May 17, 2015 – Linda’s Graduation from Meadville-Lombard Seminary

A few shots from the joyful graduation from seminary in Chicago (four years in the making).

The whole fam, together for the first time in about 9 months.

The class, both honorary and real graduates.

Linda and the kids.

The spousal duo.

The dinner for the graduates the night before graduation.

First UU Chicago, home of graduation. A bit more “churchy” than many other UU buildings – this one is 175 year old and is in Hyde Park.

The inside of the church.

Linda happily in the procession.

With her major professor. Congrats to Linda!

May 16, 2015 – A Trip to Chicago

A weekend in Chicago to celebrate Linda’s graduation, but first a little distraction.

The hotels downtown where$500-$900 a night, so we rented a condo in the West Loop. This is the view from the window at night.

and by day.

One stop was the Art Institute. Something for everyone – medieval armor.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte never goes out of style!

Linda and Water Lillies.

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!

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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August 20, 2014 – Reykjanes Peninsula

This area is around the airport, which is about 40 kilometers south of Reykjavík. It appears as a vast wasteland of lava flows from the air, and after leaving the airport, but there are some surprises here and there. 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 Seltun geothermal area.  A Yellowstoney-type place with mud pots and steam vents.

Yeah, not the fresh scent that is usually around the country.

Most of Iceland’s power comes from geothermal and hydro power – 85%.  The water in Reykjavik comes directly from the ground and goes through all the houses, offering heating in radiators and hot water. You do not want to turn water on the tap only hot.  It is much hotter than hot water in the U.S.  Even though the outdoor temperature is commonly around 50 degrees F, most houses have their windows open most of the time, as the hot water that  constantly flows through the house, is also virtually free. The downside is there is a sulfur smell to the water.  Cold water is from another source, and is untreated with chemicals.

Here is the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are spreading apart a few millimeters a year.

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July 12, 2014 – Getaway Day 2

We absolutely lucked out and got a great campsite at Split Rock State Park.  We happened to walk in just after a cancellation came in for one of the sites that you use a cart to haul all your stuff in, far away from other sites.

The dining room was ok.

But the view from the living room was spectacular, overlooking the lake and the lighthouse.

We headed down the hill to explore the lakeshore.

I’ve got the whole lighthouse in my hand…

This is a rather unfortunate composition of me against the lighthouse – Minnesota’s most photographed place, perhaps has never quite had this vantage point.

It was a wonderful night with the moonrise.  Can’t decide if the close-up, middle, or wide angle views are my favorite, so all follow.

xxx

July 11, 2014 – Dad and Kid Getaway Day 1

Heading North for a rare weekend with all three kids.  Might be the last time in a long time they are all together, except for a day before Claire leaves for Iceland.

sandboy

 

Since we had some extra time, we stopped at one of those places we always drive by on the way up north, Moose Lake State Park Agate and and Geologic Center.  After ogling the agates in the display, it was time for some impromptu swimming. Martin decided it was time to try the experimental sand hair exfoliate.

Next it was off to Jay Cooke State Park, just south of Duluth – another one of those drive-by parks that often gets missed on the way up the North Shore.  It is one of Minnesota’s truly under-appreciated parks.

The St Louis River battles through strongly tilted slate beds as it runs into Lake Superior.

A broader view of the valley, downstream from the park.

A closer look at the tilted slate beds.

We lucked onto a primo camp site – not too close to other sites, with a nice rock backdrop.

The swinging bridge is replaced after the floods of 2012.

Martin gazes into what we called the “cauldron of doom” where the river drops into a maelstrom of water and foam.

Aaah!

The forest along the river near the highway bridge.

 

May 17, 2014 – Claire’s Graduation from Macalester

Graduation day at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

toss graduation hat, throw mortar hat

Celebrate!

The assembled audience and graduates.

The president addresses the student body.

Claire moments before grabbing diploma.

And immediately after grabbing the diploma.

Posing for the professional photographer.

With some responsible parties.

Her dad trying to embarrass her by bringing out the Iowa State Honor cords.

Claire and Nana.

Yep, it’s got her name on it!

She wanted a shot on her summer and winter mode of transport.

On the swing at graduation…

and on the same swing at first college visit to Macalester.

In front of the wind turbine at graduation…

and again, on her first tour.

Congratulations Claire. I hope Iceland is prepared for what you bring!

March 15, 2014 – Claire onto Florida with Mock Trial Team

Claire’s Mock Trial team at Macalester College participated in the “super rgionals” near Chicago after advancing at an earlier tournament in the Twin Cities.

squaw creek

Claire at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, IL. It was my first time to see the team in action.  In a nutshell, the team gets details of a court case and present the case before a “judge” – usually a couple of practicing attorneys.  The team has attorneys and witnesses and does not know if they will be prosecuting a case or defending a case.  I was impressed with the poise, presentation, and knowledge of the teams that participated.

squaw creek

Probably not a surprise that the team advances to the National Finals in Orlando in a couple of weeks!  Here, senior captain Claire with the team and coaches show off the hardware!