Iceland Day 2 (day 1 of exploration)

Quotes of the day:

“You have a scientific way of approaching everything you do” This was said to me by an airport transportation porter. I noticed as I worked my way through the baggage claim area, testing protocols, and getting ready to wait for transport that this man was watching me. It did not feel unsafe in any way, but I could tell that he was noting what I was doing. He finally came up to me to speak and asked me about where I was from, what I do for a living and what brought me to Iceland. That’s when he said that it all made sense, and that I have a scientific way of going about tasks — he could tell I was a scientist and teacher. Am I that obvious?

“You make our jobs look really boring”, said by a couple of molecular biologists from the United States. Wait, what? I was fangirling them.

What I do is pretty spectacular, but I am making it up as I go along. That’s the truth, that’s my secret. I am asked often about how I “get to do what I do”, and it is always the same — I just make it up. I think about where I would like to do field work and I write grants almost constantly to fund the work that I do. I connect with other scientists to help them in the field and bring all of this to classrooms globally. I partner with organizations, other educators, and scientists to broadcast and share the educational resources — but there is no system, there is no “way” that I know of that organizes these types of experiences in a systematic, consistent way. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s what I am meant to do — make this a reality for all educators. I can tell you that the best professional development I get is right here, on location, studying, asking questions and immersing myself in the place. Don’t get me wrong, there are many programs and humans working on this type of experience for educators, I do not mean to downplay the amazing opportunities that do already exist, what I really mean is that those efforts aren’t as widely known as they should, this type of professional development is not as prevalent, affordable, or a reality for most educators. That’s where the work needs to happen, that’s where we need to shift our thinking in the educaiton world in terms of meaningful professional development we provide for educators.

The worst part is always the waiting. While I’ve had multiple PCR tests throughout this pandemic, they never go smoothly — even though I know what it going to happen, it’s never just an easy thing. This is my first expedition since the pandemic began, my first time traveling since then really — I’ve been a bit on edge knowing I will undergo a PCR test at the airport in Iceland upon arrival. I’ll need another just before returning to the United States — I’ll save that anxiety for later. But yes, even though I know full well how this will all go down, I’m anxious. It went fairly quickly, the test, my nose tingled for about five minutes afterwards, like I knew it would. Then it was the waiting — the worst part. I am fully vaccinated but still, I worried. What happens if the test comes back positive? What’s the situation? I am supposed to circumnavigate the country — do I have to not do that? The protocol is that you cannot enter public places, including restrooms until your test results (negative) are returned. You are in limbo, stuck in the timeline if someone else — this is a living h-e-double hockey stick situation for me. The good news was that renting a camper van was clear for me while it’s not a public situation — so at least I could hit the road, but again — what if my results come back positive? How will I get food? How will I use the restroom? The unknown and the waiting, double “ugh”.

I headed North, the plan to circumnavigate taking a clockwise route around Iceland. Within about 5 hours, my results were in — no virus detected. Perfect, the clear to enter public places — grocery shopping time!

Curiosity drove exploration along the drive — which brought me to Snæfellsbær, the incredible rock formations seemed to call to me. I trekked through a lava field and among typical, deep black basalt formations. What was fascinating though was a collection of basalt formations that seemed to create a platform for larger pieces in the distance. Those are in the center of the photo. They are smooth, like peanut butter that perfectly spreads across a piece of warm toast.

Off to the right in the photo is what initially caught my attention and grabbed my curiosity; it seemed to call me to come closer. And I did.

These formations were nothing short of magical, this entire scene, in fact drove me to create a video in which I use only one word to describe Iceland, magical.

In the formation to the right, I found a troll, can you see it?

Day one began with travel and ended with magical geologic formations — tomorrow…who knows!

#ExpeditionSchnekser #OutdoorEdCollective #BoilingRiver #EducatorExplorer she/her #scitlap Founder @OutdoorEdColl National Geographic Grantee