My Berry Experience

By | April 12, 2013

BlackBerry LogoOver the last few years I have jumped around on my smart phones. My smartphone history has gone iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and then I went to Android with LG Optimus 2X, Samsung Galaxy SIIX and now the biggest shift of all: BlackBerry Z10.

On the “Legal in Thailand” ski trip in February Tyler was showing off his Z10 and something about it looked appealing. I kept thinking about the phone for a few weeks after the trip and realized that even if I was getting it for better integration with my work email I was not doing anything on Android that I could live without, and at the end of the day I would still have a highly functional smartphone.

Two months have passed and here are some thoughts on the Z10.

The BlackBerry World app store is limited, but it’s growing as the Z10 is released in new countries and it’s important to remember that even the Apple and Android stores had humble beginnings too. The Z10 is new so developers may not see much benefit in building an app for the platform but as the Q10 and other BBOS10 capable devices are released this year the market penetration may increase, and so would the number of apps that are available.

The apps that do exist, and ones I use often (Twitter, Facebook) are basic but they suffice. If there are any applications missing from the store I can visit the mobile version of that website and accomplish what I wanted. I find that I don’t use many apps on my phone but if something can’t be found in the store I can sideload the Android application on to my phone. This is probably the biggest benefit so far, I have my favorite Android apps but improved battery life and a solid user experience.

With Android I got so obsessed with the latest ROM build that I was constantly flashing versions, reading about Nightlies and waiting for Jelly Bean integration in to the build of Cyanogenmod I was using. I couldn’t sit still, I was always breaking and fixing the phone.

I would go back to the stock version of the ROM, find something I hated and switch, and then switch again. I wasn’t happy in a world of customized ROMs and I think a part of my desire to switch to the Z10 was to prevent myself from worrying about this. I could have gotten a phone Google supported and pushed latest system builds too but the temptation would have been there to try something different.

The Z10 is unique because it has no physical buttons and operates entirely on gestures. These gestures took a few days to get used to, and some of the gestures are hidden away you may end up discovering a new shortcut or feature months after use. I no longer think about which way to swipe when going from Hub to applications or opening and closing applications. It is a very solid experience and I am amazed how quickly I have gotten used to no physical navigation buttons on the phone.

The camera on the phone still leaves something to be desired but with a few software updates the potential of the camera may be unleashed. There are minor issues like screenshots appearing in the Pictures application of my Work profile (instead of in my Personal profile). During charging at night the screen will turn on momentarily after it has reached a full charge and will repeat this process while it charges and discharges. My annoyances are minor but I have faith they will be improved over time.

BlackBerry Z10 Text Ad

I enjoy being able to ‘lock’ my work email and calendar so I don’t see this work information when I view the Hub and any new messages I have. I would like to have more customization over notifications, perhaps able to control what color the LED is for which email account. There is an app that does this but for $3 and needing to have the application open and running in order to work seems a bit much. I can wait until the application is able to run in the background or until a BBOS10 update that does these features natively, for now I can survive.

For a new OS and hardware this is a very solid experience. The first Android and iPhone had room for improvement and I think BlackBerry has done a really good job with this release. I like the feeling of being on the ground floor, plus supporting a Canadian company, and I hope that the company can gain some credibility that it lost over the years. BlackBerry may never be able to compete with behemoths like Samsung as they push for larger displays and bells and whistles, but for a functional device that keeps me connected to home and work the BlackBerry fits the bill and I hope others see that too.

My Twenty Twelve in Numbers

By | January 1, 2013

Following in the footsteps of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 year in reviews I wanted to continue the year end ritual. I am surprised by how much has stayed consistent (top artists, quietest online search month) but there were a few new trends I didn’t expect.

Top 10 Google Queries
1. northlands park, edmonton
2. alberta downs race track, lacombe, ab
3. evergreen park, grande prairie
4. Rocky Mountain Turf Club, Lethbridge, Alberta
5. peggy’s footwerks
6. google analytics
7. peggysfootwerks
8. made in frame
9. peggys footwerks
10. peggy’sfootwerks

The top four results are work related for the Horse Racing Alberta website I managed. I have no idea why they were ranked so high amongst everything else. I also can’t explain why I needed to search for “northlands park, edmonton” as frequently as I did.

The rest of the search results were all related to a side business and seeing how high Peggy’s Footwerks was ranking on Google. In the end I was able to add the site to Google and have it hit on keywords so I no longer receive phone calls asking “why they can’t find the site in Google”.

I used my personal Gmail account to look at my Web History so the results are from searching while logged in with that account. My busiest month for searching was in August with 1,667 queries recorded, and my least active month was in June with 864. These numbers are up from last year but June returned as my least active search month, which is a bizarre trend.

Top 10 sites
1. en.wikipedia.org
2. www.google.com
3. www.imdb.com
4. answers.yahoo.com
5. www.amazon.com
6. www.ehow.com
7. androidforums.com
8. forum.xda-developers.com
9. market.android.com
10. twitter.com

Wikipedia dominates my top sites again. I honestly don’t think I go there that often but I guess every article about someone or something leads me to Wikipedia so I imagine that adds up over time. I like that Android sites appeared in this list, even though before September the notion of leaving iOS seemed crazy to me.

Top 10 Artists
1. Hans Zimmer (670 plays)
2. Ramin Djawadi (381 plays)
3. Howard Shore (285 plays)
4. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (259 plays)
5. Amanda Palmer (250 plays)
6. Daft Punk (240 plays)
7. The Throne (214 plays)
8. Bad Religion (204 plays)
9. Michael Giacchino (177 plays)
10. The White Stripes (166 plays)

With my move to TELUS I expected my play count to decrease and that definitely happened. Instead of listening to music four to six hours a day I averaged about an hour, and rather than having access to my entire music library I had to rely on what I brought with me that day (iPod Nano or iPod Classic). I wasn’t able to pick an artist at random or go on a musical adventure based on my mood. Last year my top ten artists all had over 300 plays and now there is a significant drop off.

Not unusual is that I have a lot of soundtrack influence in what I listen to but this year half half of artists doing a score for something I love (Batman, Lord of the Rings, Lost). I went back to Daft Punk this year but I think most of those plays were from the Tron Soundtrack but a healthy mix from Homework and Discovery too.

The biggest surprise is that White Stripes didn’t top the list. My love of the band hasn’t waned but I think the anticipation of Dark Knight Rises influenced what I listened to and I would opt for something from Hans Zimmer instead of a quick rock out session to White Blood Cells.

I listened to “Watch the Throne” a lot this year, but I’m surprised that Bad Religion got a same number of plays. I like them but didn’t think I sought out their music that much. Amanda Palmer’s “Theater is Evil” album is fantastic and for only being released in September is quickly made its way up my charts.

Top 10 Tracks
1. Hans Zimmer – A Storm Is Coming (42 plays)
2. Hans Zimmer – On Thin Ice (38 plays)
3. Hans Zimmer – Rise (35 plays)
3. Hans Zimmer – Imagine The Fire (35 plays)
3. Hans Zimmer – Born In Darkness (35 plays)
6. Hans Zimmer – Necessary Evil (34 plays)
6. Hans Zimmer – Why Do We Fall? (34 plays)
8. Hans Zimmer – Gotham’s Reckoning (33 plays)
8. Hans Zimmer – Nothing Out There (33 plays)
10. Hans Zimmer – Fear Will Find You (32 plays)
10. Hans Zimmer – Underground Army (32 plays)

There are 11 songs listed here because there were multiple songs tied for a spot. Last year “The Dark Knight” ruled my top plays, specifically the second disc of the soundtrack, and this year “The Dark Knight Rises” ruled supreme. I predicted this last year by saying:

Odds are good that next year Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard will lead the way with “The Dark Knight Rises”.

With regards to air travel 2011 was the lowest in recent years with a pretty painless extended weekend trip to San Diego amassing 3200 miles covered. I drove my VW Jetta TDI over 13,000 kilometers and filled up the vehicle 17 times (the same number last year). I have gone two calendar years in a row without completing a police report, and I received no speeding tickets or anything incriminating like that against me.

My decline in blogging continued this year, and I produced my lowest post count with 13. The Iceland posts were long but being wordy doesn’t make a different when I push the “Publish” button a bakers dozen times. I enjoy blogging when I have something to say but I find that I either have nothing to write or I just don’t have the time to sit and pour my thoughts into a post. I suspect 2013 will have a similar number of posts, but without a trip to Iceland to claim nearly half of my posts finding something to write about this year may be challenging.

My Twitter use has declined as well, going from 188 tweets in 2011 to 113 in 2012. I went from 41 posts on Tumblr down to one. There was a Facebook status update prior to our trip to Iceland, but that was the only one. I frequent these sites multiple times a day, enjoy browsing and catching up on what is new but I may forever be a lurker on them.

I like social networking but I also don’t want to bother people with hourly updates or useless tweets containing song lyrics or writing about how much food I ate. I think my decrease in Tweets was related to not posting every time I updated my Project 365. If people want to see the photos they know how to find them, and spamming them doesn’t do anything more than get a few more image views.

I sent roughly 407 emails from my @gmail.com and @seangursky.com email accounts and 52 from my @hotmail.com address. My @gmail.com and @seangursky.com usage increased a bit compared to last year but @hotmail.com dropped a bit. What I did write from @hotmail.com was mostly Kijiji related, so maybe the shift is related to using Gmail for more communication.

I made one order with amazon.ca, two with amazon.com, one with monoprice.com and none with Deal Extreme or amazon.co.uk.

Rough calculations are that I took nearly 5,200 photos with my Canon 5D this year. There was a few week period where the camera was in for repair but any photos I took with the iPhone or backup Pentax Optio were inconsequential. 5,200 is fewer photos than I took last year (7,850) but there was no two week long vacation to soak up a thousand odd photos.

All in all 2011 seems pretty quiet. Even when we tell people what we were up to the usual answer is “house stuff”. You add in a few months of Ice Dragons summer hockey, a couple trips to the cabin at Lac la Biche and you have the year in review.

2011 is in the books, I have a few things I’m looking forward to in 2012 and I’m sure the numbers will reflect that (I predict exceeding 9,000 photos taken) but we’ll see how it all shakes down in 366 days.


My P90X Completion

By | December 28, 2012

P90X-logoFor the last three months I have been following the P90X routine. I was encouraged to try P90X by a friend but I waited until the summer hockey season was over before devoting waking up early to work out. Over the years I have had a fairly steady exercise routine but recently it has been streaky. Prior to starting at TELUS my mornings exercises were peaceful and not rushed, but with my commute to TELUS relying on buses I have a schedule to keep.

I was hitting a plateau and in a rut with what I was doing but I continued anyway. In May my routine went out the window with our trip to Iceland. When we came back in June I kept saying “I’ll start tomorrow” and then hockey season began and late nights followed by early mornings didn’t mix so the amount I worked out nose dived. Enter P90X in September and three months of 5AM wake ups, exercising on the weekend and following a program that beat me down every day.

P90X Header

At first the non weight days, the ones with Plymoetrics, Yoga and Kenpo were strange and foreign; but after a hard day of weights I looked forward to “taking it easy” as I used my body to punch, kick, jump and stretch.

The results of all of this? I think it was pretty awesome. Read further to see more details on my experience with P90X.

Continue reading

My Year on Books

By | December 18, 2012

books in a stackFor Christmas last year I received a Kindle. My enthusiasm about reading was kick started largely because of the Song of Ice and Fire series. With a change in jobs and spending nearly two hours on the bus each day the Kindle got a lot more use in 2012 than I originally anticipated. Over the year I read some really good books, and some not so good ones.

With the help of Goodreads.com I was able to keep track of what I read and what I wanted to read next. According to my stats I am on pace to read 35 books this year. Some were short (“The Stranger”, “Lord of the Flies”), some were graphic novels (“The Dark Knight Returns”) but for the most part they were fairly large reads that took me a few weeks to get through.

Goodreads-Books-in-2012

Some highlights included the Hunger Game series, Lord of the Rings trilogy and several books from the Orson Scott Card “Ender’s Game” universe. It was nice to settle into a few books and binge on them. The week and a half Jenna and I read the Hunger Game series together was compulsive and very fun. We kept pace with each other while reading and were able to look up and go “can you believe this happened?” to each other and keep on reading.

Michael Crichton CollectionGoing into this year I didn’t know what kind of books I liked. Growing up I read a lot of Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Chuck Palahniuk and that was it. If I hadn’t been introduced to the author through a movie adaptation of one of their other books I was probably not interested. Now, 12 months later I can safely say that I prefer science fiction/fantasy, but I went through a bit of a strange path to realize this.

Reading “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was engaging but “Life of Pi” failed to earn accolades from me that others easily throw to the book. I also like single story books, which I contradict with A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings but I dropped “Oryx and Crake”, “Hyperion” and “Dark Tower” after the first book because of what laid ahead and how I felt about the first book. I should be a little more lenient on this rule because I know I am missing out on some epic fantasy sagas (ie: The Wheel of Time) but multiple books, let alone something that you need three hands to count the number in a series, may be a little too ambitious for me.

Throughout the year I kept thinking about “Ender’s Game”. I enjoyed “Ender’s Shadow”, and to an extent “Speaker of the Dead”, but “Ender’s Game” was something else. The story, the world and the characters were captivating and the book just made me happy. I didn’t expect a book like that to stick with him for this long and it’s surprises like that which make reading a book you have no knowledge of beforehand kind of fun.

Speaking of characters JK Rowling’s characters in “A Casual Vacancy” were amazing. Each character had a unique voice in their chapter and some were so flawed that you became upset at their actions, or lack thereof. Rowling has a way of writing a world that you feel like you’re witnessing as a passer-by on the street and I hope she continues to release more books like this at her own pace.

A Storm of Swords - Cropped CoverI am finishing the year the same way I started it: reading a book from A Song of Ice and Fire by re-reading “A Storm of Swords”. I will continue to read in 2013, perhaps explore some books on my “to read” shelf and maybe start on some larger fantasy series.

My Time on Madison Avenue

By | November 6, 2012

My name is Sean and I am addicted to Mad Men. Over the last few months we have consumed all five seasons of Mad Men and am now going through withdrawals in search of my next hit.

We started watching Mad Men earlier this year but after the first three episodes failed to hook us in we dropped it and moved on. We started watching a bit of Sons of Anarchy and Louie, but we didn’t feel that compulsion to binge on either. I suggested to Jenna we try giving Mad Men one more chance and the rest is history.

The show takes several episodes to get into it but when it starts rolling you are consumed by complex characters and beautiful stories all set against the backdrop of the 1960’s. I can’t describe what makes this show so good other than the brilliant characters. The show is definitely character driven and there is a reason why it won an Emmy for Best Drama series in its first four seasons. Nothing is blatantly spelled out for the viewer and you can interpret someone’s actions based on what you know about their life and decide if what they did was good or bad.

There are no heroes or villains but there are characters I really like and others I am put off by. Everyone is flawed and everyone is looking for validation. In any given episode you can see redemption for a character or something that makes you wonder why you liked them in the first place. One of the characters I like is manipulative and a little sleazy but there is something about his ambition and drive that I enjoy.

I feel that watching this show week to week would be frustrating because of the slow paced nature of events. A fallout from an action may not come to a head in a single episode, and it could be weeks for repercussions to be felt. However, story threads do come back and even if it isn’t mentioned for a season or more it isn’t forgotten. A single episode immediately leaves you thinking “that’s it?” but then you take a moment to reflect on where the episode began and realize how much ground you covered with everyone and are impressed that it all fit into a single episode. This satisfaction in each episode is what makes it so enjoyable watching a few episodes back to back, and after a few days you have gone through an entire season and are onto the next.

Mad Men isn’t a high paced show with twists and turns in every episode. It is a slow building drive that waits for you to become invested in the characters and takes you on a fantastic trip as you go in and out of their lives.

It was a fun ride and so begins the wait until 2013 for another season to start.

My Little Slice of Death

By | October 31, 2012

Last night a commercial was on TV with a Pizza Hut delivery car at one end of the street and a hot dog vendor at the other. The vendors cart lets loose and started to speed down the side walk. People jump out of the way and at this point I start to leave the room. The food cart slammed into the delivery car and the voice over said these magical words: “hot dog stuffed crust pizza”. I reversed into the room to see the money shot of a hot dog rolled inside the crust of pizza and slowly picked my jaw up off the floor.

A hot dog inside a pizza!?

Apparently this one-two punch of a pizza is only available until November 25 and with my love of hot dogs and pizzas this may be something I try in the next few weeks. I have had hot dogs on top of pizza () before but never thought I would see a day where the hot dog was anything more than a topping.

After the KFC Double Down () and numerous McRib runs () I think my body has been preparing for such a pizza for a long time.

My Age Milestone

By | October 29, 2012

I don’t feel older but I’m officially 30. I have a hard time describing what this age milestone means to me. A part of me doesn’t feel 30 mostly because I thought things would be different, like suddenly you reach that age and things change.

I probably felt the same way about turning 18 or 21, but 30 has distinction. It has maturity. It has responsibility. It is halfway to 60 and the beginning of the roller coaster to becoming an old man.

I’m not disappointed or have regrets with the last three decades but I just thought 30 would be a little more special or a little more of a personal and career milestone. I think the truth I’m realizing is that you won’t have everything figured out at 30, and just because you turned another year older you don’t receive a pamphlet on how to deal with “the rest of your life”. I’m not sure where I’ll be at 40, let alone 35, and I was always under the impression that when you hit 30 you could answer those questions.

Here is to turning another year older, trying to find my place in the world and pretending like I know what I’m doing and having it all figured out.

My Iceland Trip: Details

By | October 28, 2012

Our trip to Iceland requires many blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4). We drove the country, saw a lot of amazing sights, but this post is dedicated to the incidentals. The details that you need to be aware of when you’re in a foreign country and being prepared for the differences. I spent hours searching Trip Advisor forums prior to the trip and a lot of the same questions about credit cards and how good the roads were came up. However, things like how a gravel road varies in condition from one part of the country to the other or there being single lane tunnels would have been good information to know and mentally prepare for before you’re suddenly there and not sure if it’s right or not.

Transactions
Nearly every payment was put on a BMO MasterCard (which had a chip and PIN). Only once did we have to pay for something with cash, and that was only because the POS machine was taking a while to process. We used the credit card for small things like yogurt (Skyr) all the way to larger meals. I didn’t find that I was prompted for a PIN very often, it was usually signing a transaction slip.

PIN enabled machines were more common in Reykjavik and Akureyri, as well as self serve gas stations. MasterCard and Visa appeared to be the primary cards accepted. We brought an American Express but I don’t think I noticed it being accepted at many places (at least according to the stickers on the outside of businesses), so you are probably okay to leave home without this one.

According to the Lonely Planet and Frommer’s travel books tipping isn’t required and we never did. The only time we left an extra amount was when it was convenient to unload a large Icelandic krona.

Gas Stations
The process for paying with a credit card at a gas station changed depending on if it was a Shell or an N1. Typically you inserted your card first, entered your PIN and then you had to enter in the dollar amount of fuel you wanted. I made the mistake of entering in “20” (assuming $20CDN) and the transaction was denied because it was such a small amount. I then entered “20000” (now understanding it to be in ISK) and the transaction was declined because the amount was too high. On the third try I entered “10000” and everything went smoothly. Only a few times did I have to go into the station and ask if I could pay inside instead of at the pump.

After a few days of driving I suspected the air pressure in one of the tires was low. Halfway through the trip we explored an N1 and found the best air pump. Not only was it free but it was intelligent. You would enter in your desired PSI on the machine (which had simple diagrams), attach the hose to the tire and the machine did the rest. It would test the pressure of the tire and either add or remove air. When it reached the desired number it would beep several times and you were done. All tire pumps should be this amazing.

Driving
Once outside of Reykjavik the crowd of cars on the Ring Road thinned out and you went thirty minutes or longer before seeing another vehicle. The speed limits in Iceland are not like in Canada where they are seen as a suggestion. If there is a turn in the road and the speed sign indicates 45, you do 45 because it’s probably a tight turn along the edge of water and it has a blind rise in it and you could potentially meet oncoming traffic. 90 felt like a fine speed limit, but if someone wanted to pass you there was more than enough opportunity for them to do so.

I passed more cyclists and tractors than cars. There were a few cars that passed me on long stretches but I was happy going 90 to enjoy the scenery.

Single lane bridges are very common in Iceland. It’s usually not a problem because there is no oncoming traffic but every bridge you approached you had to make sure there wasn’t someone rushing towards it on the other side. Most bridges were fairly short, but longer ones in Skaftafell National Park stretched for long distances over the sandur and had pull out points every hundred meters in case you met another car. I wasn’t particularly fond of the one by Jökulsárlón. It was a long bridge where you couldn’t see the other side and you were right beside the glacier lagoon so there was plenty of distractions that made this unpleasant to cross a few times.

What was really fun was going in a single lane tunnel! These only existed in the Westfjords, and even though it’s a remote area with few vehicles it was still a little nerve wracking. There were pull outs to navigate oncoming traffic but I still breathed a sigh of relief when I got through.

Road Kill
I think sheep would cause more fatalities in Iceland than anything else. Most of them are usually in the ditch or far enough away that they aren’t a threat of darting out onto the road but every time you passed them you had to make sure the babies weren’t separated from the mother and they weren’t going to sprint across the road.

Arctic Terns were incredibly annoying on the road too. Sure, they just migrated from the Antarctic, but for all the wide open space they have to sit on the road? Most flew out of the way before you got close but they changed directions so fast I expected one to accidentally dive bomb into the wind shield.

There were other birds and goats on the road, a few times I had to stop and honk the horn to motivate them to cross.

Security
After travelling to areas where pick pockets and tourist traps are rampant we instinctively kept our guard up in Iceland. We were cautious and didn’t leave anything immediately visible in the car when we went to walk to a sight, we always locked our doors and we emptied the car every night. None of this was necessary because everywhere we went we felt safe. We didn’t need a ‘money belt’ or worry about people fingering through our bags in a public place. Iceland was safe and everyone (locals and tourists alike) was friendly. You would say ‘hello’ to someone and they would respond in German or French. It’s a very diverse crowd of tourists but everyone was all smiles.

Language
English is Iceland’s second language but we found everyone spoke it, which was a relief because we couldn’t even come close to speaking Icelandic. People were friendly and were not put out by repeating something in English. There were a few occasions my “hello” was interpreted for the Icelandic “halló” and the native would say something in Icelandic and I would get a confused look on my face.

Weather
There was always wind. It may not be significant but it was always there. It prevented us from doing a map holding out in the open air several times. We found that we always had a few layers of clothes on but the wind would get you.

We had several toques and gloves and were worn nearly all the time. The thermometer would read +7 but if it was cloudy and windy it would feel colder. Days where there was no wind and the sun was out was amazing. Bring sun screen if you’re going in longer daylight hours because it may not feel like you’re going to get burnt but the sun was always high and could cause some damage.

Umbrella’s are useless and not needed. If it’s raining there is probably wind and the umbrella will be turned inside out and turn into a weapon. There’s no place for them in Iceland even though some tourist stores did sell them.

Our daily attire consisted of a long underwear top, a mid layer and then an outer shell. Depending on the weather and what we were going to see we would change the type of outer shell but having the base and mid layer on allowed us to be comfortable in the car but still be warm enough for quick explorations out of the car. On the bottom we usually wore long underwear with a quick dry pant or a fabric that was breathable.

One of the best investments we made was the purchase of Smart Wool socks. We wore these for several days in a row and every day we put them on the sock felt fresh, held its form and never had that tired and used sock feeling. They kept our feet cool and dry on hikes, and after a few days of wear they produced no odour. They were an expensive upfront purchase but completely justified when we were wearing them day after day.

Iceland Unlimited
The comfort I got from having a tour company arrange accommodation and car rental for me was worth the additional cost. Planning out the trip to allow us to see all the attractions without spending a whole day driving was a huge asset. If something were to go wrong on our trip we had a safety net and it was nice knowing we had someone watching our back.

I would recommend Iceland Unlimited to anyone. They were helpful in my original request, modified and customized the itinerary to suit our needs and their passion and enthusiasm about their job was evident when we met them in person.

Our experience with Iceland Unlimited wasn’t without a few hiccups, however minor they were, it did impact our schedule.

The first issue was when the car rental company didn’t pick us up from our guesthouse at the arranged time. The car rental company wasn’t aware that a pickup was arranged, so either the rental agency misplaced this booking or Iceland Unlimited didn’t make the call. We called our tour guide on the provided phone and within a few minutes everything was sorted out and a short time later a van arrived to pick us up. A minor set back but we were left waiting for nearly an hour when we could have been on the road starting our adventure.

The next issue, and the biggest, was receiving the wrong information for the ferry departure near the end of our trip. Instead of departing at 12PM it departed at 6PM. To make the two hour drive to the 12PM ferry we cut sightseeing short and worked our day around this departure time only to find out we had the wrong information. Nothing could be done to correct this, there was a misunderstanding over what schedule the ferry was running on but this mixup impacted our chance to explore the Westfjords on the one good day of weather we had. We made the most of this by driving back through a fjord that was covered in cloud the day before and explored the beach at low tide, but if we had this time in the morning we would have used that time differently.

Because we were six hours behind schedule it had a domino effect on our sightseeing plans for when we drove off the ferry and the following day. We essentially had to do two days of exploring in one, and return the car back to Reykjavik. Through this mixup we were in constant communication with Iceland Unlimited, discussing alternatives or modifying our next few nights but we decided on sticking to the original plan and then putting two days of sight seeing into one. Iceland Unlimited notified the car rental agency that we would be dropping the car off late and that any additional charges would be covered by them. A nice gesture to correct something that could have been avoided.

These are minor complaints on what was otherwise a smooth operation. The vouchers we were given at the beginning of the trip were accepted without question and there was no issue checking into any of the guesthouses or surprised looks from people saying “We don’t have your reservation”. Our suggested itinerary was informative but not the end all be all for things to see, and it helped us research nearby sights we may have missed otherwise.

Music
Not directly related to the enjoyment of our trip but it did enhance it. Prior to leaving I created an “Iceland Playlist” full of Iceland artists like Sigur Rós, Bjork, Of Monsters and Men and Ólafur Arnalds. Driving through an eerie landscape with oo’s and aa’s of Sigur Rós was pretty amazing. If an artist was able to capture the beauty of a country with music Sigur Rós did it. I wonder if people visit Canada, put on Bryan Adams and do flying kicks and fist pumps as they navigate the Trans Canada over the Rocky Mountains.

And that concludes posts about our fifteen days in Iceland. Five months later I still think about Iceland on a nearly daily basis and I believe a part of why it has taken so long to write these posts is that I wasn’t ready to admit that this trip happened and it is finally over.