Summer Road Trip Series: a trip around Iceland

Do ponies, waterfalls and a glacial lagoon sound good to you? Then you’ll love Inness’ trip to Iceland.

Last year, Inness and her partner Tyler traveled clockwise around Iceland starting in Reykjavik, visiting thermal pools, wearing Icelandic sweaters and eating local fare along the way. She sums it up well here: “One of the best adventures of my life.” Read on!

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THE INSPIRATION

“We took our trip last July (2013) and it lasted 8 days. We traveled clockwise around the entire country in that time, although we didn’t reach all of the periphery (or the islands off the mainland). The main places we hit were Reykjavik, Snaefellsness, Akureyri, Myvatn, Northeast and East Iceland, Vik, and the Blue Lagoon. Every stop was a fun stop!

I had just turned 25 and I wanted to commemorate that milestone birthday with an epic trip to an I-named country (“I” for “Inness”). I told Tyler, my partner, to choose from Ireland, Israel, Iceland, or Italy, and he chose Iceland.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“The most amazing thing, no, ONE of the most amazing things about Iceland is that the terrain is ever-changing. There is so much to see packed into one tiny little country, and that’s even excluding the entire middle! One minute you’ll be trundling through a lava field; then you’re barreling down a gravel path toward a humongous waterfall; then you’re rounding the bend and your breath is taken away by a sudden glacial lagoon that appears through the parting mist. You can see a lot in eight days, since it’s a small country, but you could also spend a month or more and never exhaust all of Iceland’s wonders. I highly recommend renting a car and getting out of Reykjavik, as cool and charming a city as it is – road trip is definitely the way to enjoy Iceland! (At least in the summer.)

Memories that really stick out to me: drinking Brennivin at midnight (with the sun still up!) in a thermal river; eating a giant bowl of perfectly buttery, garlicky Icelandic lobsters in Hofn (which is pronounced like a hiccup, kind of); trying to pronounce Icelandic words in general and failing completely; filling my water bottle from a waterfall; Akureyri’s perfect ice cream and weird parking rules; sticking my feet in Dettifoss, the world’s most powerful waterfall; picking out the perfect handmade Icelandic sweater; all the amazing pools. Also, the Icelandic people – they won’t always return your smile (they just smile less than Americans do, which is true of most other countries apparently), but they are outrageously kind and generous and will go out of their way for a stranger. They are also very well-dressed, and men and women alike appear to be very fond of tailored red trousers.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I either want to drive around all of Ireland or Scotland, or drive through all of the lower 48 states in the U.S.”

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Inness’ Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Thanks for sharing your trip, Inness! Iceland is officially on my list of places I need to visit.

And just like that, the Summer Road Trip Series has come to an end.

We’ve met eight fascinating explorers with eight incredible adventures to share, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have. (If you haven’t seen them all, you can check out the rest of the series posts here.) But just because the series is over doesn’t mean summer is yet. Do you have any trips planned before the end of the season? And what’s your favorite road trip you’ve ever taken? 

It’s been a busy summer around these parts (especially this month), but I’m looking forward to getting back in the blogging groove with a few minor changes to make balancing grad school, work and life a little easier. Thanks for following along!

Summer Road Trip Series: biking from NYC to San Francisco

A lot of people have driven across the country, but how many can say they’ve biked cross-country?

Our next Summer Road Trip Series guest can. Meet Anne Wave, a member of the Illini 4000. This nonprofit dedicated to fighting cancer just wrapped up its annual cross-country bike ride, and Anne was one of the 20 riders who braved the elements and elevation to ride exactly 4489.6 miles across 16 states. Badass? I think yes.

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THE INSPIRATION

“I decided last September that I wanted to join this group of crazed people so full of life, and we were going to bike from New York City to San Francisco. I just graduated from college this May so I wanted to take charge of my last possible summer, and biking coast-to-coast was my answer. Also! This group of folks happens to be a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises money for cancer research and support services. We’re at right about $90K for the 2014 team so far. The trip takes 72 days—I’m writing on the road!—so we left on May 24 and we arrive August 3. For a rough description, our route took us from New York through the Appalachian mountains through the plains (with a stop in my hometown, Chicago!) to the Rockies up to Oregon and down through the Cascade mountains, south through California so that we end in San Fran.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“We’ve had really interesting days. The day we rode into Alliance, Nebraska was one of the more challenging ones for me; we had strong headwinds that whipped up across the plains plus intense heat. But! The end of that day took us to Carhenge, which is America’s Stonehenge made of old cars spray painted brownish tan. It’s like, a big thing. Car art. It was bizarre and awesome. Mostly bizarre.

Another day in Nebraska, we were stopping for a quick water break in Atkinson when a man came up to me and asked about all the bikes outside; when I told him what we do, he asked if I knew Jack, the kid that ran the touchdown in the Nebraska Huskers game last year. I said “yes! The little boy with cancer?” And he told me that’s his son. He and his wife started the Team Jack Foundation two years ago, have raised nearly $2 million for pediatric cancer research, and he happened to be at the gas station filling up before going in to work when my team and I stopped for a rest. He was such an inspiration for us; we dedicated the next day’s ride to his son, Jack.

The day we rode into Lancaster, Pennsylvania was also a riot. First off, Lancaster is the Amish capital of the country. We were about 15 miles outside of our destination for the night when winds whipped up and a storm came speeding towards us with such intensity that we had to get off the road. We were wandering the streets looking for shelter when an Amish man hollered at us asking if we wanted to seek refuge in his barn. We parked it there for two hours rationing out what snacks we could find in our pockets while rain and hail came down on the roof. Then we booked it in.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“As for my next adventure, I’m trying to get my post-grad life together to move to New Orleans when my trip is over. On the traveling side, I would love to see the Andes and spend some time in Ecuador and Peru. I’ve loved the time I spent in Central America—it’s time to go South. Maybe I’ll even bring my bike!”

Anne’s Twitter // Instagram // Team Website

Since Anne wrote this from the road, the group completed its ride and reached San Francisco. Read more about it here!

Any cyclists out there who would love to do what Anne has done? I’m pretty inspired myself to go on a long bike ride… up the street.

Check back this time next week for the final installment of the Summer Road Trip Series for some incredible photos from one of the most gorgeous places on earth.

Summer Road Trip Series: from San Diego to San Francisco

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Have you ever traveled solo?

Like, get in the car/on a plane and spend a night or week or month (!) discovering, eating and sleeping by yourself?

I’ve realized… that I haven’t. Long day trips, yes, but I’ve yet to experience the peaceful silence of solitude that descends at night on my own. I’d like to change that one of these days, but for now, I’ll live vicariously through my next Summer Road Trip Series featured guest. Meet Corey of But We Will Stay, and follow along on her adventure traveling from San Diego to San Francisco!

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THE INSPIRATION

“To get out of town. To think in quiet. To take pictures. It was to see a friend that had just gotten back from Afghanistan and then explore some places on the California coast that I had seen Kevin Russ take amazing pictures of and that I never knew existed.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“I almost didn’t go in the beginning AND when I first go to Fairfield my car smelled like sulfur… turns out the battery in my car was all but bursting into flames by the time I got to a Pep Boys the next morning. My clothes, being that they were in the trunk (where my battery is in my car, weird I know) smelled of sulfur so I had to air them out a bit.

I went Zuma Beach in Malibu to take a picture of a FOOD sign and went on to Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel. Turns out you are not allowed to do so by yourself there, so by myself so an employee had to ride with me.

I also went to Photobooth SF to get my tintype taken. That was an awesome experience and I highly recommend it. They have all different sorts of toy cameras and refurbished polaroid cameras. After getting my tin type I headed down the coast to stay in Morro Bay. The next morning I went to Montaña de Oro beach and Pirate’s Cove/Shell Beach. It ended up being a nude beach, but as it was very overcast when I was there, there were only a few sunbathing.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“In the fall I am moving out to Nashville, TN. I am so, so excited not just to live in a new city but to road trip it through the states to get there. I have my current plan on Roadtrippers. I am moving and making the most out of the trip, stopping and going a little out of my way here and there to see gorgeous things. I am so excited. I love road trips so much.”

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Corey’s Blog // Instagram // Twitter 

Good luck on your big move, Corey!

The series continues this time next week—with an international road trip!

Looking back: my first year in L.A.

one year in L.A.

We woke up in the canyons of Utah, braved 115-degree dry heat in Vegas, and paid nearly five dollars a gallon for the last leg of the trip. It was a Thursday, and it was L.A. or bust.

John and I arrived in Los Angeles one year ago Friday. We’d been on the road for 10 days, driving through small towns, big cities and vast deserts. We saw a lot of incredible things, but the most vivid memory of all was when we crossed into L.A. County. The highway was wide, the mountains were high and the setting sun gave it all a dreamy, hazy glow. We had made it. This was “home.”

driving into L.A.

Adjusting to our new surroundings wasn’t easy. Within the first day, we had a stinky iPhone full of air freshener juice and a ticket for talking on said phone as welcoming souvenirs. Thankfully, we had a place to stay, but finding an apartment was frustrating and difficult. Our bank accounts took major blows, jobs were scarce and grad school was looming. It was a lot to deal with at once.

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The first year certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing. I’ve had the chance to meet some extraordinary people working as a journalist and have taken the time to explore the Golden State with short road trips and camping adventures. I’ve woken up in a tent on the beach to see seals frolicking in the ocean, I’ve interviewed rock stars and activists and politicians, I’ve made a ton of new friends at school and through the blogging community, and I’ve had my best friend and partner next to me every step of the way. Being on this adventure with John has made the difficult times easier to deal with and the celebratory times even sweeter.

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And what’s not to love about L.A.? You could look at the negatives, and a lot of people choose to. I’ve encountered many of them myself, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Los Angeles is such a diverse city, both culturally and geologically, and that has made for so many new-to-me experiences. I needed a culture shock. I needed to step out of my comfort zone. And I needed to live in a city full of opportunities to make me realize just how many are open to me if I go after them.

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So thanks, Los Angeles, for giving me the biggest thrill of my life. Thanks for making me work for it and for letting me reap the rewards. Whether I stay another year, five years or a lifetime, I’ll always look back on the first 12 months as a game-changer.

Happy anniversary, Los Angeles.

 

Summer Road Trip Series: from Chapel Hill to Los Angeles

This time last year, John and I sang together at an open mic night in Nashville.

We were on day two of our cross-country road trip, it was 96 degrees, and honky tonk music blared from just about every bar on Broadway. (I was also super paranoid that something was amiss with the holes where my wisdom teeth had been only a week and-a-half prior, but I prefer to forget all those saltwater rinses in gas station bathrooms.) Aaaaaand oversharing complete.

For round three of the Summer Road Trip Series, I’d like to introduce you to Evey Wilson, a journalist and photographer at UNC Chapel Hill.

Evey and her friend Em spent six days traveling 2,500 miles across the country from Chapel Hill, North Carolina headed west along I-40 and occasionally hitting up the famous Route 66. Along the way, they stopped in Asheville, Nashville, Oklahoma City, a couple small towns in Texas, Albuquerque, a couple places in Arizona (including the Grand Canyon), the Mojave Desert Preserve and, finally, Los Angeles.

In Evey’s own words: “I swear we danced and laughed every inch of the way.”

Evey Wilson

THE INSPIRATION

“One of my best friends, Em, got a job in L.A. for the summer, so we decided to make an adventure out of her move out there. Em and I are both photojournalists and have both been working on emotional, issue-driven pieces for the past few months so we wanted to document our adventure along Route 66 just for fun.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

We met so many incredible people! Route 66 is just a warp in the universe where so many fascinating people wind up somehow. A lot of the people we met had been traveling Route 66 and then eventually moved to live around the Route. It has that effect on you. The owner of the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas had been driving the route with his wife when they saw that the café was for sale and decided to buy it. We also met Bob ‘Crocodile’ Lile, a man that I swear knows every fact about the Route. He owns a gallery in Amarillo and does preservation for Route 66. I took a portrait that I just love of him and his dog, Lady.

There was a lovely woman, Judie Breidenback, with a stunningly unique ring that we met in her jewelry store in Albuquerque’s Old Town. Turns out she used the stones from her engagement ring to make her new, more modern ring. I asked her about the ring and she totally opened up. Judie told me that next week she will have been married for 59 years. Her advice? “Be willing first of all to say I’m sorry,” she says, “And even better, ‘that you were right.’ That’s really important.” She told me that she knew her marriage was going to last when they successfully made their first cross country trip, from California to New Jersey, after being married only a year.

I met so many people that had a heart for adventure. Along the way, Em and I kept bumping into this hilarious Brazilian family that was traveling the route and making a video of their trip as well. It was so much fun because we saw them a few times along the way and then we just happened to run into each other at the end of the Route 66 sign in Santa Monica. We were all celebrating together that we had finished our adventures.”

Evey Wilson

“If you have the chance, you need to stop in Oatman, Arizona. It’s this hilarious old mining town that is now overrun with donkeys. The townsmen acted out a bank robbery during lunch. It’s one of those bizarre things you can’t really imagine until you see it for yourself.

It’s a little bit out of the way so of course Em and I had neglected our gas tank. We hadn’t passed a gas station in miles and we had to drive up some pretty steep hills. We wound up coasting down those hills in neutral on an empty tank. We’re so stressed out that we’re laughing when Em rounds a curve somewhat quickly and all of a sudden there is a donkey in the middle of the road. What?? Where the heck are we? We rolled into this hilarious town with donkeys everywhere. Luckily the next gas station was downhill from town, so we got a chance to explore getting the history from a fireman, grabbing lunch at a cute bar and talking to an old man in a cowboy hat that had moved to Oatman from England. It was easily our most ridiculous stop.

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I recently moved to North Carolina so I would love to explore my new state more. My next dream road trip would be traveling North Carolina Highway 12 along the coastline and through the islands of the Outer Banks. I would love to camp on the islands and learn about the coastal culture here.”

Evey Wilson

Follow Evey’s adventures on her blog and on Instagram 

I’m so enamored with Evey’s photos, I can’t wait to follow along on her next trip.

Keep an eye for a trip along the coast this time next week. Which coast? You’ll find out.