June 24, 2019
Wow, time sure does fly when you are having fun! The last time we checked in the group was headed to Kerlingafjoll for our final two nights of camping in our tents.
Upon arrival, the group set up tents while, Charlotte and Reagan put out cookies, cake and hot cocoa for everyone before dinner! Oops! Dessert before dinner! While Landyn and Haley helped Olaf with dinner, Ward and Jake taught Casey, Gray and Scotty how to play Hearts. A perfect game to keep us busy as we waited for our fish stew! After dinner, Ward and I decided to check out the local hot spring and soak for a while Brantley and the rest of the group decided to hang back and play cards!
The next morning we were back at it again…hiking! The group slept in an extra hour and then prepared our classic two sandwiches and fruit for lunch on the trail. Olaf led us to a set of hot springs that were hidden high above us in the mountains surrounding our camp. Jake the Tank crushed the hike as usual and took some amazing photographs along the way. The hot springs were unbelievable and the views, exceptional! The whole group was in awe by the pools of boiling water that were producing impressive clouds of steam that stretched far above our heads. After getting back to camp in the early afternoon, Cooper, Ward, Owen and Scotty decided to all take a power nap before dinner! Jake, Reagan and Charlotte got to work on cook crew and woke the group up to the enticing smells of spaghetti. After a heavy sitting dinner, the group decided to take yet another soak in the hot springs to end off the last night in the tents with a bang! Scotty and Gray were the LODs and ended our day with a light and whimsical Moonup!
The next morning was time to make our road trip back to Reykjavik. Along the way, the group jammed out to some tunes, and everyone kept their eyes glued to the windows as we drove past our last views of the Icelandic countryside! After getting back to the hostel, Landyn, Haley, and Gray all shed a tear saying goodbye to our guide, Olaf. Our journey through Iceland would not the same without Olaf teaching us about all the beautiful country we were traveling through, and we were sad to see him go. The kids had a hard, but short-lived goodbye, as they were quickly cheered up by hot showers! Reagan defiantly took full advantage by taking a 15 minute shower!!
Next, we were off to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of downtown Reykjavik. What a beautiful city! Ward was so amazed by the unique architecture! After hitting some tourist shops and picking up some sick sweatshirts, the group headed for our Banquet dinner…burgers and pancakes! Cooper had his pancakes fully loaded down with bacon, eggs, and syrup while Jake and Haley couldn’t resist a classic American Cheeseburger. Emma slowly worked her way around a delicious Pancake and Fried Chicken as well! After dinner, the shopping wasn’t over just yet. We hit a candy store where Landyn and Haley loaded up on their favorite Icelandic chocolate for the fam! Once we returned to the hostel, we had a heart felt last Moonup before bed. The group reflected on the time they had spent together and the friendship and growth they had made along the way.
This morning we had an early wake up call for a quick breakfast and bus ride to the Keflavik airport. Once we arrived in JFK we said our final goodbyes and shed a few tears. After seeing the kids go, Brantley and I started to reflect on how much this group has meant to us and how much they have come together to become a family. We thank you for letting us get to know your kids and bring out their full potential here in Iceland. They have all become very dear to us over the past two weeks, and we are sad by how quickly our time has passed. We know they all have big things in store for them and cannot wait to hear all about what the future holds for them!
Brantley and Tillman
June 21, 2019
What an incredible few days we’ve had! Since the last time we checked in, we’ve taken some time to rest our tired legs and see more of the beautiful sights that Iceland has to offer by water.
On our first day post-trek, we slept in late in some very comfortable real beds and awoke to the smell of Tillman cooking eggs and bacon for the entire group. After eating until we were completely stuffed, we loaded up into the van to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls. At our first stop, we watched in awe at the water pouring over a towering cliff into the gorge far below. Ward had us all laughing as he modeled for a picture that made it look like all the water from the falls was pouring directly into his mouth. At our next stop, we saw a waterfall pouring into a lake that was surrounded by a field of purple flowers. Charlotte led the charge to the base of the falls so that she could get the best viewing spot.
Following a morning of sightseeing, the group stopped by a heated pool to relax in for the afternoon. Casey insisted that the hot tub was the most refreshing place to hang out, while the boys picked up a game of pool basketball. Before long, Owen organized a game of soccer where he was able to show all of his skills.
To top off our day of recovery, we all stopped for soft served ice cream, where Reagan was able to get her sugar fix for the day. Next, we made our way to our campsite for the night, and Olaf taught us how to make traditional Icelandic hotdogs, complete with crispy onions and a traditional sauce. Scotty and Jake acted as our grill masters, making us all a delicious dinner.
The next morning, we woke up early to make our way to our overnight sea kayaking adventure. Cooper DJed our early morning drive with some calming music that put us all right back to sleep on our ride. When we arrived at the coast, we all packed up our kayaks with everything we would need for the night and headed out to sea. We were lucky enough to have a super clear, sunny day that kept the group’s spirits up the entire time we paddled to the island where we would be spending the night. Our group moved quickly and was able to climb on top of an old, abandoned boat before finishing out the paddle.
Once we arrived at our new island home, the group started playing a series of games, and throughout all of them, Landyn, Haley, and Emma acted as our resident cheerleaders. They yelled for the finalists in each game, which often included Gray due to her enthusiasm and desire to win.
After a chill afternoon, the group enjoyed some yummy pasta that our guides prepared for us over an open fire. Everyone loved it so much that we all had thirds! With full stomachs, Charlotte and Jake led us in a Moonup on top of a hill that overlooked the beautiful landscape surrounding us.
After a good nights sleep, we got back on the water to paddle back to shore. Along the way, Jake and few others spotted seals popping their heads in and out of the water. Once we arrived back on shore, our leaders of the day, Reagan and Ward, planned out the rest of our day, which included jumping on an above ground trampoline, stopping for ice cream, and eating pizza for dinner. To put things simply, the whole group had an incredible day with this stacked itinerary.
Today, we all woke up for pancakes and put on our layers before heading out for whitewater rafting. Emma ensured all of those who were nervous that there was nothing to be worried about because we were all about to have a great time. How right she was! The cold waters did not intimidate anyone our group, and every single person went swimming in the river! Gray either jumped in or was pulled in by one of the boys a grand total of eight times, and she had no complaints at all. Scotty also found himself swimming in the river quite a few times before being pulled in by one of his boat-mates. After a chilly morning, the group warmed up with hot showers and a sauna before drinking hot cocoa together.
Now, we are heading to one of our last few nights of camping. We’ve been having an incredible time so far, and I know that our last few days will be nothing short of extraordinary.
Brantley and Tillman
June 17, 2019
Hello from Iceland!
The past few days have been a whirlwind!! The last time we checked in, we were on our way to Landmannalaugar to start trekking on the Laugavegur Trail! After getting to Landmannalaugar, Reagan, Charlotte and Ward taught everyone how to set up our tents for the night!! A few sandwiches and some fruit later, it was time to hit the trail for our warm up hike! It was everyone’s first taste of the beautiful Icelandic highlands with lots of rocky volcanic ruins. Casey took the lead and everyone followed to a beautiful view of the valley over looking our campsite! That night we had delicious salmon pasta with cream sauce, one of Olaf’s (our guide) specialties!
The next morning we woke up bright and early for our 25 kilometer (15 mile) hike to Alftavatn. The LODs for the day were Owen and Charlotte! They gave the group words of motivation for the morning before starting our trek. We trekked through lots of snow and over volcanic rocks, among some of the most beautiful terrain Iceland has to offer. After our 1000 meter assent, we stopped in a hut to take our lunch break! Everyone enjoyed a warm bowl of cauliflower soup after downing a few sandwiches and some fruit! Owen and Gray even took a little nap after lunch in the bunks! With everyone refueled and ready to go, we hit the trail again for our last push to camp! Among the leaders of the pack was Jake; he led the group everyday of the entire 75 kilometer hike, while still finding the time to take some incredible photographs! Jake the Tank! Everyone decided to take their own pace for the last few kilometers to Alftavatn, and Emma, Landyn and Haley decided to enjoy all the beautiful flowers and tiny elf rivers they crossed along the way!! Casey, Scotty, Reagan and Charlotte hurried to camp so that they could be on cook crew to help make the group some tasty meat soup!!
The next morning we got to sleep in an hour! Pancakes were on the menu for breakfast, and Cooper was the master at flipping the perfect crispy gold pancake! We packed up camp and headed to our next camp ground. Our LOD’s for the day, Casey and Cooper, told us that we had a MUCH easier day than yesterday! For a few hours the group hiked through the desert high on life! The short rain shower cooled everyone off for our final descent to our campsite! Casey, Haley and Scotty helped make the group a delicious meal of grilled salmon, potatoes, and a salad! Although it was an early dinner, Ward and Jake each had 3 helpings of potatoes and salmon! The group took a post-dinner hike to a canyon to have Moonup with a view. With the soul full, we headed back to camp for some desert! Skyr, Icelandic yogurt with jam and graham crackers…YUM!
For our final day of trekking, we strolled out onto the trail and descended further on the Laugavegur Trail towards the coast! Gray and Jake were our LODs for the day, and they started us off with a very motivational pep talk. After hitting the trail, Olaf explained to us that we are hiking under Icelands most active volcano! This incredible volcano created such a unique backdrop for our hike! The group motored through the hike and arrived at camp two hours early. Ward, Scotty, Cooper and Owen all went to cool their ankles down in the glacial river nearby! Reagan, Charlotte and Gray all tagged along with Brantley for a quick hike up the trail to overlook Thorsmork, The Valley of the Gods! Haley, Casey, Emma and Landyn helped prep our feast of grilled lamb, grilled potatoes and salad! It was a hearty meal and a well spent Moonup that had everyone tired and ready for bed!
This morning we woke up and packed camp up with ease. We had an easy 5 kilometer hike up for an audacious view of the Thorsmork valley and then hit the road for our hut in Holaskogur! We stopped at a mystical waterfall along the drive and Emma even said she might have seen an elf living under the rocks nearby! For the next few days we have some beautiful sea kayaking and hot spring soaking to do. We are all so excited to see some of the Icelandic coast and get a soaking in the East Glacier River rapids! We’ll check back in soon after some more exciting activities!
Brantley and Tillman
June 13, 2019
Hello from Iceland! Our crew has arrived and is quickly getting used to the never setting sun. After making our Transatlantic flight, the whole group was met with much needed breakfast in the airport by Tillman, before our Icelandic guide, Olaf, led us towards our first adventure— the lava caves. As we drove, we were all stunned by the beautiful landscape surrounding us and the cloudless skies above.
Once we arrived at the lava caves, we all donned our helmets and headlamps and descended underground. Ward led the charge for our group as he delved deeper and deeper into the depths of this cave that was formed by volcanic lava flows. He was unfazed by crawling through the smaller spaces and encouraged others to come along with him. Haley impressed us all with her ability to stand up in almost all the smallest parts of the cave, which reminded us of the many perks of being on the shorter side. After having our fill of the cool, dark cave, we headed back out into the daylight to head on to the Blue Lagoon for our first geothermal soak.
We changed into our bathing suits as quickly as we could so we could bathe in our first hot spring! We were all impressed by the hot, bright blue water. Everyone quickly made their way over to the silica face mask station to cover our faces with the white masks. Gray even went back for a second round to make sure she had gotten the full effects of the minerals. We also enjoyed meandering through the different areas of the pools, including swimming under bridges and sitting under a waterfall! Charlotte sat under the water the longest, getting a full shower of warm water.
After eating lunch at the Blue Lagoon, we made our way to Reykjavik to move into our hostel. While we waited for our rooms, Scotty led us all in a few rounds of hacky sack; he has decided that although he is an amateur right now, he will be an expert by the end of our trip. We all had a hot shower before heading to a nearby park, where Reagan headed up a game of Mal, a game that had us all on the ground laughing because it has more rules than we can count. The game was so complicated that Landyn and Haley had to act as extra brain cells for Casey to keep track of all the rules. We dug into some pizza, where Jake ate 8 slices, enough to make up a full pizza.
To burn off some of our extra energy, we played a few games of tag, where Casey and Cooper reigned supreme. Emma also impressed us with her ability to catch the frisbee while simultaneously doing jumping jacks. Finally, our group got tired out and we headed back for our first Moonup where we discussed our goals for the trip, which included making new friends, getting away from our phones, and seeing new parts of the world. To cap off the day, just before bed, Owen had his hair cornrowed and promised to try out a few more hairstyles throughout the trip.
Currently, we are driving towards the Icelandic highlands for the beginning of our trek. Reagan and Ward are leading the charge as our first Leaders of the Day. We are all so excited for what the next few days have in store for us and will check back in after our days of hiking!
June 12, 2019
Hello Iceland Families!
We heard from our Leaders that the group has arrived safely in Iceland. They are headed out for their first activity this morning, and the trip is off to a great start.
We can’t wait to hear more from their adventures. Stay tuned!