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Dad was most, too. My other is flanked by two. We've got these causes called trees and grass. All the afternoon was out, we were in a significant, our can ebbing away. He had the bottle in half and isolated on the characteristic.
Dan, still fuming, was less taken. I mean, there's supposed to be some hotties here. They won Miss World three times. You could probably do pretty well hitting on chicks here. You've already got a great pickup line: We've got these things called trees and grass. Is there anything we can do for you, my son? Dad and I were the obvious conspirators, but the nation of Iceland, where rocks and sheep had so far outnumbered breakfast buffets by about a million to zero, was not to be trusted, either. Oppressed by forces beyond his control, Dan borrowed a page from the playbooks of Gandhi and M. For our first 24 hours in-country, he hung out in the car.
The protest officially got under way about an hour into the trip, shortly after Dan announced that he had to take a leak. I looked at him in the rearview. He appeared to be eating a plastic water bottle. He chewed the bottle in half and knelt on the seat. Then, rather than set foot on Iceland's treacherous terra firma, he peed into his makeshift pissoir and pitched the contents out the window. We soon passed a waterfall, the Seljalandsfoss, a platinum horse tail gushing from the Down to fuck in tasiilaq of a black-and-billiard-table-green parapet.
We could see tiny figures in hikers' motley moving behind the cataract. I stood on the brakes. The falls blew over us in a thick mist, the water electrically cold and sweet on our lips. Walking back to the car, Dad lapsed into a coughing fit, a sound like someone blasting Down to fuck in tasiilaq blackboard with rock salt. He'd been suffering these periodic lung quakes since his last bout with chemo. It was worrisome, but he'd had his fill of doctors. God, it's good to be alive. Then he mumbled a synopsis of a legend about a union boss who "had relations" with an elf. It heaved into view as we rounded a curve. Spilling from between a pair of russet crags, the dirty tongue of ice had a roasted look about it, like a charred marshmallow, pallid innards oozing forth.
I gritted my teeth, Dad gave a glum shrug, and the two of us set off. A sign hammered beside the path warned us that setting foot on the ice without an experienced guide might land you at the bottom of a crevasse. Dad began picking his way with surprising ease to a promontory atop the ice slope. He stood with his hand on his hip, looking as though he wished he had a flag to plant. I chose a path that looked less risky but twice fell to my knees. When I'd clawed my way to Dad's side, he was staring down at the lagoons of glacial melt at the bottom of the grade.
The water was a swirled gray and blue, the color of moonstone, the oddly lovely symptom of a glacier in decline. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't the worst time to be facing one's mortality. We stood silent for a long moment, struck dumb by the wind, the ice glowing under our boots, the bright emptiness of the world around us. No planes or distant interstates sullied the silence. He'd become the living emblem of all that would go wrong on this trip. We stood at peace on the glacier's nose and inhaled eternity. Then we sat at a picnic table, drinking lukewarm beers and eating beef jerky. My brother remained in the car.
In the morning, we'd be catching the ferry to the island of Heimaey, so we'd fetched up at a public campsite that forever voided my grim childhood memories of car camping at franchise campgrounds whose atmosphere evoked the Okie settlements in The Grapes of Wrath. This was surely the sort of place that would at last tempt my brother from his roost, but just to sweeten the arrangement, we pitched his tent for him. Dad approached the car cautiously, like a priest looking down the barrel of an especially gruesome exorcism. He opened the door. My father wandered back.
The next morning, we stood in the parking lot, preparing to board the ferry. Dan had poorly trussed his sleeping bag to Dad's luggage, so I, having brought a duffel big enough to accommodate the golem of Prague, reached for it. At least a decade had passed since we'd really laid hands on one another, but at that instant an old madness got hold of me. I felt myself spirited back to a time when I knew no greater longing than to punch my brother squarely in the face. If he did his worst, I'd be flying home on a gurney with my jaw wired shut. I held my ground, though my heart, still queered from that run-in with a dead New Zealand rat, beat an off-kilter paradiddle: A knot of passersby stopped in their tracks, eyes wide and eager.
Dad was watching, too. In all our years of traveling together, I'd never seen his adventurer's ebullience break down. But Dan and I, in our barbarous idiocy, had finally defeated him. Confronted with his grown sons preparing to beat each other bloody over how best to stow a sleeping bag, he seemed to age years in an instant. His face sagged with exasperation and grief. Shame hit me in a cold wave. We had to jog to catch him. Once on Heimaey, we all relaxed in a green meadow in the crater of a dormant volcano, which had lost half its cone in the last eruption, centuries ago, leaving us a heart-stopping view of the sun-gilt sea.
Just up from the water a golf links stretched off in emerald chromosome shapes. Our father stretched on the grass, watching the seagulls spreeing high above. Later, Dan and I were sitting side by side on a giant, comfy hummock, staring at the water. I broke out my stash of duty-free aquavit Scandinavia's caraway-flavored moonshine and offered him a drink. He knocked back a slug and made a face like a woman in labor. Next time, we'll really have some fun. It was about the size of a football field and blocked the path of the motorboat we'd booked to carry us to the mainland. Confronted with the obstruction, the boat's operators, a pair of Inuit cousins named William and Kunuck Abelson, had ordered us onto the ice and looked to be ditching us.
We stood there shivering, watching their craft move away, in reverse. Dan had headed back to the States two days earlier, at the end of our Iceland tour.
But only after getting hauled downtown by Iceland's finest for egregiously breaching the speed limit. My father and I had then made for Greenland, which dwarfs Iceland but is far less inhabited. The Down to fuck in tasiilaq largest island is almost one-fourth the size of the U. Its massive ice sheet, estimated atcubic miles, covers some 85 percent of the island. Findings vary, but it appears to be sloughing around 55 cubic miles into the sea every year. We'd decided our first stop would be the island settlement of Kulusuk, an Inuit village pop. Do not believe the old chestnut that Iceland is green and Greenland is white. Kulusuk or "Coal Suck," as my father would not stop calling it in late May was mostly brown.
A decade and a half ago, the hotel manager told us, you could still run a dogsled this time of year, but the air was already warmer than Easter on Cape Cod, and rivulets of thaw cut deep channels in the roads. The surrounding mountains had shed their winter mantle, revealing dark structures that looked like corroded Hershey's Kisses. The village's hundreds of sled dogs, each staked in its own diameter of mud, howled ceaselessly, seeming to mourn the premature onset of the summer sabbatical. We asked a few locals whether the early thaw was part of a noticeable long-term warming trend, and they looked at us the way I imagine a Texas rancher would if asked whether he had ever heard of cows.
For two days, we ventured out a little but mostly just holed up in our room in Hotel Kulusuk, where climate change evolved in my understanding from a vague and distant crisis to a calamity of a more personal scale. I was saddened to discover that ambient temperature in Greenland in May is no longer cold enough to a chill a six-pack of beer dangled out a hotel window on a bootlace or b prevent my father from swanking around in the nude. After 48 hours, Dad had tired of watching the island erode. I was in bed drinking warm beer and wearing my sleep mask as a shield against the unsetting sun and the pink vista of my father's flesh.
So it was decided that we'd catch a boat to the vastest metropolis on Greenland's east coast, the village of Tasiilaq pop. Out at sea, the ice was plentiful. The crossing was choked with pack ice and bergs calved from the Christian IV and Steenstrup glaciers, waning north of us.
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As we watched the Abelson cousins' boat retreat from our floe, huge, slumping meringues of ice towered over us, their hearts glowing the tasijlaq glacial blue that is somehow the equal and opposite corollary of the orange cores of live embers. The cold coming off the icebergs was a pulsing, vital thing. Tasiilwq wind had big teeth. Just as I began to really worry, William opened up the throttle and came hell-bent for leather straight at us. The boat hit the floe, leapt like a breaching whale, and slammed tasiilas hard.
My father and I tasiilzq each Dpwn, waiting for our perch to crack Down to fuck in tasiilaq a saltine. But the ice held. The Abelsons hopped out, giggled at us, and motioned for us to start heaving on the hull. With each push, we'd stumble. Every fourth step, you'd sink to your thigh, praying you hadn't found the trapdoor to the blue hereafter. The work drove Dad to painful coughing jags, but he wouldn't hear of sitting on the sidelines. An hour later, we were yasiilaq puttering for Tasiilaq. It took about 45 minutes to absorb the sights of eastern Greenland's grandest city—a concentration of concrete-and-plywood cottages clinging for dear life to hillsides so steep that if you lost your footing, you'd roll into the bay.
Tssiilaq visited a staggeringly ample grocery store, which sold, among other things, badminton sets, sewing machines, and 18 kinds of rifle and shotgun. Next to the candy in the checkout lane were hardcore Danish nudie books. We roved the cemetery, where graves were marked with heaps of fake flowers, so violent a breach with the surrounding monochrome as to look like pigments splattered across a black-and-white photograph. Before the afternoon was out, we were in a hotel, our vacation ebbing away. Despairing that we'd not yet found the proper life-affirming exploit to consecrate another year of cheating death, Dad said, "I wonder if we could bribe somebody to take us along on a hunt.
Broken English Aaron Teel Just as the sun dipped behind the water tower, Lupe and Maria materialized in the street outside their trailer, fully formed, wearing oversized t-shirts and scuffed up plastic kneepads. Clay and I stood on our skateboards in the street, drinking Diet Cokes from the fridge and belching manly from our guts for the girls to hear. They swung around us on their roller skates in ever tightening circles, orbiting faster and faster, closing in, giggling and chanting and clapping their hands. We did this every night for a week, faithfully. Afterward, we sometimes did tricks for them, but on this night Maria skated right up to Clay and took him by the wrist and led him away, toward the ditch behind our trailer, to do who-knows-what.
I stood swaying atop my skateboard, confused, staring after her. The door swung open again, partially, and her head and fingers reappeared around its frame. It was dimly lit. There were thick rugs everywhere, and countless Christs suspended from crosses. I gave it to her, thinking she meant to shake it, but she led me like a dog across the trailer and into their room. They slept in bunk beds, along the same wall, but theirs were covered in heavy colorful blankets. She spoke in a low, sweet voice, and I had a hard time understanding. She pulled me by the wrist again and we plopped down on the bottom bunk.
The book was a picture album, the kind where the pictures are held haphazardly in place by static electricity and thin sheets of plastic. It was full of Polaroids. She opened the book to one of an old man with a white mustache at the foot of a set of concrete stairs dressed in a white flowing shirt, a purple skirt, a purple cape with pink trim decorated with tassels of every color, and huge leather boots covered with gold bulbs or bells dangling from strings and swinging wildly in every direction.