Sometime roughly six million years ago an island called Kauai was formed in the Pacific Ocean. Kauai is 5,012 miles from home and it takes a long time to get there — although not as long as New Zealand. When you have children, it becomes a parental duty to visit them, and as it turns out, one of our daughters is a wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Services division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United State Department of Agriculture. She was working in Fort Collins, Colorado when a job opened up in Lihue on the island of Kauai, and she and her husband packed up and headed for paradise. The grasses and open spaces of the airport in Lihue attract a large number of birds of various species. Unfortunately, the birds can become a significant hazard to aviation safety if there is not a program to manage them through various techniques including translocation (bio-speak for "move"), capture, and in some cases euthanasia. As it also turns out, a close friend of ours lives on Moana Kai Beach in the town of Kappa and we were also able to visit with her. One of our sons flew out from Boston and so we are having a nice week with family.
The island of Kauai — one of the main islands of the State of Hawaii — consists of 550 acres of beautiful terrain, including lush green vegetation of all kinds, miles of enchanting beaches, coral reefs, rivers, canyons, and trails. One might think that this small island would be technology-challenged but nothing could be further from the case. Not only is mobile phone coverage far more strong and consistent than Connecticut, but there is also EV-DO coverage. Evolution Data Only is a wireless radio broadband data protocol — or translated to English, EV-DO is high-speed Internet access using a PC card plugged into your laptop. Not that I am spending a lot of time surfing the Web instead of surfing the surf, it is nice to be connected wherever you are in Hawaii without having to dial.
The last place I expected to run into any technology was during a ride up to the National Wildlife Refuge at Kilauea Point. More than 200 acres of protected land there serves as the home to migratory birds such as the Pacific golden plover, seabirds such as the Laysan albatross and even Hawaii’s state bird, the nene goose. A number of Hawaii’s native seabirds nest and roost there and from the spectacular view it is possible to see Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales and spinner dolphins. While there much to learn about the various birds, including an occasional albatros over head, it was the 52-foot tall lighthouse standing 217 feet above the water that was the centerpiece of this northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands. Construction began in 1909 and was completed in 1913. There was nothing electronic about it, but the lens was quite impressive. Made in France, the clamshell glass lens was the largest in the world and it’s beam, originally from a 250,000 candlepower oil lamp could reach 20 miles out to sea and 90 miles into the air. In 1930, the oil lamp was upgraded to an electric source and a further upgrade in 1958 upped the intensity to 2.5 million candlepower. The lens weighs 4.5 tons and contains more than 300 hand-ground glass lenses and prisms. The lens would rotate every twenty seconds powered by a weight and pulley system that had to be "re-wound" every three and a half hours, much like a cuckoo clock. For more than fifty years, the lighthouse served as the main beacon for commercial shipping between Hawaii and the Orient. In the 1970’s its light was turned off and the landmark was replaced by a low-maintenance automatic light beacon.