Saturday, April 29, 2017

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is about 100 miles northwest to Austin, and is known for its trails along creeks, canyons and Colorado river. Hiking, paddling and camping are the main activities. Caverns are another attraction, which we did not explore this time.

The campsites are primitive, no electricity, so the nights are dark, stars are bright. There is no cell signal. All these made us closer to the nature and wilderness.

We went there on April 16 with six other families for a one-night camping trip. Since we were in Austin the previous night, we got to the park relatively early in the morning and hiked more trails than the rest of the group. We hiked on Gorman Falls trail first in the morning by ourselves and before the rest of the group arrived, and then we hiked the Spice Wood Canyon trail and Spice Wood Spring trail - they together formed a loop,  in the afternoon. The next morning I ran along the river trail for 5 miles before everyone got up! Before we left the park, we hiked on overlook trail to have a look from 200 ft above the Colorado river to take in the whole Colorado bend.

Gorman Falls

The most popular trail at the park is Gorman Falls. trail, which is a 1,3 mile one way trail mostly flat, but rocky. There are typical Texas Hill country small tress, bushes and wild flowers along the way. The last 100 ft or so of the trail is very steep before reaching the fall viewing area. The trail end is densely wooded and water pours from top of the canyon at the fall, and rains down from near by areas constantly.

Spice Wood Canyon + Spice Wood Spring Trails

The trails at the park are typically one way trails. Studying the trail map, I picked this combination trail to form a loop. The trail head is at the south end of the camping/picnic area. We took the Spice Wood Canyon trail first and then turn to Spice wood spring trail near the 1 mile marker. The total length of the loop trail is about 3.7 miles.

The Spice Wood Canyon trail is on top of the Canyon and mostly wooded. The overlooks along the trail provided great views of Canyon and the creek at the bottom, which provides beautiful scenes and  much needed breaks from the more or less monotone trail.

It all changed when we turned onto the Spice wood spring trail. The trail cross back and forth from one side of the Spice Wood Spring to the other side. The scene along the trail changes constantly as well, from peacefully running creek, to water falls, to emerald green ponds. We tip toed on rocks to cross the creek so many time, in one stretch we decided to take off our hiking boots and waded in the creek, and a few boys in the group tried to catch transparent fishes in the creek. We stopped a lot to take in the surroundings through our eyes and ears, and through our cameras.

Overlook trail

We hiked on the Overlook trail on the way leaving the park. The first portion of the Overlook trail overlaps with the Gorman Falls trails, they divert from each other at about 0.5 mile marker. The trail is about 1.25 miles long one way, and the end of the trail is the Rusty;s Roost View Deck, 200 ft about Colorado river. We had a commanding view of the whole Colorado rive at the bend -looking east  - the Gorman Fall was clearly in sight among the dense green.

West portion of the Colorado Bend

The easy portion of the bend, the white ribbon in the green is the Gorman Fall

Colorado River

The bank of the Colorado river changes dramatically from section to the other. It has hundred foot high cliffs on both side of the river at one stretch, and flat land all the way to the edge of the water. There are camp sites in the latter stretch. There is a pretty flat River trail along the river from the campsite to the Gorman Fall - which can be a 10k round trip for a good morning run! I turned around on my morning run at the park due to time constraint, I ran 8K (5 miles) that morning.

A deer was altered as I ran by

Note: It was a wonderful trip and all of us thoroughly enjoyed the Spice Wood Canyon+ Spice Wood Spring trail. The only regret was that we did not paddle on the Colorado river due to weather (first day) and time constraint (2nd day).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This Texas life 2

Eight years ago we started our blog "Family Adventures" to share our travel plans and experiences with friends and families. Now the topics covered expand well beyond travel - we wrote about love and relationship, sentiments and pondering, routines that are part of our family traditions  .....the following is a collection of our posts on those subjects. (click each item following the subtitle to reach the post)

Family, Friends and Love

Wedding video and photos
The flowers worth waiting for 
Happy marriage
Mother's day presents from Nicholas
Father and Son bonding
Two love songs


Pause in life
I believe I can fly
Our American Identity
Learning and improving through volunteering
Move-In day at College
Butterfly Kisses
Time Flows
Memorial Day Remembrance 


Barber shop at home
Custom Calendar
Family Holiday Letter
Friday night TV shows
My favorite TV shows 1
My favorite TV shows 2
One Extra Hour a day for my life  - by Lily
Drive to Work
Team lunch at work
My office

Friday, April 14, 2017

Blue Bonnet Trails at Ennis, TX

Blue Bonnet is a type of flowers that can be found in many places in southwest Unite States and it is the state flower of Texas. We see the blooming blue bonnet by the pond near our community and along highways and some parkways. Despite its omnipresence, we went to Ennis, TX on Sunday April 9, 2017, which is about 1 hour drive from where we live to see blue bonnet! 

The blue bonnet trails at Ennis we went are driving trails, with ranches, ponds, cattle, horse .... as backdrop. They were quiet, rustic and beautiful. 

After two hours drive and many pictures, we went to Fiesta Grill Mexican for lunch - the waitresses were beautiful and food were delicious.  

It was a good excursion for us to enjoy the blue bonnet and a change of surroundings.

Blue Bonnet at Blue Bonnet Trail Park

A field of Blue Bonnet

Texas Flag Fence

A ranch along blue bonnet trails

other flowers try to outshine blue bonnet




Sunday, April 2, 2017

STEM and daily life

As an engineer, STEM - science, technology, engineering, math - is part of my job. It is exciting and interesting to explore new concepts, develop new technology, solve complex engineering problems; it is tremendously satisfying to see ideas turned into new products, complex problems solved that benefit society and human being,

It is equally fun and exciting when we use  our aptitude, capabilities developed in STEM training to answer questions in our daily life, to solve problems around the house. The following is a collection of our recent blogs about STEM in daily life.


One major aspect of science in my daily life was to answer the curious questions of my children when they were very young, and my own curiosity about nature from what I observe or what I read  in media.

We pondered butterflies life during a camping trip, and returned home reading a big book about butterflies and were amazed of the richness of their life. When Nicolas figured out how to play "Space Force" toy by trial and error, I figured out its physics along the way. When we tried to make a flat ice surface from a cup of water in the freezer, we got unexpected observation, we went ahead to study the process of freezing water. I am very excited every time I find answers to my questions  or gain a better understanding of nature after small studies or "research".

I also frequently check the sources or study the science behind some  news reports - not blindly rely on the interpretation of reporters, be it playing music from wine glasses, reasons and causes of big subject such as global climate change, or small topic such as sunscreen or sensational titles about science related subjects such as GMO - genetically modified organism.


Glaciers, Ice Ages and Climate Change


Most people hire contractors  to fix problems around the houses. I do most of times as well. But I like to try to figure out the root cause of the problems first, and from time to time when I figured out the root cause, I got a solution too! My most popular blog about Central AC in two-story houses was an outcome of root cause analysis and reasoning from knowledge of physics - I got a very effective and economical solution. Other times I guided repair technicians to fix my problems.

I have had so much fun with STEM I try to make young students interested in STEM - I gave speech about STEM at an elementary school, I am also involved in promoting STEM in communities through volunteering at a non-profit organization.


Math seems to be far away from daily life but it is not. Probability of an event happening, statistics of big data, traffic pattern and traffic lights control, encryption of electronic messages ....

The most fundamental function of math to non mathematicians is to develop problem solving skills, to enable logical thinking, and to build the foundation for science, technology and engineering.

Interesting Facts about Triangles