammal to predate human settlement is the Arctic fox which is believed to have crossed to Iceland over the ice during the last Ice Age. Mercifully it even has very few insects. The midges (very tame by Manitoba standards) can be pesky only because of their vast numbers in only a few places. Most of the island is spared. The way I explain it is that the climate is so bad it keeps the insects away.


Actually as everywhere, the most dangerous animal, by far is Homo sapiens—Us. this guy in particular–J.P he is mad. Watch out. He is determined to enjoy life wherever he is.