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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Seljavallalaug Pool, Black Sand Beaches, Dryhaoley Arch and Vik- Iceland

Day 3 in Iceland focused on the South Coast of Iceland. We started the day with the two waterfalls before stopping at Seljavallalaug Pool and the Black Sand Beaches and Dryhaoley. This day in Iceland was as diverse as the country. Waterfalls to pools tucked away in canyons to beautiful black sand beaches. 

There is so much to do in this area and you could easily spend a few days. We narrowed our list down, taking the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash off our list to spend more time at the waterfalls and pool. The plane crash had a lot of cars parked at the trailhead and a lot of people heading out to the crash site. The time it would take to walk out and back to this tourist trap with crowds of people, (and of course, there was the pouring rain) we decided to skip the plane crash. 

Seljavallalaug Pool

After visiting Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, our third stop was the Seljavallalaug Pool. This site is often overlooked for the more popular sites in Iceland (i.e. plane crashes and waterfalls). It does involve a little bit of a hike out to the pool which may be another reason it isn't as popular as the other sites.  It was so nice to get away from the crowds after seeing the very crowded waterfalls.  We only saw 2-5 people at the pool and only passed one smaller group walking out on our way back from the pool.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss - Waterfalls, Day 3

Day 3 in Iceland took us farther northeast, counterclockwise around the country where we had plans to see a few more waterfalls and other natural sites including a black beach and a hike out to Iceland's oldest pool.  Our first two stops featured on the blog today were waterfalls.  If you haven't picked up on it by now, anything that is a waterfall in Iceland ends in the word "foss" and today is all about fosses.  Lots O' Foss. 

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and Signage

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Golden Circle - Iceland

The Golden Circle is one of the most popular and touristy things to do just outside Reykjavik.  You get to see a whole lot of Iceland in just one day, just outside of Iceland's capital city.  You drive a big loop to see waterfalls, geysers, and craters.  With this proximity to the capital and awesome array of attractions, you will get some larger crowds. My advice is to start early and enjoy some of these spots before the busses show up. 

Touring Iceland's Golden Circle is a long day filled with important Iceland history, classic F roads (gravel roads) with potholes, and of course, waterfalls.  Keep reading to see my itinerary, where I stayed, what I ate,  which spots I loved, and which you can skip if you are short on time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

So you want to go to Iceland? 

Or maybe you just have a long layover in Reykjavik before continuing on somewhere else in Europe.  Either way, here is my list of a few things you should (or shouldn't) do while visiting the most northern capital in the world.  Reykjavik, Iceland's city, has a latitude just under the Arctic Circle at 64°08'N.  It is a bustling little city, with great art, food, shops, and sites to see.  I spent almost 3 days in this windy city and have some tips, spots for good food (good cheap food) and general sites for you to see.  This list is a little different than the general iconic spots you see on the blogs or guides.  I've included some extra activities featured around eating (you know it), unique spots like the phallological museum, and tell you where you go for happy hour specials and booze over 2.25%.  Before you go, make sure you pack your raincoat, ten layers, and accept that the wind and sideways rain will (likely) be your constant struggle.  I hope you enjoy this city as much as I did. 

Standing outside famous "Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur" with a famous Icelandic hot dog

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Hiking Burke Mountain - East Burke, Vermont

Every year, we plan a mountain biking trip up to Kingdom Trails, Vermont with a group of mountain bike loving friends.  It is way up north near the Canadian border and is the northeast mountain biking mecca.  The usual plan is to bike one day and hike the other with Olive.  I always like to bring Olive (who camps without their dog?) but these mountain biking trails are insanely crowded, not ideal for dogs and are closed to dogs on the weekends.  So I have always installed the 50/50 plan... Bike a day Hike a day with O.  Last year, I took Olive to hike Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak. While that was a great hike and I was able to tack another summit on my New England Peak list, this year, I was going to find something closer. 

Picturesque views of Kingdom Trails
 Last years hike up Mount Mansfield

This year, I wanted to do something closer and decided to hike the local mountain right by the campground, Burke MountainA quick drive from the campground (less than ten minutes), almost no one on the trail, and some elevation make this a great workout with some amazing fall colors.  The only disappointing part was not reaching a true summit with 360 degrees of the area.  Instead, you reach the geodetic survey pin and there is a tower you can climb at the top of the mountain.  Nonetheless, this was a great hike I would recommend if you are in the area and looking for a dog-friendly hike with solitude. You start at the base of a ski lodge and work your way to the top.  Without the aid of a chairlift. 

Trailhead: Darling State Forest Trailhead off Sherburne Lodge Road
Route:  Heading Up:  Red Trail to the West Peak Trail. Follow any signs for the Summit
Trail. Heading Down: the Red Trail.  
Distance:  6 miles (round-trip)
Elevation:  2,100 ft gained
Summit Elevation:  3,267 feet 
Dog-friendly:  Yes! On-leash
Kid-Friendly:  Some steep and rocky sections so better with older kids
Parking:  Large dirt lot at the base of the resort, plenty of room. 
More Maps:  Primitive camping, trail and ski map


  • The trail starts out on a nice relatively flat double track trail
  • Soon enough, you head on to some thinner trails where there are some steep and rocky sections. 
  • You will also pass two shelters/ lean-tos on your way up the mountain. Behind the first lean-to (just after crossing the CCC road), the blue trail heads up to your left and the red trail continue on straight ahead. Both trails will get you to the summit. 
  • Other hikers in the past have missed a turn and started following the wrong trail (0.6 miles from trailhead).  The map on the left has a red arrow showing you the spot to pay attention.  Look for a red sign on the tree marking "red trail".  I had no issues and found the trail easy to follow.  
  • There are two points where the trail stops for a quick second and crosses a road or a parking lot:  Once when it crosses an old CCC road (the trail is fairly obvious across the road, it is marked up the trail map) and at another point you have to cross the parking lot and pick the trail back up (summit trail) at the top of the mountain/ski resort (also obvious). 
  • While the summit is underwhelming, you can climb the fire tower for amazing views around you.  I do not like heights and it was a windy day so I stayed at the bottom.  The views west show you famous Willoughby Gap while the view east will point you towards New Hampshire’s White Mountains. 
  • Your last option (if you prefer pavement) is to follow the paved CCC road up to the summit (you can even drive to the summit but what's the fun in that?)

Start of the Red Trail 

Turn for the red trail some people miss 

Start of Darling State Forest/Sign in sheet

Trail ethic! 

Olive and I on the trail

One of the shelters on our way up the trail

Views from the trail getting close to the ski lifts 

Mid Burke Express Lift
"The Darling Family donated a large parcel of land to the State in the 1930s, which became Darling State Park and, sometime in the 1930s, Burke Mountain was identified by local residents as a potential recreation site". 

At one point you have to cross the parking lot and pick the trail back up (summit trail)
"The early plan for this “forest park” included an auto road, ski trails, hiking trails, picnic facilities and running water. A Civilian Conservation Corps crew was employed to build the auto road to the summit and completed it in 1935. Interest in downhill skiing grew over the years with the first ski lift installed in 1953. A portion of Darling State Park has been leased to various entities over the years as part of the Burke Mountain Ski Area".

Geodetic survey marker marking the summit

Fire tower near the summit

"The fire tower erected on the summit of Burke Mountain (1912) is reported to be the first fire tower in the state of Vermont. From this vantage point, forest fires could be located and the proper authorities notified". Vermont State Park Website

Post-hike beer at the Bike Shop

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

All About Icelandic Horses- riding tours and fun facts

Riding horses is something I rarely do on vacation.  It seems silly to pay all this money to go ride a school-broke lesson horse that usually involves 95% walking on a dirt path with 20 other people who have never ridden a horse before.  BUT, Iceland was going to be an exception to this rule.  Icelandic horses are so unique, and the countries landscape so insanely beautiful, that I couldn't pass the opportunity to tolt (more on that later) around the Icelandic countryside, taking in the views of Iceland from the saddle.  If I go back to Iceland, I would certainly sign up for one of the more advanced overnight tours instead of the 2 hour session open to all groups.  I have so much to tell you about our tour, who we used, how much we paid, and why we went riding but first, it's time for some fun facts.

Monday, October 2, 2017

1 Hike 2 Breweries- Easthampton, Massachusetts

There are very few things better than scouting out a new brewery after a hot New England hike.  The temperatures were in the 80s in September and after a lovely hike up to the summit of Mount Tom, I was happy to discover that there were two breweries just a few miles away. New City Brewery and the Abandoned Building Brewery were both in the same complex a 5 minute drive from the state park entrance.  With Olive in tow, we headed out to try some local Massachusetts beer.