Hljóðaklettar (North Iceland III)

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Let’s continue last week’s post with more basalt structures. The place to be is Hljóðaklettar in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. To get there, you turn south on 862 a little west of Ásbyrgi. There are a couple of well marked trails in this area; today we follow the river north. The landscape is marked with distinctive humps

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that consist of clusters of basalt columns.

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How much time did it take to build all this? We humans are truly ridiculously short-lived.

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Then there are also the half-humps, like split giant geodes.

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The inside (i.e. the left side of the hump up above) shows more strange rock formations

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that up close seem to look at us with mild disdain. Rightly so.

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Aldeyjarfoss (North Iceland II)

Within two hours driving from Húsavik, there are plenty more or less easy to reach places of interest. One of them is the Goðafoss waterfall, which is visible right from the ring road. Nearby, but not quite so easy to reach is the Aldeyjarfoss.

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To get there, one follows 842 south (a dirt road, better than 844, which is an alternative). This turns after a few bumpy kilometers into F26. Most people drive their two wheel drive cars up to the parking lot.

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The waterfall itself is quite impressive, but its real beauty is due to the large basalt formations surrounding it.

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Next to it are some more contemplative smaller falls,

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and a short hike takes you to another large fall, the Hrafnabjargafoss.

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On the way, the rock formations on the river banks have the appearance of ancient friezes, telling stories about civilizations long forgotten.

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The complexity of this place made of rock and water is quite overwhelming.

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Húsavik (North Iceland I)

The next few weeks, I will write about this year’s vacation in Iceland’s north. For comparison, here are the links to the blog posts about Iceland’s south from two years ago:

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This year we stayed in Húsavik, a small and peaceful town a few degrees south of the polar circle.

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It lies on the east shore of Skjálfandi bay, which allows for nice sunsets (unless it is too cloudy (often) or not cloudy enough (rarely).

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Dramatic clouds are abundant and make driving dangerous.

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A highlight was the full moon backlit with a setting sun at midnight.

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After Dark (Southern Illinois IV)

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The trails at the Giant City State Park close at dusk. The reason seems obvious: You could get lost, fall off a cliff, and die.

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The truth is more sinister. After sunset, the innocent looking gnomes go into hiding, and from the rocks the true owners of the place emerge.

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These two above still have humanoid features, but you start wondering whether there are other nameless horrors here. Death by falling off a cliff might have been a merciful alternative.

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I am sure Howard Phillips Lovecraft would have found inspiration here.

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Inside (Southern Illinois III)

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The Giant City State Park has its name because of the sandstone that has eroded into blocks (houses), separated by streets. After walking around last time, today we enter.

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The whole place is quite spooky, even during daylight, and it is easy to get lost.

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Some paths have exists, fortunately.

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The location of the next two images was most impressive. It looks rather artificial, but not made by humans.

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Who would design something like this where even the trees contort in desperation?

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(to be continued)

Around (Southern Illinois II)

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In the middle of the Midwest, there is the small College town Carbondale. The nearest airport is in St. Louis, two hours away by car, if you survive the trucks that rush towards Chicago. However, it is not just rolling hills and corn fields. There is Giant City State Park, which is not, as I was afraid, another amusement park.

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Instead, it is one of the best hidden gems of the midwest. The numerous trails take you through lush forests and along sandstone cliffs.

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Some of the boulders have a distinctive organic appearance, and you begin to wonder whether they could come alive… Also, everything seems to tilt in unexpected ways.

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Is it that these wall want to keep us out, or keep something inside?

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To be continued…

Forward (Arizona V)

Not only looking down is worthwhile, but also looking ahead.

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So this is my collection of pictures of tree bark from Arizona. The textures are beautiful, and one wonders why the trees are making this effort.

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After all, the visible outer layer is just dead cells.

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So, more precisely: Does the beauty we (or is it just me?) see in these structures provide some evolutionary advantage?

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Not for the trees, I am afraid.

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But maybe for us,

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because the beauty we believe to see helps to keep looking forward, despite all the decay.

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