Standing at the Edge of the World

I normally follow the belief that there is no scene in the world improved by my presence in it, so you will never see a photograph of me in front of the Eiffel Tower or some towering Glacier. Beard selfies aside, I generally don’t photograph myself very often, but two evenings ago, standing at what seemed like the edge of the world, it was hard to resist.

After a great day of exploring the Dynjandi waterfall, I decided I had better head out for one last Westfjords adventure before the long drive home the next day. On a whim, and inspired by a cryptic notation on a local map that there was an “abandoned NATO base” on a mountain named Bolafjall  near the shore, I headed for Bolungarvik, a quiet fishing port on the edge of the Westfjords.

What I saw there was beyond my expectations. To the west, I could see the ocean as far as I could see, a serene, crystal blue unbroken by waves and traversed by a few fishing boats. To the north, I could see the Hornstrandir, truly the last frontier, a national park only inhabited by a handful of people during the summer. And then there was the eerie NATO station, which looked like something you might expect to find on a lunar colony. It’s worth a look, because it’s interesting by itself and because it will provide some context for the picture below.

As I drove up to the area, I saw at least two comical warnings about the danger of falling to your death, a legitimate concern, given the Icelandic weather and wind, but on this evening, it was perfectly clear with little wind. So I did the only sensible thing I could: I climbed past the warning rope and wandered out onto a tiny spike of land that was hundreds of feet above the sea and jagged rocks below. I didn’t improve the scene one bit, but will cherish that memory forever.

People who know me from work may find this amusing, but when I travel, I rarely break the rules. I stay in line at airports when others cut, I didn’t try to sneak pictures at the Sistine Chapel, and I usually drive close to the speed limit in other countries. This time, though, I had to break the rule, and it was a useful, exhilarating argument for doing just a bit more of it in the future when I travel.

Off to Norway! And check out that beard.