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25 May, 2000

Greetings from St. Johnís, Newfoundland!

What is big and white, starts its life on land, and ends its life floating in the ocean? GIVE UP?

Icebergs! Look - right down there! I stretched across the two passengers in the seats next to me on the airplane as we flew low over the coast of Newfoundland. Below us, glistening in the sun, were two icebergs. From the plane, they looked like ships. My first view of icebergs!

Icebergs are chunks of frozen fresh water that have broken off (ďcalvedĒ) from glaciers on land. They are different from sea ice, which is actually frozen seawater. The icebergs I could see from the plane had probably calved off the coast of Greenland. They floated south with the current and will continue their journey until they melt.

The sighting of icebergs off the coast is an annual springtime event in St. Johnís, Newfoundland, where the USCGC Healy is docked. St. Johnís, the oldest city in North America, is the provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. Even though the city has a population of about 170,000 people, it still feels like a small town - and a colorful one at that. In the downtown area, which is the oldest part of the city, the houses are built close together and are painted purple, orange, yellow, blue, and every other color you can imagine!

Just a few minutes walk from downtown is Signal Hill, which guards the entrance to St. Johnís harbor. Susan and I hiked to the top on a narrow path that snaked around the rocky headland. It was a clear, calm evening, and even though we couldnít see any icebergs, we could see far off across the Atlantic. We stood on the very spot where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal from the distant European shore almost one hundred years ago. Itís amazing to think how much science and technology has changed our world since then! Now we can beam this message from the ship to a satellite and back to your classroom where you can read it the same day!

We set sail later this morning, so Iíll leave you with this riddle:


Whatís red with a white stripe, brand new, and about the length of one and one-half football fields?

To find the answer to the riddle and to see a photograph of the Healy, go to:

Susan's page.

Data for the day (5/25/00):

Air temperature: 5.5 degrees C / 42 degrees F

Latitude 48N

Longitude 51W

Lighthouses protect ships from crashing against the rocky coastline of Newfoundland.

The colorful houses in St. John's are built into the hillsides. This is the home of 77 year old Bert Sparks, who has lived here all his life.

Susan is standing just below Cabot Tower on Signal Hill. This is where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal on December 12, 1901. This event signaled the beginning of the modern age of telecommunications.

There are rows of colorful houses and shops along Duckworth Street in St. John's.

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