Photograph by Daniel Stone
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The geothermal energy under Iceland creates bubbling pools, and misty clouds that smell like eggs.
Photograph by Daniel Stone

Stop #1: Reykjavik, Iceland—Here’s Why We Came

When you get off the plane in Iceland, people greet you with “Godan daginn,” which in Icelandic means “good day.” The next thing they do is tweak your name. Men receive a –son at the end of their name (it means, well, son). Women get a -dottir (daughter). So for the next few days, we’ll be Dan Stoneson and Spencer Millsapson.

Iceland is a small place. It only has about 320,000 citizens, and it’s about 1/20th the size of neighboring Greenland, but we wanted to start in Iceland for the ways that this place is pretty cutting edge. It’s a major research hub for both climate change and Arctic agriculture. Iceland is also the most efficient user of clean energy on the planet. More than 85 percent of Iceland’s energy is renewable; most of it comes from geothermal electrons charged under the surface of the Earth.

We also came here to have some fun, at least before the winter fully arrives. We wanted to start our around-the-world voyage here to Scuba dive in Iceland’s fresh water fissures with Jónína Ólafsdóttir. She’s a National Geographic grantee working on mapping Iceland’s inland biodiversity. Her research may help answer questions about how Arctic species adapt to changes in global temperature, and eventually, how we can limit the effects of climate change.

Fret not, fellow road dogs. It won’t be only business. We’ll make some time to visit one of the world’s biggest thermal pools, known as the Blue Lagoon. And to explore some quirky questions about Iceland’s economy—specifically how it leveraged its geographic location between North America and continental Europe to be a middleman for tourism, trade and energy production.

In the meantime, we’re off to take some photos. A new pair of classic Icelandic sweaters would be nice too.