At Home with Tech

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Category: travel

Photos from our Weekend Stranded on an Island

When you’re cut off from the world by a body of water, anything can happen. Here’s little more from our adventure on Rose Island…

Well, we weren’t exactly stranded. We intentionally decided to spend a couple of nights on Rose Island in Newport, Rhode Island. No, we weren’t exactly the keepers of the Rose Island Lighthouse, where we stayed along with another couple who were in the apartment above us. But we were on our own to handle any unforeseen circumstances.

We’re Going on an Adventure!
Sure, we were tethered to civilization via cell phone, but remember, we were on an island in the middle of the Narragansett Bay. That’s the vacation my family chose. Well, actually, it was my idea, based on a predisposition that our experience might contain a little adventure. (I guess that’s my inner Bilbo.)

I think my lighthouse fascination has developed over time from the movies I’ve seen that feature a lighthouse.

Those weren’t actually serene movies, were they?

False Alarm
So, when we were paid a little visit by a rescue boat from the Newport Fire Department, during breakfast on our first morning… should I have been entirely surprised?

Probably not. It’s actually the perfect plot set up for our own lighthouse movie, coming to a theater near you in 2026. (I’ve still got to write the script.)

For the record, even though the fire alarm had been tripped, everything was absolutely fine.
It was exciting to host this great team of Newport firefighters for thirty minutes. And our own hosts responded appropriately and generously to the situation.
Still, I would say this piece of our lighthouse vacation falls under the category of ‘unexpected adventure.’ Right?

Vacationing in a Lighthouse
After that, a more normal pace quickly resumed… well, 19th century normal. But that was always part of the plan.

And I’ve chronicled those details in my blog post from last week.

My headline remains… Staying in this lighthouse is a bucket-list trip. It was simply awesome.

Here are a few more photos that reflect the more serene parts of our experience living in a lighthouse and being so close to nature…

Here’s my Experience Living in this Lighthouse

If the idea of vacationing in a lighthouse appeals to you, let me tell you a story about what to expect…

Is living in a lighthouse on your bucket list? I had it on mine, and I was finally able to cross it off after my family and I spent a couple of April nights at the Rose Island Lighthouse. It’s located in the Narragansett Bay next to Newport, Rhode Island.

The Adventure Begins
We boarded a little boat out of Fort Adams and were shuttled by Captain Cal to Rose Island, in the direction of the Newport Bridge.
After the 15-minute boat ride, we carried our luggage off the dock and wheeled away our cooler that contained all of our vacation’s food.
Then we headed up the hill to our temporary home in the lighthouse.

We moved into the first floor ‘museum’ section, which also doubled as a two bedroom apartment, complete with living room and study. Well, it wasn’t exactly complete as the kitchen didn’t offer drinkable water or modern plumbing. (Instead, 5-gallon Poland Spring jugs were provided.)
At the kitchen sink, we had to literally pump in rain water that was stored in a huge cistern nearby. (The same 19th-century system was used for the toilet.)

The Geography
Rose Island is 18 acres, but because of the time of year, much of that is off limits to protect the many nesting birds. So, we really only had access to the shore lines on both sides of the lighthouse.
We could also walk around the land surrounding the nearby Fort Hamilton Barracks, which originally housed the workers who built torpedoes during both world wars.

Nesting Birds and Territorial Geese
Though there was still plenty of space to walk about and enjoy all of the birds, we did encounter a couple territorial geese. They had other ideas about humans visiting their island.
That said, their aggressive posturing was just that. Our 12-year-old son tested their resolve on a few occasions with a running start, and happily, he walked away unscathed.

Of course, we found plenty to do on our little island.
That included visiting the top of our lighthouse on multiple occasions. Sunsets were particularly spectacular.

We also roasted marshmallows at night by the fire pit. While making s’mores, we shared our day’s stories with a couple who were staying in the keeper’s apartment above ours.

I cooked our dinners outside on a gas grill, as there wasn’t a stove in our kitchen. We weren’t exactly roughing it, but you did get a sense of what it was like to live in a secluded place a century ago. That was definitely a part of our little adventure.

Yes, we still enjoyed some modern amenities, like our solar-generated electricity and heated quarters. (And cell coverage does reach the island.) But when the sun went down, I fully absorbed the reality that we were pretty much on our own.
During those overnight hours, it felt comforting to have that beacon at the top of the house shining bright.

Be Prepared for What You Might See
As you may expect, I brought along my camera gear.
I happily spent time capturing the beautiful imagery that surrounded me.

On our first morning, I was surprised to see a cruise ship enter the harbor. (It was early in the season for this.) I grabbed my binoculars. It was the MS Amera, a Phoenix Reisen ship.
So I ran to get my camera and snapped away. I watched as little ferry boats shuttled passengers to Newport for the day.

Lighthouse Timelapses
But of course, the main attraction was our 1870 lighthouse, which was renovated in the mid 1980s and reopened in 1993. And I focused most of my timelapses on the building itself.

Please click my Vimeo video to watch my timelapse sequence…

Not your Typical Vacation

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve wanted to stay in a lighthouse with my family. I think the idea felt a little adventurous and romantic. (Maybe something out of a movie.) It was like camping, but much more comfortable. Certainly, it was different. We all really enjoyed it.

I’d definitely do it again.

Can You Charge your Tech from the Bedside Lamp?

It may seem like an obvious pairing, but most bedside lamps aren’t designed to supply power to your gear with a built-in USB port. Here’s one man’s fraught journey to a solution.

Can you transform your old bedside lamp into a rocket ship? As it turns out, you can. That’s exactly what I accomplished a few weeks back before I went to sleep.

I popped into bed, slipped down under the covers and gave the edge of the blanket an extra little flip to better align it with my neck as I repositioned my body.

Lights Out!
As it turns out, my blanket flip wasn’t so little. The blanket whacked my lamp with the perfect ‘snap’ (like a wet towel). Lift off!

Thankfully, the airborne lamp cleared my defenseless eyeglasses resting on my night table and then crashed to the floor. Somehow the lamp’s heavy glass shade didn’t shatter. But it cracked in a couple places. And the metal spine broke.

My wife turned and looked at me.

Sleeping in the Jungle
I’m clumsy, but usually I don’t accidentally send objects flying into the air.

I said I’d get it fixed, but I knew rebuilding the lamp would be a project that would remain forever low on my list of to-do’s.

So, I figured it was time to buy a new lamp.

But as soon as I started to think about what I wanted, I recalled a separate issue that I also needed to fix on my night table.

For years, I had been enduring the mess of charging cables for my iPhone and Apple Watch. They constantly squiggled about and regularly slipped to the floor. Every night, when I tried to charge my tech, it was like herding little white snakes.

It was a jungle.

In Search Of…
What I needed was a compact charging station on top of my night table to minimize my cable clutter. Better yet…

What about a new lamp with built-in USB ports for convenient charging and less clutter?

How’s that for an innovation?!

Hotel Lamps for Home Use
Of course, this is not a new idea. If you’ve stayed at a hotel lately, you’ve likely come across this type of multipurpose lamp.

But as I started doing my research, it turns out there aren’t that many lamps that can perform the USB charging trick.

Why not?!

Are hotels the only place you would think to charge your tech next to your bed? Aren’t we also doing the same thing at home? Well, I certainly am.
(Should I admit to that?)

Okay… If everyone’s doing it, why don’t more lamps have built-in tech chargers?

Macally Light Cube
So, in fact, there are a few ‘hotel’ lamps for sale on Amazon. But they don’t sufficiently address a variety of design needs. Many, in fact, appear marketed to students for dorm rooms. (I hope I’ve graduated from that designation by now.)

So, I flipped my search around and looked for charging stations that also come with a built-in light. That didn’t offer up much either.

I did come across one viable option called the LAMPCHARGESQ offered by a company named Macally:

This small LED cube comes with four 2.4 amp charging ports. Perfect.

The only downside is the LED’s tap-to-turn-on/off functionality. That’s because the LED has three brightness settings, and you’ve got to tap the cube four times to cycle it to turn off.
(Talk about a usability annoyance!)

And it’s not really a lamp.

My Lamp Quest Continues
So I set the Macally option aside and kept looking.

Ideally, I wanted a ‘real’ lamp with a pull chain or a simple switch that would allow me to work the lamp with only one gesture (yes, the joyous simplicities of analog tech).

Of course, I needed that USB port (2.4A please).

And I was searching for a choice that wasn’t so inexpensive (sub $20) that I feared it would short out and engulf me in flames or so costly, because it was wrapped in a brand luxury surcharge.

I went round and around… and around.

And then I came to my Kobayashi Maru…

The Power of Two
My wife read my last blog post, where I referred to my lamp quest, and she then suggested that I should look for a matching set of lamps… not just the one.


That’s two lamps.
(Not one.)

Why didn’t I see this coming? I should know better.

Now, this had become an official bedroom design project, not just me playing with my little tech laboratory on my night table.

I showed my wife a couple choices that I had been considering.

(Redacted sentence here.)

What was I thinking?

My Quick Fix
So, I reconsidered my situation:

  • The purchase of two bedroom lamps would now move to our house ‘project list.’
    (You have one of those. Right?)
  • But I still needed a short-term solution for a light source next to my side of the bed.
  • And I really wanted a better charging design for my tech in the bedroom.
  • Plus my non-lamp choice could be repurposed elsewhere once a permanent lamp set was identified.

Suddenly, that Macally LAMPCHARGESQ nightstand LED with 4 USB ports looked pretty good.
I’m sure I’ll get used to tapping it four times to turn it on or off. (I’ve also learned that a long tap will directly turn it off and save the light setting. Yay!)

To Be Continued…
Of course, I need a holistic lighting solution for our bedroom, and my better half has reminded me the of wisdom of a well-thought-out plan.

For now, I’ve got a little glowing cube next to the bed that can also charge my tech.

Maybe that’s progress?

Or did I just fail the Kobayashi Maru again?

“What do you think of my solution?”

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