Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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The Recovery Phase

Thursday 6/24 –

The need for a recovery phase starts like this. Roll into too many towns late at night. Wake up using an alarm after sleeping on the ground in the hazy morning light that never goes away. Put too many miles on the car in a day. Throw this all in with insufficient meals, and you have a recipe for burnout. I’m not suffering this too much myself, given my propensity for living off of trail mix and sandwiches. But this morning Jamie woke up hungover and Dan was tense from doing all the driving and getting no sleep after being surrounded by drunks.

When the recovery phase is needed, you take the morning off – eat a good meal if possible, find a place to relax, and don’t move. If your body is tired from abuse, drink lots of water. If it is physical abuse, find a place where you can be pampered. Basically, give the body what you’ve been depriving it of. The additional sleep thing clearly wasn’t going to happen given that I was woken up to leave. The hearty meal wasn’t happening mainly because I can’t justify paying for breakfast when I know I will be paying for lunch or dinner the same day. However, given that Lake Myvatn is a geothermal area, the physical pampering was the plan – spending 2 hours in a milky turquoise pool by volacanic mountains and a lake. In the cloudy morning light everything was illuminated but nothing required sunglasses or sunblock. It was simply a matter of cleaning thoroughly and slipping into the large mineral pool. After nights of sleeping on the ground or sitting up in cars, the hot water on my neck felt great. I was actually able to pop it for the first time on the trip. The light cloudy blue water under the cloudy white sky muted everything and the tensions seemed to ease.

After ducking out just ahead of tour buses, we spent the rest of the day driving around the lake to see the other sights, which is exactly how it felt. We drove to craters and saw them, we drove over black sand beaches, we drove past a geothermal plant and underground rye ovens and smoking earth and crater pools and a burst lava bubble big enough for 20. We stopped at each one, got out, looked around, noted that we were looking at something that given a boring previous few days with ample sleep would feel like a middle America family vacation, and then drove on. Despite the weirdness of all we were seeing, the novelty of novelty was starting to wear off. None of the sights were ones that commanded hours of attention, and all of them being condensed in one area just provided for a blitz of touristing.

We discussed all that had gone wrong the night before at the magical faerie party and drove on to Akureyri for a night of sleep in a cabin and some good dinner. I tried Dan’s whale steak and feasted on guillemot myself. I loaded up on dense food at the salad bar and downed my bowl of creamy soup. By the end of the meal I was more full than I had been in some time. The city itself was probably pleasant enough, and for the second largest city in Iceland it should certainly have some nice aspects. But rolling in tired and on edge to find the information center closed and the recommended hostels from each guide book vanished didn’t lend itself to a pleasant night of wandering a city. Instead we beelined to the restaurant, then to ice cream, then the harbor for pictures, and back to the cabin.

A full nights sleep goes a long way to helping the recovery. And tonight, as with every other night, that wasn’t going to happen.

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2010 by in Iceland.

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