26 April, 2000

Geography 101


April 26, 2000

Dear Everyone,

Dust off the globes and pull down the maps! We're going to Nuuk. Where? Nuuk (say "nuke"), Greenland. The official name of Greenland is Kalaallit Nunaat and Nuuk is the capital.

Greenland's languages are an Inuit language called Greenlandic and Danish. The country is a Danish province with home rule. Greenland's size is 840,000 sq. mi. (2,175,516 sq. km) and the portion that is ice-free is 135,100 sq. mi. (350,000 sq. km.). The climate is Arctic.

What was my route to Nuuk? Follow your map or globe as we travel. I departed Sea-Tac International Airport (Seattle) at 8:00 AM Thursday, April 21 and arrived in Nuuk, Greenland on Saturday evening, April 22, at 6:00 PM GMT (four hours ahead PST). Straight through. I flew 3 airlines with 6 flights and 5 plane changes in addition to an Iceland International to Domestic Airport ground transport requiring a change of buses along the way. My route was Seattle, Denver, Boston in the United States; Keflavik, ground transport to Reykjavik in Iceland; and Kulusuk, Kangerlussuaq, and finally, Nuuk, in Greenland.

I made it. My checked baggage did not. Because there was heavy Easter holiday travel and an east coast storm, my flight connections were running connections. My checked luggage remained in the United States and to this day has not caught up with me. From your map or globe, you can see that Nuuk is remote. Coupled with its Arctic climate, flights in and out of Iceland and Greenland can be weather dependent in addition to being limited.

I'm fortunate to be on the ice trials of the USCGC (U.S. Coast Guard Cutter) Healy even without my checked bags that are scheduled to arrive in Nuuk tomorrow afternoon from Iceland. When I learned of this most recent news and of our scheduled sailing time of 2:00 PM today, I spent the morning in Nuuk making arrangements to have my bags returned to Seattle. I then made a very hurried one-stop shopping trip for a few essential pieces of clothing and toiletry items before returning to the ship.

The Healy was in port the night of Monday, April 24th, and I moved aboard for the night of April 25th. When my bags didn't arrive Tuesday evening, items of clothing and toiletries and offers more numerous than I require deluged me. Two towels, a robe and a large t-shirt to sleep in appeared on my doorknob the first night. T-shirts, a sweatshirt, box of Kleenex, toothpaste, sweatpants, large insulated mug, large ceramic mug, lotion, bathrobe; the crew and scientists bring me clothing and freely offer more supplies than I can ever use. Items that are not normally made available find their way to me--floppies, zips, pens and paper. The offers are endless and I am touched by the generosity and the caring support. In fact, as the chief scientist said to me, "The men are probably hoping your bags don't arrive so they can help you out!"

As a result of my checked bags not appearing for pick up at customs in Reykjavik, I had several marvelous experiences and opportunities in both Iceland and Greenland. Maybe some day I will share the rest of the story.

Official sailing time was 2:20 p.m. today.

Best regards,

Sandra Kolb

Nuuk, Greenland photo by Sandra

Nuuk Harbor, Greenland, as seen from the USCGC Healy when departing Nuuk. photo by Sandra

Sandra departing Nuuk on the USCGC Healy. photo by Terry Tucker

Busy in the bridge while departing from Nuuk. photo by Sandra

Busy in the Healy bridge while departing Nuuk. photo by Sandra

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