We left Reykjavik early Monday morning and headed out on Rt 1, the ring road that goes all the way around the coast of Iceland. We had a lot of driving to do, because we were trying to get as far east as we could that first night, to give ourselves more time in near the large glacier, Vatnajokull. Elsa had told us to make a note of places we might want to stop at on our return trip, but after the small city of Selfoss, we immediately became distracted by the breathtaking landscape, and ended up stopping a lot more than we'd planned to look around and take photos.
Iceland is almost entirely uncurated and devoid of touristy signs as well as warnings about danger. You pretty much visit at your own risk, and have to exercise your won good judgement. I like that, frankly.
There are small, understated signs along the road with a symbol indicating natural features of interest. The Icelandic word for waterfall is "foss," so when I noticed a sign saying "Urriðafoss" we decided to veer off and see it, and were glad we did. Urriðafoss has one of the highest columes of water of any waterfall in the country, and there were once plans to build a power plant there because of its proximity to Reykjavik - which fortunately hasn't happened. It was wild and beautiful and deserted.
The countryside here is fairly pastoral, with large fields filled with sheep, or hay that's been baled and wrapped into plastic "marshmallows." Iceland has many more sheep than people.
To the right of the mountain above you can see our first glimpse of a glacier - that's Eyjafjallajökull, one of the smaller ice caps in Iceland but certainly one of the most famous.
It was thrilling to come closer and closer to the glacier and begin to see it take form, but we had no idea of what to expect on the road ahead. The weather on the coast is notoriously uncertain, and we knew that we might only get glimpses of the glaciers and mountains through clouds and fog.
Soon we had the mountains on our left, and black volcanic sands stretching from the right side of the road all the way to the sea. Across the sands we could see the Westmann Islands, like an apparition of mountains arising from the sands rather than the ocean. We'd be taking a ferry to this archipelago, which contains the newest land in Iceland, a few days later.