WHEN I HAD first heard that we would be taking a trip to Iceland I instantly envisioned myself bundled up in a wool lopapeysa, sipping Brennevin, and riding a horse far into the mountains. Icelandic folklore says that nature works in mysterious ways in Midsummer–“cows begin to talk, seals take human form, and elves emerge from the netherworld to seduce you with food and gifts.” The idea of visiting Iceland in the summer was enchanting, even if my imagination was a bit skewed.
Though I didn’t get my Icelandic sweater (or a lift into the highlands, for that matter), what I did find was just as I had pictured: a mesmerizing kingdom of ancient ice, jet-black beaches, hidden hot springs and erupting volcanoes. Our 5-day trip, although short, was long and full of action. Having a car gave us the freedom to pull over every ten minutes to pet horses, climb moss-covered lava rocks, talk with the sheep, witness cow-crossings, and spend the night wherever we felt like stopping. We rented our car on July 29th, and six days, ten gas station Pylsurs, 1,500 kilometers and 1,200 photos later, I found myself reflecting on one of the best trips of my life.