Next morning we decided that rather than head more west and south as was the original plan, we should detour north for a few days and stock up on some fresh food. Plus the opportunity to fill the tank from a tap wouldn’t go amiss. We’d once again woken up to sunshine and fluffy little clouds, and the track was lovely and empty, if a little dusty. So we carried on along the F track we were on until it T-junctioned with the 901, an apparently government
maintained road which should be in better condition. So with a decision made (no mean feat for us!), we set our destination as ‘Modrudalur’, a campsite listed in one of our guides who not only had all the mod cons we needed, but also a washing machine and maybe even diesel.
The track initially was fantastic, mostly smooth sand, descending into a valley with a steam and a little ford crossing, the sun stayed out and you could see all the different colours of the grasses and moss on the hillsides. Almost nothing like what I expected Iceland to be - where the harsh, barren landscapes devoid of all signs of life?? Tinkling brooks was not something I’d planned on seeing! It was all lovely though, and difficult to not stop every five minutes to take a photo.
But eventually someone up there must have been listening, as the moss covered hillsides gave way quite dramatically to a landscape much more moon-like. And we weren’t the only ones out and about, enjoying the alienness of it all...
Route 910 eventually brought us north to Route 1, the main Ringroad the loops around Iceland. Hanging a left we only had a few kilometres to go before reaching our home for the next night or two. And when we got there, not only were they open and with a very friendly dog wandering around, the cutest looking toilet blocks I’ve ever seen as well as a snug little cooking house for campers, but they also had the quirkiest diesel pumps I’ve ever seen! Moglet filled up, we found ourselves a flat spot, I put some washing on, Jason went for his customary explore with Wrinkle and then we settled down for the night.
As it turned out, it was a good job they didn’t wait for us, as we were busy with the washing until gone midday the next day - by which point we decided to stay for that night too. Having an electric hookup was a nice thing, it meant we could plug in the fan heater and get the humidity inside Moglet down a little bit, as well as plug in the laptop and watch a film or two, charge up lots of batteries without using Moglets leisure batteries etc. And pop over to the Reception building at the campsite which was also a little cafe by day and restaurant by night, and have a Magnum from their freezer for dessert! You might think ice cream cravings in Iceland is a little odd, but as with most things in life, we tend to crave those which we can't often have. We have an icebox in the fridge but it's not chilly enough for ice cream, so when we see the chance for a Magnum, we tend to take it! Then there’s things like toast, which is never passed up, and oven baked goodies like roast dinner and pies and such. Mmmmmmm...!!!
And then there's the fact that's it's not really been cold since we got here. It's certainly colder than the Morocco we left behind not too long ago, but daytime temperatures are always in double figures, when the sun comes into the cab it gets up to 20+ with no trouble, and nighttime outside temperatures haven't gone below 7degrees yet, so still staying up around 15degrees inside Moglet, which is plenty warm enough under a nice duvet.
But thoughts of food aside, the clock is ticking here in Iceland much more so than in Morocco and we can't afford to sit still for too long, too often. So next morning, the 3rd, we planned on heading north west up to Myvatn, the closest place for food shopping according to the campsite chap, about 75km away. It's a place we both want to spend some time exploring, but not this time around. The chap at the campsite at Modrudalur said they normally close each year on the 15th September but this year they might close a bit early, on the 10th - because of the snow that's predicted! That's only a week away!!! Myvatn is only a very short drive off the Ringroad, which is kept open pretty much all year round, by snowploughs if necessary. So our focus for the short term is to do anything in the highlands that we want to, on the F roads specifically, as these will close the soonest and don't get opened up again until sometimes as late as June the following year. Hopefully towards the end of our time in Iceland we’ll be able to loop back to Myvatn and have a proper look then. But for now, it's just a pit stop for food...
The comparative rest and relaxation was slightly broken by the fact that although there was a tumble dryer which teasingly worked for a few minutes, just long enough to lull you into a false sense of security and convince you to leave the building, it didn’t seem to like working for more that a few minutes at a time. After this point, you had to re-press the Start button to get it going again. It would then maybe run for a few seconds, or twenty minutes, depending on how it felt, and then stop again. Unfortunately I didn’t find this out until I’d already loaded up and started the second load of washing, so we found ourselves with lots of wet washing an no simple way of drying it. After babysitting the machine for an hour or so, Jason strung me up a washing line in the hut that the machines were in and we pegged everything up for the night. It may not get dry but at least if hopefully wouldn’t get itself all stinky from sitting in a damp pile.
In the meantime, we were approached by a young Swiss couple who’d arrived at the site a little while after us, in their rental pickup with fabric sided pop-top little camper on the back. They’d flown in to Iceland a week earlier and picked up their vehicle then driven clockwise around the Ringroad via the west fjords. Trouble was, the lady in the party was having a hard time feeling confident about driving through fords. They were wondering what our route was going to be, and if we were heading the same direction would we mind if they tagged along - that way we could go through things first and see how deep the crossings were, and if necessary help them out if they got stuck.
Our problem was really the washing - we had to stay until it was dry, and that could well take a large chunk of the following day. They meanwhile were on a much tighter time schedule than us and really could have done with motoring off in the morning. We tried to convince them that all the fords we’d been through so far would be no trouble for their vehicle, they could always get out and wade any crossing first just to check, and if all else failed then they could simply sit tight and wait for the next vehicle to come along so they didn’t have to cross by themselves. There's not exactly a constant stream of traffic, but not a single day has gone by when we haven't seen a small handful of off-roaders on exactly the same routes as us.
They had a good long chat about it and decided that as we couldnt be sure when we’d be ready to leave, they’d give the F roads a miss and stick to tarmac heading east rather than south. I think he was quite disappointed but there's so much of Iceland to see, there's no point worrying about the things you might miss - best to just get out there and see what you can see. Even the tarmac roads all wind through dramatic countryside, it's not as if you’re sacrificing the wilderness so you can drive round the M25 (apologies to non-UK people, the M25 is a great, hulking beast of a motorway that loops around London and is as much fun as a car park, and often looks much like one, thanks to the stationery traffic as far as the eye can see).
In the meantime, they came into Moglet and were very complimentary about her loveliness, and we had a bit of a chat about the places they’d been to so far. We’ve marked up our maps with some of their recommendations, and they were also kind enough to give us a book they had which detailed the locations of lots of natural hot springs all around the country. There’s loads marked on road maps but many of the ones in the book aren’t shown on the maps, so hopefully they’re a little less busy. I’m not sure about the slimy bottom that many of them have though - I like the idea of lounging around in a hot spring outside, but do you think there’s any that have been tiled?? :-)