Monday, August 4, 2008

Back In Tulsa

Well, the excursion is over and I arrived back home late last night. The travel home was what you could expect of airport travel these days - especially considering I was traveling in between two separate continents.

I hope everyone enjoyed the updates from Iceland. Come by my classroom to see more pictures and even a few samples I brought back!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The city of Reykjavik

Our final day was spent in the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik, which means "Smokey Bay". We did a morning tour and most of the city does not open until at least 10 to 12 am. But locals do sty out the night before until 4 to 5 am. I guess they must sleep some time. It is a small city, but 70 % of the population of Iceland is located here. Even at that, it is still roughly the size of Tulsa. This is a statue of Lieff Ericsson, the explorer credited with the discovery of Iceland.

This house has an interesting past. It was the house where Reagan and Gorbachev had their famous summit that began the end of the Cold War era. It was almost torn down, but some small groups fought to preserve it.

This was the fmous hot dog stand shown in the Food Channel show by Andrew Zimmer. We did have a lamb hot dog there.

The last science lesson for the trip. This is one of several posts erectd by geologist, Alfred Wegener in the 1930's. I'm sure all of my former students remember who he was. As a refresher, he was credited with proving the theory of plate tectonics. Most of the proof of this theory came from research in Iceland.

A Few Words

As I was looking over my posts and responses, I figured that I had a few thoughts and questions about my trip that may not have been addressed. First off, it has been an amazing experience. I am traveling with twelve teachers from across the United States. We have one representative from the Geological Society of America and a local tour guide, Helgi. Let me start with him, he is a hoot. A former teacher and a guide for about 20 years, he is the ultimate Icelander. Our group is so fascinated with him that we are composing a list of “Helgisms” - words to live by in Iceland. Of course, he is full of information of the country as well.

Our hotels have been nice, but definitely not American. We are comfortable but cramped. Breakfast in Iceland consists of fresh breads and cold cuts - yes, salami in the morning. Lunches have been on the road and vary quite a bit. Dinners have been fabulous. No shark - I really think that is a delicacy found rarely throughout fishing communities. We have had cod, trout, salmon, lamb, duck and chicken. Usually our desert consists of some type of skyr, their high end equivalent of yogurt.

Sleeping in Iceland has been quite the challenge. I knew I would have difficulties, but it has been harder than expected. Let me first say that I am spoiled when it comes to sleep - I require my air conditioning, ceiling fan, white noise, darkness, and a king size bed. In Iceland, air conditioning is an open window and what is a ceiling fan? With an open window, comes the outside noises including, but not limited to the largest collection of different species of birds in the world. We have a twin bed with sheets and darkness is non-existent. Between constant light and utterly no white noise, a good night sleep is near impossible for me. Eye masks are helpful, but barely!

The sights have been amazing. It has been truly amazing to realize how much the science of the earth has come to shape an entire country and its people. Through out time, Icelanders have battled glaciers and Ice Ages, melting and flooding, volcanic eruptions and toxic gases. It is not surprising the country is so sparsely populated.

The people here are also great fun. They do seem to have a casual attitude about life. I guess the fact that they are living on top of a huge hot spot in the earth that can go at anytime may influence that attitude. Everyone here speaks English and are quite friendly and trusting. They have a unique prospective on the environment here. Their ability to put a pipe in the ground and supply their country with clean energy makes it easy for them. They have discovered that this cheap and easy energy will attract European factories and plants. They are quickly finding themselves struggling with the issue of selling their energy for foreign use in their country. This leads to outside companies possibly harming their pristine country.

Today, we will tour the capital city of Reykjavik. We have spent most of our time in the countryside, so I am looking forward to seeing the urban part of the country. Then tomorrow, I will head back to the states. Thanks for the longer read!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Ice Bar

We are ending our trip with a visit to Reykjavik. Several of us visted the Ice Bar in the city center. It is a small room, cooled to -8 degrees Celsius. You obviously do not spend alot of time there, but it was a fun stop.

The Blue Lagoon

As a group, we took a quick dip in the Blue Lagoon. This is a naturally geothermally heated lagoon where people sit and enjoy. Tomorrow, after I leave the group, I will enjoy a treatment in the lagoon.

The South Shore

We were at the shore today. And I thought that Oklahoma had some winds! This makes us look like a slight breeze. It was cold and fierce. According to Helgi, if you went straight south from here - the next continent you would hit would be Antartica.

Puffins Everywhere

Today we visited the south sea shore and the home of the puffins. We got up close and personal with a breeding area. They were amazing.