Month: March 2015

Strokkur Erupts in Iceland

Every ten minutes or so, this geyser erupts up to 30 feet in the air.  The very term “geyser” comes from the Icelandic word “Geysir”, which is the name of the inactive geothermal explosion near the site of Strokkur. First you watch a film bubbling over the earth, almost like a rippling contact lens lost in a teary eye.  Bubbles start to form as the earth starts to boil, until, finally, it reaches its limit and shoots into the air.  The water splatters the crowd who have encircled it, some who have stood too close get drenched, but with nothing but a little rope reminding visitors not to stand on the geyser, who would know where is safe to stand? Watching Strokkur erupt is part of Iceland’s most famous tour, The Golden Circle, and it is also one of the first natural sites in Iceland that is starting to charge admission.  In all fairness, watching Strokkur erupt again and again really is a show. A performance of nature boiling over, perhaps to remind us it …

Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Iceland

After about the fourth time I saw a double rainbow in Iceland, it became less and less notable to repeat “Double rainbow, what does it mean?” to my new French and German friends on our tour of the south coast .  But the rainbow never loses its magic or power, and neither do the miles and miles of cracking ice, resting on a frigid lagoon nestled between glaciers, mountains, and ocean waves. The rain at Jökulsárlón let up for maybe a moment.  I was soaked through my MEC pants and my teeth chattered.  I nervously watched a British teenager jump onto one of the icebergs for the sake of a photo opportunity.  Gingerly, I touched the tip of my toe to a nearby chunk of ice while Janine snapped a photo.  In warm weather, you can see seals here, but alas, not in April. In the dead of winter and the heat of summer, this remains the backdrop photo on my iPad.  And even as Alberta tries to welcome the spring equinox (with snow, no less) …

Desert Oasis in Huacachina, Peru

“I guess you could say I’m dreaming of summer.” A travel writing professor spoke to us about the idea of a “pseudo-place”, the place that exists only for the tourist, that would have no place in reality if it weren’t for the visitors; a place that operates solely on expected visitation. He named Las Vegas as an example, or Disneyworld – the place itself is based only on the income of tourism.  He postulated that even Banff, Alberta is a place that only breathes because of its guests. Huacachina, Peru could be seen as such a place.  A random oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert, probably once served as a place of trade or refuge.  Now, it’s a place for the people of Ica to escape for the weekend, and for thrill-seeking tourists to sand board through the dunes and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Still, it was a quiet reprieve from the busyness of my Peruvian adventure, walking around the lake and avoiding the calls of tour operators to join them on their …

Bourgeau Lake Trail, Alberta

After a thousand metre elevation gain on the Bourgeau Lake trail, which consists of an upwards walk through dense forests before a wet and/or gravelly scramble, you reach Harvey Pass and the small Harvey Lake.  If conditions permit, you can make the ascent to the top of Mount Bourgeau to unbelievable views. Or just go a bit further from Harvey Pass, and if you’re lucky and it’s autumn, get an incredible view of the larches in their full fall colours. By all accounts, there’s nothing particularly impressive about Harvey Lake, it is just another beautiful lake among many in the Canadian Rockies.  But there was just something about the light that day, and the quietness of the trail (we were a group of eight but we only saw four others), and the stillness of that beautiful lake hidden amongst mountains that just really struck me.  I didn’t make it to the summit due to the rain and wind, but I still saw this view, among others, that suited me just fine.