Saturday, September 26, 2015

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is a lake and wetland on the border between Texas and Louisiana, in northeastern Texas and western Caddo Parish in Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo. It features the largest cypress forest in the world. Caddo is Texas's only natural lake and is the 2nd largest in the South; however, it was artificially altered by the addition of a dam in the 1900s.
Caddo Lake
We visited Caddo lake area three times, each time we went to Caddo Lake State Park, which is located at the southwestern corner of the big lake - the green area in the above map. The park is in fact connected to the lake via a bayou. The cypress trees are the main draw. The main activities at the park include camping, hiking, canoeing, birding and star gazing at night. Kayaking on the big lake should be great but will most likely require a guide. Boat tour on the big lake should be fun as well.

The first two times we visited there were in November some eight and ten years ago. The third time was during the labor day weekend this summer. The different seasons provide totally different sense of the lake.

During the first two trips, we had a sunny morning and drizzling afternoon at Caddo Lake and thus got a chance to see the two faces of the lake! The clear water, the  crisp air, ghostly cypress trees with Spanish mosses in the morning, and the misty water in the afternoon. The most exciting thing happened to Nicholas was that a frog jumped onto his paddle when we were canoeing in the bayou.

Mill Pond at Caddo Lake State Park
Less Colors but more ghostly
A frog jumped on little Nicholas's paddle
Grand egrets in Misty Swamp 

During the labor day weekend, we camped inside the park near the mill pond with three other families. The humidity was very high during the day time, the air was still, which made it felt very hot even though the temperature was at low 90sF. We sweated profusely on the hiking trails. The famed steam boat ride was a bust - we did not know that the boat ride changed its route from that in the big lake to the bayou. If we knew this ahead of time, we would have not taken the ride. Because of this disappointment, we went to Uncertain - the town by the lake before we left for home - to get a glimpse of the big lake. The plan to rent a motor boat to tour the lake on our own was not realized.

But it was sunny with blue sky and white clouds, the cypress trees were green, the lake surface was mirror like.  It was beautiful! It was wonderful to canoe around Mill Pond. The temperature dropped quickly at night  which made sleep through the night not a problem. The night was pitch black - the stars were bright and "large" - it felt like that the heaven was closer in this wilderness.

Mill pond at Caddo Lake

On the hiking trail

Canoeing by the big cypress trees gave us a different feel


Reaching up

Purple Fruit

A Lotus pond by the big lake

Caddo Lake

Swamp at Caddo Lake

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Snap shots from China Trip - by Justin and et al

Snapshot is popularly defined as a photograph that is "shot" spontaneously and quickly.

Two ladies preparing for selfies
Taking Selfie or Playing Game?
Selfies in Group
Taking Selfie the old way
Taking Pictures
Taking Pictures Professionally
Taking Picture - A bride posed for a picture at a quieter place in Jiuzhaigou
Caught on Camera
Taking Breaks or Hugging a tree?
Taking Breaks with Aunts
Good to the last bite

Monday, September 7, 2015

Impressions of China

China changed a lot more since our last visit there - more tall buildings, more cars, more apartment owners .... there were also a few ordinary things that drew my attentions.

Public Places free of litters

I was not consciously aware of it until we visited Jiu  Zai Gou  -  I was really amazed by the fact that the park was almost free of litters. What made this possible was that there was one custodian assigned to take care a section of a trail - who would patrol the section and pick up occasional litter to keep his/her section clean. I had similar observations in the streets of two cities we visited during our summer trip to China - Beijing and Du Jiang Yan. In addition to education, I guess that clean street/park make people refrain from littering.

Few Bicycles

Biking was a primary mean of transportation for many Chinese people. But I did not see any bikes along the main streets in Beijing this time. I saw few bikes even on the side streets. Bikes were replaced by cars - which is an indication of advancement in material consumption but it sends the environment back many years.

We planed to have a half day bike tour of downtown Beijing near forbidden palace. We canceled this plan after observing the crowded streets, reckless drivings of many drivers and few bikers who brave the streets of Beijing.

Cars and polluted air make biking in Beijing dangerous now.

Reckless Drivers

Many streets in Beijing, especially those close to Tianmen Square, the two way traffic are divided by metal fences. At roadways when there are no such fences, even minor build-up of traffic will cause some drivers to drive in the wrong side of the roads!

fences to divide traffic, and to prevent pedestrians walking into roadway 

Fence divided a two way traffic but 1 lane was used two lanes

Polluted Air

The air pollution in Beijing seemed to get worse.

I was impressed by the trees along many streets in Beijing. However I could barely see any trees along the streets to have leaves with their true colors - they were covered by dust or soot!

The sky is grey on a sunny day, any thing of some distance is always behind a haze, even right after rain.