Saturday, April 6, 2013

F: Fun Facts (Geography edition)

By Annie LaDuca

1. The first-ever SNC Cruise (Chasers at Sea) was October 11-15, 2012. Did you know that approximately 10 million people cruise from U.S. ports each year? Will you be, or have you been, one of them?

2. SNC has concluded at least two tours in Florida and the cruise launched from Miami. Florida has 663 miles of beaches and 1,197 statute miles of coastline.

3. Allure of the Seas is a cruise ship owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International. Together with her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, she holds the record for the largest passenger ship ever constructed, although the Allure is 2.0 inches longer than the Oasis.

4. The “Mid-Atlantic Chasers” might already know this…The Mason-Dixon Line forms part of the border of four U.S. states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia (which was still part of Virginia when the line was drawn). Although often associated with the North-South divide during the Civil War, the line was actually surveyed in the 1760s to settle a border dispute between colonies.

5. At 250 million years old, the Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountain range in the U.S. and at one time were higher than the Himalayas. The Cumberland Gap is the only natural opening through the mountain chain for 100 miles in either direction, which made it the gateway for settlers pushing west to the frontier.

6. The 10th Anniversary of the CASA a cappella festival, SoJam, was held November 2-4, 2012 in Raleigh, NC. The weekend-long festival included Concerts, Competitions, Master Classes, and Workshops. The incredible professional showcase featured The Edge Effect (@EdgeEffectMusic), Pentatonix (@PTXofficial) and FORK (@FORKacappella), and was streamed live thanks to Sled Dog Studios! For more information on SoJam, check out or follow @SoJam on Twitter.

7. One of the ports of call on the SNC Cruise was Key West, FL, the southernmost city in the U.S. Key West is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. The SNC Cruise also made a port call in Cozumel, Mexico. The name Cozumel means “Island of the Swallows” in the Mayan language.

8. The Gulf of Mexico was created first by continental plates colliding in the Late Triassic period, around 300 million years ago, and then by the sea floor sinking. Almost half of the gulf basin is shallow waters over continental shelves, though it contains a trough that measures as deep as 14,383 feet.

9. Though Mt. Everest in the Himalayas is the highest altitude in terms of sea level on the planet, the summit of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the farthest point on the Earth's surface from the Earth's center (due to its location along the equatorial bulge). The Marianas Trench is the lowest place on earth.

10. In the Continental U.S., Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline at 3,288 miles; however, of all the U.S. states, Alaska has the longest coastline at 6,640 miles.

11. The geographic center of North America is located in the town of Rugby, North Dakota. The geographic center of the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and Alaska) is found two miles northwest of Lebanon, Kansas. Chasers have jokingly (?) requested a convention in Lebanon so that everyone would be traveling an equal distance.

12. The ICEHOTEL is the world’s largest inn made entirely of ice. Each year artists and architects rebuild it from the ice of the local Torne River in the town JukkasjÀrvi, Swedish Lapland, 125 miles north from the Arctic Circle. Each ICEHOTEL is a unique construction made of nothing but water in a few of its forms, a network of free-standing snow corridors and icy walls. Every year construction begins mid-November and the structure stands completed from December to April before it is destroyed once more.

13. The Airbus 380 is the largest passenger airliner currently in use. It has a double deck and is able to transport 525 passengers, although it can carry more than 800 if all passengers are economy class. The first commercial passenger airliner, the de Havilland Comet, carried 36 passengers. The first de Havilland Comet took off from London for Johannesburg on May 2, 1952.

14. SNC last toured England in 2012. Did you see Ryan’s video from Liverpool?

15. London’s famous “Big Ben” was not originally the name of the entire building that contains the clock – at first, the moniker belonged to the main bell inside and the structure itself was simply the Clock Tower (sometimes confused with St. Stephen’s Tower, which is actually a smaller tower over the main public entrance). The Clock Tower was renamed the “Elizabeth Tower” in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

16. Do you sing in your car? (I know I do…) You probably already know that singing is good for your health. It turns out that singing actually calms the sympathetic nervous system (which tenses up when you do) and boosts activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (which makes you relax). Also, people who've survived a stroke but lost the ability to speak can learn to communicate again by singing their thoughts. Singing activates areas on the right side of the brain, which helps stroke survivors by taking over the job of speaking when areas on the left side no longer function. Singing also releases pent-up emotions, boosts relaxation and may help to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, increase immunity – and overall, just makes you feel better! So turn up those tunes and warble away!


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