Day 22 — Stöðvarfjörður (And MORE LIGHTS)

Hiked a little in the morning. Did more work. Revised more stories.

Championed my new duck friend:

Watched the winds whip the water across the fjord and resigned myself to no Northern Lights tonight because it clouded over.

Went to see a goofy movie in the local guesthouse pool room. Fell asleep for 20 minutes in a very comfy chair I was sitting in.

And when we got out of the movie around 7:30, the Northern Lights were out.

So… more aurora pictures.

And they were even bright enough to get a fairly decent video:

Remember, this winter is peak-aurora season (in the 11-year aurora cycle) and it’s visible far further south than in most years. If it’s on your bucket list, go go go!

More later.

Day 21 — Stöðvarfjörður (and LIGHTS!)

Yes, stuff happened. Yes, I did things.

But does any of that matter in comparison to the spectacular Northern Lights show we had last night?

Probably not.

It didn’t look good for the Lights in the morning and early afternoon. It was incredibly windy (sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts up to 60) and it had been raining hard all day.

But the skies cleared by sunset and it was gorgeous with a bright, low-hanging moon. Sure, it was still windy, but there were big portions of the sky that were clear.

I had a feeling we might get some aurora action this evening because the sky was relatively clear and the forecast on each of my five aurora apps was looking good.

But first, I took some amazing photos coming back up to the house at the end of Civil Twilight:

And then came the lights. I got an alert around 8:30 p.m. and went outside. Another of the artists here texted the group that the aurora was faint, but should pick up within a half-hour or so.

We all wound up on a hill about 100 yards above town watching until the aurora petered out and we went back inside.

At around 10:00, I got another alert and went back out. It was a bit cold, but incredibly windy. I wondered back up to where I’d seen the lights earlier, but couldn’t see anything. I was on the way back when I looked up and saw a bright ribbon across the sky. I went to the big field across from the house where I’m staying and watched for about 45 minutes as the green light moved and danced over my head. The wind threatened to blow me over and I thought about going inside, but I waited until the ribbon faded.

Then at 11:30, there was another text about an even bigger show of lights. I went back out again and could instantly see the bright green band right outside.

I managed to get a pretty good video (aurora videos are much harder to get than still photos because usually you can get your camera to hold the lens open longer to get a good still, but the video just records what the naked eye can see) and there was a decent display that only lasted about ten minutes.

All in all, this was the best and most intense aurora experience I’ve had.

If you’ve never seen the aurora in person, it is many, many, many times better than seeing photos or videos. We’re in a peak aurora year (the aurora goes in 11-year cycles) and it’s been visible far further south than most years. So… get out there if you can. As good as you think it is, the experience of seeing full-on Northern Lights in person is even better.

One of my favorite pieces I’ve written here is a new origin myth about the aurora. I could always understand intellectually how people would see the Northern Lights and think of gods and celestial beings, but now I get it on a deeper emotional level. Right down to my bones.

Also, the moon looked pretty amazing as the winds blew the clouds in front of it (and I also wrote a new origin myth explaining how the moon came to be and what it symbolizes):

More later.

Day 20 — Stöðvarfjörður

Interesting day.

I had to finish up some stuff for a client in L.A., so I spent a bunch of time in the morning doing that.

After, I went up in the mountains a little with Clio and Maz. Clio is filming a music video for a song she wrote here and wanted to use some footage from the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone.

It seemed like yesterday was the perfect day. It was sunny, relatively warm (about 40 degrees F) and not much wind. Still, I was wary given my misadventure, so we went up a little on the mountain and I took the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone up about four feet five or six times and it couldn’t hover and kept crashing.

Maz had something else she had to go do, so Clio and I went down to the meadow by the campground (with the big Everygreen Trees). Being about 100 feet lower and having the trees protect us made it possible to have some control in flying the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone (at least when it was below 25 feet). We got about seven minutes of footage that looks pretty cool in two different locations — and hopefully that will give Clio enough of what she needs.

Afterwards, I went back to the Fish Factory and revised one of my previous stories and wrote a new one. (That’s 19 in 20 days.)

Here’s a few photos from the day and evening (including a couple of me and Wonderhund Tumi):

And a couple videos around the Fish Factory:

More later.

Day 19 — Stöðvarfjörður

It was really cloudy this morning and after stopping by the Fish Factory, I decided I wanted to go for a hike east towards the lighthouse on the edge of the fjord.

Here are some photos from there.

Afterwards, I went back to the Fish Factory and wrote another new story. That’s 18 in 19 days if you’re keeping track of such things. (There’s two up on my Patreon and a third coming tomorrow morning.)

By the way, I posted this photo from the Fish Factory’s kitchen/lounge area last night.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I walked in and saw this:

More later.

Day 18 — Stöðvarfjörður

Interesting day.

I made some new friends.

I got some new perspectives on familiar scenery.

And I wrote another new story. (As well as shared the first draft of another story on the Echoes of Iceland Patreon.

And then six of us had a communal dinner and hung out reading tarot cards and talking, which was an enormous amount of fun. My tarot card reading pretty much confirmed much of what I’ve been feeling (and why I chose to come to this residency in the first place). Wheee!

More later.

Day 17 — Stöðvarfjörður

Once upon a time in the Eastfjords, there was a girl named Petra. The name Petra means “rock” and from an early age, Petra loved rocks.

She would go into the hills and mountains behind Stöðvarfjörður and collect rocks, often returning with a full rucksack containing as much as 80 pounds of rocks.

Now, Iceland is a volcanic place and rocks have a big history here.

But perhaps no one outside the scientific area loved rocks as much as Petra.

For decades, she collected rocks and brought them to her home.

Eventually, there were too many rocks inside and they basically had taken over her house.

So, Petra moved the new rocks (and there were always new rocks) out to the garden.

Word of her collection spread and for decades people would come to her house and she would gladly show them her collection. She always refused to take money for this service and was happy to share her love of rocks and her glowing collection with people. But eventually, there was a need to care for the house and the collection and Petra and her family started charging admission.

Sadly, Petra died a few years ago, but her Stone collection lives on, with her family now running the business.

Many people driving the Ring Road in the summers stop here. The fact that it’s one of the few things to see (besides the unending beauty of the natural landscape) for hundreds of miles.

There’s some attempt to include educational materials (and perhaps pass this bunch of barely organized rocks as a “museum”), but it’s mostly just rocks. Some have been painted. Some have been carved into odd and amusing shapes. Others have googly-eyes pasted upon them.

There’s also a collection of pens, for no real reason. And matchboxes. And handkerchiefs.

And a strangely foreboding wooden statue of Petra.

So, what does all this mean? I’m not sure. There’s more than a touch of “Hoarders” to all this and it’s not clear exactly what we’re meant to take away from this.

But there’s a gift shop. And you can buy rocks from a bin (if you don’t like to think of looking for your own rocks in town and picking them up) or handmade jewelry and other goofy things.

Really, your guess is as good as mine.

Despite all that, I’m glad I went.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to go back.

Usually Petra’s is closed after the summer, but they arranged to open it specially for us. So a group of eight of us trudged down there (it’s maybe a half-mile from the Fish Factory) and wandered around trying to decide what to make of it.

And then I came back and wrote a new story about how exact measurements nearly killed off the old gods. (As one does.)

More later.

Day 16 — Stöðvarfjörður to Reyðarfjörður & Back

The sun was desperately trying to peak through the clouds this morning, with somewhat limited success.

We did another shopping run, but this time only to Reyðarfjörður, which is maybe 20 minutes closer than Egilsstaðir.

I was sitting on the right side of the van, so I got to film some of the fjord we drove along to get there:

This took up a big chunk of the day and I spent the rest of the time revising some of the things I’ve already written. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes 15 new stories in 16 days.

Not too shabby.

More later.

Day 15 — Stöðvarfjörður

Today was gorgeous.

The sun was up and parts of the sky were glorious.

I went down to the Fish Factory and took a brief walk down to the water around the corner.

It was a beautiful morning, with a sliver of sun shining out over the waves.

The “beach” here is really just a collection of rocks of various sizes, mostly made of the same material. The waves smooth the rocks, break some of them up, and take some of them out to sea.

I find the sound of the rocks rushing back out mesmerizing and spent about ten minutes watching and listening. Here’s a taste:

Later, I played with Tumi, the studio do out on the dock.

And back into the studio to work on another story.

All in all, a good day.

More later.

Day 14 — Stöðvarfjörður

Another day without too many photos, just a lot of work in the studio.

I did audio recordings of two of my favorite stories (so far) up in the recording studio, went for a short hike, came back and wrote the first draft of the 14th story in 14 days. (Woo-hoo!)

I’m thinking I should probably devote a day or two down the line to revising some of the stories I already have, but I’m not sure when that will happen.

The story I wrote today was about Death… which had me thinking a lot about… well… death and the people I know who’ve died in the past few years.

In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Daniel Lent, who passed away about a month ago. He and his wife Kristie lived in Alaska and he was always wonderful, smart, funny, and kind. I met him through my interest in the Iditarod (where he and Kristie were huge supporters and volunteers). He was a vibrant part of the #MusherTwitter community as well as the #UglyDogs community (supporters of BraverMountain mushing, Blair Braverman and Quince Mountain). Last week, I taped an open letter to Dan as a tribute. I posted it today (and am reposting it here).

Meanwhile, on the way back up to the house, I spotted a house with Christmas lights up.

As you can see, the blue, green, and red lights move.

More later.

Day 13 — Stöðvarfjörður

It poured this morning.

And then, suddenly, it stopped.

Steph, who has the bedroom in the front of the house came into the kitchen and said, “There’s a rainbow.”

So I went to the front door and saw this rainbow that seemed to come directly out of the top of the red house across the big field from where the house where I’m staying.

It was bright and clear and I knew I wanted a photo of it. But in the 45 seconds it took me to grab my phone and take a photo, it started to fade.

In another two minutes, it was gone.

It feels like there might be some kind of (not-so-subtle) lesson there.

As they used to say in college textbooks, this is left as an exercise for the reader.

The sun was pretty bright, so I spent most of the day in the downstairs studio because the sun shines directly into the upstairs room where I’ve been working.

Finished another story. So that’s 13 in 13 days.

Thinking about how to best present them. There’s still work to be done on all of them, but I do want to share them as works-in-progress.

More later.