Iceland, Iceland Baby

We made it to Iceland and back. For this eager and anxious traveler, that’s a win.


In between the flights was some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. There were oohs and ahhs, lots of laughs, and a couple of whiny tears. There were hours and hours of family time, including hours and hours in the car listening to I’m on Top of the World, Baby Shark, and Run, Run, Rudolph. (Apparently, it’s not a summer vacation playlist without a couple of stray Christmas tunes.)

Our three mini adventurers crushed this trip. There wasn’t a single thing they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. But, none of that was really surprising. We expected it to be amazing, and it was amazing. The surprise was how easy it was.

Iceland is both unique and familiar. It’s a mashup of Montana and Northern California with all its big sky meets ocean cliffs drama. It’s also an island of contrasts. It’s lava and glaciers. It’s geysirs and waterfalls next to lakes as still as glass. It’s green pastures and black sand beaches. It’s simply breathtaking.

The Icelandic language is breathtaking in another way. It doesn’t matter, of course, because English is the default. It must be one of the only places on Earth where natives prefer to speak anything but their mother tongue-- because it’s easier! Words typically go on for 15+ letters with an indigestible string of consonants. They then add a bunch of meaningless dots and squiggles. Place names are the most impenetrable. Here’s something fun to try the next time you bump into an American recently back from Iceland. Ask them where they went. They’ll pause for a second and then say, “It was beautiful. Really beautiful.” They’re not not answering because they’re forgetful. They can’t say the words.

Getting around was super easy. We got a car at the airport and then the royal "we" drove around on the one road they have. While I didn’t drive a single centimeter of the trip, I’m assuming it was easy. There was only one time Brian had to tell the kids to pipe down in the back so he could concentrate. (We were trying to find KFC. It was serious.)

For the most part, eating was easy too. We bought breakfast and lunch stuff at the grocery store and ate dinners out at places guaranteed to serve cheese pizza and fried chicken. We didn’t fly over the Atlantic this time for the food. In fairness to the Icelanders I just offended with my comments about their f'd up language, everything we ate out was delicious with a bunch of healthy options. But here’s one random thing… it's the puffins. They’re, like, the national bird and are really cute. They look like a cross between a penguin and toucan. Every souvenir shop sells them plush or printed on socks, tshirts, and shot glasses. So, maybe it's just me but I thought it was weird to see them smoked on the appetizer list.

In terms of what to bring, I secretly congratulated myself multiple times throughout the trip for my exceptional packing. I usually bring way too much of the wrong stuff. So, I felt like this was an accomplishment worth celebrating (privately because, um, it’s a weird thing to be so proud of.) Anyway, we packed A LOT and used it all—from bathing suits to winter hats and gloves. If you’re planning a trip, pull your biggest suitcase into your closet, dump everything in, and then zip. You’ll be all set.

Our itinerary with highlights pictures is below.

Day 1

Drive from Airport to Blue Lagoon – 21km/20 min

Drive from Blue Lagoon to Hveragerdi – 80 km/1 hour


Blue Lagoon

The Lava Tunnel

Geothermal park

Geothermal outdoor pool

Icelandic Horse Park


INNI | Frumskógar 3 | 810 Hveragerði |Iceland tel. +354 660-2050 | e-mail:

Day 2

Hverageroi to Thingvellir National Park ( – 60km/55 mins

The Great Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfoll – 70km/1.1 hours

Kerið Crater – 56 km/45 mins

Day 3

Drive from Hveragerdi to Vik – 142 km/1.75 hours

On drive over:

Urridafoss Waterfall

Mountain Hekla – Volcano

Thorsmork - Volcano

Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui Waterfalls

Skógafoss - Waterfall


Vík Apartments, Sléttuvegur 1-4, Vik I Myrdal, 870, IS, Phone: +3544871480

Day 4

Rock arch near Reynisfjara beach.


Reynisfjara, Reynisfjall og Reynisdrangar

Drive from Vik to Reykjavik – 187 km/2.5 hours

Explore Reykjavik in afternoon


Reykjavik4you Apartments, Bergstaðastræti 12 Reykjavik 101 IS, Phone: +3547711200

Day 5

Lava Show

Explore Reykavik

Whale Watching 

Day 6

Veg out with some TV

Perlan Museum with planetarium show about the Northern Lights and an ice cave

Fast food!

Return Flight at 5pm

Camping is like flying

You consider it successful when nothing unexpected happens.

Shenandoah National Park, July 2019

Shenandoah National Park, July 2019

Brian and I took the kids camping this weekend effectively ending a 8+ year hiatus from packing, tent-pitching, and fire-building that started around the time I got pregnant with Marin. It all seemed really hard (and unnecessary frankly) with little kids.

Last winter we decided we had sufficient voice control to keep them on the trail, out of the trees, and away from the fire. So with a new monster tent purchased and a site reserved, we told the kids. “Guess what?! We’re going camping next weekend!”


Worried faces.

And, then you could actually see the question bubbles forming above their heads.

“Are there bears there?” “Will we see one?” “Will it eat us?” It went on and on with every possible iteration of that essential question. It turned into the longest running conversation about bears ever in the history of the world. We did our best to assure them there was no cause for alarm. It didn’t work. The inquisition continued.

When the weekend arrived, we got our stuff together and headed out. My mom says camping is like moving which is so, so true. You need something from every room in your house. The van was PACKED.

Within 20 minutes of driving into Shenandoah National Park out of Front Royal, we came across a bunch of stopped cars with people pointing at the hill. “A baby bear!”

I held my breath— both selfishly wanting to see one and not wanting to see one at the same time. Alas, the little guy disappeared before we spotted him so we drove on. No bear.

Checking into Mathews Arm, we were inundated with information on bears and how to store our food. The right answer is always c). In the locked car. Got it! So we parked, started to unpack, and put up our new tent. Even with “help”, it only took about 14 minutes. We blew up the air mattresses (oh yeah, we were not joking around) and made our beds. We spotted lots of beautiful butterflies but no bears.

We then headed off on our hike. The map said it was an easy, 1.5 miles loop that would take about 1.5 hours. At first, I thought it must be a mistake and then looked at the three pairs of short legs around me and figured they were exactly right. To our delight, there was about 90 percent less whining than anticipated. About halfway, they claimed to desperately need a break- which was really just a ploy to pick the M&Ms out of their trail mix. Reinvigorated, we made it back. No bears.

Then, there were multiple hands of Uno and a long game of “Amazon package delivery” in and out of the van. No bears.

We made dinner and went to the ranger program. Ranger Denise told us lots of funny and interesting stories about bears. But, we saw no bears.

We then made s’mores, brushed our teeth, and got settled in for the night. No bears.

The next morning, we woke up to gorgeous sunshine coming through the trees and birds chirping all around. As Brian made pancakes and sausage, Marin looked across the picnic table asked, “Did a bear get us in the night?” I was confused. Was this typically literal kid asking some kind of meta, surreal question thinking we were all sitting around a picnic table in heaven? She clarified, “No. Did one come to our campsite?” Nope, no bears.

As we’re driving out of the park, Linc in the way backseat reflectively says, “Hey, remember that red car yesterday that said they saw a bear but there was no bear? They were just wasting my time.”

I hear you buddy and am so glad. We needed this first camping trip to be completely uneventful. No surprises and no bears!

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Traveling with Kids Is Too Easy

Traveling with kids is too easy these days. Our recent spring break trip to New York with the kids is Exhibit A. Does anyone else remember the god-awful trips we took as kids in the 70s/80s? There were valuable grit-building lessons on the miles of road in a hot, sticky, boring van. Is all the technology really helping or hurting us?

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