September 18th, 2002 - St. John's, Newfoundland

Polar Star at St. John'sOn a foggy Newfoundland day, we gathered at Berth #11 of St. John's Pier, to board the Polar Star, our home for the next ten days. We deposited our bags with the crew, and then boarded buses to go on a tour of the St. John's area (or at least what we could see of it through the fog!)

Polar Star at St. John's Mike Earle and others - Preboarding Sheila Blaine - Preboarding

We went out to Cape Spear, the easternmost point on the North America continent, which is renowned for its spectacular views of the sea. Unfortunately, we couldn't even *see* the ocean, but if we got really close to the clffs, we could definitely hear it! I wrote in the guestbook there: "Well, at least we got to see the weather for which the lighthouse was built!"

Cape Spear Sign Cape Spear Fog

GeocenterAfter Cape Spear, we decided to cancel the planned visits to Quidi Vidi and Signal Hill because of the weather. Instead, we went to the brand-new (just opened in June 2002) "Johnson GEO CENTRE", which was well worth the trip. For one, it was inside, so we could see everything! For another, it's just a fascinating geological museum. 85% of it is underground, with a long gallery right up against the 500-million-year-old rock of the mountain. Above ground, the Geocentre (please forgive me if I slip and refer to it with the Americanized spelling of "Geocenter") looks like a tilted building that is looking up at Signal Hill. In the underground viewing gallery, you can walk down the entire length of the room examining the rockface. There are signs along the way pointing out the various features of the stone, along with guides who patiently explain what we're looking at, along with demonstrating certain techniques, such as how pouring water on the rock will bring out features that can't be seen while the rock is dry.

Tony's RockAt the Geocenter, I also learned of the saga of "Tony's rock." Dr. Tony Berger (pronounced Burjer) accompanied our expedition as a trained geologist, answering all our questions about the geology and geography of the area throughout the trip. Here's a picture of me and Tony next to the boulder in question.

The view from Tony's RockTony has a home in Newfoundland on the western coast, near the Gros Morne UNESCO world heritage site (more about that later). Anyway, Tony's home is nestled among some spectacular fjords and scenery, many of which he routinely takes pictures of. For this fjord view in particular, he always used a certain boulder by the side of the road, made of <???-ite>, as a landmark from which to take pictures, like the one that you see here. Well, imagine his horror one day earlier this year, when he drove down the road, only to find that "his rock" was gone! Evidently some men had showed up with a truck one day, and hauled his boulder away.

Here's where the rock used to be, as pointed out by one of our local guides:The Hole

That's *my* rock!When Tony asked what had happened to it, he heard that his rock had been taken to the Geocenter for one of their displays! So, when we visited the Geocenter on the first day of our trip, Tony had a mission -- to find his rock! Sure enough, he spotted it, sitting quietly near a display about Gros Morne. Here's a picture of Tony talking to one of the museum staff, "That's *my* rock!" (I think he was asking if he could take it with him)

Back aboard ship, it was time for lifeboat drills, dinner, a debriefing, and then singalongs into the late night hours, as the Polar Star took us away from St. John's, to head north on our circumnavigation of Newfoundland!

To see more pictures of our adventures on this day, please click here.

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