Field Notes

Iceland : 2 • July 2-July 15, 2016

Final update from Iceland

July 15, 2016

Hey family and friends! Our sweet Moondance crew is en route to meet you all at home. We were so sad to bid them farewell this morning, but oh my, it has been a wonderful trip!!!

Our final day together was awesome. We woke early and caught a bus back to Reykjavík. Before we even left, though, the gang had an intense pick-up soccer match against a group of college-age Americans – we almost beat them. James and Warren showed off their true soccer skills while Spence and Meg made everyone laugh a whole lot. We then settled into our seats and, while some of the other folks on the bus might not have loved our stink…we were all excited to head back to the capital! We reached the city around noon and, with a bit of time until we could check into our hostel, we all walked to a nearby park for a picnic lunch and some fun. We played on the playground and ate one more Icelandic sandwich with the best butter. We then stopped in the nearest Bonus supermarket so everyone could get some of our favorite candies to bring home and share with you all. Zoe introduced us all to everyone’s favorite sour gummies; hope y’all can try one and that they don’t eat it all on the plane ride home! We got to our hostel and happily took hot showers and packed up a bit. After an hour or two, it was already time for our final banquet together! A nearby pizzeria, Eldsmidjan, served us up a great buffet of more pizza than we could eat! Pretty sure Brandt, Johnny and Jaxon ate six slices a piece. Everyone was stuffed when we finally left to shop for souvenirs and walk around Reykjavík one last time. From cool Icelandic sweaters and scarves to small puffin figurines and t-shirts, these kids found it all. Lindie and Wills were especially considerate to get things for all their family members. Before returning to the hostel, we made one more surprise stop for ice cream! Joe and Martha showed us that teenagers do indeed have a second stomach for dessert. Everyone got big ole scoops and, despite the chill outside, enjoyed the treat. We made our way back to our hostel for a final Moonup. Everyone shared most challenging and favorite moments of the trip. We also did 60-second compliments for everyone in the group.

Though it was an early morning today, everyone got on the bus and made it with plenty of time before heading through security at the airport. We are so grateful that your wonderful children could join us on this trip. We were truly sad to see them go. Believe us when we say that this group was one of Moondance’s best. Thank you for giving your kids and our Moondance family such an incredible opportunity!

Best,
TJ and Olivia


Terrific Trek!

July 14, 2016

 

Hello from Iceland! We can’t believe how fast this trip has flown by. Tj and Olivia are NOT ready to say goodbye to these gals and guys.

 

Here’s a big ole update for y’all, starting back before our trek. We had an incredible rest day traveling from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar. We were able to sleep in and rest in the morning. One of Moondance’s full time staff members Eliza flew in overnight to join us and she caught up with us just in time to travel to the highlands. The bus ride was just short of four hours and the kids loved every minute of the ride. Olivia collected song requests and made a giant playlist. There was a funny stretch of the guys songs sang by Wills and Brandt, and the girls songs sang by Zoe and Meg. Everyone’s favorite part of the trip was getting to ride in Artic Adventures brand new lifted off-roading Mercedes Benz bus. The bus is very luxurious and it felt like we were on a first class flight driving down the road.

 

When we arrived at Landmannalaugar, we all set up our tents and spent the afternoon playing soccer and sliding around in the small patches of snow. Brandt and Spence were thrilled – not much snow at their homes in the southeast. Before dinner we all got to jump in the nearby hot spring for a little soak. This hot spring is unique in that there is one cold stream and one boiling hot spring; the trick is to find the sweet spot where the two come together and enjoy the waves of hot and cold water mixing. Johnny even climbed into the little waterfall coming in from the side. It was freezing cold and we were all amazed by his love of the cold water as we personally inched a little closer to the hotter spring.

 

The next morning greeted us with sunshine and we were all eager to hike up and into the mountains. It was Ms. Zoe’s 14th birthday, so of course we woke her up with a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday!” Meg and Wills were our LODs and did a wonderful job of getting the group up and packed quickly. The Laugavegur trail is in total about 34 miles long and this first day we knocked out the first eight. The trail begins with a beautiful and gradual climb up into the highlands. We started by ascending through an old lava field that has been covered by moss. The higher we climbed the better we could distinguish the flow of the lava. Since we had such a fast morning, and since this group is wildly athletic/fast we were able to take a short detour to a nearby peak for lunch. James, Warren, and Joe all sat out closer to the edge and soaked in the vast landscapes. From the top of the peak we could see our camp from the morning and three separate glaciers out in the distance. One of them is the largest glacier in Europe!

 

We continued on and began to hike into the snow, a surface that we would become all too familiar with year day. The trail constantly switched back and forth from snow to dirt. The dirt was nice but the snow was very slushy, which made it hard to walk. At lunch we stopped to explore some incredibly powerful geothermal areas that shot out massive amounts of steam from an area of very high pressure inside the earth. The sights and sounds of the steam were very impressive. We also sang a few more “Happy Birthday” songs for Zoe, to keep the celebrations going. After the springs we began our final push to camp up a long snow-covered hill. By this point we were all feeling the effects of hiking in snow and were ready to get to camp and rest for a while. As we climbed we started to find more and more little pieces of obsidian, a stone that is very abundant in the area. The closer we got to camp the more obsidian we found. In fact our camp for that night is named after the rock, Hraftinusker.

 

Once we got to camp, we quickly set our tents before the rain and winds settled in. We ate some yummy snacks and lots of chocolate, Zoe’s favorite. Thankfully we also had a large kitchen tent set up where we were all able to huddle up to stay warm and dry. Martha taught everyone to play a few card games to keep the group entertained and all jumped in. With a huge dinner of smoked salmon in a cream sauce over pasta in our bellies we all settled in for the night. Oh, and of course we had to have some birthday cake for our birthday girl, Zoe! We had a few options – chocolate, carrot, and coffee. Everyone got even more filled up and we had lots of fun laughing together. Zoe will hopefully remember this birthday for a long time!

 

Our next morning was quite cold. We woke up to 40 degree temps with 30 mph winds. Iceland wanted to remind us just how far north we are and that it can still be cold and nasty in July. The guides woke up early to warm up the kitchen tent and the whole group rushed up the hill into the tent. After a speedy pack up our LODs Spence and James kept the group moving very quickly. Today we hiked down out of the snow and into a beautiful valley. Halfway through our hike we could see our next beautiful campsite and lake even though it was still 5-6 kilometers away. As we moved down the hillside into the valley, Martha started a few different puzzle games and riddles for the group that totally absorbed everyone’s attention. The next two hours were filled with everyone slowly solving the problems individually. Lindie managed to solve them really quickly and got a kick out of everyone’s consistent guesses. Most of the riddles have very simple solutions, that are extremely difficult to spot from the beginning.

We rode the riddle train all the way down to our camp at Alftavatn. This camp is one of the favorites – it is a beautiful grassy field right beside a very large lake with big peaks all around. We let the group spread out and relax for a little. Spence, Jaxon, and Warren led all of the guys down to the water, soccer ball in hand to play and hang out. The gals all got a head-start on snack time and talked about the different Moondance trips they hope to do in the future. The undisputed highlight of the day came when our group decided to hike up a nearby mountain and sled down a perfect section of snow. Our entire group all jumped right in, sledding down and hiking back up. Johnny and Brandt slid down in every style they could think of, backwards, upside down, face first, trying to go as fast as possible. Meg, Zoe, Martha, and Spence all made a train and raced down. It was truly a beautiful moment and was a super snapshot from the whole trip. With soaked rain gear and huge smiles our group waddled back to the kitchen tent to warm up with big bowls of “meat soup” – complete with lots of potatoes and fresh lamb, an Icelandic specialty. Everyone keeps commenting that we are truly eating like kings on this trip. We have our wonderful guides Oskar and Aslaug to thank for that. This day was one of those great Moondance days that we all dream about, the kind of day when you get lost in moment after moment, enjoying the people that you’re with and the activities that you’re doing, forgetting everything else from our day to day lives.

 

We woke up the next morning to sunshine and warm weather, riding the same high that we went to bed with. Today’s hike, just like the other days, was totally different in terms of landscape. It was also Eliza’s 25th birthday! We pulled out brightly colored jumbo straws for everyone to put in their water bottles, in celebration. We started the hike with a chilly river crossing and lovely rolling green hills. We made our way across mostly flat terrain and happily played some new trail games that Eliza introduced to the group. We began to notice more and more lava rocks amidst flat plains with startling pointy mountains covered in green moss. We had a second river crossing and some lunch before continuing onwards. We had some serious clouds roll in and geared up in our Goretex and endured an intense half-hour downpour. You might think this would make for bad moods, but our group just smiled and laughed as we hiked on. Before we knew it, the sun came back out and everyone peeled off their rain gear. We came to a small stream and Oskar presented our group with an intriguing challenge. In pairs, everyone had to cross with one partner blindfolded and the other acting as guide. It was a great team exercise. Brandt and James made it across first, followed by Warren and Wills. Warren incorporated their trekking poles into the crossing and impressed everyone by calling on all of Wills’ senses to help him. Johnny and Jaxon succeeded next with just a bit of a wet boot, then Zoe got Spence across too. Meg, Lindie, Martha and Joe all successfully helped one another to finish us off. This little activity was fun for all and proved, yet again, how well this group works together. We walked ever closer to our home for the night in Emstrur. It was a longer day – more like 11 miles – but cookies, chocolate raisins and peanuts kept us going. At camp, we set up tents then let folks explore the area. Most of the guys hiked up the ridge that overlooked camp while the girls played some card games. We had mountains of spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner and surprisingly couldn’t even finish the pot, there was so much! We also sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed an Icelandic dessert of Icelandic yogurt or “skyrr” with jam on top and cookie crust underneath. So yummy! Everyone was tired from our long day and happily crawled into bed after a good Moonup.

 

We woke yesterday to begin our final big day of the Laugavegur! Pleasant weather made for such a nice start after some of the crazier weather we’d experienced over the last few days. We packed our backpacks for the last time and enjoyed warm bowls of oatmeal (or cold bowls of Cheerios). We then hit the trail! Our first really cool sight of the day was a rocky canyon with a murky glacier-fed river raging beneath the little bridge we crossed. Though still a few kilometers away, a large glacier named Etnajokull seemed so close! We snapped a few great photos then carried on. The sun shined and good conversations were had all throughout our group. No one seemed quite ready to think about our trip nearing its end. This last day was our longest, but everyone kept up high spirits and enjoyed it all. We had one final river crossing before reaching the Icelandic forest and our final mile or so through the trees and flowers. We crested one final hill and about two-thirds of our group took off running at the site of camp not far away – Þorsmork. Joe, Martha, Meg and Lindie opted to stroll their way to the finish. We got some celebratory photos at the end and had a lot of high-fives. Everyone was thrilled to be to the end, and a little sad too. It was so great to sit back in our campsite, take off boots, and have some fun for a few hours before dinner. Wills, Joe, Spence, Brandt and James ventured to the nearby “Elf Church” across from camp while the rest played soccer and sat by the river. We also took some time to write letters to ourselves and “25 Things I Want to do in My Lifetime” that Moondance will mail out in the middle of winter. Then we got to have perhaps the best dinner yet – grilled lamb and a mushroom cream sauce and potatoes, followed by cheesecake! Everyone was stuffed to their gills as we packed our things and had a great Moonup led by Brandt and Lindie.

 

We’ll have one more update tomorrow about this fun last day we’re having! We are headed out to shop for souvenirs and eat a final banquet now that we have all showered here in Reykjavík. Stay tuned!

SHOUTOUTS:

Hey guys. Well I’ll be back tomorrow but id like to say I’ve missed y’all and I’m having a great time. Hope everyone is doing well (including the animals). Seeya in a few hours! – Lindie

Hey family!! I’ve had such a great time in Iceland and I’m so sad to leave tomorrow but I’m so excited to see y’all! Thanks so much for sending me on this trip! Love y’all and see y’all tomorrow!!! – Martha

HEY FAM!! I’ve had a rad time in Iceland and I am going to miss it so much! Thank you so so much for the trip, I’m sad to leave:( I love y’all and can’t wait to see you tomorrow… P.S.- I would love some CFA tomorrow– Meg

Hey family!!! Iceland is great!! Thanks so much for sending me on this trip!!! Love and miss y’all!! See ya tomorrow!! -Zoë

Hi Mother and father Iceland has been so cool I’m very excited to come back to the states though. Thanks so much for sending me on this trip. Love and miss y’all! See you tomorrow.- Brandt

Dear mister and dubs and mom and dad and other family members,
Iceland is so cool and I have had a great time here. Iceland is the most beautiful place ever! I loved all of the activities and people that were on this trip. I made lots of new friends and laughed a lot. We had Icelandic people guide us around and they were not scary like I said they would be. I got lots of candy and souvenirs for y’all! See y’all tomorrow!
From $pence

Family, Iceland is awesome!!  I’m being fed very well and am having a great time. Food is awesome. Can’t wait to get back home and see you! Love your lovely child, Apple Jax (that’s what they call me)

Hey family!!!! Iceland has been truly breathtaking and awesome for the past two weeks. Don’t worry about me being hungry because I feel like a whale after every meal (I fill both my normal and desert stomach). We need to come back as a family. We can all hike, and Becky will get a tan AT THE SAME TIME. I look forward to finally seeing you and sharing all my memories from this adventure!
Love, Joe

Mom, you put me on the wrong plane. I’m in North Korea. Send help. Bring donuts. Just kidding, Iceland is perfect. I’m excited to see everyone.
Sincerely, Johnny

Hey mom, dad and Kate!
I can wait to come back home. Iceland is the most amazing place I have ever been. I have all of you a cool gift and can’t wait to give it to you. See you tomorrow!
Love, Warren

Hey Mom, Dad, and Julia,
Iceland has seriously been the coolest experience of my life and I’m so excited to share my awesome experiences with you guys. I hope one day I can go to Iceland again with you guys so you can enjoy them like I did!
Love,
Wills

Hey Mom, Dad, and Thomas,
I’ve had so much fun in Iceland this summer! I’m so excited to share the many adventures we went on with all of you. Can’t wait to see you guys!
Love,
James

 

Cheers,

Olivia and TJ

 


Fun in Iceland!

July 9, 2016

We are having the BEST time here in Iceland! Our two days of sea kayaking were great – lots of laughs, some seals and puffins, and our own private island for the night. Everyone is excited to head into the highlands tomorrow and begin our trekking section.

 

Before we even get to sea kayaking, let’s recap our day of the “hot spring hunt.” We had a great hour-long hike to the best part of the river for relaxing. Johnny and Warren charged ahead and kept our group moving. We did have to go past some smelly water bubbling up from the ground along the way – think stinky egg smell. BUT we all happily soaked and explored the river, finding the most ideal spot. James and Brandt led us to the best area to chat and hang out for an hour before hiking back to the van. We had some lunch and loaded up to drive to the West Fjords for sea kayaking. We ate some good snacks and listened to lots of fun tunes. There’s little quiet time with this crew!

 

Once we set up camp in the town of Stykkishólmur, everyone made for the nearby playground to get some energy out. Martha owned everyone on the basketball court before dinner – she’s a high school and college star on the rise, folks. We later had the yummiest dinner of chicken pasta and chocolate lava cakes that filled everyone’s bellies and spurred us to have a little more playground time. Jaxon and Johnny were extra good at pushing friends on the swings as high as possible. Though the sun was still up, we had a lovely Moonup and got to bed.

 

We woke the next morning to blue skies and a new energy for kayaking. Because of the tides, we weren’t in too much of a rush to begin. We had some tasty breakfast and learned how to pack our kayaks, paddle correctly, and be safe on the water. James and Lindie did a great job as our LODs at giving directions and helping our group be fully prepared. We finally put our paddles to the water as a nice breeze began – don’t worry, still sunny too. Before we made it 100 yards from shore, Spence decided to be the first Moondancer to swim in the Icelandic waters, thanks to some encouragement from Meg…but the sun had him warmed up quickly as we made our way to the island. We stopped to check out an old shipwreck along the way, too. Warren loved checking out the old wheelhouse and inside of the ship; he also enjoyed sprinkling dirt through the portholes on the girls’ heads – what a jokester. As we got back in the boats, it seemed like no time before we reached our island home for the night. We arrived late in the afternoon and had LOTS of time to explore. James and Brandt had a blast throwing rocks into the water and poking at old jellyfish. Martha, Spence and Zoe liked lounging in the “egg crates” – or funny lumpy grass – as others told funny stories. We had a great dinner and lots of chocolate before a sunshiny Moonup and a breezy bedtime.

 

The group got its first slight taste of Icelandic weather the next morning. Not the usual rain, but very high winds that rattled our tents and made packing up much more difficult. The group preserved though, especially our young ladies Lindie, Martha, Meg, and Zoe who had their tents down and boats packed long before the boys were ready to rock. Fortunately for us we had the “spring tide” with the full moon, which means that at high tide the water climbs all the way up the shore. This makes getting our boats down to the water very easy. Once our group was packed with balanced boats we began to hit the water. Johnny and Wills hung around to make sure everyone’s boats were in the water and ready to depart.

 

The group made short work of our morning paddle. High winds and cloudy skies made for less that favorable conditions that our crew willingly toughed their way through. Jaxon, Wills and Joe proved to be strong paddlers and stayed at the front the entirety of our paddle. Since there were some struggles, too, Zoe and TJ teamed up to make a great kayak train, complete with their own video mini-series. Everyone truly kept up great spirits all morning.

 

We really can’t say enough this trip about how strong minded and supportive this group has become. If you told them they were paddling 20 miles today or 2 I bet they would meet the challenge with the same mindset. This group simply has fun being with one another. Our daily itinerary could consist of infinite household chores and this group would still make a good day out of it. It’s easy to tell that these guys are here for one another; getting to sea kayak, hike, and adventure is just an added bonus.

 

After our paddle we packed up all the gear and boats onto the trailers. Then we ate a great but unique lunch of dehydrated backpackers meals to get something warm and filling in our stomachs for the trip home. The chicken curry was a big it. While we were paddling, our in-country guides bought us a soccer ball back on the main land. We have been trying to hunt down this soccer ball for weeks and it’s certainly a great addition. Warren and James, our resident soccer players, were especially excited.

 

Within 5 minutes of us driving back to Reykjavík, the entire group was asleep. I don’t think any of us really grasp how much energy goes into these trips day after day and the accumulation of it all finally caught up to the group. When we arrived back at KEX we settled into our rooms and had a little down time to listen to music, take showers, and play cards. Brandt sang us November Rain in its 9 minute entirety. Joe and Meg also helped Olivia come up with a superb playlist for our car time the rest of the trip. Then we came together for a very American meal of Bratwursts, macaroni and cheese, and salad. We all gratefully indulged ourselves – I mean, who doesn’t like mac and cheese?

 

In my opinion the best part of the day came after dinner. We grabbed our new soccer ball and took a stroll to the park. There we found a volleyball net and played a game that Wills suggested called “nukem” – it’s basically a strange version of volleyball. We played for hours and if it had not gotten so late I think we would have stayed for longer. At Moonup tonight Zoe mentioned that she loved how this group produced the opposite feeling of homesickness to her. She is more saddened thinking about this trip having to end at some point than she is about missing home. If I had to bet I would say that the rest of the group agrees.

 

Tomorrow we travel down to Landmannalaugar and from there we will begin the Laugavegur trail. We will be out of service for the next five days, so we won’t catch up with you until the night before these kiddos head home. Rest assured that they are safe and having the time of their lives!

 

Cheers,

TJ and Olivia


Greetings from Iceland!

July 6, 2016

Greetings from Iceland!! We have had an awesome start to our trip here. Beautiful weather and two great days of activities have made for a laundry list of good memories already.

Our first morning waking up in Iceland was also the 4th of July back home. TJ made a seemingly endless supply of pancakes with red, white and blue toppings to celebrate – strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream! Everyone ate to their heart’s content before we started our drive to the South Coast. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a day of seeing waterfalls and playing at the beach.

Our first stop was at Seljalandsfoss, a 200+ foot waterfall. Several smaller falls cascade down nearby, so we visited them all of course. Everyone really enjoyed getting to hike all the way behind the big falls. Wills and Brandt even had the courage to stand beneath a small side trickle (more like a huge shower) – thank goodness for good rain gear!

We stopped next at the Black Sand Beach where puffins nest and basalt columns provide endless entertainment for those in the group who enjoy climbing. We watched puffins fly around, dipped our feet in the cold water of the ocean, and adventured all over the beach. Spence led the group in creating “Moondance” with rocks in the sand. The sun warmed everyone and we probably could have stayed for hours more. We took a quick drive to the nearby town of Vik where everyone got some snacks to refuel.

Our final stop as well as our camp for the night was Skogafoss. This waterfall is similar in height to Seljalandsfoss, but three or four times as wide. It’s a powerful waterfall that captivated everyone. We learned how to set up our cool tents before eating dinner at a nearby cafe…local beef burgers and yummy fries = crowd pleaser. Afterwards, we all raced up the trail to the top of the falls and explored for an hour or so. Warren and James wanted to go forever across the green hills and hunt for sheep. We eventually made our way back down to camp for our first Moondance “in nature.” After some card games, everyone snuggled into their tents for a good night of sleep – even if it wasn’t quite dark.

At the beginning of the trip we asked the group what activity they were most excited about in the next two weeks. At least 75% chose ice climbing, or “ice picking”, which was today! We woke up with the sun shining into our tents by Skogafoss. We got more beautiful weather and, after a great night of rest, we were all ready for the day. Wills even got a head start on everyone by waking up early to go for a run; he is eager to get in shape for football season.

Before we departed camp, Tj led the group in a game that he likes to call “steal my waterbottle.” In short, it’s a game where the group has to come up with a strategy to deceive Tj and get his bottle back to their base. After a few rounds the group came up with their game plan and Brandt delivered the bottle back to their base. Then we were off to go the glacier.

When we arrived we were all given crampons, an ice axe, harnesses, and helmets. In all of our new equipment we took the short hike to the glacial tongue and geared up. Our guide Oskar led the group in a demonstration of how to put on and walk in crampons. The ice axes on the other hand needed no explanation to most of our crew. Johnny, Warren, Zoe, and James were chopping away at the glacier every chance they had. We started off our glacier tour by hiking up and around to the top of the glacier where Oskar dove right into explaining all of the cool little features that we were looking at on the ice. Then we stopped at a simple but effective scientific tool that shows how much the ice melts every year. They begin by drilling a deep hole into the glacier, then they drop a weight in on a wire to the bottom and let it freeze. At the top of the glacier, they attach the wire to a metal bar. As time passes and the ice melts down, more and more of the wire is exposed. They then measure the slack in the wire to see how much ice has melted. It averages around 10m of melt every year. The group found this very interesting and it sparked great questions from Lindie, Joe and Spence.

Then it was off to our climbing site! Along the way we had the unique opportunity to fill our bottles with incredibly fresh water running right off the glaciers. Zoe, Meg, and Martha all jumped at the chance to stick their faces in and drink the freshly melted water. It was a short walk to our wall, a beautiful piece of ice, roughly 30 feet tall, that was rounded at the bottom and slowly curved up until it was completely vertical up top. The guides quickly dropped the ropes and our group all took turns swinging their axes and kicking in their crampons to climb the wall. James and Brandt had some heated races to see who could get to the top fastest.

Walking in crampons is incredibly exhausting and after our climbing we were all ready to be back into our own boots. The hike out was much shorter than the hike in having moved in a big circle around the glacier. We made quick work of it and were back to the car in no time at all.

Our hostel for the night was just breathtaking. It is a simple place but it sits on this picturesque farm with rolling fields, animals, and hay bales for miles and miles. After dinner the group spent hours running around in the fields, jumping on and off the round bales. Jaxon and Johnny stood on top of the bales and tried to get them to roll down as they balanced on top. It was a very impressive display of balance. Warren found a soccer ball and a variety of different games erupted. It was probably one of our favorite moments of the trip so far, all of us in a big field just acting like kids and getting to enjoy one another. Tomorrow morning we get to leave this beautiful place and set out on our next great adventure.

We’ll be hiking to some hot springs and soaking for a while today before we drive out to the West Fjords for sea kayaking! Our next update will come with the weekend after we’ve become paddling pros and before we go to the highlands for our trek. Hope everyone is well!

Cheers,

Olivia and TJ


Reykjavík and The Blue Lagoon

July 3, 2016

Iceland welcomed our group today with beautiful blue, sunny skies! What a perfect way to start. Everyone got here safely and had already become great friends amidst much of the airport travel.

Before even going to Reykjavík, we stopped for a dip in the Blue Lagoon. Though a bit busy, this big hot spring pool had plenty of room for our group to explore and relax. Lindie and Johnny loved the hot spot area the best, where the freshly heated water came straight into the pool. We also visited the silica mud mask station, where Brandt, Wills and Martha fully covered their faces in a thick layer of the cleansing paste. Zoe was brave enough to bring her camera and capture some of the surroundings – yes, it was waterproof. James and Jaxon also worked up the courage to sit beneath the waterfall found on one side of the pool and enjoyed a brief water massage.

Our time to head to the hostel came too quickly for some, but we all happily checked into our cool hostel, KEX, near downtown Reykjavík. Some sandwiches for lunch helped refuel everyone, followed by showers and nap time. Only a few actually took time to nap while many played cards and other get-to-know-you games.

We got to explore town for an hour or so and see the shops along Laugavegur – the Main drag through downtown that happens to share the name of where we’ll be trekking. It was fun to see the pre-game festivities of the Iceland vs. France match. Lots of blue, red and white jerseys, flags, scarfs, face paint, etc. Warren and Spence loved seeing the crowd gathered near the big screen and seemed pumped to be around for the big match.

We then made our way back towards KEX and spent some time by the water, an inlet that run out into the Atlantic. A pizza dinner helped this first day feel like any other Moondance trip, even all the way over here in Iceland. Dominos was a welcome treat for all after a long travel day. We tried some Icelandic cookies, too. Our first Moonup left everyone feeling like close friends even just one day in – and we’ve all got some cool Moondance apparel to wear throughout the trip! Meg and Joe, two of our alumni, will be our first “Leaders of the Day” or LODs tomorrow. Though everyone’s time clocks are a little off, we’re getting to bed at a nice hour to catch up on sleep.

We’re all looking forward to our South Coast Tour tomorrow! We’ll get as many pictures of puffins and waterfalls as possible. The next update will come in a few days. We’ll try to snap a good group photo, too. Sending our best from Iceland!

Cheers,

Olivia and TJ