Dokna could easily allow herself to be the world's saddest dog. She loves sticks – but some cruel twist of fate has put her in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Iceland.
Klaustur, as it's often called, has as many sticks as Arizona has native species of whales. Trees? The people at the Hotel Laki Efri-Vik where Dokna lives have planted some, but that's about it. They rarely shed branches. Those that fall to the ground are limp and perhaps a bit unsatisfying. When she does find a stick, she bounces side-to-side on her front paws until you throw it for her. This happens often enough to keep her happy.
Dokna – whose name I am probably misspelling and is the Icelandic word for â€œSpotâ€ – also amuses herself by latching onto hotel guests and walking around with them.
She saw us and probably thought, â€œyes, a nice trot around the lake!â€ Six miles of roaming the pseudocrater landscape later, she curled up on her territory for a well-earned rest. She will long carry the memory of the two people who marched with her through the landscape – and even found some sheep-rib bones for her to fetch. This made Dokna one happy dog, even though she concluded that the two people looking for the hollowed-out mound in the crater field were certifiably crazy.
Well, we had calories to burn from the usual huge Icelandic breakfast spread: rye bread, herring, cheese spread, jam, cheese. Good fuel for marching around this bizarre landscape of spires, bubbles, dips and spongy grass. We never found the elusive hollow crater, but we found what might've been the remains of an ancient shepherd's hideout.
We were headed to the area near Skaftafell National Park. So we gave Dokna a final scratch between the ears, got a lift to Klaustur and headed to the Guesthouse Frost and Fire in Hof. There's not much to Hof – a small village, a sod-roofed church straight out of a fantasy novel, some guest houses. The Frost and Fire is clean and comfortable. It also serves up a tasty dinner of lamb for people just a few days into their trip with already a generous number of miles on their legs.
Tomorrow is yet another one of those days that Sarah and I have anticipated like kids before Christmas: It's glacier day.
Because of Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, glaciers are now a focal point of our travel. We pore through guide books and websites looking for chances to set foot on a glacier.
And tomorrow, we find out what an Icelandic glacier is like.
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