February 16, 2015 – Claire to Paris for Climate Talks

Claire rather casually dropped in a Facebook message this morning that she got her plane ticket to Paris and living accommodations finalized. She will be attending the U.N. global climate talks this upcoming December. One of the faculty at the University of Iceland is Iceland’s chief negotiator and invited Claire along as an observer to the two-week long talks. She will only be able to attend one week as finals are during the other week of the meeting.

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The main goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The objective of the 2015 talks is to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Should be able to wrap that up in two weeks! Actually, the work has been ongoing for 20 years, through meetings and agreements in Kyoto, Lima and other places.

What a great opportunity on the world stage. This alone will make her foray to Iceland worthwhile!

February 1, 2015 – Winter Arrives

Well, it first started out to be a 3-5 inch snowfall, then less than one inch, then back to 3-5, and when it finally arrived, 12-14 inches of snow.

The house nestled in the new fallen snow.

Along with the fresh snow, the moon was full, making for brilliant light-filled nights. Can you find the cat in this photo?

The cat abides, and follows me in the night, hoping for a treat.

Finally one more shot in the moonlight.

January 14, 2015 – Swim Season Wrap

After weeks of gruelling early morning and after school practices – along with 2 a days over Christmas break, swim season is a wrap.

Wearing the gear on the deck.

A mass of swimmers at the conference swim meet.

Martin doing his favorite event, the 100 breaststroke.

He also swam the 50 freestyle.

Can’t say I blame to woman who can’t bear to look at all the hairless males surrounding her!

October 25, 2014, Backside of Fall

We are on the backside of fall, with November on the horizon next week.  We had a day in the mid 70’s so took a break from the grind of studying and working around the farm for a trip to Ledges State Park.

They grow big leaves here!

It was a great day to take a hike up a creek, especially this one with lots of sand on the bottom. (Emma will be bummed she missed the green stuff near Mom’s head.)

Even though the leave are past prime, there is still enough color to make things interesting. Yes, there are places like this in Iowa!

Martin “owns” the sandstone outcrop.

spindle tree, red berries in pink casing

First time noticing this shrub with brilliant pink berry protectors – this is a spindle tree or Euonymus europaeus.

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A peek at the berries inside.

October 13, 2014 – Back to Work in Portland

I was also able to geek out with about 300 hundred or so new friends at a conference centering around content strategy and user experience. It was good to get some time away from the urgent tasks at hand and think about some longer-term ideas.

Welcome back to you Portland!

I guess the bridge in the opening credits of Portlandia doesn’t really open up that much.  Pretty much wasted three days waiting for it (OK, maybe that was a slight exaggeration).

It’s easy to get into Portland, but not so easy to get out, unless you can figure out how to drive your car up a bridge piling.

October 12, 2014 – A Brief Respite on the Oregon Coast

Before I spent most of the week in Portland, I was able to catch up with some long-lost neighbors living in Portland. I was able to catch up with their family and they treated me to a trip to the coast.

crescent beach oregon coast

By the time we reached this part of the coast, the fog and rain broke.

foggy mountains

Earlier, I felt like I was trapped in an asian style painting.

ecola point

This is a view from Ecola Point, a state park.

There were high surf warnings out for this day, with 20 foot waves crashing in.

Yep, I was really there.

Had a chance to walk in the forest and see moss growing in tree branches.

Part of the trail along the coast as the park.

September 1, 2014 – Mini Maker Faire

We headed down to a mini-maker faire at the science center of Iowa this weekend.  It was full of 3d printers, CNC machines and the like.

Of course, some of the usual exhibits never quite get old!

How about a keyboard made out of carrots?

Or a cheap DIY microscope that uses a cell phone camera for incredible magnification!

There was also a virtual reality trailer from ISU and a virtual welding helmet as well.  Oh, and a traveling Tardis and R2D2 as well!

August 24, 2014 – Reykjavik and Good Bye to Claire

The last days were in Reykjavik – spent getting Claire settled into her apartment, getting groceries, household goods, a cell phone and the like.

Again, I will just put a few photos in the blog post and put a slideshow that can be viewed full screen with many more photos at the end.

We stayed three nights at this place – a flat adjacent to the harbor above a wood carving shop.

This shot was taken out of the front window of the flat.

Downtown pedestrian street in Reykjavik.

This is Harpa, Reykjavik’s answer to the Sydney Opera house.  In the clouds and fog and daylight, the shimmering fish scale effect of the glass panels is not as apparent.

A view out to the harbor from inside Harpa.

Imagining my life with a fixer-upper fishing boat.

Claire a the harbor just outside our flat.

Finally, the reason for the trip – Claire in front of the University of Iceland.  I took my parental duties seriously to settle her into her new location.  Such a sacrifice to spend eight days in Iceland with her on that mission!

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August 23, 2014 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Just to fess up, I think a few days earlier I said that the day along part of the south coast was my favorite day, well, this day on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula really was my favorite. The day had a lot going for it – a rare sunny day, a beautiful peninsula with a volcano with a glacier on top of it, and a journey to the top of the glacier-topped mountain, with some beautiful coastline thrown in for good measure.

Again, I will just put a few photos in the blog post and put a slideshow that can be viewed full screen with many more photos at the end.

Snaefellsjokull

Snaefellsjokull glacier in the distance.  Oh Icelanders, why use 7-8 letters per word, when  15-20 letters will do?  Snaefellsjokull is visible from Reykjavik on a sunny day, 180 kilometers away. Did I say there were only two sunny days in the entire month of July and I had sun my first three days!

In this cleft in the rock, a small stream comes out and forms a very narrow canyon.

Inside a larger room inside the narrow canyon.

Near the end of the so-called road up to the glacier – you have the option of driving most of the way in your own car, or adding a ride to your tour. The 2.5 mile trek in the car takes about 30 minutes.  I was a bit hesitant to take the rental car, but it would have been 40 more bucks to get a ride and I would have missed the adventure of the drive.

The last few minutes, they take you in the truck until the road really ends.

Heading up Snaefellsjokull.

Still going up.

Approaching the top.

Claire on top of the world, with a view up and down two coasts of the peninsula and the ocean.

There were many seemingly scattered and remote churches throughout Iceland.  Typically, a prosperous farmer would build a church and hire a minister out of his own pocket. It was both a status and point of pride to provide a church.  The farmer would however get half the tithe from the church for his efforts.

Another epic shot along the coast.

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August 22, 2014 – Stykkisholmur, the Sea, and Icelandic Horses

Stykkisholmur is a small coastal village in western Iceland.

Again, I will just put a few photos in the blog post and put a slideshow that can be viewed full screen with many more photos at the end.

Claire overlooking adorable Stykkisholmur. One of the yellow buildings to the left of Claire’s head is where the helicopter/bar scene from the Secret Life of Walter Mitty was filmed.

We headed out to sea here for a cruise to look at wildlife in some of the thousands of islands off the coast  in this part of Iceland.

Many of the isolated islands have sheep that graze.  You might be able to see a few white and black spots on this island. In order to get lambing timed, the ewes and rams are placed on separate islands.  At one time ewes started lambing at the wrong time of year on a few islands.  Eventually, they discovered that a ram named Magnus took to the sea and swam between islands visiting the ewes on many islands on his schedule!

At one point, they dropped a net overboard and hauled up scallops.  Claire’s not too sure if she is a fan of fresh scallops on the half shell.

On the way back to our lodging, we went for another small hike an encountered these horses along the way.

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August 21, 2014 – Golden Circle

The most popular tourist track in Iceland is called the Golden Circle – a one-day trip to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gulfoss waterfall. For my time, it was one of the least interesting days, but being close to Reykjavik, the attractions are easy to get to in a day. Again, I will just put a few photos in the blog post and put a slideshow that can be viewed full screen with many more photos at the end.

Þingvellir is Iceland’s national shrine and most historic sites. The oldest existing parliament in the world first met here in 930 A.D. The Alþing met here every year to enact laws, including the law passed in 1000 A.D. to introduce Christianity into the island. It has always been the focal point for the country, and whenever a major event is to be celebrated, thousands of people come here. The independence of the Republic of Iceland was proclaimed here on June 17, 1944. At the celebration of the 1,100th anniversary of the first settlement in 1974, more than 60,000 people packed into Thingvellir. This photo is of the drowning pool where mothers of illegitimate children were drowned in the dark ages.

Adjacent is the largest lake in Iceland, Thingvallavatn. The lake is 328 feet deep and home to trout and Arctic Char.

Just down the road is the world’s original geyser, named Geysir in Icelandic and the source of the English word. Geysir itself is rather unreliable after an earthquake a few years ago, but nearby geysers are very regular blowing every eight minutes or so.

The last stop on the Golden Circle is the Gulfoss waterfall.

Finally on the way home is a trip around the Hvalfordur fjord.

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