There are a limited number of roads available on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, especially in winter: the 54, the 56, the 58; the 574 through Snaefellsnes National Park; a few stubs that lead to small towns or churches by the water. The roads that cross between the north and south shores are mostly gravel, and according www.road.is, one is closed and one is just a little hazardous. So, we have been driving the roads we do have for three days now. We know where the towns are; we know where the old fishing boat strung with lights is, and the lime-green Camino-style conversion with the six wheels. Again and again, we have looked at Kirkufell and frozen waterfalls and black slopes heathered with snow and causeways. (There have been pictures each day, as well.) We have driven back to certain places because we can’t resist them: an abandoned black-stone barn in an empty field.
And each time it’s different. The sky has been different colors, different heights. Today there was no wind at all, and the little inlets and fjords were perfectly still, so that you could see the mountains reflected, the tiny waves merely another layer of complexity added to the textures of grass and snow and shadow and moss. The sky was a low, mostly even field of clouds, but the air beneath it was clear. We could see the Northfjords, faint blue to the north; to the west, we could see the smooth shining white of Snaefellsjökull where it had been hidden before this in snow-fog.
We have now been between Stykkishólmur and Ólafsvík five or six times, and this time, the last on this trip, I suddenly realized: I could drive this road every day of my life and never grow tired of it. More, I have done this: not here, not now; but it reminded me of the back roads I grew up driving or driven on, the quiet little winter roads I still sometimes drive in Iowa and Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are less beautiful than this, but there is still that lovely, perfect moment, as you come over the slope and there, precious and distant and welcoming, are the tiny lights of your destination.