Ice. Seals. Puffins.

Oh my.

I’ve been quite successful so far at doing a day trip every weekend, but since it’s only been three weeks it might just be luck. This last trip was to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland. It was a five hour drive there and five hours back, which I did singlehandedly and do NOT recommend, but I have no regrets because it was an amazing trip.

We took two cars because we had a large group, which was wildly entertaining when I made a wrong turn and the other group had to follow my car down a gravel road until we could turn around. But no worries, we made it home alive with only superficial flesh wounds.

Last weekend we had gone to Vík, where we visited a black sand beach that was the most breathtakingly beautiful place I had ever seen. But as it turns out, that black sand beach was not the black sand beach, so we stopped again in Vík on our way east to see what we had missed the week before.

The beach was much more crowded, which I did not like, but had incredible basalt rock formations, which I did like. But what we had really missed out on was a shit ton of birds.

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Look at all those… chickens.

I chose my words very carefully, because you cannot walk under that many flying birds without a healthy fear of getting pooped on. Remarkably, the ten of us made it out unscathed, and even more remarkably, I saw puffins fly.

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At least one of those is a puffin. I can almost guarantee it.

I mean, I knew puffins could fly, I had just never seen it before (let alone puffins in the wild at all), and it is hilarious. They have to flap their wings very frantically and keep their big orange puffin feet positioned juuust right behind them, which kind of gives the impression that every time you see a puffin fly is that puffin’s first time flying. They’re more graceful than I would have guessed, but still really goofy-looking.

The puffins were especially charming in their wide-eyed determination not to crash because they were juxtaposed directly with the majesty of the sea. I cannot overstate how much I love the ocean, especially when it looks like it does here.

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After walking along the beach and accidentally getting my socks wet, we piled back into our cars and continued on to Jökulsárlón. There was another brief crisis wherein we got separated from each other, but we pulled over next to a gorgeous river and enjoyed a brief walk to stretch our legs and take pictures.

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Unsurprisingly, we were not the only ones captivated by Iceland’s natural beauty. I just didn’t think so many of the others would have tripods.

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Fun fact, one of these people is also from Omaha.

The closer we got to Jökulsárlón, the more otherworldly the landscape became. We saw endless fields of black rock stretch from the road to the horizon. Distant mountains became glaciers with ice bluer than I would have ever believed. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, Iceland is like another planet– or, in this case, the moon.

Before we made it to THE glacial lagoon, we stopped at a baby glacial lagoon. We thought we’d ease ourselves into it, I guess? This is the lagoon the daring other driver of our group decided to go swimming in. Cue a well-deserved round of applause.

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Can you believe this lake could look unimpressive to someone? I can’t either, but after seeing Jökulsárlón, it seems average to me. I am both disgusted and impressed by this reality: disgusted because I am undervaluing this exquisite work of time and nature, but impressed that Iceland contains such fantastic phenomena that something this beautiful only ranks in the middle of the pack.

Now that I’ve talked it up, here’s Jökulsárlón.

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Hopefully I didn’t talk it up too much and you’re still impressed. It’s a ~slideshow~ because it’s too big to take one single overview-type photo.

Never did I ever believe I would see something like this with my own eyes. I mean, it was never one of those “Wow, I wish I could go there, but at my age those trips are just too demanding” things, I just never looked at pictures of such places and considered a reality wherein I saw them firsthand. I heard the crack of an iceberg fragment breaking off and falling into the water. In the same place, I listened to tiny pebbles whisper secrets to each other as irregular waves surged over them.

Oh, yeah, and I saw some seals.

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The jury is still out as to whether these were harbor seals or grey seals or something else because there is no reliable source on google that can tell me, but that’s fine. I was set up to believe that maybe, if I was lucky, I might catch a glimpse of a seal, but there were easily 20 of them swimming around and enjoying life. It seems like everyone there was.

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Jökulsárlón flows directly into the ocean, and since you can never see enough of the ocean, we walked to the other side of the bridge to look and listen.

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Not shown: the model shots from when Manuel wouldn’t get out of my goddamn frame.

After a long day of beautiful scenery, we began the long trek back to Reykjavik, a trip on which we saw no scenery because it was so cloudy and in Iceland the clouds touch the ground.

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There were points on the drive back that I could not see more than 20 feet in front of me, to say nothing of the view to either side of the road. We drove through the town of Vík and I did not see any of it. I couldn’t. It was incredible. Iceland is incredible. I’m still not sure how I made it here.

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I’m glad I did, though.

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