Just back from Christmas Island. Operation Grapple was the name of the British military program to test nuclear weapons at and around Christmas. Today, most of what you see--aside from some rather impoverished villages and salt-bushes adorned with aluminum cans--looks like this:

And here's a nice bit of public health-related information, Kiribati style:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a few thousands Brits, as well as some Americans, lived and worked on the island. On this spot near "the airport," sat hundreds of airplanes and vehicles.

In slightly related news, friend and fellow Portland writer, Julian Smith, wrote this recent package for US News & World Report, about endangered destinations. Coincidentally, an Australian couple I met at Christmas Island added personal testimony to the talk about the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. The snorkeling in and around Christmas, they said, is as good if not better. That was cool to hear because we were there, taking it all in, with no other people in sight. Yet it was also not so cool to hear because of the underlying tragedy. The Great Barrier Reef, in shambles and someday gone? It's hard to get your mind around.

AuthorDavid Wolman