I had been in Iceland for just over four hours, but had so far spent nearly all that time in the car and it was raining. My friends from high school, Christine and Chris picked Angela and I up from the airport and we immediately began driving north. There was no time to waste if we wanted to make it to the Látrabjarg Cliffs by the end of the day.
We were supposed to be going north on Route 1, which passes through small towns just like Stykkishólmur occasionally. So when we arrived in Stykkishólmur, an active-looking town I gleaned from the strip of shops and cafes, we assumed we were just passing through, until the road ended in a parking lot.
"Board ferry," our navigating system announced.
The glowing purple line of our GPS system had ended here in the parking lot of the Stykkishólmur ferry terminal.
"Board ferry," the robot voice repeated.
"Board ferry," the mechanical woman nagged.
"Um...I don't think so."
Global Positioning Systems might have a lot of data, but they're not very smart. Any human could easily see that four young adults planning to live off Cheerios and deli meats for the duration of their Icelandic road trip were not about to spend thirty bucks or more on a ferry ride when driving was also an option. We needed to turn around.
While Chris and Christine fiddled with the GPS, trying to find a way back to Route 1, Angela and I needed to get out of the car. We had been sitting in various moving vehicles for the past ten hours and built into a nearby hill was a path of stairs. We left Chris and Christine to figure things out and took the stairs not knowing what we would find.
It had stopped raining, but the wind was beating down hard and cold. For the first time, I began to understand the puzzled looks of my coworkers when I told them I was taking a summer vacation in Iceland. When we got to the top of the hill, we could see that the path led to a lighthouse. There was also a nice view overlooking the town and its harbor.
The skies were dark and dramatic, which I consider a beautiful day when I'm out as a photographer. When Chris and Christine joined us at the top of the hill, we walked to the lighthouse and I took some album shots for a fictional Christian Rock band.
From the vantage point of the lighthouse, we could see more of the hill we stood on. The landscape was lumpy, rounded and covered in incredibly soft grass. Straying off the path felt like walking on cushions. The dry scraggly grass was airy enough to bounce across, adding to the dreamlike quality of the landscape. Hopping from mound to mound, I took photos and eventually got this lighthouse shot, which I has become one of my favorites.
The distance and point of view are obscure, only made rational by the stranger standing next to the lighthouse. I love the texture of the grass and I hope its softness is conveyed to those who look at it. And finally, I love the clouds in the sky. Iceland, with its never ending daylight and indecisive skies, was truly a photographer's dream.
To think, I owe this incredible location to a dumb computer and am thankful that it got us so very lost.