Anette Gray’s Awe-inspiring Trip to Iceland


EHS Claims Specialist Anette Gray took a breathtaking trip to Iceland to celebrate 10 years of service with Arthrex last year. Read about her incredible excursions to visit spas and waterfalls, to go puffin viewing and whale watching, and even visit an active volcano.

“One RV, two people, nine days and over 1,200 miles = one amazing 10 Years of Service Trip to Iceland!

Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, and it definitely did not disappoint. Anyone who knows my husband, Kevin, knows he is the ultimate trip planner, and he knocked this one out of the park. We decided to rent an RV and see as many waterfalls and experience as much of Iceland as we could. 

Our first stop was Blue Lagoon. Although typically a heavy tourist spot, there were not more than 20 people when we were there, and we had a wonderful introduction to the geothermal spa experience, complete with mud masks. It was the first of many that we would get to go to.

From there, we went to Silfra in Thingvellir National Park to see the fissure connecting the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. While we did not dive or snorkel, it was awesome to see how clear the water was and to try to grasp the idea that we were approximately 10 feet from two different continents. Our day continued on the Golden Circle where we stopped at Strokkur Geysir and Gullfoss.  We also added a bread experience at Laugarvatn Fontana to eat rye bread that had been baking in the geothermal sand for the previous 24 hours.

With there being over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, it was impossible to see them all, so we had to pick a few. Some of the most stunning are just off the main road, and we are so glad we stopped at Seljalandsfoss. As we stopped to walk around, it was quite cloudy and misting, and I couldn’t help but think how beautiful this waterfall would be if the sun would come out. As we walked around the side of the waterfall to eventually walk behind it, the clouds parted, and the sun emerged giving us the most colorful rainbow. Next was Skógafoss Waterfall and the Sólheimajökull Glacier.

A new day brought us Vatnajökull Glacier, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach and the most amazing hot tub. This hot tub was just off the side of the road, but if you don’t know about it you will just drive by.  We were lucky to be the only two people there, and the hot water was a wonderful respite after a long day of driving.

Every day seemed to bring a new highlight, and the next day was no different. A quick visit to Seyðisfjörður and its colorful street and blue church was the start, and it only got better from there. About an hour and a half off Ring Road is a place called Borgafjörður Eystri, where the puffins roost from mid-May to August. While you do not interact with the puffins, they are only a few feet away. It was fascinating to watch their behaviors, see their nests and be surrounded by the unofficial Icelandic mascot. We ended the day with a geothermal spa. Besides being incredibly relaxing, the view was probably the best of all of them as we could see the humpback whales spouting.


How do you top watching puffins? By whale watching, horseback riding and visiting another spa! We had the most beautiful, cloud-free, sunny day for whale watching. We used North Sailing and saw more humpback whales that day than they had seen in several weeks. While we did not see any whales breaching, we did see mothers, calves and plenty of whale flukes. Once again, at the end of the day we got to enjoy a spa to soak, relax and talk about what a great day we had.

As we made our way back to Reykjavík to spend a few days sightseeing and walking through the capital, there was one more adventure to have: Geldingadalir Volcano. Of all the things we did, this had to have been the most exciting and certainly never something I thought I would experience. We woke up to some very cloudy, windy weather but decided to make the hour-long drive to get to the parking lot nearest to the volcano. We then made the hike.

There was a clearly marked path taking us from the parking lot to the viewing site. The hike took approximately 90 minutes mostly uphill, and a little over an hour in we had our first sighting of the erupting volcano. It was truly an amazing site to see. We did not know at that point our view was about to get even better. We kept hiking, and 20 to 30 minutes later we were on top of a mountain directly across from Geldingadalir. As we sat there watching in complete awe, we started learning the pattern; every eight minutes or so, a small stream of orange lava would begin to flow out of the crater, following the path of lava that came before. It would then steadily increase in height, width and speed, followed by steam rising up signaling the onset of the giant spurts of lava that would jump into the air bursting like a firework only to settle on the crater walls. We had 10 to 15 seconds of these massive bursts before it would die down only to be repeated a few minutes later. The whole experience was perhaps two and a half minutes, but it was so mesmerizing and surprisingly calming that time seemed irrelevant. We stayed for over two hours captivated by this force of nature, watching the landscape change with each eruption. Less than two weeks later, the path we walked to see the volcano was closed off and covered in lava.

We ended our trip with one more geothermal spa experience at Sky Lagoon, and I think maybe the Icelandic people are onto something! No matter the outside temperature, there is nothing that a warm soak and good company cannot solve.

None of this would have been possible without the Arthrex Trip of a Lifetime benefit. Thank you to President and Founder Reinhold Schmieding and the support of my team who covered me while I was away.” 

For every five years of employment with Arthrex, employees are eligible for a company-paid Trip of a Lifetime to recognize their dedication and contributions. Look for more Trip of a Lifetime highlights on the Arthrex FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn pages. 

Category: Company Culture