Plane Tickets, Country Music and the Lonesome Wind of Northern Iceland

I’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately. It’s so lonely and romantic, and there’s something so terribly alluring about broken hearts on the open road, about horses and trucks and beer and pretty ladies.

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In the week leading up to my departure from Minneapolis, I found myself driving too fast, listening to country music as loud as I could stand, and crying on the highway with that bubbling-up-crazy, what-the-hell-am-I-getting-myself-into excitement energy.

I wasn’t nervous until I knew my ride to the airport was on his way, and then general travel anxiety kicked into full gear. What if I go to the airport on the wrong day? (I’ve done that) What if my credit card number gets stolen right at the beginning of the trip? (that happened once) What if I get food poisoning and can’t even keep water in me and almost pass out from weakness on the way through customs? (I’ve done that)…and, worst of all, What if I don’t have any fun?

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This is my first time traveling alone, without a host family to catch me, without a partner by my side, without even a friendly face to greet me at the airport.

People keep asking me, why Iceland? Why alone?

I chose Iceland for a few reasons. First, D and I had planned to come here a year and a half ago, and while that obviously didn’t happen, it sparked my interest (and also he’s pretty good at picking out awesome places to travel, so I knew it would be good). Second, MSP is a hub for IcelandAir (take note, Minnesotans!) and therefore it was fairly inexpensive to fly to Keflavik. Third, I was getting some little nudges from the universe (sounds crazy); mentions in books I was reading, overheard licks of conversation at restaurants, and not one but two of the relatively few internet dates I went on mentioned their trips to Iceland. Fourth and not least of all, I enjoy a good cold, desolate landscape. As for why I came alone, I wanted to make up my itinerary by the moment, to spend some time reflecting, and to meet people in the way that you don’t when you’re traveling with someone.

And so the Single Lady Pilgrimage Trip was born.

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I’ve been here for nine days and I’ll be here for nine more, hiking lava cliffs, soaking in geothermal hotsprings, riding moody horses, driving through mountain tunnels, eating smoked fish and applecake and drinking glacial water (also beer made with glacial water). After having one of the most magical days of my trip yet, I’m grounded in a snowstorm right now in the Mývatn area of Northern Iceland, listening to the bitter wet wind batter the lava fields.

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10 Comments to “Plane Tickets, Country Music and the Lonesome Wind of Northern Iceland”

  1. Your photographs are amazing. It looks like an intriguing place to explore. I read Bill Holm’s stories about the country, but lacked the images. Through you, I have a better sense of place! Travel well!

    • Thanks Adele! It really is intriguing, especially times when the road I’m on seems like nothing special, and then I come suddenly to something really amazing–the area I’m in now is like that.

  2. I too have been getting nudges from the universe about travelling to Iceland. And I too will be travelling alone. The biggest nudge came today when I read about your trip, your circumstances (which are similar to mine) and saw your pictures. My initials are on the license plate of the little white car! The universe certainly got my attention with that! Please keep posting!

  3. My mom always listened to country music when I was growing up. She loved the raw emotion. So glad you are taking this trip. There are times in your life when you need to go on a pilgrimage. Clears your head. Gives you perspective. Love the pics. Dave

    • Dave, I have thought of her actually a few times, especially when I was stuck in my car in a rainstorm and feeling a little anxious, and then it suddenly stopped and there were rainbows everywhere, coming out of the ocean, reflecting up from the highway.
      “No rain, no rainbow” came into my head and for some reason that saying is very much tied to her in my memory. Hope you’re well at home. love, k

  4. Ah you are amazing!!! What beautiful pictures and a beautiful post. I wish we could curl up on a couch with coffee (or hot toddies… depending on the time of day… or not) and catch up on all the details and then send you back off on your way again.

  5. I went to Iceland last year. Awesome, isn’t it? Good for you for going alone!

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