Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Home for the Holidays

After 4 trips to 5 national parks during the year of 2014, we stayed at home for the whole holiday season.

Playing a 1000 piece picture puzzle was a main activity for us, except Justin who went skiing with a friend's family, during the 4 day Christmas weekend at home.

The main trick for playing a puzzle is to start at the border of the picture. The second trick is to put the key features of the picture back before working on the rest of the uni-colored pieces.

Nicholas started the puzzle first on Christmas Eve, and by noon Christmas day Nicholas and his mom completed the border, the mountain and the buildings. By then their eyes tired, their bodies ached, they stopped playing. We were tired being inside the house all the time, and we decided to take a break to go to Texas Motor Speed Way to watch the Christmas Lights "Gift of Lights" and breathe some fresh air. The light show was so-so, but the break was fully enjoyed.

Once we got home from the "Gift of lights" around 8:30 pm, I started working on the lower right corner of the puzzle by myself - two blooming plants with a shaded slope in the background. It took me a while to find the first right piece of puzzle. Once totally in the "puzzle" mindset, I could find additional pieces faster. Not good at visualizing the overall shape of a fitting piece, I used feature identification approach to locate the right piece - try pieces with right color and a certain geometric feature to find the one. I nearly finished the section by the the time for bed.

Friday morning, I went right back to the puzzle after jogging with Lily in the community and breakfast. I quickly finished the lower right corner. 

The remainder of the puzzle was much harder, white clouds and blue sky with little color variation. I asked Lily to join me and set a goal of finishing the puzzle by Sunday night. It took a lot of patience and good tactics to patch the piece together - again when a few pieces fall into places, the pace of matching pieces quickened. We almost completed the two patches of clouds by lunch time.

We had another outing of the weekend - dine out for lunch, walk around a lake and then watching mid afternoon movies: The lunch was at Shogun Hibachi and Sushi, Nicholas and I walked around Towne Lake in light drizzle while Lily stayed in the car reading a novel since we had only one umbrella in the car. Nicholas watched Hobbit, Lily and I watched Interstellar at Cinemark. Interstellar is an interesting movie, much better than the critically claimed Gravity; Lily and I wondered about relativity and its implications one more time!

We worked more on the puzzle the next day, and pieced the middle lower cloud together and some portion of the blue sky. We did not go out but played table tennis at home in the evening, and Lily and I waited for Justin to come home until midnight while piecing puzzles. Time really flew when one was immersed in playing puzzle.

On Sunday we had a late breakfast  and the whole family walked to Russell Creek park together for the first time in a long while! I watched week 17 NFL games the whole afternoon and night while continue working on the puzzle, Lily did laundry most of the time, came to help on the puzzle from time to time, so did Nichloas. We did not complete the puzzle by Sunday night as planned. Nicholas and I finished the puzzle late Monday afternoon before dinner!

Staying home for holidays is relaxing, having a themed group activity for the whole family adds joy and fun to the holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I had quite a few one-day business trips to Houston earlier this year before the crude oil price crashed.  To save time on the road, and minimize downtime in office, I flew instead of driving. During these and other times in the sky, the old fashion, out of date MP4 becomes my favorite gadget.

My MP4 has 4Gb storage, it has radio, video, photo and music functions. It has very long battery life for playing musics - I would guess that it can play 8 hours straight.

Typically once boarding, I would listen to local news station until the plane took off. Then I would switch to a large collection of musics downloaded from my sons' devices. In 15 minutes or so I would fall asleep under the plane's white noise and the music. I would then wake up to the music almost always right before the plane landed - refreshed and ready to go!

In addition to its tranquilizing effect, the MP4 also provides a window for me to my boys' world through their choice of music, exposes me to songs/musics I would otherwise not hear. Their choice of music was quite broad, from classical, contemporary classical, Jazz, Latin, Pop, R & B to Rock. I know a few names in classical music, Beethoven, Chopin, Dvorak  ....which are all accounted for in their collection. I know little about pop music - which in fact forms a majority of their collection. I like many of them! The boys have good tastes.The music collection is a few years old now, I need an update in musics from the boys if they will help.

Looking around on a plane, I am definitely not the oldest any time, but my MP4 is definitely the most out of dated gadget every time.  It can play long time, it can save battery on my iPhone, it works perfectly fine! No need to switch any time soon.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Mecca of Arches

We visited Arches National Park at Utah on November 21st and 22nd. It turned out to be the best time to see the art of nature 100 million years in the making without a crowd, and to enjoy intriguing rock formations under the Sun without heat!

The sandstone fins, spires, balanced rock. and arches at Arches national park are 100 million year of work from water, wind, temperature and sand. In fact the park sits on top an underground salt bed, and the salmon colored entranda sandstone is the main reason that Arches national park has one of the greatest density of natural arches in the world with over 2000 arches within its boundary.

Three gossipers - fins 

The Needles  - spires
Balanced Rock
A window - Arches
One can drive along a scenic road to view the various rock formations from distance or hike to the arches for an up close look.We did a bit of both - and our hiking is primarily on easy to intermediate difficulty trails. 

The main easy trail is the so called Widows Section. The windows are only a couple hundred yards away from parking area. There are actually two windows! Nearby there are a couple more named arches - Turet Arch and Double Arch. Climbing onto the Double Arch is a bit hard

south and North Window
Turret Arch

Double Arch

The trail to the most famous Arch in the world - Delicate Arch - is much longer and harder. Part of the trail is on slickrock and the last several hundreds of yards is a ledge exposed to cliff! It is worthwhile for the effort to view the Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch with snow capped La Sal in the Background

a distant view of Delicate Arch
It took us about a full day to visit the Windows Section and Delicate Arch area in a leisure pace with stops at many roadside attractions.

The second day was dedicated to Devils Garden area - with hiking on Double O Arch trail (4.2 mile round trip) as the main activity. We also stopped at Fiery Furnace, Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.

Landscape Arch is the longest arch in the park - 306 feet long, and it had a recent rock fall in 1991. 

Landscape Arch

The hiking on the Double Arch trail was quite thrilling for me - because part of the trail is a narrow pathway on top of fins!

Walking on fins
Double O Arch  - Can you see the small O?
Partition Arches

Arches National Park is a unique land of natural rock sculptures! Excellent Trails, Awe Inspire Views.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Trip to Southeast Utah

We visited southeast Utah this week - the primary focuses were Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. It turned out to be the best time to see the spectacular vista there without a crowd, and to enjoy intriguing  rock formations under the Sun without heat!

We stayed at Best Western in  the small town Moab, Utah. Moab is a great gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, small town, plenty of good restaurants within walking distance to the hotel we stayed.

Day 0

Fly from DFW to Grand Junction, Colorado  (~ 1 hour 40 minute)

Stay at Grand Junction for the night

Day 1

Drive from Grand Junction, CO to Arches National Park (Utah) - 110 miles in 90 minutes

Arrive at Arches around 10am

Drive along the Scenic Drive

Hike at Park Avenue

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Visit Windows and a few other Arches along the way

Hike to Delicate Arch - strenuous trail with slick rock and exposure to heights - beautiful view

Stayed at Best Western at Moab, Utah

Dinner at Schequan Restaurant  - Chinese food

Day 2

Go back to Arches National Park

Stop at Fiery Furnace - a restricted area which requires permit or ranger guided hike

Hike at Devil's Garden Trail

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
"Longest of the maintained trails in the park, the Devils Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches. Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slickrock. Not recommended when rock is wet or snowy"

Dinner at Zax - American food

Day 3

Drive Canyonlands National Park  - Island in the Sky district (45 miles from Moab) -  a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries.

(see Canyon from above)

Upheaval Dome Trail
Upheaval dome 

Mesa Arch trail

Green River Outlook and Rim Trail

Dinner at Fiesta Mexicana, Moab, UT - Mexican food

Day 4

Drive to Canyonlands National Park - the Needles district - Scenic drive in the canyon - spectacular, awesome view from "close-up" points

Cave Spring Trail

Slickrock Trail 
Mesa Arch

Elephant Hill - should have taken this trail first in the morning to see the needles up close

Dinner at Pasta Jay's, Moab, UT - Italian food

Day 5

Drive along Colorado River,  Colorado waterway Scenic Drive 128

Lunch at Subway

Drive through Colorado National Monument to arrive at Grand Junction  - unexpected encounter with big horn sheep on the scenic drive road.
Big Horn Sheep at Colorado National Monument

Leave for DFW in the early evening


1) no gas and food in the parks - need to bring food and water for lunch every day  - we bought lunch at local supermarket
2) Sunscreen is a must at this altitude (5000+ feet)
3) winter cloth and gear will make the trip comfortable
4) Despite all the winter storms in Utah and Colorado earlier this week, Moab was free of severe  weather.
5) Leave DFW at night (8pm), and leave Grand Junction late afternoon to maximize the fun time in Utah and Colorado

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Time Flows

Time marches forward steadily,

But its passing is never fully appreciated, 

Until pausing to look back.

The makings of time:

Older son has left for college,

Younger one is approaching 6 feet tall.

Wrinkles appear,

Grey hairs emerge,

Getting older.


Ambition still grows,

Curiosity about nature continues to deepen,

Passion to make a difference sustains,

Love to my dear wife lives on.

Time flows, 

The heart remains young.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ebola at Dallas

First US Ebola infection occurred in Dallas, Nina Pham, a nurse who helped to treat the west African patient Thomas Eric Duncan, was the victim. Then a scare, a deputy sheriff from the area, was suspected of Ebola symptom. Shortly after a second nurse , Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola disease! The anxiety at DFW area about Ebola infection skyrocketed. Good news is that both nurses were cured of Ebola this week. DFW area calms down. 

It is NYC's turn for Ebola anxiety.

Despite the widely held believe that "Ebola is spread through direct contact with body fluids of a sick person; the remains of someone who has died of Ebola; or from exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or generally in food. It's only contagious if the infected individual is experiencing active symptoms and by direct contact as described above.", we still don't know how the two nurses got infected under protections.

What worried me the most at the beginning was the fact that people with Ebola risks did not observe recommended or mandatory quarantine. 

The Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson traveled during her quarantine period, travelling by air from DFW to Cleveland and back. She had low fever on the way back. 

Nancy Snyderman NBC news chief medical editor, whose cameraman was infected with Ebola during their trip to West Africa. Snyderman and her whole team were under mandatory quarantine upon return to US. She went out to a restaurant before quarantine was over. 

Craig Spencer, a NY physician, who returned from West Africa, had high risk of Ebola, was not allowed to go back to work, and was under self monitoring,  roamed around NY via subway, went to bowling. He was diagnosed of Ebola disease on Thursday!

My second worry was that government/medical authority was too lenient in enforcing quarantine, some officials showed their "compassion" at wrong time, wrong place on a wrong subject

For nurse Vinson, CDC cleared her travel despite the risk, and then made excuses that she was not symptomatic and downplayed the risk she had for general public. Nina Pham's dog was initially not isolated because some official wanted to show compassion, leading higher public anxiety and greater risk to general public in local area.

Nancy Synerman, a MD herself, half halfheartedly apologized for her violation of quarantine, claiming she knew she posed no risk. 

Spencer, despite his irresponsible behavior, was hailed by some media outlet as a great humanitarian. 

Gradually, DFW area authority, CDC, and now New York State enforce quarantine more forcefully.  I would say that Dallas county, city officials acted quickly, corrected mistakes promptly. The end result is that Ebola infections in DFW is limited to the two nurses (who are free of Ebola now) so far, public mood are calm now about Ebola.

With education on prevention, early detection of Ebola symptom, quick isolation and treatment, and strict quarantine enforcement, the Ebola disease should be contained in US.


1) With the coming flu season, we will have some confusions and more anxiety - since Ebola symptoms are very similar to flu with fever, especially stomach flu with fever. 

2) Resource: WHO website

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Night TV Shows

Friday evenings and nights are lazy time for us: no real cooking and no work!

We used to dine out for dinner on Fridays for a long stretch of time when Lily worked at downtown. Then we switch to eat at home - but only easy cooking meals  - noodles, dumplings or pre-made Chinese pancakes.

Our favorite show after diner on TV has been Shark Tank on ABC for several years.

Shark Tank is a reality TV show about selected entrepreneurs of start-up small businesses seeking investment from a panel of investors - or "the Sharks".  We not only continue to enjoy the show, learn from the sharks and entrepreneurs, but also got to know the sharks pretty well - Mark is the shrewdest, Kevin is the meanest, Lori is sneaky, Barbara is straight shooting, Daymond is a nice guy and Robert has a soft heart. 

In addition, we actually bought a couple items from the small businesses featured on the shows. One item was a new design belt - which uses "teeth" for anchoring a belt instead of holes thus avoiding cracks at holes (shown in the photo). The other item is "wall doctor" - which is a dry wall repair kit, we used to repair a damaged dry wall.

This year another show on Friday night becomes our favorite - Last man standing - which airs ahead of Shark Tank. The show stars Tim Allen as Mike - a father of 3 daughters, with a geologist wife - thus the only man in the house. Tim was the star on the popular TV show Home Improvement which was my favorite show when I was at graduate school.

Mike is a true believer of traditional values and speaks his mind, an obvious conservative. On the other end of the political spectrum in the family is Mike's eldest daughter Kris and her boyfriend (and now husband). Politically the youngest daughter Eve is on Dad's side, middle daughter Mindy has no "political brain" - don't know and don't care. Mom Vanessa is the peacemaker on everything in the house -  she does not argue with her husband on politics but she is apparently liberal leaning.

It is a comedy show about a normal middle class family's life with light mix and right dose of politics - tremendously entertaining and relaxing.

Cristela is a new comedy inserted between Last man standing and shark tank. It is about a struggling  Mexican-American law school student Cristela living with his older sister's family and her mother at Dallas. The show is so far so good - light humor, clean jokes, and a realistic level of racial tension.

Starting with Last Man Standing  at 7pm, Cristela at 7:30om and Shark Tank at 8pm, all on ABC, these shows are clean, entertaining, enriching, and relaxing!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Problem Solving Skills - case study and reflection

The recovery of economy makes the talent market very competitive. Most people applied to the openings on my R & D teams have no related industrial experience at all. How can we find able and competent engineers to meet our needs?

In the resume screening process we focus on relevant knowledge foundation (e.g. majors, courses, degree levels), and relevant experiences (e.g. designs, testing, invention, and analysis). Once these basic requirements are met, the focus is shifted to problem solving skills and interpersonal skills including communication.

To evaluate candidates' problem solving skills, we typically ask them to solve problems that most likely they never see before, and may not be in the area of their expertise. The outcome is telling - those who can not work independently on their own freeze on this type of questions!

Today I was subjected to such a test at home.

Before lunch I decided to go up to attic to check if there was any damage with roof, chimney and wind turbine from the storms at midnight. As I opened the door to the attic, the entrance was partially blocked by a huge bundle of cables. I thought that the cables were for the discarded direct TV installation and were moved by a Verizon technician who installed FiOS. So I moved the cable away from the entrance to attic, in the process disconnected a couple of connections.

After attic inspection, I found out that I lost FiOS internet. I went back to the attic trying to reconnect the connections, there were so many loose ends and connections in the bundle, I did not remember which cables were disconnected by me. Looking at all the cables I determined the cables most likely related to the internet router,  I tried to reconnect a couple connections and was not successful.

I called Verizon helpline and verified that the router was not connected to FiOS. During the call I also found out that WAN cox and LAN cox indicators telling if the router and FiOS is connected. Since Verizon will charge $91 for first half hour and $46 for each additional half hour for a technician visit; and a technician is  not available until Tuesday. I made an appointment with Verizon for Tuesday but decided to fix it on my own.

I asked Lily to come to attic to help me. First she confirmed the identifications of the cables to the router. Then we identified a few cables not related to the router or incoming signal. Now only two connections and two cables remained relevant - we tried one pair of connections - neither WAN cox or LAX cox indicator lit. We tried the second option - LAN cox indicator lit up, and internet was back on! To prevent this from happening again, we marked the  each pair of hookups with tapes.

In reflection, I identified some problems with myself in this process: 1) I disconnected the cable based on erroneous assumption and I did not mark the connections I disconnected.  2) once challenged by the problem, I hoped for easy fix and did not think thoroughly at first; 3) once easy fix did not work, I wanted other who could fix it easily to work on it; 4) Only when challenged by economics (too expensive for the fix), non availability of internet for three days, I went back to think more carefully on what I should do to fix the problem.

Lessons learned? 1) think before act every time; 2) some pressure is good to make things happen

Even though this is a very simple (out of expertise area) problem, the problem solving skill required is the same as that for a more complex problem:

1) Try to understand a problem first without assumptions and know the end goal
2) Learn as much as possible about the situation
3) Observe, analyze and try
4) Divide a complex problem into a few simple ones
5) Solve the simple problems and the complex problem is not that hard to solve

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Recently Nicholas tried to form a relatively large flat frozen surface - so he got a regular ceramic mug and poured in about half cup of water and placed the mug in a freezer. After a few hours, the water was fully frozen, and to his surprise the top of the frozen ice was not flat at all. The center of the ice bulged upward with visible evidence of cracking, as shown in the following photo.
frozen ice in cup
We expected a flat surface as one would see on the surface of a frozen lake. The questions we had were 1) Why did this happen? 2) How can we make a flat surface from the process?

The difference from the freezing of water in a ceramic mug in a freezer and that in a lake is that the mug was exposed to -20F environment from all directions, while the lake water got cold only from top surface. So the freezing process should be different.

In a lake the freezing process is best illustrated by the following figures:

Since cold water at 4C has smallest volume and highest density, it will sink to the bottom, so the body of lake water can not freeze until the whole body of water reached 4C - not more natural convection from freezing water. At this time as surface water continue to cool to 0C, the freezing water density will decrease, and the surface will continue to cool down without sinking. So in a lake the ice forms at the surface and moving downward. The reason we typically not seeing bulging ice could be a) the lake bed will deform due to the increase of the volume of the freezing process; 2) formed ice can tolerate small volume increase from water right beneath it turning to ice.

Freezing in the mug in a freezer is quite different. It is expected that the water would start to freeze from the water in contact with the mug as well as the top of the water surface. So one would expect that the water would freeze from its outer surface inward. During the freezing process, there should be a stage when there is a layer of ice on the outer surface of the water in the mug and its inner body is still liquid. At this stage the ice surface should be flat - despite the fact that when water becomes ice it increases its volume because ice can tolerate small volume change. As more and more ice formed in the center, the volume change will be larger, as mug is much stiffer than ice, the only direction the increased volume can move is toward the top surface of the ice - which would crack to release the confinement  to the center and allow the volume increase to occur.

We conducted a series tests to verify the reasoning, and we found that the frozen surface was flat at ~ 1 hour time, and there is a liquid center in the frozen water. When we left the mug in the freezer for 2 hours or longer, the water in the mug was fully frozen and a bulge formed with evidence of cracking at the top surface  - exactly as what was observed in the first test. As we figured out the reason we found the answer to our second question as well. 

We also observed that the flat surface in a partially frozen mug was not exactly flat. There was a very shallow wave shape to the surface. Upon observation, it is believed to be caused by the steady humming (vibration) of the refrigerator.

This process enabled us one more time to remind Nicholas that science fair project is for learning how to conduct scientific research, and is to explore and find reasons for unexpected observations. Figuring out unexpected observations led to the solution of this small problem and many great scientific discoveries.

Note: If you are observant, curious and tend to connect dots. You might ask why ice cube made in the freezer has flat surface. This becomes an interesting brain exercise in light of our observation. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Moving In Day at College

We sent Justin to college yesterday.

It is a not a brand new concept to him since he went to TAMS - a boarding high school.

But there are a few tangible changes from TAMS to college.

His distance from home changes from tens of miles to hundreds of miles. His away time from home changes from three weeks to a few months. Academic work will be much more rigorous, .....  On the first day at the college, we did not worry about any of these. We focused on move-in to the dormitory.

main building on Campus
The organization of the student move in at the university was very impressive - the process was well planned, no obvious traffic jams or slight indication of chaos. The administrators, student helpers for registrations were very capable of their duties. The student helpers and custodian staffs at the dormitory were friendly, helpful - two student helpers carried a few big boxes for us from unloading zones all the way to the room. A staff member promptly delivered a guard rail she promised. Beautiful campus, competent staffs! My favorable impression of the university just got a lot better.

We left the campus in about 90 minutes - the allotted time for unloading, then went to an off campus hotel. We went back to campus in the evening to pick Justin and two of his friends for a dinner at Hopdoddy Burger Bar - a trendy restaurant Justin picked.
Outside Hopdoddy
The restaurant is about 4.5 miles away from the campus. When we got there, there was a line outside the door - mostly young people. We waited for about 50 minutes to get to the counter to order the burgers and shakes. Another 10 minutes or so to have food delivered. The burger was good, the shakes were cold and tasty. The restaurant was crowded, noisy. But the college freshmen and a middle schooler all liked the place. One of them told me "It feels so lively!"

Inside Hopdoddy
We returned to campus around 9pm. The campus looked more beautiful at night!

In front of the dorm, mom hugged Justin longer than usual. We waved goodbye!  He started a new chapter of his life.We started a new chapter of our life as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Olympic and Mt Rainier Trip: Side Notes

Of course there were more than mountains, glaciers, flowers ..... the wilderness that we experienced during our trip. There were a few interesting episodes in the domesticated world as well.

Watching World Cup Game at DFW Airport Terminal

The day we left for the trip was also the final day of FIFA world cup preliminaries. There was one burning question for us - could Team USA advance to the round of 16? There was one more question for me - could my favorite team- Germany- win?

We checked the updates on smart phones from time to time while waiting for boarding our flight. USA - Germany were tied at the end of regulation, and overtime started. We could not bear the suspense any more, the boys went to a restaurant to watch the game live, and I followed a few minutes later. Germany won, and we stayed on to watch the Portugal - Ghana game wishing Portugal could win so that team USA would still advance. The latter game went to overtime as well ... one minute left and Portugal held a 2-1 edge .. but Ghana was getting close to evening the score,  the boarding of our flight started, and Lily's text came urging us to return to the terminal! Hold on just 30 seconds more, would you? Finally the whistle blew, the game was over and team USA advanced despite the defeat.

In about 8 minute span we watched 2 overtimes in two exciting soccer games - the suspense, the thrill, the excitement, the despair in defeat, and the relief ...

We were all satisfied with the outcome, and happy to board our flight to Seattle. It was a  good start to the trip!

Meeting friends at Seattle

We have a few friends at Seattle. Due to our tight schedule, we only had chance to have a get together with 2 of Lily's friends at a Korean restaurant on the evening we arrived at Edmonds, a suburb of Seattle.

With three families, 10 people, a full table of delicious food (we ordered too much food!) , a lot of conversations, it was a very pleasant dinner "party".

One will never get the tangibles in a face to face meeting from a social media connection.

Ferry,  Space Needle and Food court at Seattle

Lily and I have vivid memory of our first car ferry at Seattle some 20 years ago when we were still graduate students. The second ferry ride during this trip was from Bain Bridge Island  to downtown Seattle on a sunny day en route to Mt Rainier. The ferry was very fast for a big ship with hundreds of cars and their passengers.

Bridge to a Ferry
A short time after the ferry left the port, we saw a snow covered mountain in the southeast of Seattle, Mt Rainier! We knew that the mountain was close to Seattle, but did not expect to see it. This was a clear indication how tall the mountain is relative to its surroundings.

A few more minutes later, with a turn in direction by the ferry, Seattle downtown was in sight.

We walked around on the upper passenger deck to enjoy all the vistas.

Seattle Downtown
a Sculpture 
Space Needle was the main attraction for us at Seattle. It was worthwhile to get to the top of Space Needle - as we walked around the observation deck, we could see Mt Olympus in the Northwest, Mt Rainier in the Southeast, Mt Baker in the Northeast, ..... and of course the Seattle downtown under our feet!

When we looked far away from the haze, it was very beautiful all around.

Seattle Down tow with Mt Rainier in the background - view from Space Needle
Justin suggested that we went to a food court at Starbucks HQ for lunch after the Space Needle visit. Why there? I asked. He could not give a clear answer. I guessed that it was his curiosity combined with the myth and halo of Starbucks to young people. We went there.

a food truck at Starbucks HQ
The Starbucks HQ is situated at a non glamorous part of Seattle. There were 4 food trucks. There were a few tables along the pedestrian street outside the Starbucks building, a couple of tables were fully occupied - apparently some sort of lunch meetings. We ordered some Cajun food and ate at a table in the street. Not bad!

Good Food

We had only picnic food when we hiked in the mountains or along the coast during the trip, with exception for one lunch, which was at first beach of Olympic National Park, at Water's Edge, where we had great seafood, so I purposely steered the family away from fast food when possible. We had formal dinner almost every night during the trip: a Korean restaurant in Seattle; Log Cabin Resort Restaurant, Hungry Bear on 101, Pacific Pizza after visiting the rain forest, and the high end Lake Crescent Resort Restaurant - the setting was elegant, service was great, the food was delicious, and we were within Olympic national park. At Mt Rainier, we enjoyed great dinners at Paradise Inn Restaurant and National Inn Restaurant.

Water's Edge at First beach of Olympic National Park
Mt Rainier Indoor Activities

One great advantage and benefit of no wireless access or WiFi  is that we could focus on the real world, on the people we are with, and on things we do at the moment.

Because that there was no online chat, no Facebook, no online games ....the boys actually interacted with each other and played chess together - definitely a rarity.

Similarly Lily and I had no chance to check emails, LinkedIn, or read online newspapers. We went to a couple of rangers' programs in the evenings at Paradise Inn to share some interesting and enlightening moments with rangers and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. She read more chapters of a novel, and I enjoyed more sleep. It was total separation from work, and it was very relaxing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rivers, Water Falls and Lakes at Mt Rainier

Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning numerous creeks and rivers, and many water water falls along the course of rivers. There are also numerous glacier lakes at high altitude.

Navara Fall

Rainbow from the mist of Navara Fall
Glacier lake

another glacier lake


creek on the slop

frozen lake - water supply for Sunrise point

Suspension Bridge over a river

moss on the rocks in a creek

silver fall

bench lake

snow lake

river by the snow lake

Big suspension bridge at long mire

Christine Fall

Reflection Lakes