Jack on a Map! – My inaugural overseas trip with my oldest son…bring on the cold!
First off, none of this happens without my incredible wife, Jenny. She not only accepts my travel desires/needs, but cares for Jack’s two little brothers while he and I blaze Father-Son trails.
Second, I get a lesson in preparedness. As a light packin’ travelin’ man, I usually tour around with the Zack Klamn basics – a few t-shirts, a toothbrush, my trusty flips flops and an assortment of board shorts. But for Iceland, momma bear is having none of my lackadaisical, ten-minutes of tossing clothes in a backpack – not when her cub and a winter destination is involved. After days of laundry, instructions and cold weather redundancies, Jack was set up to succeed (again, thanks to his awesome mom) and ready to put in his first overseas ‘Tack on a Map’!
Jack’s Long Journey
Saturday at 6am we hit the road for a blissful 2.5 hour drive from sleepy Buellton, California to LAX. The only thing standing in our way — the dreaded 405 freeway in Los Angeles. Luckily, traffic was scarce and we zipped on up to the WOW Airline check-in with hours to spare.
Despite the namesake, there was nothing at all ‘WOW’ about our means of flying to Iceland except for the price. It’s a no-frills airline but the flight was direct from LA and international flights with no connections are always a treat. Jack and I stocked up on snacks and buckled up for the nine hour jump to the North Atlantic.
For the most part, Jack was a warrior on the flight. With three hours to go, he wanted to get some sleep. Jack took a while to negotiate his neck pillow and proceeded to change positions every four seconds – it was like sitting beside a ferret who nibbled on Red Bull-laced coffee beans. Finally he got the hang of it for a sweet two-hour slumber. I wasn’t so lucky.
The Check-In Bust
We landed at Keflavik International Airport at 4am and an hour later scurried to the mini-bus on this sub-zero Sunday. And what do you know? Car seats are a thing in Iceland and lucky for Jack, his safety-neurotic mom set him up with a quick and easy (even for me to install) booster seat.
The problem with arriving so early in the morning is that we couldn’t check-in to our room until after lunch. Ugh, after a long flight,the thought of being stuck in a hotel lobby with a six-year-old rookie traveler (and both of us light on sleep) for another eight hours was a bit of a bastard. But Rosie, the cheery receptionist at Skuggi Hotel, urged us to fill up on the free breakfast and mocked up a cartoon city map for young Jack.
Sunday Morning Stroll
After his morning feast of watermelon and bacon, Jack was ready to explore all the treasures of Old Town Reykjavik:
Whew! All this made the time fly right by. Shortly after a cool photo op outside the Reykjavik Punk Museum, Jack inquired, “Dad, is the hotel far away?”
On the map we had one more church to see but I thought, “The kid’s been a total champion to this point, let’s get back to the hotel and see if we have any luck checking in.”
11am and yes! Rosie worked some magic for us weary tourists and hooked us up with our room. We unpacked, then shut things down for a couple hours – a well-earned rest, especially for Jack. After our nap, we grabbed a late lunch. Shout out to my friend and travel icon, Matt Kepnes for the local lobster soup recommendation. I couldn’t get Jack to try the marvelous soup, and the server shuddered slightly and died a bit inside when he asked for Mac’n’Cheese. Well, he is still six.
Get Out There!
What a rock-solid first day for Jack—he’s a natural! He made his travel-lovin’ dad beyond proud. But there’s plenty more of this Iceland tale left to tell. Stay tuned for our next adventure – touring the waterfalls, beaches, cliffs and caves of the south coast.