Driving the Ring Road Around Iceland
Bob's Ring Road Saga
as in this;
Þ/þ is unvoiced,
as in thick.
I bought an Iceland Air ticket to go to Iceland
over Christmas and New Year's because, after all,
winter is the best time to visit high latitudes.
Summer would be exhausting, because it never gets dark.
I had a rental car reserved, and hoped to make the complete circuit of the Ring Road, Iceland's Highway #1 circling the island.
My loose plan was to go through these towns, with bold face indicating an overnight stay — usually at least two nights. First, across the southern coast:
Keflavík, Eyrarbakki, Selfoss, Vík, Hali, and Höfn.
Then the Icelandic placenames would really kick in as I continued north through Eastfjords and across northern Iceland through:
Djúpivogur, Breiðdalsvík, Seyðisfjörður, Egilsstaðir, Mývatn, Akureyri, Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, Siglufjörður, Sauðárkrókur, and Reykjavík.
I was fully vaccinated, I had just re-watched Thor, and Thor: The Dark World, and Thor: Ragnorök, and I had a copy of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology with me, so I was ready. The Ring Road is 1,322 kilometers long, but I drove a total of 2,783 kilometers with all the side trips, extra fjords, the Tröllaskagi peninsula, and more. Here we go:
Arriving in Iceland
Keflavík to Eyrarbakki
Was it safe to travel during a pandemic?
I was much safer in Iceland than I would have been at home.
The U.S. CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was issuing warnings at the time based on a four-level system. The CDC Level 4, "Do Not Travel" threshold was 500 new cases per 100,000 population over a 28-day window. Shortly before my trip the CDC announced that they had added Iceland to the Level 4 "Do Not Travel" list because the country had just crossed that threshold.
Indiana, the U.S. state where I live, was between 2 and 3 times that bad at the time and soon got worse. By the middle of December, it was averaging over 4,400 new cases per day. With a population of 6.732 million, that works out to 1,830 cases per 100,000 population over a 28-day period. That was over 3.6 times the threshold for CDC's "Do Not Travel" warning. By the middle of January 2022, a week after I had returned, the 7-day running average was 13,791 new cases per day, equivalent to 5,736 cases per 100,000 population over a 28-day period, almost 11.5 times the CDC "Do Not Travel" threshold.
Why is this? People in Indiana overwhelmingly vote for the political party that white supremacists vote for, the party that says that Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis are "very fine people", the party that says the free press is "the enemy of the people." And, the party that says that the pandemic is a hoax. Come on. You know which party that is.
And so, those people don't get vaccinated. They have no concern for others. They willingly serve as disease vectors and incubators for further mutations of the virus.
John Dennis, the mayor of West Lafayette, the city where I live, described the anti-vaccine idiots as "assholes" during a city meeting. He was criticized for that. In the next meeting he said that he was sorry that he needed to describe them as inconsiderent assholes, but that's what they are.
I immediately sent my mayor a letter of appreciation and encouragement.
I was very happy to leave Indiana for Iceland. I was glad that Iceland was allowing Americans to visit. I would be at far lower risk in Iceland. The most dangerous part for me would be returning to the U.S.