Macro Life

Life is small, fragile, and yet bigger than each of us.  We are tiny on a landscape of vast openness, vulnerable to the world, the environment, each other and ourselves.  Although small in relativity, here is to the hope that we can be bigger than ourselves, greater than our fears, and open to the world of possibility that allow us to achieve better for each other.

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This is part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

This photo was taken in Reykjavik, Iceland from the top of Hallgrimskirkja church.

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Ruined Part II

“How lucky am I to experience such captivating wonders of this remarkable earth.“

Melinda Taylor Schoutens

2014-08-11 - Iceland 188It wasn’t my dream, but his vision of that Northern island and his longing to explore that remote land slowly penetrated into my full being and I, too was hooked. I never anticipated falling so deeply for a place; a land; the geography, the mystical beauty that is Iceland, but I did and I shall be forever ruined.  For how can any other place ever captivate me the way Iceland did?

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There were so many moments on that trip that were beyond comprehension.  One day, as I stood watching the icebergs clenching tightly to their base before releasing themselves into the vast waters on their final decent, their last earthly showing, I felt utterly complete. With my family at my side, the echoes of the ice moaning in the distance, I glanced over at my husband and whispered, “This is it. This is the most remarkable natural experience of my life. If I never see anything again, I have been fulfilled in a way I never knew was possible. Thank you.“

Each piece of ice contained a deep sense of history – a floating story setting adrift on icy waters waiting to slowly melt into oblivion. A profoundly powerful experience that literally took my breath away, I longed to perch myself on those shores for hours, possibly even days just taking in the magic of it all.

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And Iceland keeps returning to us, though it has been a year since we have visited.  The other day, while traveling on a crowed train, I crouched over, leaning in to hear the stories my friend told of her recent backpacking trip through Iceland. As she spoke, we both smiled, sharing a commonality that only those who have traveled before to such mesmerizing destinations can fully understand. The realization that a place has the power to transform you, to make this life all the sweeter and anchoring us to a landscape that will forever spoil us for others to come.

The remoteness, the raw desolation that allows miles of terrain to sit abandoned, devoid of all human life, was nothing I was prepared for.   The stillness that mandates one to retreat to a sense of calm, was a welcome break from the noise of our urban lifestyle.  The vastness of it all, the land that is still unspoiled, untouched; it all seemed to make perfect sense in that landscape.

Part I of this post can be found here.

Photo of the Week – August 21st

In the southern part of Iceland, near Vik, you can find the beach at Reynisdrangar.  Great landscape during a setting sun, strong rip currents, and basalt cliffs make this a memorable spot.  For more on Iceland (with photos), visit a few of our other posts: Black and White Iceland; The Kid’s and the Plane; Reykjavik; and in Iceland When

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The “Photo of the Week” on More 2 Explore is taken from our collection of travel photos throughout the past eight–years (of living abroad) and is typically from the same month for which it is posted. Be sure to click “follow” to see more photos each week! (usually posts on Friday.)

Have Kids – Will Travel

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When providing tips and tricks for making the most of holiday travel with children, we have learned a thing or two in our last six years. We have experienced incredible highs and remarkable lows. We have embarked on trips we swore we would NEVER do again, and we have visited places we vowed to quickly return, but through it all one thing remains constant – traveling in nature trumps city travel any day…especially with children.

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Our baby exploded blueberries and milk on pristine white linens leaving us in a wet, heaping, humbled mess. We hiked up mountains with two children strapped to our backs for hours only to fall apart and come completely undone when we returned to our hotel room. My amazing husband has fixed flat tires on desolate roads with no assistance and through it all, we are still in love with traveling.  The saying is ever so true, adventure is what happens when all of your plans fall apart.

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We have experienced our fair share of carsickness, sleepless nights, plane mishaps and humbling moments, but through it all, we continue to travel and we have now seemed to iron out some of the travel wrinkles that leave us grouchy and longing for an island alone (sans kids) to recover from the holiday that was just spent.

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Here’s the low down on city travel from our perspective.  We live in a city, not a particularly big city, but a city nonetheless, so when we think of travel, we don’t typically run into what we already know.

City trips are ideal for:

Short term stays

Cultural opportunities

Special events

Enjoying culinary experiences in child-friendly establishments

Shopping (not our passion, but we know it might be for some)

Exploring

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City trips are stressful because:

Chaos of the city

Noise

Stroller troubles, emerging walkers to run after that seem to fumble and stumble over every cobblestone

Safety

Being on guard

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Favorite city trips:

Copenhagen

Edinburgh

Basel

While city escapes can be stimulating and offer many cultural opportunities, for us, after days of city chaos, crowds and endless noise, we all feel stressed out. Having to keep a watchful eye on our children, personal belongings, all the while trying to study maps and navigate our way through avenues, boulevards and alleyways, we emerge a bundle of nerves. Nope, not relaxing for this family of four, and that is why nature trumps city escapes any day.

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That is not to say that we hike from sun up until sun down only to then retreat to our tents for a night of fire making, food foraging and sleeping under the stars. We stay in modest mountain houses or hotels. We have found, that having access to running water, a shower or bath, and a meal goes a long way when traveling with little people.

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We elect to stay in locations that are relatively child – friendly. When planning nature escapes we typically look for a playground near by, theme trails, water of some sort to splash in and hiking opportunities. With one or more of these elements in tact, we can all enjoy a nice time. We are also sure to mix down time and free play with hikes. When hiking, we typically walk in the morning and spend the tired afternoons lazing around by lakes, or at playgrounds. This seems to be a nice mix that keeps everyone happy.

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 Nature trips are ideal for:

Relaxation

Rejuvenation

Connection

Natural Wonders

Allowing children to be children

Freedom

Fresh Air

Exercise

Slowing down

Restful sleep

Favorite Nature Trips:

Swiss Alps

Iceland

Ireland

Most beaches are incredible for children

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When we are in nature as a family something magical happens. The intensity of living in a city seems to dissipate, as we allow the rhythm of nature to take over. We move a bit slower, we are reminded – thanks to our children, to take the time to watch a butterfly in flight, spot a unique bug on a leaf, or smell a lone flower in a waist high meadow of grass. We all move at a quieter, simpler pace and we need that. We, as parents are happy to feel the wind in our hair, and the sun at our backs. We hike, watch storms blow in over snow covered mountain peaks, smile when our children witness tranquil lake water and feel right at home.  Nature, we tell you…it is the way to go, but pack a couple extra outfits because if you do it right, you will get dirty!

Happy travels!

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The Scale of Glaciers

In the southern part of Iceland, off the main road and at the end of a short unpaved-road (Sólheimajökulsvegur) you will find the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier.  From the parking lot just a short walk over the Moraine and along a trail, you will see the receding Mýrdalsjökull Glacier patched in black from volcanic eruptions.  Looking for a more exciting way to see it, there are several tour companies which offer glacier trekking.

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This post is part of The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

Enjoy some additional Iceland Posts…