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Category: vacation

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.

How to Quickly Convert Old Slides to Digital

A little film to digital converter can easily bring new life to old slides like this 1978 photo of my parents in Greece.

People ask me how I’ve been doing since my father passed away last month. Well, truthfully, I haven’t had much time to really process it. I’m not sure exactly how I’m doing. These weeks have really been more about what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been spending most of my free time clearing out my dad’s apartment. And while one might say that’s a tactic of psychological avoidance (and I’m sure it is), I still have to do it.

Yes, it’s been somewhat overwhelming. It’s more than simply going through his belongings and deciding what to save. I quickly realized that I needed to go through the same exercise for some of my mom’s things that my father saved (or never addressed). And so you don’t think I’m being judgmental, I’m also faced with going through my own stuff I abandoned decades ago.

I’ve quickly realized that maintaining a sense of organization is critical to this overall process. Throwing things in a box and simply moving it to my own home is a half-baked strategy. There’s only so much available space.

I know I need to break through my inner grief and the urge to save as a counter against my loss, and instead really consider the future value of these items.

The Forgotten Photo Collection
Of course, I saved all of the photos I found. Many will go through a digitizing project to integrate into my larger family photo archive.

But then I uncovered a forgotten photo collection. Deep in the back of a closet lived 12 boxes of old 35mm slide carousels. Yes, for several years, my father shot photos that turned into slides. Remember those slides that could be viewed by projecting them onto a screen with a clunky projector? Yep. That’s what my dad had.

So I popped a couple of those filled-up carousel boxes into a bag, brought them back home and placed them on a shelf.

And then I thought about housing all of these boxes. I asked myself why I would want to keep the carousels. Sure, the boxes provided pure organization and safety for those slides. But I was never going to use the carousels. I needed to extract the slides from the remaining carousels and just bring the slides home. Those slides were like negatives that simply required digital conversion. I just had to find a method to do that…

Wolverine Data F2D Titan Film to Digital Converter
So I looked online and quickly found a variety of devices on the market that will convert old slides to digital files. Some are more high-end than others. I just needed a basic conversion. Nothing too fancy.

I decided to go with the Wolverine Data F2D Titan Film to Digital Converter. It’s compact, easy to use and $150 at B&H Photo.

I also picked up some compact Print File Slide Storage Boxes to put the slides in.

First Use
I powered up the F2D Titan and got to work with the first batch of slides from my parents’ 1978 cruise vacation in Greece.

It’s a straight-forward process. You slip your slides into a mini light tray, and then you press a button to take a picture of the side. The Wolverine creates jpegs with plenty of resolution for me. (5472×3648) and between 4-5 MBs in size. It has a small amount of internal storage, but the better process is to pop in an SD card, which is what I did. You can make color/brightness adjustments if you choose, but I decided to do all of that in Adobe Lightroom. It’s faster.

The Wolverine is perfect for my project. The image conversions look good. The process is quick, and the Titan’s footprint is small.

New Views
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen many of these family slides before, and it feels pretty remarkable to view these images of my parents.

It’s almost reality-bending for me, as I integrate these moments into my larger world-view of my family.

Find the Time
This is all great, but you might be wondering how I’m going to find the time to convert hundreds of slides while I’m also going through hundreds of old photos and digitizing those? And clearing out my dad’s place. And handling the rest of my life.

That’s a good question.

What I do know is every time I digitize three or four old photos or slides and add them to my family photo archive, I feel a warmth that fuels me for what may otherwise be a cold day ahead.

It takes about 15-20 minutes.

I figure if I can regularly carve out that time during my early mornings, that could actually help in my healing process. (Plus, it breaks down a massive project into achievable little pieces.)

Maintaining Ownership
So that’s what I’m doing. Yes I know I could pay a service to do all of this digital conversion, but I want to do it myself. Plus, I know I won’t need to digitize every old slide and photo. And only I can make that decision.

If I’m going to first look at every slide to decide its fate, it doesn’t take that much more time to slide it into the Wolverine converter and create the jpeg.

Don’t Wait
Family history is important. I don’t want to just save these photos and slides. I want them to be a part of my story. No, I shouldn’t have waited this long, but I’m glad I still have the opportunity to bring them forward into the future…

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