The month I finally landed my new job, I called an old friend and said, "Let's do this." We'd both been talking about Iceland for years, and the travel posters all over New York were taunting me. When we landed, it was as if we'd touched down on the surface of the moon. The landscape outside Reykjavik looked alien with its grey-green moss, all the more alien in the arctic sunlight. We spent the weekend doing all the tourist things — city walking, puffin boat tours, and the (incredible) Blue Lagoon. But it wasn't until our last day when a local couple, long-time family friends of my fellow traveler, picked us up for a drive, that we really saw the country. Driving the southern coast will stick in my mind forever. Our hosts wanted to show us *their* Iceland. Glaciers, waterfalls, even stopping to say hello to Icelandic horses out to pasture. Best of all, we'd beat tourist season by a few weeks and every place we went was deserted. But the real surprise was our hosts had planned a hilltop picnic not far from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull. Afterwards, we drove straight to the airport to learn that our flight was the first to be allowed to take off all weekend — arriving back in the States a little tired, a little ashy, and grinning from ear to ear.