“Tell me about an adventure you’ve been on.”
Which adventure should I recount in answer to this question? One from Iceland stands out in my mind, and one repeated many times. Let’s begin.
My wife and I were in Iceland. The Navy sent me there in 1974, and she soon joined me. We spent the winter living in a Quonset hut just off the “take-out” gate. We went through customs at this gate each time we brought groceries or other purchases home.
If you don’t know how Iceland was named: one story is a Viking climbed a mountain and saw a fjord full of Icebergs. He called it Iceland, and the name stuck. Another story: the settlers in Iceland didn’t want to encourage people to come, so they called it Iceland.
I don’t remember how we met Sammy and Darryl, but they became our closest friends and pinochle-playing buddies. We must have played more than a hundred thousand hands in the two years we were there. They were also our travel buddies with a van and a CJ-5 style jeep.
On many weekends, we made day trips traveling the island with visiting Gullfoss Falls, one of our favorite trips. On other days we drove the Southside of the island. The road took us away from Reykavik into a barren but beautiful countryside. A site I clearly remember was a high waterfall we found one trip. We had to climb over a fence and hiked a quarter-mile to the pool at the bottom.
We would go as far as we could while allowing us to return before nightfall. (Remember, the days were very long in the summer, so we could get back very late and beat nightfall!)
But I digress. The adventure I alluded to earlier occurred over the July 4th weekend of 1976. We set out on a weekend camping trip on the morning of 4 July. Darryl drove the van, and I drove the Jeep. We would camp somewhere below Mt. Hekla’s peak. (Mt Hekla is an active volcano and had erupted in 1970—six years before.)
We found a place that seemed appropriate and set up camp far below a hydroelectric plant and the rim of Hekla. Darryl did the driving while we spent the rest of the day sightseeing using the Jeep.
We returned to the camp and settled for the night. Lori and I set up the tent we rented from Navy Special Services between the Jeep and van. We found a problem when the volcanic rock wouldn’t let us set the stakes. We solved it by tieing tent lanyards to the truck and Jeep.
We had eaten, and it was time to settle. Darryl and Sammy settled in their van and Lori and me in the tent. We zipped up in the rented sleeping bags and started to drift off in slumber. I admit to falling asleep only to be awakened by my wife. She tried to tell me the tent was moving but I ignored her until the tent’s floor began to vibrate and lifted around us.
Tent off the ground
We tried to stick it out but called ‘uncle’ when we were lifted off the ground by the tent bottom. The location we selected channeled the wind, and it was strong enough to lift us. We left the tent and asked to share the van. Lori and I spent the rest of the night in the truck.
We returned home the next day in good spirits after our adventure. It was the first and last camping trip while stationed in Iceland.