I got stung by the travel bug doing a semester abroad in college. From then on, I made it a point to visit new countries often. It was usually with my wife, sometimes with friends or even alone. Then about 12 years ago something changed.
Two little guys arrived and Blake and Bo became our hobbies.
The prospect of discovering new tastes in Tokyo street food got replaced by a medium, cheese only, at Chuck E. Cheese. The Eurail pass with the promise of yet another capital to tour upon morning arrival morphed into drives around the neighborhood to induce naps in car seats.
When our oldest was an infant, a friend told me how he took each of his five kids on a father-son/daughter trip when they were ten. He wasn’t finished before I ordered “two 10-year trips on lay away, please”.
My oldest took his two years ago so this year meant it was time to discover somewhere new with my youngest. And the country of Iceland was our winner.
On trips, I generally try to keep arrivals simple. Get there. Check-in. Explore.
However, this time I did what dads do and tried to impress. How many forms of transport could we use on day one while keeping a razor tight schedule?
I’m here to confirm we knocked out four (i.e. plane, bus, car and boat), however, it wasn’t without a price. The last mode was the ferry to take us to the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) where my viking companion gave his lunch back to the sea before debarking.
No lasting effects so we were free to explore. We summited Eldfell volcano, found a black sand beach and even got to see the awesome Puffins.
The highlight for him though was meeting a bunch of Icelandic kids by doing Fortnite dances he learned watching YouTube (I know, I know! Don’t ask.). To this day, he’s never met a stranger. His social fearlessness is inspiring.
Back on the mainland, we put our Chitty Chitty Bang Bang like rental car to the test as we took in amazing Iceland. We experienced a geysir, waterfalls, geothermal pools and even took part in the Viking Clap as we cheered on the team from the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup. It was a packed week where we never saw nightfall.
Beyond the sites, what I enjoyed most about traveling around was the time together. In his first decade, we have had our moments. A lot of times the knucklehead things he does make me think he’ll always live in our basement. With many of his shenanigans though, he’s a reminder that I’m looking in the mirror at my younger self.
Just typing that last sentence was a revelation. Cathartic even. Every parent worries what the future holds.
And maybe that’s the takeaway from the trip. Sure, I agonized about connections and he had a brief bout with seasickness. Worrying didn’t change anything. In the end, it all worked. He and I found our way. Even if I had to endure a few of his Fortnite dances along the road.
Go. See. Be. Do.