Day 9: Capstone Project

Today we finished up our capstone projects with our groups. The project that my group came up with is called Connextions. Connextions would be a student-run organization dedicated to establishing a culture of environmental awareness in the United States. Through interactive educational programs we hope to propagate the idea of interconnectivity between humans and the environment to future generations. The really great thing about our project is that it is something that we can actually do currently as college students. The organization would start out by just teaching young elementary students, but we hope that it could expand to teach all grade levels and have chapters in high schools and colleges nation-wide. The big picture that we have is to have education and connections between people from all ages with a top down and bottom up system. Where we can have retired people come and speak to the working class about their experiences, the working class go and talk to students in college, and continue to have the college students teach the younger grade school children. For the future, the children that we are educating now will grow into the college students and the working class, so that our program really creates a whole generation that is aware of the environment and their effect on it. We plan to create Connextions as a club next year starting at Penn State University and seeing how it works there, and then hopefully spreading to other campuses as well.

Since this was our last full day in Iceland, we presented our projects and then went back to the hotel and had a party for our last night.


Sorry for posting these so late I just didn’t want my adventure in Iceland to come to an end, even though I have been home for over two weeks. It feels like by finishing up this blog, my time will officially come to an end. There weren’t any pictures for today except for the title slide from our presentation. Yes, I did create the name of our organization and that beautiful title slide, which is a picture that I took from the 2nd day walking to the hot springs.


Day 8: Glacier Hike

First we stopped at a tourist type house and watched a video about the volcano Eyja Fjalla Jökull that erupted in April of 2010. After the video we had a presentation about biofuel and energy. In particular we learned about rapeseed oil, which they are growing in Iceland since it has double CO2 intake than it releases when consumed, and most of the plant can be used either the oil for energy or meal for food and fodder. We then got to see where they make rapeseed oil and had a chance to taste the seeds, meal, and oil. The guy who gave us the presentation then pour a bottle of rapeseed oil into the tank of our bus and drank the rest. It was really cool to see how you could just take something that is just a little different than olive and use it to power a car.

The biofuel-ed bus then took us to another waterfall. We had a moderate hike with intense stairs that we took to get to a cliff overlook, which we ate lunch at and played games together.

The last activity of the day we hiked a glacier. We all put on our warmest clothing and put on crampons (spikes for our hiking boots) and got on the glacier. It was weird walking at first with the spikes but it was super cool just being able to walk on a glacier. We got to see a bunch of cool little things about the glacier, and even got to paint our faces with the oldest volcanic ash that was on the glacier.

After a long day of two completely different types of hikes we were all exhausted, we had dinner and worked on our capstone project for the rest of the night.


P.S. Sorry for posting late. This post and the next couple of posts are scheduled so that they can be somewhat evenly distributed. Also I will add photos to all the posts later, but for now the wifi at the hotel is too slow to upload a lot of photos.

Day 7: Waterfalls

We started off the day by packing up and cleaning up our huts at the campground. We then headed off by making a stop by an old riverbed. We hiked through small rivers and a lot of rocks to a grotto type place with this small, but really cool waterfall.

We then stopped at a mink farm that has its own very small hydroelectric generator. From the energy that is produced by the turbine 5% of it powers the whole farm, where the rest of the 95% is sold back to the grid.

Since our jeep was the one with the trailer and missing tire, we missed going to see another beautiful waterfall on the way to the campgrounds, so on the way back we stopped and got some pictures in front of and behind the fall.

Lastly we got to a new hotel, that does not have the best wifi, but it does have great views and a hot tub. There’s nothing better than relaxing from hiking pretty much every day than in a hot tub looking out at the amazing mountains. Also the hotel has fields of farms surrounding it, which means cows, which are one of my favorite animals.


P.S. Sorry for posting late. This post and the next couple of posts are scheduled so that they can be somewhat evenly distributed. Also I will add photos to all the posts later, but for now the wifi at the hotel is too slow to upload a lot of photos.

Day 6: Mountain Hike

One of the only rule that we had for our camping trip was that we have no concept of time, so we were woken up by Adam, one of the guy who leads the green program, playing guitar. Throughout the whole day we still weren’t sure at what time we did things and how long we did them for, but it was an awesome experience, because of the sun being up for so long you still couldn’t tell what time it was. Because we were camping in such a beautiful place we decided to go on a hike. We hiked up to the mountains and had some breath taking views. On the hike we passed so many different terrains including: grassy hills, trees, rocks, gravel, snow, rivers, and mountains. On the way there one of the cool things that we did was slide down a frozen waterfall. Once we got to the top we had a gorgeous view and just sat there to take it all in for a while. Going back down from the point was a lot easier and faster than getting up to the view, and we walked on the riverbed to get back to the campground. When we were really close to the huts again, we stopped at this cave thing and a wall where a lot of people carve their names into them, only a few people climbed into the cave though. We had a barbeque later that night and s’mores which were amazing after our over 8 mile hike.


P.S. Sorry for posting late. This post and the next couple of posts are scheduled so that they can be somewhat evenly distributed. Also I will add photos to all the posts later, but for now the wifi at the hotel is too slow to upload a lot of photos.

Day 5: Tire Troubles

We started out the day by packing up all of our stuff in order for us to go camping for the next two days. The first place we stopped was at geysir (a geyser, which is one of the only Icelandic words that is the same in all languages). We learned a little about how geysers work, and this one in particular went off about every five minutes so there were plenty of photo opportunities that were taken.

After the geysir we went to a huge waterfall in the golden circle that was completely gorgeous, many more photos were taken there as well. Since we are on the Green Program learning about renewable energy, while at the waterfall our guide asked us if we thought that the waterfall should be harnessed to create hydroelectric power or kept as a tourist spot. Every single one of us on the program said that is should be preserved for its beauty. I think its very interesting how although in our group we are very different we all have similar mindsets, which is a reason the program is so awesome and we do so many cool things.

We then stopped for lunch then went to a hydroelectric plant. This plant was a lot larger than the one we went to earlier this week. It was interesting seeing all the huge machinery and we even got to participate in some activities that helped us learn about the intricacies of hydroelectric power.

Leaving the hydro plant we were headed to the camping spot when on of our rear tires just flew off of the bus. We had to stop and change the tire because we had sheared the bolt right off of the bus. While stopped we got to pet some horses, so that was a positive.

We then went to meet our super jeeps that would be able to take us to the campground. We split up in to smaller groups to fit into the jeeps and I was in the jeep that had all of our backpacks and supplies for the weekend camping. While there before we even got to the extreme terrain that required super jeeps, the tire on our trailer as flew off. It was so weird that on the same day in two different instances a tire didn’t even pop, but both fell off of the bus and our trailer. Our group then had to take all of the luggage and stuff from the trailer and move it into another trailer that was brought by another super jeep. After our tire troubles we were on our way once again and drove through small rivers, and a lot of rocks to get to the “volcano huts” which were located between two glaciers and a ton of beautiful mountains. We set up camp and were ready for bed after a game was played to determine who got to sleep in a tent while the rest of us (including me) stayed in the cabins.


P.S. Sorry for posting late. Also I will add photos to all the posts later, but for now the wifi at the hotels is too slow to upload a lot of photos.

Day 4: Glacier Snorkeling & Cave Exploring

Today we had a late start compared to the previous days since we had gotten back so late the night before. We took the bus out to an Icelandic national park where we planned to go glacier snorkeling and explore a cave. The national park is in the city that was initially where the government of Iceland started and held meetings. The park had a large lake and was surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. The place where we snorkeled was created by the tectonic plates separating and the water from the earth filling the fissure. In the fissure, the water is totally pure blue and absolutely clear, and because of the earth it stays at a constant 2 degrees Celsius all year round. Since it is decently cold, we received dry suits (kind of like wet suits except that they are totally water proof and you wear an extra layer underneath the suit). Putting on all the equipment (dry suit, layer underneath, gloves, head cover, gloves, flippers, and goggles/snorkel) took a super long time, but was totally worth it. Going in the water you stay completely dry besides your hands and face, which become numb fairly quickly, but once you realize how amazingly beautiful it is you don’t really care. The water was so clear and everything just looked absolutely amazing underneath. Since it was so clear you could see as in all directions as far out until there were rocks, and it was stunning. The best part about snorkeling was when I got to the end and the first things I saw when I lifted my head out of the water were the gorgeous mountains and landscape. After snorkeling we went Spelunking (cave exploring), and it was super cool. The cave that we went in was actually created by lava flow from a long time ago and is called a lava tube. I was glad that I really pushed myself to get through the puzzle of figuring out where to step to climb over rocks and not slip on the ice that was everywhere. At one point we all turned off all of our headlamps and stayed silent. It was pitch black, and all we could hear was water dripping from the ceiling of the cave. It was strange to not have sight for a couple of minutes, and the sounds became super clear and different. After going through the cave we went back to the hotel for dinner and to work on our capstone projects.

Glacier Snorkeling was one of the most amazing and life changing experiences in my entire life. It made me appreciate my life and how lucky I am to be on this trip doing all these things that I never in a million years imagined I would get to do.


**PS This post is a scheduled post. By the time that this posts, I will be camping and not have wifi. Everything will be posted eventually, including more photos.

Day 3: Geothermal Plant

Today we started the day early by visiting a geothermal energy plant. This is one of the bigger ones in Iceland and it produces around 300 MW. We also were given a lecture while there that was all about geothermal energy and how it works and why it is so important to Iceland. The main reason geothermal is available in Iceland is because the fact that there is the meeting point between the two tectonic plates which makes it easier to access the heat within the earth. After taking a tour of the plant, we went to one of the first hydroelectric plants in Iceland. In comparison to the hydroelectric plant, the geothermal plant was extremely modern and large. The hydroelectric plant still has all the same machinery since the 1920s when it was created. We then went back to the University of Reykjavik and had an official tour that took us through how certain things in the university were engineered in a specific way, since it is a very modern school. At the university we also had a lecture on hydroelectric energy, which went well after visiting and seeing the facility earlier that day. Next, we went to an Icelandic pool. It was really interesting as it was an outdoor pool that they use the natural heat and energy from the earth to heat. Although it was strange to most of us on the program, outdoor pools that are heated are very common across Iceland, and are used year round (yes even in the arctic winter). Once we finished swimming we went out to eat dinner at a super cool restaurant named Kex. At Kex we had amazing food, played games, and all had a ton of fun. I feel that since the sun is out for such a long time the days are super long and we fit as much as we can into them starting our days at 6 and not getting back to the hotel till after 1 am, but I am really happy that I am able to do so much is such little time.


**PS This and the next post are scheduled posts. By the time that this posts, I will be camping and not have wifi. Everything will be posted eventually, including photos.