Ice Pack

I get kind of deranged about laundry. I don’t really know what it is, but it seems like the world’s most monumental task. Be it the trek downstairs to the washer or the inevitable switching of loads culminating in the dreaded folding and pairing and ultimately putting away. There are times where one load of laundry will take me a week. I call those times “every”.

When you add that to the decision-making-fatigue inducing packing for a trip to Iceland where it’s summer and a balmy 56 degrees, rainy and windy, and I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to be ready in time for our trip. It was Saturday evening around 4 and all my clothes were piled on the bed. I had just finished knitting a sweater that could double for a kevlar jacket in heft (and potential bullet stopping – though untested), and sitting on the bed with an open suitcase trying to figure out how to eat this elephant.

Iceland is a land of volcanoes, hot springs, mountains, waterfalls, puffins, whales, sheep, horses and, as the name conveys, ice*. Last year I traveled to Alaska around this time of year and froze half to death. This was mostly because I had packed for Las Vegas – though, to be fair, I had gone to Alaska straight from Las Vegas. I knew the weather was going to be comparable – think Portland in the late fall – and wanted to be sure I took advantage of what I’d learned in the prior year.

So there I was looking at all of the clothes I own in the world and trying to figure out what to take, how to layer, how many sweaters I should bring, how would it all fit in my carry-on luggage (I don’t like to check bags, they just get lost if you have a connection – and sometimes if you don’t). Andrew was attempting to offer helpful advice like, “well, you really only need one sweater” which was about the stupidest thing I’d heard, save for that morning when he asked me if he should make bacon – like, what’s the alternative**?

Bound up with the inability to get anything done, I went to the living room and put on Charlie’s Angels II – Electric Boogaloo. Every 25 minutes or so I would go back to the bedroom with a specific clothing item in mind to fold and put away. I started with underwear. I knew that I would need bras and panties and knew about how many to bring balancing a 10 day trip with the potential to do laundry. Next was gym clothes, this got me half way through Charlie’s Angels and my clothing pile. Sadly, I only brought one workout outfit with me to Iceland; because, even though it is a big CrossFit community with some celebrity, I am currently on the injured list and will not be doing much working out. As such, I was not even half-done with packing. Oh wait, also I needed two swimsuits for all the hot springs! Ooh, and toiletries and makeup and contact lenses. Yes, for those of you playing at home, I was now basically packed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot (I mean Emily DiDonato and I are practically twins, amirite?).

Eventually, I had everything packed, including 5 sweaters and a jacket and was ready to call it a night. Our Sunday flight was leaving at noon and we’d be in Iceland at 0830 Monday – Iceland uses military time. This has caused Andrew to start looking to me after noon to tell him what time it is. Mostly, we’ve only needed the time to know that the grocery store closes at 630PM not 830PM – with a two hour layover at JFK.

We went to board on Delta and made sure to be one of the first in our section – so that we wouldn’t have to check our bags like a bunch of suckers. We scanned our etickets and not unexpectedly, the light turned red and buzzed. As international travelers we had to show our passports. This took an exceedingly long time, and by the time they checked us in, they had stopped allowing carry-ons and were checking our luggage (for free) to Iceland. Andrew can get stressy when things that are unexpected happen. Me, I am pretty laid back and go with the flow. But this time, somehow, our roles were reversed. Why the fuck did they need to check my bag – no one on the plane said they were out of room, I know because I was listening for it. They were just guessing, and my bet was they were wrong. And, now what? Now, because of these two people randomly making a decision that isn’t theirs to make, I was going to be naked in Iceland. I was so angry and shaken. Andrew was trying to do what he could to relax me, switching off between explaining we had travelers insurance that would pay for a new wardrobe*** to cracking jokes about frostnip. It wasn’t until I was seated, buckled in and the plane was somewhere over Idaho (and I had a complimentary glass of wine) before I got over the luggage.

Delta was actually quite lovely. They had a bevvy of free movies and games available. Andrew and I started watching Gravity together on our respective screens. I was about a half hour in before the sucktastickness of it made me have to switch up. For me that is saying a lot, I have watched a number of movies to the end just to see what happened. I still list Hudson Hawk as a favorite – yes I know how bad it is and I abhor Andie MacDowell, but still…. Having said that, I could not continue with Gravity. Andrew continued with it while I watched Birdman; it was disappointing, predictable, trite and ephemeral, but, at least it was well acted – then again that may be what it was about. I then watched Boxtrolls while Andrew read things about why start-ups succeed or fail or charge too much or charge too little. Boxtrolls was amazing. If you haven’t seen it, do. The story is great, and sad, and funny, and touching. After a quick layover in New York we got on the flight to Iceland. Neither of us had slept a wink on the first flight.

I immediately got on my computer to do some work reading and fell soundly asleep after about one hour so that when we landed I was pretty well rested from the four hour nap and ready to conquer the day until we could check into our AirBnb, was what I’d hoped to be able to tell you. Instead, I watched Interstellar (really good and took up most of the 5 hour flight) followed by Tomorrowland (note to self, stop watching George Clooney movies – they are crap). Andrew went in and out of pretending to sleep and catching up on some reading. We landed at 0830 which is Portland for 0130 and were completely fried.

Customs at the airport felt like 1984, the year not the Orwell novel, it was a breeze. We collected our luggage from the carousel (I was delighted and shocked) and then headed outside for a 500m walk to the car rental place. Those 500m made me rethink the shorts with long socks and my “kevlar sweater” it was rainy and windy and cold. As we neared the storefront it looked closed, but as it turned out they were open. Only all the electricity, as in all of the electricity in all of Iceland, had gone out. They manually processed our information using cell phones and paper and just as all the paperwork was filled in the lights came on. We got in the car and headed to a pharmacy – I was having ear issues from the plane ride and needed some hydrogen peroxide.

Andrew has T-Mobile because he travels out of country a lot and he likes to have data and text overseas – which is very convenient; I like my phone to work when I am in the states – we all have our tradeoffs. Google maps guided us to the nearest Pharmacy and I wandered around the store for 20 minutes before asking the woman at the counter for help.It turns out that hydrogen peroxide is kept behind the counter with the other heavy drugs and comes in varying strengths (3% or 6%). I got the 3% by the pharmacists suggestion. I left the store and came back 10 minutes later after Andrew and I had struggled in the car to open the bottle. I’d heard of the Norse strength, I hadn’t realized it was required to ope a bottle of peroxide. I brought the bottle back and everyone in the store tried to open it. The pharmacist then took it into the back room and used the hammer of Thor to release the cap.

We easily found our way to Blue Lagoon through an amazingly scenic volcanic rock drive, and walked about a bit. A quick stop at the WC confirmed that my seemingly over-emotional response to baggage-check-gate was hormonal. We were about 40 minutes early for our appointed time so we went back to the car for a nap. Neither of us could sleep. Too much Arctic summer sun. So we went in about ten minutes early. Blue Lagoon is man made but also the largest tourist attraction here, so we had to go. It was delightful. Andrew and I painted each others face with silicon mud and wandered around the hot water for almost an hour. On our way back to the car I was rethinking the long socks and kevlar sweater.

Iceland and I had warmed up to each other.

I still don’t know whether I packed properly.

*Were you told that stupid story of how Iceland was named Iceland to keep people away from it and Greenland named Greenland in order to entice people? Although it was what I was taught in school it never made sense to me. Like, once people got to each land, wouldn’t the name tomfoolery be discovered? Well, it turns out this was all nonsense (as I had suspected) Iceland spells Iceland “Island” – as in, “this is an island”, which it is.

**In retrospect, I suppose the alternative was that I make bacon, but that was not the vein in which the question was asked.

***Again, hindsight 20/20 (or as my friend Mandy says 50/50) – I would be excited about a new wardrobe!

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