Friday, August 22, 2014

The End

Day 9 AND 10

These two days are combined because the events can be summed up in less than a paragraph. We got up, worked at Reykjavik University to finish up our capstones, presented our capstones, returned to Hotel Hlid (the hotel from the first few days), got all sentimental, had a good time, slept, went to Reykjavik, walked around for a few hours, then said good-bye. :(

Here's our capstone:

Essentially, we took all the processes in brewing and used geothermal heating when heat was necessary instead of converting geothermal energy to electricity to then be converted back to heat. Since electricity in Iceland is produced almost entirely from renewable sources, this was a purely renewably brewed beer!

Ask me for greater detail if you're interested in the sentimental hoo-ha and the good-byes. In short: I had to say good-bye to multiple people multiple times because it was too hard to let the end be official. I've left friends for college in the past, but there was something unique about the group of peers I had the pleasure to adventure with in Iceland that made saying good-bye that much more difficult. Maybe it was because we knew we wouldn't see each other again, or because we all shared in a unique experience that no one else can ever recreate. Friends for life.

If you're curious as to what I did for the next ten days in Iceland with Sam, Cam, and Paige, ask away! I won't be blogging about that part of the adventure (nor am I required to~).

Quality Image of the Day(s):

It was a beautiful end to a beautiful adventure. 

If you know me at all or have read this blog in its entirety, you know I'd
make this face regardless of my level of intoxication. Yes, I'm 21,
so this is legal in Iceland and in the States. PC: Maggie Norton
Oh, and it's worth noting that this was not a planned picture. Maggie is just very skilled.

Volcanoes! Glaciers! And... Biofuel?

Back by popular demand... *pause for laughter*

Day 8

First thing in the morning, we visited the infamous Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted a few years ago and delayed airlines all over Europe. Unfortunately, we didn't actually visit the volcano itself and go inside it (something similar would come later), but we instead toured the visiting center and learned about the volcano's history through a film. After that, we were given a lecture on biofuels in Iceland, specifically by processing of rapeseed. I think the most valuable thing that I learned from the trip was how to say "Eyjafjallajökull" with the assistance of Sam Buckstein's persistence and Alex Huynh's baby onesie that wrote out how to say the name phonetically.

Right nearby the visitor center was a biofuel farm that put into practice the processes that the lecturer spoke about earlier. We were allowed to tour the facilities, taste the produced oil and even the byproduct that was fed to the livestock (muy tasty).  

Observe the proper byproduct eating etiquette. PC: Paige McIlroy
Oil pours out to the left and the poopy pellets that you can eat fall into the yellow container. PC: Justin McKay
After the formal education was done for the day, we headed over to Skógar, which contained the great waterfall Skógarfoss. 
Skogy Fossy. PC: Paige McIlroy

This one, huge waterfall was preceded by several smaller waterfalls, several of which we were able to see as we hiked the trail that followed them. Here's a bit of the view: 
The provider of many of these lovely pictures. IT'S JUSTIN! Camera Credit: Justin McKay
Before we turned back on the trail, we ate lunch and learned how to play an Icelandic wrestling game. You and an opponent grab each others' belts. You rock side to side until a referee yells "GLEEMA!" at which point you try to throw your opponent onto his/her back while keeping your hands glued to his/her belt. Some of the matchups were a bit unfair: I vaguely recall an Israeli Army soldier upon hearing "GLEEMA!" pick up his opponent, a petite environmental engineer, and placing her gently on the ground by only her waistband. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention I stole Matt Roveto's phone and I captured the chase with a series of photos using his phone:

The order is all messed up because Blogspot is awful... It's not even in reverse order.

Despite being worn down by Icelandic wrestling, we proceeded to Mýrdalsjökull, one of Iceland's several glaciers. Why might we be going on to a glacier, you might ask? To walk on it, obviously. We were actually looking at this glacier the previous day from the opposite side of it when we made a bus stop coming back from our wilderness camping adventure. When we got our crampons on (things you tie to your shoes with spikes on them) and were instructed on how to walk on the glacier, we did just that: walk on a glacier! It was actually pretty wild, seeing all the different formations on what I thought would be one slab of ice. Another thing that's unique about certain Icelandic glaciers is the layers of ash, not dirt, that cover the sheets of ice due to the frequent volcanic eruptions. Depending on the thickness of the ash, little cones can start to form on the glacier as the thicker layers protect the ice from melting while the thinner layers of ash aren't able to insulate the ice as well from the sunlight.

The cones! PC: Justin McKay

Once we reached the farthest point of our journey up the glacier, we looked back and our guide pointed to where the glacier tongue used to reach out to in comparison to where it is today. It's really hard to describe in words the difference in the glacier's reach in such a short time as a few decades. A key theme on this trip for me was connecting what I have read to what I have experienced. Seeing does so much more to one's drive to follow a passion than simply thinking or hearing about it. I believe that's what makes this trip so valuable.

When we got back down from the glacier, we headed back to our little cabins and worked on our capstones some more. Due to poor internet service, plans were shifted so that our capstone presentations would take place later in the day, allowing us the morning at Reykjavik University to put the final touches on our presentation.

Quality Picture of the Day:

There were a lot of good pictures from today, but I think this takes the cake, considering the fact that it takes place on top of a glacier.

Just flexin'... dat booty. PC: Laura Lano

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Host of Little Surprises

I lost my motivation for writing this blog, and then Sam Buckstein posted some pictures on Facebook today and I got all nostalgic. SO HERE WE GO~

Day 7

Why did we get up at 7 AM? Why? PLEASE ALLAH TELL ME?!

Apparently, time became important again so we were up by 7 AM for breakfast and on the bus by 8 AM. Oddly enough, we drove out of the campsite without the super jeeps... so they were unnecessary to begin with...? Maybe it was the fact that they promised us super jeeps which made them feel like they needed to deliver? Oh, and I guess we did use a different bus to drive out since the seats were weird and it didn't say "Free as a Bird" on the outside of the new one.

Due to my lack of sleep from the night before, I attempted to take multiple naps on the bus. Sadly (or goodly...?) we kept making stops on the way to civilization. The first stop was for a hike to a hidden waterfall! OooooOOooOooOoooOo! We were following a bunch of rivers to get to it and there were big rocks all over to hop on and off of. I definitely went hard with the hummin' as I pretended to be Legolas. Not only that, people were climbing all over the super climbable hillsides. Everyone eventually climbed something since we had to wait our turn to enter the secret waterfall area; it could only fit 10 or so people at a time. There was a lot of poser parkour (and Legolas-ing) going on and I was thoroughly pleased. Here's a sequence of shots that attempts to capture the little adventure:
Why wouldn't you stop the bus, get out, and brainlessly follow this river?! PC: Paige McIlroy
One of the few times you couldn't see blue skies all around you. PC: Paige McIlroy 
CLIMB EVERYTHING... and wait. PC: Paige McIlroy
My feels... PC: ME!
So pwetty <3. PC: Justin McKay
After that little gem, we made our way back to the bus. On the bus, another marvelous thing happened: I was given a new name. For the past few days, I had been calling Ross Weber "Saucy Rossy" because. Yeah, just because (he's not saucy at all). So he finally decided to don me with the name "Yeshari Safari" which I prefer to spell "Yashari Safari"; it's prettier that way. A lot of fun was had with this new nickname, including "Would you like to go on the... Yashari Safari?" and "Look out for snakes on the... Yashari Safari!" HEYOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So now the full title of the blog should be clear (go here and search "trivia" if you're confused as to when the other part of the title was explained)! :)

NEXT STOP: a glacier! Well, a "tongue" of the glacier. Apparently, this is where lava started gushing out during one of the volcanic eruptions so a lot of the landscape in the area was recently carved out. I hope my memory serves me well on that fun fact... Here's the view:

Ain't she a beaut? PC: Justin McKay
LA PROXIMA PARADA: the waterfall that my super jeep missed because we were busy fixing a tire while everyone else got to enjoy the waterfall...! IT WAS AWESOME! Skogarfoss was the name, I believe. Here she is:

The guy on the right is actually behind the waterfall... So this thing's even taller than you think! PC: Paige McIlroy
So I wasn't satisfied with a frontal view of this masterpiece of nature, so I went behind it (all my pictures)!


Look up.

Let's step back a bit.

Let's get a lot closer.

And let the wind blow a bunch of falling water on me <3
While some of us were enjoying the waterfall we missed, others were digging in the river for coins. There are plenty of signs on most bridges which request that people not throw any kind of currency, regardless of its value, into the river. It obviously ruins the natural beauty! So several of the peepz in our group rolled up their pants (the water went right above the knees) and sleeves and stepped into pretty-much-freezing water. In total, I think the gang collected the equivalent of $78 of coins (9000 ISK)! #onlyonthegreenprogram, as they say. Actually, while they were working to clean the river, a couple of European "poopholes" started throwing coins into the river... Eh! That's just more money for environmental organizations (I think we donated the money). :)
Here's Male Alex finishing up his heroic efforts (Female Alex was in there, too). PC: John Benavides
After that, we briefly toured a single room hydroelectric facility that was located on a mink farm! We just walked around ourselves so nothing was really explained to us, but we'd seen most of it before by now. All the pictures below are MINE!

This connects to the thing on the left. 
This connects to the thing on the right (there's water in that pipe!).

I... I don't know. It's cool though!
Just a little building. Making energy. From water. On a mink farm?
After we "toured" the room, we went out back and had hot dogs! And some of us used grass to make bird calls... and annoy everyone who tried to nap. Good times <3

It was then time to head to our new living facilities: cabins! I was roomed with three bros: Drewster, A-A-Ron, and Matt. Yeah, Matt doesn't get a nickname. :(

Dindin was had, capstones were worked on, and sleeping occurred at some point. A very comfortable sleep. WITH BEDS!

Quality Picture of the Day

It was a tie between these two. I couldn't decide. :(

Thanks, A-A-Ron <3. Original photo by Laura Lano.
I think I was trying to be a mermaid... PC: Eric Lauer

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The One Hike to Rule Them All

Day 6

We got up at... Heck if I know. I was one of the people who didn't check the time, although some people did so I was rudely reminded every now and then of the time. OH WELL! Some people were actually woken up by the musings of the sultry Adam and his guitar. Well, I was told that it was Adam, but it could've been another scoundrel with a guee-tar. Breakfast was had, again, at "heck if I know."

The main attraction of the day was a mega long hike. 13-15 km in length is what I was told? Here are some pictures:

PC: Me

The right side reminded me of Half Dome. PC: Me

Lol. PC: Me

The whole view from my napping point. PC: Me

On my left from my napping point. PC: Me

On the right from my napping point. PC: Me

My napping point (and my shoes). PC: Me

On the home stretch. PC: Me

From the top of the hill. PC: Justin McKay

Slid down this bad boy. PC: Justin McKay

The line of heroes. PC: Justin McKay

The gang. PC: Rachel Gibson
The whole day was blissful, especially the nap at the top. Absolutely sublime. :)

Dinner consisted of hamburgers and EXTREMELY mediocre s'mores. I'm a man that can eat 11 s'mores on a good day, and I couldn't even handle 1 of those sad excuses for desserts. For whatever reason, Adam couldn't find graham crackers when he got the supplies, which just ruined everything. Oh, and we used Milka instead of Hershey's... and the marshmallows were oddly sweet. IT WAS HORRID. And I told him. And now he knows.

Oh, and I played a whole game of King's Cup for the first time. Quality experience. <3

That was a short entry, but it was one of the best days for sure. :)

Quality Picture of the Day

Everything was perfect... to the point where my face was unable to contort itself into an amusing fashion... on camera. :)