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ReyKjavik

Our flight arrived in Reykjavik very, very early in the morning.  Jetlag was getting the best of us, and it was all we could do to keep our eyes open on the bus ride into town.  As seasoned travelers, we are normally pretty good at dealing with it, but for some reason, this time it hit us like a brick wall.  Unfortunately, our plan to combat the time change- take a quick morning power nap at our airBnB- was thwarted because our host couldn’t check us in until 11am- not that we should have expected any earlier, but we had had our fingers crossed. So we spent an hour or so at a café eating and drinking sugary and caffeinated things, but the chairs weren’t very comfortable, so we paid our check and headed out to find a suitably soft park bench.  But it turns out that it is cold in Iceland, much colder than our bench sleeping wardrobe was prepared for, even in August, and in any case, every bench was sopping wet from the incessant drizzle.

The oldest building in Reykjavik

The oldest building in Reykjavik

Then we saw it, the answer to our insomniatic prayers: an art gallery that for some unspeakable reason opened at 7am on a Thursday morning.  This might not have been our most thought out plan, but we were exhausted… we paid the €1.50 each to get in, then retreated to the most remote hall of the gallery, found a cushioned bench, and though we didn’t lay down flat, got comfortable by kind of leaning up against one another, back to back, and propping our chins on our hands, so as to look like we were in deep contemplation of the giant canvases hanging on the wall. To complete the ruse, what we really needed were some of those trick glasses with open eyes painted on the lenses. But that probably wouldn’t have helped considering I woke up two hours later, slumped over, with a nice puddle of drool bathing the side of my face on that oh-so-clean public bench.  It’s amazing we hadn’t been kicked out for loitering or public drunkenness or something, I can only imagine what we looked like.  But I’d like to think that some benevolent curator took pity on us and closed that wing of the gallery so other patrons wouldn’t be distracted by the snoring vagrants on the bench, and saving us from the ridicule.  Realizing what had happened, I roused Kacey and we made a hasty exit.  Calling the airBnB again, she reluctantly agreed to let us in early, for which we were probably embarrassingly grateful, and then: sleep, beautiful, beautiful sleep.

Once we woke, we spent the rest of the day, and next, just walking around this little island capital- checking out the shops, the cafes and pubs, the boardwalk, the cathedral, the swimming pool, and we even took the time to take in a screening of a locally produced movie- which ended up just turning into an €8 nap- did I mention we were still dealing with jetlag?

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The Atlas Expedition

Time for a rewind… August 8th, 2012.  Kacey and I sitting in the sunsoaked terminal at DIA, watching the planes taxi by.  Two carry-ons each are all we have: both a small backpack, Kacey a purse, and me, my camera bag.  We had just spent our short summer doing Colorado things, with friends and family, having only returned from our adventure to the South Pole, via the Antipodes and Hawaii, in June.  Seven weeks was a decidedly quick turnaround between trips for us, especially considering the scale of each itinerary.  But our impending return to indefinite corporate servitude made this coming trip seem not only reasonable, but indeed, necessary.  We know all too well how hard it is to shake the yoke of employment once you are settled into the complacency of a pay check, and the inconvenience of satiating your wanderlust with “vacation days”- of which, as a contractor, I was afforded none.  Thus we found it prudent to ride this vagabonding train on one more adventure before tossing in the hat.

This would be Europe Part Deux for us as a team, with a few of our favorite old haunts listed on the itinerary, and a ton of new ones to boot, spread over two months.  To list it quickly: Iceland, Amsterdam, Spain, Morocco, Italy, London, and Munich.  As you can see by the list, the keystone of the endeavor was Morocco, and the keystone of Morocco is the Atlas Mountains, of which we would be spending a pretty fair amount of time driving over and through, hence our choice for the name of this little adventure:  The Atlas Expedition

So, without further ado, let the story begin!

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Seven Men and a Mountain

I’m embarrassed to write this, but its been a number years since I went on a proper backpacking trip.   Sadly, we’ve fallen into the lazy habit of car camping whenever we head into the wilderness, which while convenient, is just not quite the same as hiking.  Something about trekking countless miles, step after step down a dusty trail, with everything you need to sustain you right there on your back, with no concern other than appreciating the view and looking forward to the next rest stop for some water and a granola bar, there is just something about it that you can’t beat.

Lucky for me, Kacey’s brothers and a few other fellas have a yearly tradition of going on a backpacking trip, and this year I was able to join them.  We spent three sunny September days tramping around Rocky Mountain National Park, camping at Finch Lake and hiking all the way up to Coney Lake, the two acting as ends of a long pearl string of alpine lakes and ponds, each one more picturesque than the last.

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