the golden circle

College spring break typically brings to mind debaucherous weeklong spectacles of alcohol fueled excess, punctuated by seaside lounging. Somewhere tropical. Warm.

I did expect that I would be doing that at some point of my college career, but my spring breaks were usually spent in New Jersey and New York, usually with a Hamilton Alternative Spring Break trip thrown into the mix. Exactly my speed.

I didn't envision my senior year spring break being any different. Until a moment last summer, when my parents called me and asked me what my dates for my next spring break would be. And then asked me if I wanted to go to Iceland with them and their friends because they found some crazy cheap Icelandair Northern Lights promotion. Excuse me? Is that even a question? I think I reflected for about a millisecond before saying yes.

Fast forward nine months and I'm en route to the most un-spring break spring break of my life. We're on a redeye to Reykjavik with Ronnie and Lisa, one of my many adopted aunts and uncles. The flight was cramped, uncomfortable, sleepless, but taking off from Newark was like falling into the arms of an old friend. I felt incredible being on the road again, especially after being cooped up at Hamilton for so many months. A crazy grin broke out on my face as we took off, and I pressed my face up against the cold window, watching as Manhattan glittered below us and disappeared into the distance.

We landed in Reykjavik at the crack of dawn and picked up a rental car to go on a popular tourist route called the Golden Circle. We set off with the rising sun, on track until we noticed the sky becoming darker and darker. We parked the car along the edge of an empty expanse of snow. A solar eclipse. I clambered out of the car and stood alone in the field of ice as the whole world dimmed around me. What a beginning to our adventure.

Over the course of the day we hit ├×ingvellir, Geysir national park, Gullfoss, and Keri├░ volcano crater. Not to mention a cute little detour involving Icelandic ponies and many many selfies.

My life had reached unprecedented levels of fuckery at this point, mostly of my own doing. But here none of it mattered. Everything else in my life was allowed to just fall away and I just focused purely on photographing and experiencing Iceland.

I bought three cameras with me on the trip–which was, I'll admit, a little excessive–but I was able to just shoot endlessly. I was shooting on digital, 35mm, and 120mm, sometimes even iPhone for Instagramming purposes. My mother just about ready to kill me at certain points. When I was out, I was photographing, and at the end of the day my empty hotel rooms transformed into studios and I continued photographing. When I wasn't shooting, I was writing in my journal and writing postcards to my friends. Every waking second was dedicated to pure creation and I thrived.