Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oh Little Bo Peep...

...one of your sheep is playing in the road again.
Sheep are "let out" all summer, which I found out coordinates with school's summer break.  Students attend school from 1st to 10th year (5 yrs old to 16 yrs old) and then they can choose to go onto a 4 year high school which prepares them for university (graduating when they are 20 yrs old).  The students get out of school at the point in the year when the sheep give birth to their young and start to go out into the fields(mid-May).  They return to school after the sheep are rounded up (early Sept). 

The sheep spend the summer feeding in the fields and some of these fields occupy both sides of the road.  A few of these roads are well traveled (basically highways) and the speed limit is in the 55-60 mph range throughout the country.  If a sheep is feeding along the road or if they are in the road, they tend to run off the road away from cars as you approach.

View into Husavik's harbor without the magnificent mountain range on the other side. 
Weather was not cooperating today for the whale watches or sight seeing.

Another visitor overlooking
Dettifoss in the rain with me.

Well today, I almost made one of them ready for market with my Aveo...although the size of the car would have been an even fight and I may have suffered worse.  I had driven from Lake Myvatn up around Husaik (which was again closed for whale watching due to weather), across the Tjornes (farthest north I would be which was less than 1 degree from the Arctic Circle) to Asbyrgi, and then 40 kms along a slick and winding dirt road to Dettifoss (largest waterfall in Europe) in heavy rain and near freezing temperatures (~35-39F). 

Smiling even though I am soaked and frozen. 
Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Europe.

I had been driving for 5 hours with minimal stoppage due to the rain and cold making getting out and walking around not very desirable and the need to get to Egilsstadir for the night.  I was traveling across the highland plateau and there was a slight curve in the road.  With the yellow road edge markers obscuring my view slightly (remember, they don't put very many guard rails up even if in the US we would have one up in this location), I looked in the middle of my lane and saw a sheep staring right at me only 30 yards away.  We both saw each other at the same time and I think I even saw it gasp in surprise.  I swerved the same direction the sheep started running causing me to have to swerve again in the opposite direction.  At that point, I thought the sheep was under my wheel and I expected the strike and potential spin out of the car.  Somehow, I missed the sheep (by the hairs of its chinny chin chin - or specifically its tail end) and I recovered the car fine.  I can not believe it and I chalk up that miss to lots of luck (maybe one of the elves helped me). 

Example of what I had to avoid on the highway today.
Picture taken from: http://us.cdn1.123rf.com/168nwm/drosner/drosner0907/drosner090700017/5672135-two-icelandic-sheep-walking-down-an-empty-road-in-the-east-fjords.jpg since I was too busy trying not to hit it that I couldn't get a picture myself.  You can see the yellow post along the side of the highway just in front of the sheep.

The rest of my ride went uneventful even as I entered reindeer country in the Eastern Fjords area of the country.  Tomorrow I make my way through the eastern fjords through the fishing villages and along the fingers of the fjords on my way to the south.  I will stay in the south at one of the edges of the largest glacier in Europe: Vatnajokull.  

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chris...thought about you and your trip today as I worked on a retaining wall made of fake rocks.. sounds like the trip is going great...especially for the local sheep