Now try saying that when you've had a few Gull. It literally translates to Church-Farm-Convent. This morning was grey and wet and the rain drummed on the tent. I pulled the sleeping bag tighter around me and let the morning slip away a bit to see if the rain would abate. It didn't and eventually I had to get up. I opened the door to the tent and got a face full of rain. Part of me toyed with just zipping the door back up and pulling the sleeping bag all the way over my head. It felt like a brilliant idea. Why would anyone leave the warmth and comfort of a tent for that. I had a moment where I questioned the sanity of a 3 week camping holiday. I must get up. I start to pull clothes on from around the tent and as I do, I realise that I badly need a shower. I say realise, it was more like a good hard slap.
At 10:30 last night, the replacement for Bob arrived. This slightly newer Jeep is slightly less feature packed than Bob, no heated seats or sun roof, but feels better cared for and hasn't got any warning lights flashing. Most of my crap I had put back into my massive duffle bags to make the vehicle swap as easy as possible and so all I needed to haul out of the tent was my sleeping bag and mat and my little blue tooth speaker that I had used to listen to The History Boys through the bright night.
The discovery of the morning was that I could fit two wheetabix into my jet boil cup! I made some coffee to aid getting warm and zipped up the tent. I didn't want to break it down soaking wet. I would if I had to, but I thought I'd give it some time first. Hiding in the front of the car, I flicked through the guide book. How far would I go today? I wanted to go hunt down the wreckage of a US Navy plane that crashed near Solheim in 1973. It's a 4km walk from the road to the wreck. Again I needed the rain to ease off to make it anything other than a slog in the wet.
From there I would meander my way round to my stop for the night. The stretch of road from Skogar towards Skatafell was supposed to be stunning. I had probably passed as much time as I could fingering the pages of my guidebook and decided that I was just going to have to get wet and if I was going to get wet, I may as well get really wet. Pulling on my boots, I stomped up the steps towards the top of the Skogafoss. I was very glad I did. The view from the very top was ok but by far the best was from veering off a foot-worn path towards a sheer drop. As I turned to make my way back down, the cloud started to break up and the rain slow. This would be a good time to make a break towards Solheim and so I broke down the tent fast and bundled it into the big orange bag, dripping.
The walk to the wreck in the white mist is like walking across the moon. It appeared to grow thicker, robbing me of all sense of distance. The worn track stretches on and on through flats of even pebbled ground that made me think of a giant well raked zen rock garden. You can't see the wreckage until the you round the last corner, and so when you finally see it, there, upon the black volcanic sand, what is left of the plane against such a bleak landscape is quite a thing to look at. I drop my bag and circle it a few times from various distances, trying to figure out the photos I wanted to take. I pick my first spot and start setting up as a group of very loud Americans arrive. They look at me and then stand right in my line, unapologetically. It takes 45 minutes of waiting and being very grateful for my gloves for them to finish climbing onto the roof of the plane, taking a dozen photos of each of them on four cameras and then pose for a number of other pictures. With every click, the same question about whether the photographer got the whole plane in... I can hear them for a long time as they walk back towards the road.
Taking the few photographs I want quickly whilst watching another group of people crest the back dune, the rain is starting to spit again as I walk back. I pull the hood of my jacket tight around my face. At the car I make some sandwiches and decide to throw some petrol in at Vik, use the loo and be on my way. The N1 was heaving but I know my way around the pre-pay pumps here now and am quickly on my way. Reconsidering my idea of going to the swimming pool in Vik, mostly to make use of the showers, I decide to hold off until I get to my camp in the evening.
This stretch of the N1 passes through some mind blowing landscapes. The sudden plummeting cliffs that I had grown accustomed to over the last few days were replaced by immense lava fields from different eruptions. A flat scrubland, punctuated in steep cones where lava had exploded along a fault and the round pebble like remains of the Laki eruption that now stretch for miles, covered in a soft, thick moss. I took my time at each landmark, enjoying the occasional pockets of sun and letting the tips of my fingers stroke the varied textures of hard rock to soft moss. There is a memorial to one of the early settler's farms, lost to the lava and now hundreds of stacks of pebbles fill a stretch of land by the road. The tradition is that a traveller on his first passing of the spot places a stone for luck. I reach into my pocket for a stone from the black sand beach at Vik and set it gently on top of one of the cairns.
It doesn't take long for me to reach today's stop. Once I've paid for the night it becomes a question of the order of things. Food or a shower. Then it hits me that I have still got some beers in the boot. I rummage and find them, still cold! After this the rest is easy. The shower was worth every penny for the five minutes of hot water. I cook the hotdogs in the communal kitchen (and eat them all). Full and warm I head back to my tent just as the evening sun breaks through the last of the cloud and bathes the camp site in a warm evening glow.