Last month, our friend and talented photographer Tommy Moore travelled from Milwaukee to Iceland. Although many people claim that Iceland is green and Greenland is icy, Iceland can be icy. But despite its colder climate, Iceland is known for its dramatic (and photogenic) landscape, massive glaciers, geysers, and hot springs. Sun and beaches aren't necessarily what make an Excellent Adventure an excellent adventure. From hiking to camping, there are several ways to explore the beautiful and natural landscape of this Nordic island country!
Bather: Tell us about yourself.
Tommy: With camp currently set up in Spokane, WA, I’m spending the summer months exploring the Pacific Northwest. Traveling, design, and photography have proven themselves to be what keeps my heart beating and mind excited for the next day. In my eyes, life is best spent creating or experiencing the creations of others, including Mother Earth’s works. While silence is necessary to experience nature at its rawest state, I believe music and laughter are the two things that pair perfectly with any outdoors experience.
B: Why Iceland? How long were you there and who did you go with?
T: Nordic countries, especially Iceland, had been in my sights for awhile. I find myself romanticizing with the thought of these countries, both in their unique landscapes and culture. As a photographer and designer, the pairing of the two is incredibly important. Design and culture are reflections of a given environment, and nowhere in the world is that more apparent than in Nordic countries.
Through my travels within the states, I was always told Southern California, specifically Santa Barbara, was where the mountains meet the sea. For a while, I believed it full heartedly. But after seeing how the greats, Chris Burkard and Renan Ozturk, captured the mountains and fjords of Iceland, I knew I needed to go to where the mountains truly met the sea.
My crew was filled by:
Issac Daniels, a photographer from Milwaukee, WI.
Thaddeus Zurawski, a product designer and adventurist, who happened to be studying in France while I was planning the trip. Luckily for the two of us, the timing worked out perfect for him to link up with all of us in Iceland.
Sarah Corbe, a childhood friend and mechanical engineer who’s traveling abroad experience was far superior to mine.
Charlotte Redding, an environmental sciences student in Michigan.
B: How did you get there? How was the journey?
T: The four of us flew into Keflavik from Chicago, while Thad flew in from Paris. Like any incredible trip, there were a ton of awe-inspiring experiences and sights, but there we also faced our fair share of rough patches. Iceland requires one to roll with punches as it’s not for the faint of heart.
B: Where did you stay?
T: For our first and last night on the island, we stayed with a generous friend in Reykjavik. The rest of the nights we camped along the coast after spending each day driving and exploring.
B: What did you do there? Anything/any activities that really stood out to you?
T: As the majority of Iceland’s main tourist attractions are in the Southwestern Region of the island, we were able to knock out the majority of the “must sees” right out of the gate. This gave us the freedom to explore the rest of what we planned to see at our own pace.
From a design and photographic perspective, Reykjavik exceeded every possible expectation I had. Even as the most populated city in the country, it was refreshingly intimate and approachable. Finding balance in the juxtaposition of new and old, it was an incredible breath of fresh air from cities in the states.
While downtown, we bounced around cafes where I was able to fine-tune plans while the rest of the crew could read and rest. The first of the shops seemed as if it was an old house, sitting on the edge of the town square. Aged white walls were graced by cracks and other signs of a deep history. The two baristas glowed in their dark, Nordic outfits — a style that I’m still intrigued by. We sat in the backroom behind the counter sipping on our coffees while an Amy Winehouse album filled the air. Icelandic culture’s appreciation and taste of American music surprised me, as it is seemingly more refined than our own approach to music in the states. To be completely honest, the only time I heard bad music while in Iceland was in an American themed bar on our final night — ironic.
Traveling through the Eastern Fjords, we decided to take a detour off the Ring Road to the small village of Seyoisfjorour. Nestled between high cliffs and the water, the village glowed below snowy peaks at the tip of the Seyoisfjorour Fjord. The sun had already set over the peaks encompassing the village, so we decided to go back up to the initial viewpoint to squeeze as much out of blue hour as possible. Though the wind was brutal, the scene was set perfectly as we all gazed out into the fjord.
I heard about a small hot spring tucked into some rocks along the coast, but was unsure of the credibility of the information. We had been driving for 15 or 20 minutes down a dirt road when I could tell everyone was starting to question if I knew where I was going. To be completely honest I didn’t, but the moment one of the guys asked me was the moment we crested a small hill and the springs presented themselves.
The spring was maintained by the sweetest of families. With farm fields to camp into the South, an oceanside bluff at the peninsula’s tip, and a black sand beach to the North, we were in heaven. What was originally expected to be a short visit turned into an entire day and night. Throughout the day we chatted with the daughter of the founder, who’s now in charge, and played with her chubby, little baby the whole time. Later that night, as we were fixing dinner we met her husband, Benny (who’s Icelandic name we couldn’t pronounce). He stayed with us while we finished eating, joyfully chatting and engaging in friendly banter.
B: What surprised you most about Iceland?
T: I haven’t spent much time abroad, and because of that, Iceland’s culture definitely was not what I had expected. Their design language and sensibility left me with nothing but disgust for the lack of attention given to design in the states.
Iceland provided me with a similar shock to that of the first time driving into Yosemite. It’s that true feeling of awe — that feeling of new experiences that is so reminiscent of childhood.
B: Any travel tips for anyone looking to go to Iceland?
T: Be prepared and know your shit. Especially if you're camping or doing some serious hiking, etc. Icelandic weather is harsh and unpredictable. There are tons of different resources for preparing for the island. There will always be unknowns, but the less the better.
B: How would you describe your trip in one sentence?
T: Chasing the unset sun.
Want to see more from Tommy?