Friday, September 22, 2017

Splitting the Blog - Introducing Itchy Feet and an RV and Phyls Journey

SO...  Everything has it's right time.. My life has become so compartmentalized into two different paths, 1) life in the RV, and 2) Travel with IBM, that I have decided to divide my single blog ( into two blogs one for each topic.

The site will follow my Travels with IBM, and all aspects of my life that make up my particular journey, Phyls Journey.  And because Mike's daughter, Sara, told us many years ago that we were a likely couple because we both have itchy feet that won't stay put, we have named our new site Itchy Feet and an RV (

But don't worry, if you have been subscribed to Aardwolf News,  I have automatically subscribed you to both, Itchy Feet and an RV and Phyls Journey.  If you are here as a new reader please visit the other sites and subscribe there.  But also feel free to stay here and read previous posts as you desire!

Thanks for all your support!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Meanwhile back at the ranch : Wyoming and Montana

Mike picked me up at the airport after Iceland on July 4th.  We headed straight over to his sister's for the family party... Didn't quite make it until fireworks time.  Sleep took precedence.  We spent the next week in Utah, and got to see the kids and grandkids a couple more times. 

Fishing with Eli and Jaxon

I agreed to work nights, so that worked out.  Kept my body on European time, and kept my days open to visit, and still fit in 8 hours of sleep in the 24 hours period...  Just not when Mike slept.  


Then we headed up to Wyoming.  Although Mike had been in the RV 2 months by now, I  kind of felt like this was our first few days of RV life, since I had been travelling so much.

We spent the week in Star Valley when we used to live.  So it was fun being in familiar territory, and seeing some friends.  I had dinner with Lila, but failed to get a photo.

Star Valley Ranch RV park was a lot of fun.  Beautiful park, lots of activities.  Mike and I joined in the card game a couple of nights.  Unfortunately because of the exceptional snow year they had, the rivers were still booming, and Mike couldn't fish any of his favorite spots.  He did find some area on Tin cup, in Idaho, but overall pretty disappointing fishing.  But I must say it was fantastic to see Palisades reservoir so full!. Last year it looked like a puddle.  Such a beautiful lake!

We also had the chance to visit an alpaca friend in Lava Hot Springs (own "the Alpaca Inn") on our way in, and as we left Star Valley we caught up with other alpaca friends for lunch in Idaho Falls.  Feeling the love!


Next we headed up to Montana.

 As many of you may know we had wanted to move to Montana.  I particularly love Bozeman.  We intended to spend a month in Bozeman....  Well fate has its own plan.

Surprise #1 of living in an RV.  You think you can be spontaneous, but this lifestyle is becoming so popular that if you don't plan pretty far ahead you will not get reservations.  And with as hot as it's been all over, we didn't want to risk boondocking (parking for free out in the middle of nowhere without hook-ups) and not having air conditioning.

Bozeman was sold out!  Mike is mainly on a fishing quest, and I of course am working, so not too picky about location.  We went to Dillon, Montana for a week.  The RV park (Countryside) was very pleasant, not many trees, but it was  green, quiet, and comfortable.

Unfortunately, again the fishing proved to be less than ideal.  The water was high, the weather was hot (In Montana they don't allow fishing when the weather is hot), and access was surprisingly restricted.  Mike has stated seriously thinking of getting a float boat.... But where to put it in the RV? 

I talked Mike into going closer to Bozeman so the next week we went to Alder, My.. Just outside of Ennis..  Another dream living spot of Mike's.

The RV park in Alder is a converted KOA.  Pretty run down.  But the proprietor was great... We wouldn't hesitate staying there again.  While there we poked around Ennis and Virginia City, and old Western historic town, and did get into Bozeman for one day.  In Bozeman we visited some square dance friends that moved up here from Colorado a couple of years ago, did some shopping, refreshed our memory of the town, and stopped over in Livingston... Another town Mike keeps suggesting we consider.  It was a nice day.  Mike did get a couple of decent fishing days in Alder... But nothing spectacular.

Just outside of Adler MT in the town of Twin Bridges, we passed the Winston Fly Rod Company.  We called and found out that if we timed it right we could go on the tour.  Of COURSE we timed it right.  This was very interesting.

From Alder, we went to Missoula for the month of August...  That perhaps will be my next post.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Last year when I went to Sweden, I looked down from the plane onto the country of Iceland.  I decided that the next time I went to Europe I would stop over in Iceland.  This year I had the opportuity to make that happen.

My hostess, Solvieg and her boyfriend  
On my way home from Vienna, I managed a 3 day stop in Iceland.  I was pretty excited.  On Friday night after my second week in Vienna I headed for the airport and landed in Reykjavik about 11:30 at night.

Iceland has 300,000 people, 200,000 of them live in Reykjavik.  And there are 3,000,000 tourists per year... So much of the economy is based on tourism.  The hotels are all outrageously priced, so anyone who has a spare room is doing an AirBnb.  (Which by the way makes apartment availability very scarce and drives the cost of living up unreasonably).  Anyhow I opted for the AirBnb.. Besides, ALWAYS looking for a way to meet the people when I travel and my host, Solvieg, did not disappoint, totally enjoyed getting to know her.

It turns out the airport is quite a distance from town (about an hour by the time you get your bags etc.).  I felt bad about getting to the house at 1 am, but airlines must come in all the time that late.  Solvieg did not seem put out at all.  I however was fascinated by how light it still was and took this photo as I arrived.

Asking around on what to do in Iceland I landed on a tour with "Gateway to Iceland" tour for the Golden Circle.. the must see of Iceland.  Lots of companies do the Golden Circle tours, but I chose Gateway to Iceland because they were supposed to be small groups.  After going to their website I learned of a tour available only in June and July (due to the proximity to the Summer Solstice) the same tour offered in the evening, from 6pm to midnight.  At this time the hoards of tourists are not at these most popular sites, and so I thought that sounded like a great deal.  And signed up to take that the night after I arrived.

That left the whole day for me to explore Reykjavik.  The morning started out with me taking out my BnB host for breakfast.  Her boyfriend and his son opted to sleep in, and Solvieg gave me a ride downtown and helped orient me a bit to town.  Breakfast (at "the Laundromat") was fantastic, and apparently typically Icelandic.  And I loved chatting with Solvieg.

After that she took me to the place she works, which is an event venue in Reykjavik, one of the oldest.  Used to be movie theater, now theater, event venue, wedding venue, and "the best" rooftop bar in Iceland.  (  They were setting up for a wedding, but she took me in and gave me the personal tour.

The view from the rooftop bar
The view from the rooftop bar

She left me downtown where I walked from one end of town to the other.  I started at the Opera house, since I seem to be collecting Opera house visits!

When I woke up that morning, I picked up my phone to research the geocache I might want to go to.  Similar to my Vienna experience I found a geocaching event for that day at 1pm.  Two sisters, one from Ireland, one from Sweden, were meeting up for holidays in Iceland, and organized this geocaching event.  After double checking the date (yep July 1, 2017), I walked down among the fishing marina to go the cache.  About 10 people showed up!  Seemed pretty well attended including the not to be missed Canadians (wearing their Canadian garb for Canada Day).

The sisters!

From there I walked through off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, around the city lake through the shopping street, and to the church, which was closed for a wedding, so I took a break and grabbed a coffee, and soon the bride and groom were coming out.  I went up the tower.

I walked form there to "the Pearl", another recognizable landmark in Reykjavik.  It is a museum build on top of giant tanks which hold the city's hot water supply after it is pumped from the geothermal wells outside of town.  From the viewing platform at the top you get an excellent view of the city.

The Pearl

The View - 360 degrees

The View from the AirBnB
Reykjavik across the waterway. Note the chapel on the left and the Pearl on the right.
After I walked back to the center of town for the tour.  (A LOT of walking that day)

The tour was fantastic.  It was almost cancelled because there were only 3 of us, but about half an hour before the decision time, a guy who missed his tour earlier in the day joined our tour.  So WOO HOO, the minimum was met, there were 4 of us, all traveling solo, and we had a great time.  The sites were virtually empty of people except the 4 of us.  The tour started with a visit to a hot springs, where  soaked for an hour before going to the picturesque Gullfoss falls, the Niagara of Iceland.  There we stopped for dinner and I had Lamb stew, an Icelandic specialty.

Gullfoss falls, Beautiful/Massive.  Photos don't do it justice.
The next stop was to a geyser that goes off every 5 minutes.   There is another geyser at the same park that is bigger than Old Faithful, but apparently not as faithful as the Yellowstone landmark...  We didn't go to that one because it was not likely to blow.

At the last stop (the Thingvellir National Park), is a historic site where Parliament has met in Iceland for 1000 years.  It is on the fissure zone between the Eurasian tectonic Plate and the North American plate, which is what makes Iceland uniquely geothermal.  The lake that is on the fissure is the premier snorkeling spot as the water is super clear.  We didn't snorkel, but the water was beautiful.   The 4 of us walked the paved trail together and did not see another sole.. Of course it was about midnight when I took these photos, but lovely!

The fissure that is between North American and Eurasia

The water there.

We had two unscheduled stops on the tour.  One was at the shores of a lake where people cook bread in the ground.  They bury the dough in the sand, and mark the location with a stick.  About 24 hours later.. they have bread.  

Trond, our guide.

The second stop was at my request.  I have a number of friends that have Icelandic horses.  One such friend is an artist that focuses a lot of her work on these unique horses. (Chris Pennington -  She asked me to get some photos, and inspiration for her.  Well there are about 80,000 horses on Iceland, that is about 1 for every 3 people.  So we didn't have a hard time finding them.  We stopped the van at a group and got out for photos.  Beautiful and interesting animals.

The van dropped me off back at my BnB at about 1:30am.  When I awoke the next morning the Swedish and Irish sisters had invited me to go snorkeling with them, I was very flattered, and do like to snorkel, but honestly could not rise to the occasion.  I was wiped out and slept most of the day.  My BnB host had gone out for the day so I had the house to myself, but around noon I drug my butt out of bed and rode the bus to the mall, thinking I might find food, and maybe a few souvenirs/Christmas gifts.  But I was so tired.... that's about all I could do.  I ate at the food mall, went to the grocery store, and headed back to the house.-- Three days in Iceland and I spent one sleeping!!  Oh well, I honestly made up for it the other two.

The last day I was in town I took another tour from Gateway to Iceland tours.  This one was a 14-hour tour 8am-10pm to Snaefellnes National Park on the peninsula to the West of Reykjavik.  This was also an interesting tour, but by contrast had 21 people, and a tour-guide, that while knowledgeable and passionate about the park, was not as entertaining.   Nice to get out to the countryside, and again saw some beautiful landscapes of Iceland.  The pictures really say it all.

The tour guide

Overall I felt like I learned a lot, saw a lot, and did a lot in Iceland.  Three short days was all I really needed, although I do think Mike would love this place.  AND apparently the fishing is some of the best in the world... Maybe he will come back with me sometime.