Sunday, May 31, 2009

Some Kind of Kareoke Video Game Night

Last night, Saturday, we all came to Sylvia's house to hang out. We ended up playing some kind of video game where you sing into the microphone and it grades you by your pitch. I'm obviously showing off my ignorance by my lack of knowledge of video games. Such is life...

The flash on my camera is very temperamental and sometimes simply decides not to work. This night was one of those nights.


Here is Sylvía and Gunnar.


Stjarna was beside herself with excitement. So many people!


Sigurjón here is rocking it out with some drumsticks.


Another picture of proof that my husband is extremely handsome.


AND... he even sang! We competed against each other with 'Wonderful World.' I won! Yeah! I got this video of him singing along while other people had the mics. :)



Unnur and I were in definite camera moods tonight~


Here is Sigurjón singing with his daughter. She was so funny. She doesn't speak English yet but knows all the ABBA songs. Well... at least the pitch if not the correct words. It was adorable!


More random shots.


Tomorrow is going to be a full day. We're going on a hike/picnic in the afternoon and then having dinner at the missionary couple's house with the mission president. President Olafson will be here in Iceland for some kind of meeting with the Dalai Lama. Yeah... that's right. The Dalai Lama is here in Iceland! Not really sure why... but he's here!

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Evening in a Hot River

This post is certainly late. We did this activity almost 2 weeks ago! But, better late than never. On May 8th, we all trekked into the middle of nowhere a few miles outside of Reykjavík to this river that was fed by a hot spring. There was some cold spring water that helped make the water temperature perfect! It really is a weird idea... to sit in a river when it is cold outside... but then, when it is a hot river... then it is okay. :)

Here is Sigurjón and Binni.


Most of the girls were at the cooler end. Both meanings of the word fit. :)


Here is Unndis.


Xan spent some time further up where it was even hotter.


Binni again. Hilarious!


I think this shot was to show the sun. It was about 9:00 right now maybe...


Here is Xan and I.


My feet got soaken through on the trek here and back and I'm thinking this is where I caught my flu bug... but it was worth it! Now, all we need to do is bring a shovel next time so we can make parts deeper to really be able to soak! LOL!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A day of sunshine and warmth in Iceland?!

I've been sick with one thing after another for about 2 weeks now. First a headache...various other ailments in the middle... and it ended with a bad flu that took its toll last week. I woke up Sunday morning feeling horrible but by the middle of the day, I was feeling a lot better and made it to the second half of church. Good thing I did because I would have hated to miss a day like today. After church, a lot of our friends planned a picnic at a park. It was a beautiful day!


I even got to wear my flip flops!!!


Here is Binni. He leaves for Denmark this Tuesday to rejoin his Danish fiance. They get married July 24th and they'll return to Iceland to live in August or September.


Gunnar is looking nice in his shades. This guy is incredibly generous. Kiddy's car ran out of juice and we (meaning Gunnar worked and we watched and helped when we could) spent a little under an hour trying to jump start it, drag it, and charge it. Nothing worked so he offered to take the battery itself to charge it. :)


And here is Kiddy! She's on her way to the states on Thursday. She'll be visiting a mission companion and making it back up to Canada to revisit their mission. She gets back to Iceland just after I leave again. :(


And here is the glamorous Unnur. She has some pretty awesome plans for her future. She wants to start a shelter for abused women here in Iceland and have art and dance therapy available and take them on some outdoor activities such as hikes, rafting, swimming, ect. Since the outdoor activities won't work in the winter, I've offered to design a sweet giant greenhouse with a Japanese garden and an indoor swimming pool. LOL! Hey, if you have an infinite supply of hot water... use it, right!


This guy is Eyþór. For those who don't read Icelandic, the name is pronounced A(as in hay)-thor. He's currently an investigator and studies the organ. I had the priviledge of attending one of his concerts in that huge famous church with the scaffolding on it just last week. The church is gorgeous inside and his playing was rather impressive. I couldn't help but think that Zhenya, our organist friend back at BYU, would have loved to play here!


This guy is Jareð. He has his mission papers in and now is waiting to find out when and where the Lord will send him.


And lastly, the lovely Malianna. She's coming to the states this August to have family reunions and such. Part of her family is in the states, some in Australia, and she is in Iceland. They are all part Icelandic although her sweet Icelandic skills beat all of her sibling's.


And so the picnic continues. Here is Xan harassing Unnur. Those two are hilarious!


Here is a calmer moment of us sitting and eating.


I really like this photo. Not going to lie.



The band broke out. It consisted of Unnur, Binni, and Kiddy making up random songs with random lyrics. The lyrics were Icelandic so I have no idea what they were about but judging by everyone else's laughter, it was really funny. :)


And then Kiddy did what I learned long ago not to do. She challenged Xan to a water fight. LOL! Kiddy did a fairly decent job at getting him wet. His shirt doesn't allow one to see how wet he is. It was starting to get a little chilly by this time so we packed up and went back to our homes.


I took this picture as we were driving home. It's almost midnight. The sun set over an hour ago but it is still this light! I don't see it get darker than twilight anymore. The endless summer days have begun.


The weather forecast says that we will be able to enjoy one or two more beautiful days like this one before the weather turns back to its usual rainy and windy self. Malianna reported that they only get days like today a few times each summer month. It was so nice to go outside without wearing jackets and being able to wear my flip flops, though!

Oh, and I revised my other blog. It is no longer just a rant about Chinese... it is now open for rants about all subjects. This blog you are looking at is more of a documentary on Xan and mine's life. This blog, www.ashleystepp.blogspot.com, is my personal blog. :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Xan vs the glacier!

Anyone who knows my husband well will really enjoy this story. Anyone who doesn't know him well will probably read this and wonder why I married someone so crazy. I'm part of the first category and couldn't stop laughing, with a few worries in the back of my mind, of course.

Disclaimer: The river was only a couple feet deep so if any of the glacial ice were to break, he wouldn't be sucked under and freeze. He would simply walk to shore and be miserably cold.

Now on to the story. Remember the glacial lagoon we stopped to see? Its the same place as the main picture on the top of our blog. Well, I left part of the adventure out since it really deserved its own post. Xan got this fantastic idea to try to walk across the river on top of the icebergs. This was north of the bridge.


I stayed behind to photograph his adventure.


I looked down at his hiking boots and said, "You might want my rubber boots." He smiled and agreed. He returned to the shore to switch me shoes and returned out to the ice. Thankfully, we have about the same size feet so we were both comfortable in eachother's shoes.


Of course, Keith couldn't be left out and joined him. He didn't have the same luxury of rubber boots so he was a lot more careful where he stepped and waited for Xan to test out footings before following. There were a couple of other tourists passing us and looking at us like we were stupid daredevils. Again, read disclaimer. Xan is a physicist. He knows the risk and he knows how to play it safe.


Xan made it much farther out than Keith.


I got distracted by a seal that popped his head up to check out the action. I wish I hadn't because while I was photographing the seal, I heard Keith began laughing. Turning my head to see what was so funny, I saw Xan clinging to an iceberg on his stomach with his feet in the water up to his knees! I joined in laughing too hard to get a picture. Sorry. I really wish I had one. Apparently, the part of the iceberg he had been standing on had broken off. His quick reflexes saved him from another foot of cold water on his feet.


Well, that piece that fell off was apparently very strategic in getting back and Xan was now stuck in the middle of the river.


The boots were full of water which fortunately began to insulate his feet like scuba boots, so while he was cold, he was in no danger of hypothermia yet.


With Keith's assistance, Xan finally found a way back. Beth and I were still laughing. Here's a shot at how wet he got. He would like to insert here that he really wasn't all that cold. The insulated boots kept him fairly warm.


Because we had just spent the night in a hotel, Xan had extra socks and pants. We did our best to dry out the boots and he wore them for the rest of the trip. Note: wool socks are incredibly warm and work well with wet boots. :)

So, judge for yourselves whether I have a crazy husband or not. For me, I think he's fantastic. :)

South Coast Tour Day 2

And, I'm just about caught up on this trip. Where were we? Oh yes, driving back from Höfn to Reykjavík.

I´m going to have to start off with a story. Sometime in the last 50 or 100 years... I really don´t know exactly when... someone got a great idea to import a bunch of reindeer to Iceland thinking that they could herd them and make money off of them like they do in Norway. Well, it didn´t work. Instead, the reindeer ran off and now live in the highlands and the only way to see them is by plane. At least, that is what we were told. Xan told his parents about the deer and said, "There's no way we're going to see them. They don't come off the highlands." Can you see where this is going? As we were driving about 20 min outside of Höfn Tuesday morning, Keith looked out the window and pointed out to a group of 20-30 large beasts and said, "Are those reindeer?"

It's true! We saw the legendary reindeer just a few hundred yards off the main road. We were astonished! And then, just a few more min. further, we saw another herd on the other side of the road that was about 40-50 reindeer! I'm pretty sure that we're close enough to the Artic to say with certainty that at least one or two of those deer belong to Santa. :)


Here's a memorial for some dude. I was too lazy to read who it was for. I simply thought the statue looked impressive.


Icelandic horses have an incredible ability to run around on these hilly plains. Just look at the horse in the picture below. Rebekka told me that whenever they export an Icelandic horse for a race and the horse runs on flat ground, they get really lazy because it is too easy for them. LOL! They have really strict laws on the horses. No horses are allowed imported into the country and any horse that leaves can never come back. A lot of the restrictions are to protect this isolated breed from outside disease but they are also protecting from cross breeding and tainting the Icelandic horses pure blood.


The middle peak in this next picture has basalt vertical columns. Looked pretty snazy!


Iceland would be the last place I would picture to see swarms of swans everywhere because it is so blasted cold... but... they were EVERYWHERE! Here are some swans soaking in the ocean.


More cool snow topped mountains.


Snowy mountian, waterfall, farm... the whole works!


Remember that huge flood I mentioned in the last post? Here is part of a bridge they found afterwards. Most of any building or bridge or anything was completely demolished!


Here's a waterfall with a cave on either side of it. More scenery.


I lightened this picture up just a little bit so you could see part of the glacier in the background. This picture also features all of the moss covered lava rock.


Now we have made it about half way and we are at Vík. Vík means bay. It´s the same Vík from Reykjavík which means smokey bay.


More kissing photos. Can´t have enough of these, right?


Now we are driving around Vík to get to the other side of the beach to see the cool arch again. Xan and I came here before with Gummi´s tour group in January.


When we got there, we were wind blasted by all of the sand. It was like a thousand bebe guns going off all aimed at us. Check out the wave action!


I love this shot. This is Xan´s dad, Keith, standing out into the wind. LOL



Let me check. I think I have a video of Xan trying to stand out in the wind. We took refuge in a nearby cave and every now and again ventured out for the fun of standing in wind. We´re pretty sure it was over 100 mph. Yeah... There were many a times I almost had to throw myself onto the ground to keep from being blown back into the treacherous waves. Now to find that video...



Now that our ears, hair, teeth, noses, and clothes were filled with black sand, we continued on our journey.


We drove up to a high cliff overlooking the beach for some better views.


There are the same columns as were taken from the beach with the kissing photo to give you an idea of how it all fits geographically better. The picture before was a view of what was behind me in this photo below.


The wind was insane here, too!


I had to take a defensive stand to keep myself where I was.


There was a lighthouse on the cliff.


Which offered a fantastic view from in front of it!


Oh yeah! I got a cool shot of a bird playing in this crazy wind. I usually have to watch it twice to find the bird in the beginning.



This next picture had an old sod farmhouse next to the blue house. Can you see it?


There were two more on the other side of it.


Ah yes. Our last stop. Let me look up the name real fast. Seljalandsfoss. Check out the rainbows we caught we the sun!


This is the waterfall that you can walk behind. Can you see me in the blue sweatshirt? I´m not the one walking into the rainbow. I´m the other one.


It was so wet! But a lot of fun!


We were significantly damp by the time we came out the other side.


Here´s a far away shot.


We ended our trip having dinner at Gummi´s house. His wife, Valla, is a fantastic cook! I was stuffed! Wednesday, we went to the National Museum and the Blue Lagoon. And then, his parent´s caught a flight early Thursday morning. It was so much fun to have them here with us. Thanks for coming Beth and Keith!!! Hopefully we´ll be able to take a trip and visit you before you leave Saudi Arabia. :)