Around Reykjavik


Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is home to nearly 40% of Iceland's 320,000 citizens including a growing number of yak herders.  Here are some photos around the Reykjavik area, including the somewhat overrated Blue Lagoon, which is a massive man-made outdoor Geothermal spa created from runoff from a nearby Geothermal power plant.

And here's some local art including some impressive murals at a skatepark as well as post-modern pop art by controversial Icelandic artist Erró.


Don't Go Jason Waterfalls

Zack gregg waterfalls med

I don't know if Iceland has more waterfalls than any other country in the world, but it's ceartainly got some of the best what with Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, Goðafoss, Uberfoss, Yúdaboss, Dentálfloss etc. I'm not sure we saw all of Iceland's waterfalls, or whether we just saw the same ones two or three times.  It's hard to trust those guides.  

Nonetheless, the hiking in Iceland was fantastic.  While the weather was often cold, it was always beautiful and we were lucky with never having more than a sprinking of rain.  Hikes included mountain treks, explorations of volcanic lava fields, craters, geysers, beaches, glaciers and of course, plenty of waterfalls. Here are some photos:

Unfortunately, we did not get to see any of the famous Icelandic guard yaks.  I'm getting concerned that Kleiner Perkins might have been overly optimistic in their assessment of the potential for in Iceland.  Still, it could be a nice strategic fit with their Norwegian automotive investments.

What Part of Eyjafjallajökull Don't You Understand?


Iceland has about 130 volcanic mountains, 18 of which have erupted since settlement.  Some erupt every couple hundred years, some every 50-80 years.  Typically there's some kind of volcanic activity every few years.  Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced: "Eyjafjallajökull" just like it's written) erupted rather famously in 2010 interupting air travel in Europe for several weeks.  However, in Iceland this was considered a relatively minor event, dwarfed by a larger eruption in 2011 at Grímsvötn.

While in Iceland we explored the Eyjafjallajökull visitor's center and also hiked several craters and lava fields in other areas including Mt Laki and Hverfjall.  Some portions seemed eerily like hiking into Mount Doom on bad day.  Watch for the Yule Lads, descendents of mountain trolls.  Here are some more photos:

Local Jökulls

Glacier boat

I tell you, it's not easy getting away from the hustle and spin of Silicon Valley.  But I'm down with the whole #unplug thing while I'm in Iceland.  Heck, I'm not even sure they have the Interweb here.  So I'm making a point of being offline from cell phone calls, instant messaging, email, Blogger, Buzz, Digg, Facebook, Facetime, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Linkedin, Myspace, Ning, Picasaweb, Quora, Skype, Typepad, Twitter, Yammer, Yelp, Youtube and every other productivity-enhancing social-networking unified messaging cloud infrastructure SaaS virtual distributed open source crowdsource system I've signed up for.  Yep, total silence.  Just me and my goold ol' Google Reader exploring the outer Yak Whispering regions of Iceland.

Nothing like exploring a glacier river lagoon to help get away from things. Here are some photos of local Jökulls at Jökulsárlón

One thing I forgot to ask the Kleiner guys just how many Yaks there are in Iceland.  They're hoping for some major revenue growth, so I sure hope it's big.  

Höfn Puffins


We visited Höfn and the Ingólfur cape in the southeastern tip of Iceland.  The cape is named after Ingólfur Arnarson, the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland.  Now the cape is populated primarily by great skua bird and puffins.  Because of the volcanic sediment there's miles of black sand surrounding the cape.  The skua are very territorial and will fly at you if you get too close to their chicks, whereas the puffins are merely photogenic.  I was surprised to see the local farmers grazing a herd of the saddest looking yaks I'd ever seen.

I've posted a few photos.

Glacier Walk

Today we walked Svinyfallsonhiskull Swinfallsjokeall Svensellsseahshells a big honking glacier which is part of Vatnajökull National Park in Skaftafell, in the south east part of Iceland.  The glacier is atop the Öræfajökull volcano which has errupted twice in recorded history, most recently in 1728. So there's lots of volcanic ash and rock amidst the ice. I didn't see any yaks, but otherwise it was pretty amazing.  Here are some photos.

Traveling Light


It's my first trip to Iceland, so I'm not sure what to expect other than, uh, ice. Weather says it's about 12 degrees, but I'm not sure whether that's Farenheit, Celsius or Kelvin.

So I'm packing my parka, rain pants, fleece, flashlight, bass, tuner, multi-stomp effects pedals, guitar cables, wireless cables, portable amp, not-so-portable amp, noise cancelling headphones, other headphones, headphone amp, digital audio recorder, drum machine, iRig, Ampkit, digital SLR, digital compact camera, video recorder, portable hard drive, laptop, iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPod, iPod shuffle, Big Jambox, not-so-big Jambox, Digital-Audio-Converter, line splitter, y-cables, Kindle, reading light, GPS, charger, optical cables, sync cables, non-sync cables, backup batteries, backup backup cables, heart rate monitor, Fitbit, alarm clock, Nespresso machine, smartwatch, stop watch, dumb watch and getting away from it all. Just the essentials. Also, some hiking boots, but I'm not sure I'll really need those.

As they say in Iceland: Haltu kjafti og drekka Brennivín þína.

Yak Whisperer Goes to Iceland


It's been a couple of years since I've been active at Yak Whisperer.  But just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.  The braintrust over at Kleiner Perkins has been amping up their socio meets loco strategy and they've bought a new stake in  Turns out over the last few years, there's been rather a rapid growth in social networks for yak herders.  Oddly enough, they're sending me to Iceland to check out some opportunities for expansion and potential collaboration with some geothermal-powered MMPORG banking simulation startups.  

Sounds totally disruptive!  So I'll be updating the site for a few weeks, while checking out the local surfing and blues bars.  Iceland and blues seem to go together like fermented shark and black death.  

More Photos About Buildings & Yaks

It's never too late to post photos from a trip until it definitely is. Like after you inadvertently delete 300 photos from your godamn iPhone. I tried getting Jobso on the iPhone to fix this, but the guy doesn't even return calls from Woz, so my expectations are low.  Plus there's that restraining order thing from the time I saw him chowing down on BBQ Pork at Whole Foods in Cupertino.  Vegetarian, my ass.  So these photos are from my Canon G9.  And honestly, I'm not sure they're any better than the iPhone except for the fact that they're higher resolution and they weren't deleted.

These are completely unretouched except for editing I did in PicasaPhoto to crop them, refocus them, change the colors and otherwise make them look more like National Geographic. Heck, some of these I downloaded from National Geographic.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

At any rate, feel free to take these photos and turn them into your last minute Christmas, Hanukkah, Quanza or New Year's greeting card.  You can claim you spent three weeks in Mongolia and it was the time of your life.  I mean, it's not like somebody's gonna really quiz you on it.  And if they do, just tell them the place was big, there wasn't a single Starbucks to be found anywhere and you got food poisoning.  They'll quickly lose interest.  Some topics just aren't that social, ya know?

Bigger than Yak Whisperer?


It figures that after nearly 3 weeks in Mongolia, the only person who was able to track me down was a recruiter.  I was knocking back a pint of Chinggis Light getting ready to catch our flight out of Ulaan Bataar and suddenly my cell phone goes off. 

It's a Kleiner-Perkins backed social networking startup looking for a CEO.  They claim it's gonna be bigger than Heck it's gonna be the next Google.  Or maybe Facebook is the next Google and this is gonna be the next Facebook.    

It was clear the recruiter didn't really understand the business, blathering on the way he did.  "That's why they need a guy like you."  Before I could tell him I'd think about it, the call got dropped.  Hey, sometimes AT&T does the right thing after all.  Like total Schadenfreude Zeitgeist.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... 

Join us next week for a blues & BBQ adventure in Austin.

Or as they say in Mongolia: бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга.  
God bless you and may your mustache grow like brushwood.

--Yours truly, Johnny Dollar.
  July, 2010