I always felt the pull of snow, ice and mountains. And I have a tremendous affinity for water - in particular for the ocean. When I was planning a trip for summer 2010, after a long and arduous winter preparing, then running, a cultural installation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I decided to travel to Greenland and to Iceland.
The timing for this was quite opportune - our Canadian dollar was high, the prices in Iceland were more affordable, and Greenland always had a mysterious pull for me.
My journey to Greenland was enabled by the Norwegian company Hurtigruten and their beautiful ship MV Fram. I chose them because they have been traveling to Greenland for many years, and have established strong relationships with the people there. I was not disappointed - we met Greenlandic people almost every day, and participated in many cultural activities - we listened to choirs, musical groups, saw dance performances, admired traditional costumes, and were invited to kaffemiks - home made cakes and coffee in community halls and in homes in small settlements. My heart will be forever filled with the joy, optimism and warmth that I experienced while in Greenland. I was also enchanted by the tall sharp peaks, deep valleys, endless glaciers, and of course the icebergs. You will find only a fraction of the photographs that I took of these magnificent icy beasts.
In contrast, Iceland was a shock to the senses - whereas I was expecting Greenland to be 'the end of the world' but instead never felt far away from Canada, I felt very far away more than once while in Iceland. Recovering from an economic disaster in 2008, and from the ashes of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption earlier in the year, Iceland was quiet and ...strangely empty. While driving around the island I would often spend several hours alone before encountering another car, seeing anyone near shuttered homesteads, or even seeing a lone sheep. It was a little unsettling at times. Where was everyone?
I met the people in the larger cities - working hard, keeping to an inspiring work ethic, and always welcoming and cordial. Iceland's people, unpredictable weather and gobsmackingly beautiful wilderness will ensure that I return for a longer visit. I would love to spend more time in the remote fjords in the North - West and East. And of course return to the lush green Southern parts of the country.
By the end of my journey I had traveled 2,480 nautical miles in Greenland, drove 3,440 kilometers around Iceland, and flew 15,589 miles from Vancouver to Reykjavik, and then from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen to Reykjavik... and then to Seattle and back home to Vancouver.
It was time well spent, and a beautiful way to mark a significant milestone in my own life.