The lands of northern Iceland are the most desolate through which I have ever walked. The population is so sparse that each individual farm is marked on the national touring map, and even then we could drive for hundreds of kilometers with no sign of habitation. In some places, there were barely even any signs of vegetation apart from moss and a few tiny determined wildflowers. It was like walking on the moon. Black soil would crunch beneath our feet, dust rising slowly from our footsteps. The dark ground would stretch out to the distant volcanic mountains. The pale and dusky sky spread out above us, the dim northern sun a constant companion in the sky. There is a primitive wilderness here that somehow seems to nurture and uplift with its vast expanse of eternity.
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The next day I woke feeling fantastic. Minimal pain in my gums, and my swelling had dramatically decreased. A large bruise had developed on my jaw like I had been punched hard the night before, but my feelings of constant irritability seemed to also have disappeared. I felt like a different person – vibrant and alive instead of cranky and sore. Still too swollen to chew, I had an egg white omelette for breakfast before we headed out to Muir Woods National Monument.
It is a magical place. Adrian and I spent two and a half hours hiking through the treetops of coastal redwoods, watching the chickadees, and spotting a chipmunk and a squirrel. We took the ocean view trail, heeding the disclaimer that the trees are now so high, the water is no longer visible. We only met one other person on the trail, and it was so still and peaceful, among these giant living beings that are centuries old. We have had such a busy month preparing for the move, that this day of peace was exactly what we needed. We even spotted a loveliness of ladybirds, clambering together to preserve warmth in the cool air.