Saturday, August 31, 2013

Acadia Coastline

The most distinctive feature of Acadia National Park is its rocky coastline, especially the portion along the loop road near thunder hole, and the portion at Schoodic point, which we visited. The rugged shore is a feast to the eyes, the continuous sound of waves breaking at the rocks amplifies its masculine lure.

When we were a bit further away from the shoreline, the sound of waves faded away, pine trees, colorful bushes entered into the view. They along with the blue sky, white clouds made the sea shore seem like an elegant,  tranquil paradise!

In fact it is not all rocks along the shoreline. There is a short sand beach at a cove by the loop road, which attracts hundreds of people to brave the cool sea. There is a pebble beach at Schoodic point for young and young at heart to wander and play: to fish, to skip stones, to wade water. There are many birds along the shoreline. Aside from numerous sea gulls, we saw two bald eagles fishing near winter harbor at Schoodic point.

In the evening, the low tide reveals the sand bar at Acadia, which emerges from under the sea to connect Bar Harbor and Bar Island.  It is a bit chilly to stroll on the sand bar even in a mid-summer evening. The sunset over the sand bar, however, is awesome.

Rocky shoreline near loop road of Acadia National Park
Atlantic Ocean 
Bolders by the sea
Breaking Wave at Schoodic Point
The continual sound of  breaking waves is mesmerizing

Frenchman Bay
Tall grasses and bushes
View of Schoodic point shoreline from Schoodic Head
Red roof house 

Wave at Sand Beach
Bald Eagle near Winter Harbor

Seal Harbor
A pebble beach near Winter Harbor

Sun Set over the Sand Bar at Bar Harbor

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Acadia Trip Itinerary

Acadia National Park is located on Mountain Desert Island of Maine, the northeast corner of United States. The main features of Acadia include gorgeous rocky shorelines, elegant glacier lakes, pervasive green, wonderful (mostly shaded!) hiking trails and to Texans like us, its cool summer.

A few things we did to maximize our enjoyment of Acadia: To reduce driving time, we flew to Bangor, ME instead of Boston, MA. Bangor is only an hour drive from Acadia. We adjusted our trip plan according to weather - Acadia is at its most awesome beauty when it is under clear blue sky. We stayed at Acadia for 5 full days! The 5 day stay made it possible for us to enjoy every aspect of Acadia.

Our main activities include - hiking, sea kayaking, biking, sightseeing, tidal pooling and listening to sound of nature (wave, wind). We did not do bird watching - could not get up early enough for bird watching at dawn; we were not into Earth Cache (geocaching).

Day 0

Fly to Bangor, ME via New York City. Arrived late at Bangor due to weather delay at NYC

Day 1

visited Camden  Hills State Park in the morning - broad view of the mouth of Penobscot River and the beautiful Penobscot Bay

drove to Acadia after a lobster lunch at Lincolnville, ME. Stay at a hotel at Bar Harbor

visited Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on east coast of USA,  for spectacular Sunset

Sunset at Cadillac Mountain
Day 2

Hiking on Precipice trail - the most challenging hiking trail in Acadia. Some portion of it is fearsome, thrilling. Alternately one may hike on Gorham Mountain Trial, which was in our original plan.

Drive along park loop road - sand beach, thunder hole and otter point

Dinner at Bar Harbor and tour of the harbor and sand bar
Rocky Shoreline at Acadia

Day 3

Due to possible rainy/cloudy day on Day 4, we changed our plan from biking this day to sea kayaking.

We had a guided 2 and half hour kayak tour of porcupine island with coastal sea kayaking in the morning.

Visited Echo Lake and hiked on Beech Mountain trail in the afternoon. We also visited sea wall and bass harbor light house.

Lobster dinner at Beal Lobster Pier
Sea Kayaking at Frenchman Bay

Day 4

It was a cloudy day as expected. The cloud was low, and the sky was grey - one could not see the beauty of Acadia at all. We rent bikes at Bar Harbor Bicycles and biked along Eagle lake, Jordan pound - total of 20 miles hilly bike trails in total of 6 hours including breaks, and lunch at Jordan House - the best restaurant in national park service system.

The cloudy and sometimes misty weather made it a perfect day for strenuous biking.

Returned to hotel early,  ~ 4:30pm. After showering, Lily and I watched two episodes of "Get out alive with Bear Grylls", the boys played games on computer

Day 5

Another cloudy day and clouds broke in late afternoon. We visited visitor center, wild garden of Acadia, otter point tidal pool. left park for lunch at Bar Harbor.

Hiked to South Bubble and Balanced Rock

Drove along sea shores and shoreline of Somes Sound, stopped at seal harbor.

Day 6

visited  beautiful Schoodic peninsula and Schoodic point  - long rocky shorelines, deep coves, high waves, bald eagles

This location is far away from the main park but it is a must-visit location!

Day 7

go home from Bangor, ME

1. Some good Acadia trip itineraries at road trips for families and at our Acadia
2. Additional posts about the trip to follow

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Favorite TV Shows - 2

Get out alive with Bear Grylls is a new reality TV show on NBC about outdoor adventure. The show's advertisements of the beautiful mountain peaks, quiet remote wilderness, ...  during news hours first caught my eyes. I watched two episodes so far and I love it. 

The basic premise of the show, according to my interpretation, is that ultimate survival is hinged on physical qualities, human spirit,  and team work. The team was consisted of 10 pairs of people (husband and wife, father and son, mother and daughter, boyfriend and girlfriend, best friends), every week, one pair of players will be eliminated because they were judged by Bear Grylls as weakest for that week.

On week 3 episode Alicia and Spencer were eliminated, not because that they were weakest in skill or strength, but because of Alicia emotionally collapsed under pressure - complaining, whining and crying. Her bad attitude drained on her partner, and other teammates.

On week 4 episode Donna/Canden, the mother/daughter pair was sent home. The reason was that Donna reached her physical and emotional limit. She was ready to give up.

In both episodes, Wilson and Robin were clearly the weakest in skills and physical strength. In week 3, they could not swim to shore with their heavy carry-on. They were rescued by Bear himself. In week 4, they could not climb a very steep mountain, one teammate carried a backpack for them, another essentially pushed Wilson uphill. They, however showed their desire to push further, gratitude to those who helped them. They were saved because two other pairs of stronger players did not have positive attitude.

Positive attitude, and desire to be better is critical in difficult conditions, but in the end one needs these plus necessary competences to get out alive!!So I expect Wilson and Robin to be eliminated soon.

I must note that Bear Grylls is a superb outdoor adventurer. I liked his matter of fact demeanor, down-to-earth style, and his words of wisdom.

American Ninja is a competition show that Nicholas and I watched frequently. It is a perfect demonstration that ultimately it is an individual's capability (strength, skill and will to win) that makes him/her overcome the extremely difficult task in front of them. It also shows that people are different - some people are better than others. When obstacles are seemingly insurmountable to everyone, there comes few players who can tackle the extreme difficulties with "ease".  

There are players who went back to the competition again after failure in previous competition just want prove to themselves that they can be at next level after a year's work to improve their strength, skill and mental toughness. Some succeeded, others did not. But we strive to be the best we can be, not necessarily the best because of individual's physical, mental and intellectual limitations.  

I don't think Nicholas thought about all the above when he watches the show. He enjoys the thrill and suspense of each player's effort, cheers for successes, sighs for failures, and enjoys superhuman performances. I hope that the actions on screen along with my occasional comments along the way help to instill those ideas into him:  only real capabilities count in the end, strive to be the best one can be, it takes hard work to get to next level no matter how smart or strong one is.

Note: this post was written at the same time as my favorite TV shows -1. A new episode of Get out alive was since aired and in the episode, Wilson and Robin were eliminated as I expected 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Favorite TV Shows - 1

Shark Tank continues to be our family's favorite TV show this summer despite repeats are being played, which is shown 7 pm Friday, on ABC.

There are a few other TV shows I like which I watch/watched frequently: The Voice, Undercover Boss, Get out alive with Bears Grylls, American Ninja, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

The Voice, a singing competition on NBC, is among my favorites this year, a surprise even to myself. I had never really into any of the singing competitions - never watched the Voice in its previous seasons, never watched American Idol for more than 5 minutes before.

What drew me initially to the Voice this year was its blind auditions at the beginning of this season.  During the audition, I liked some singers profiled, and rooted for them. The blind audition made the decision process a suspense for the singers and audience. It was absolutely a thrill when my favored singer was picked by a single judge at the last second.

I also liked every judge on the show, Blake, Adam, Usher and Shakira. Unlike many in the show business, they projected clean images, displayed true love to music, showed off their depth in vocal artistry and were intelligent on the show!

As I watched the Voice week by week, I could clearly sense the progress of many singers, especially the Swon brothers. The best performances came from the semifinal. I was pleased to see that Swon brother pulled through. The final was sort of anticlimax but I was glad to see Danielle, the beautiful sweet 16 year old girl from Texas won the Voice.

Undercover Boss on CBS was a show we watched quite a few times on Friday evenings when Shark Tank was not shown (or moved to a inconvenient time). Despite some of the obvious shortcomings of this show, such as obvious marketing of featured company, some seemingly unreal settings, I liked the show because it taught good moral lessons to everyone, especially children.

The stories and outcomes in many episodes  enforce the some basic life rules I adhere to and want  to inject to my children: Hard work, dedication, responsibility, competency and self reliance.

Not a must see but decent one when compared to many other shows

We enjoyed Wheel of Fortune (CBS) and Jeopardy for long time. Unfortunately Jeopardy is moved out of major networks and at an inconvenient time slot. So we have not watched it for quite sometime. We continue to watch Wheel of Fortune quite frequently, especially myself. As it is aired at 6:30 pm,  I usually watch it while cooking dinner during week days. It is simple game show that I can play along.

As you might be aware already that I don't have drama, comedy, TV movie or news magazine in my list.

I was a loyal 20/20 (ABC) viewer for long time. I like that it was serious and objective. I stopped watching it when I joined corporate America - its air time is too late for me. Not sure if I will still like it if I get time to watch it now - time has changed, the people at the show changed. Unfortunately I am never become a fan of 60 minutes, due to its conflict time with NFL games and/or styles.

I love good drama/comedy/TV movie. I used to watch Home Improvement (ABC)every week when I was at graduate school. I watched every episodes of the TV movie series The Thorn Birds (ABC), again during my graduate school year; when I could not watch an episode live, I recorded the episode and watched it later. What is on screen nowadays is all about crime, sex, infidelity, violence, abnormal life style, rudeness or downright stupidity. I see enough of those on the national and local news already.

Note: My comments on Get out alive with Bears GryllsAmerican Ninja are long. I will post them in a future post.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

White Peaches

I did not try to tell the difference between peach and nectarine until I ate a white peach - which was soft, juicy and incredibly delicious.

That memory of the distinct delicious taste stays with me.

A couple weeks ago, I saw boxes of  beautiful large white peaches at a supermarket. I recommended to Lily that we buy some. She hesitated a bit - only she and I eat peaches, the boys don't, but she bought some anyway.

My first bite into a big white peach disappointed me - it was hard, not juicy at all. I told Lily that I expected the white peach to be juicy and soft. She said that everyone said that white peach was hard. I told her my past experience. She thought about it for a moment, and decided that it must be related to the degree of ripeness of the peach.

To make the white peach juicy, we had to ripen it further. We placed a cluster  bananas on top of peaches to accelerate the ripening process. After a couple of days, the peaches felt soft! I washed one, bite into it - peach juice was dripping, the flesh was incredibly tasty - exactly what I remembered what it should taste and feel! Lily bites into the white peach, she was just as impressed as I was.

She called the boys to taste white peaches. They were reluctant to try, so she said: just give it a bite, if you don't like it, you don't have to eat it. After a bite, neither of them stopped  eating - they actually finished their white peaches in no time!

So we bought a few more white peaches last week, went through the same ripening process, we got juicy softly delicious white peaches again. The downside of this process is that when  a white peach is ripe - feels soft in particular, one has to eat it quickly, or put it in refrigerator, otherwise it will spoil.

A refrigerated ripe white peach is a treat for me in this hot summer.

update note:

At a supermarket this morning, we bought a case of  white peaches, but I thought that we bought a case of nectarines since they are placed side by side.Lily pointed out to me that we bought white peaches, not nectarines. In fact  I mixed nectarine and peach earlier as well.  So I checked literature about the difference between nectarines and peaches:

Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. Nectarines have an orange center and faint fuzz, while peaches have white centers and very fuzzy skin; genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Nectarine is called shaved peach or fuzz less peach