Exercise, Travel

Explore a New Park #11: Painted Cove Trail, Mitchell Oregon

This is a hidden gem in the Painted Hills.

Park Feature

Park Highlight Picture


This small trail is part of big John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and the Painted Hills.


Driving on a unpaved road next to Painted Hills


Small Rock in the middle


Beautiful Painted Hill – looks like art


This trail only took us 30 mins, but it was very comfortable. Not many people were there, so we had enough time to take pictures and enjoy the art in nature.


If you like this post, this link is our park tour archive. Park Tour

Exercise, Park Tour

Explore a New Park #10: Noble Woods Park, Hillsboro Oregon

This park is located in the middle of a city called Hillsboro, Oregon. There is a very nice trail and creek surrounded by trees in residential area. This is a nice place for taking a dog for a walk.

Park Features:

Park Highlight Picture:


If you like this post, here is park tour archive. Park Tour

Engineering, Gardening

Smart Gardening #2: Concept Design by drawing Block Diagram

Last time, we studied the fundamental data to collect by a commercial Three-way meter (last Smart Gardening blog post). So, let’s review it again and start a DIY concept design in a smarter by drawing a block diagram.

Recap: Three-Way Meter, weblink

This three-way meter device can measure three different type of data and display them on an analog meter with a switch. One good thing about it is a battery-free device.

  1. Light Sensor
  2. Moisture
  3. pH
  4. Analog Display


Here is a smarter way to measuring gardening data with Arduino. Arduino is a low-cost micro-controller which can control sensors electrically and monitor the live data.

This is a list of components as the first prototype. We would like to design this with very minimal knowledge of electronics.

  1. Arduino Micro: Arduino Micro with headers
  2. 4-line display: SunFounder IIC I2C TWI Serial 2004 20×4 LCD Module Shield
  3. Light Sensor: Digital Light Intensity Photosensitive Sensor Module
  4. Soil Moisture Sensor: DFROBOT Gravity: Analog Capacitive Soil Moisture Sensor- Corrosion Resistant
  5. Temperature and Humidity Sensor: BME280 I2C or SPI Barometric Pressure and Altitude Sensor

This time, I decided not to use pH meter because there is not a low cost pH meter and we don’t measure pH very often. However, I may be wrong, so I will try to include it in the next version. In addition, as the three-way meter is a battery free device, it is good to add a small solar panel to charge the device in the next version.


Engineers usually draw block diagrams to share ideas as a Proof-of-Concept prototype. Microsoft Visio is a good software tool including business flowcharts and electronics block diagram as part of the software package.

This block diagram is very simple, and it shows that Arduino Micro is the brain of this smart gardening prototype ver 1.


I2C is a standard bi-directional two-line communication between a micro-controller and sensor including SCL (Clock) and SDA (Data).

SPI is another standard three or four uni-directional wires including SCLK (clock), MISO (Master Input Slave Output), MOSI (Master Output Slave Input), and CS (Chip Select).

Analog voltage is the voltage level that the sensor outputs to a microcontroller, so microcontroller’s ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) can quantify the voltage level which is based on sensor’s quantity (ex: soil moisture level and light luminance).

Next, I would like to start wiring and soldering to connect all components.


Backyard Gardening #3: 2019 June Week 3

Backyard Gardening Update in June 2019.

Finally, the weather in Portland, Oregon is sunny in most days. This means that vegetables that need sunshine grow faster.

Snapshot of the backyard garden:


Growing in progress:

  1. Eggplant: First eggplant. Expecting this to be ready to eat in a couple of weeks. With more sunshine, the plant becomes more dark purple.


2. Blueberry: berries are starting to be dark blue.



  1. Strawberry has been very good in the past week. Time to pick up a lot of strawberries.






Exercise, Park Tour

Explore a New Park #9: Mosier Plateau Trail in Mosier Oregon

Park Features:




Waterfalls and swimming hole


There was a cemetery in the middle of the hiking trail.

We saw a horse while we were hiking. This town is a peaceful. Only 480 people live in Moises, Oregon.

On the way to the top, there were switchbacks and stairs were build nicely (evenly spaced), which helped us hike up easily rather than hiking on dirt.

This is the scenery  from the view point on top. You can see Columbia River and highway 84 where we drove from.

Another view point was near the cliff 20 mins hike from the top. It was very windy but the view was gorgeous. The picture below is towards East Oregon.

The picture below is towards West (Portland).

To respect the trail…

IMG_4403 (Edited).PNG


Grateful Dad Half Marathon, Portland Oregon

Race day was June 15 Saturday, 2019

7:30AM Packet Pickup

The parking was limited, so I had to do a street parking. There were a plenty of spots on street.

Start Position: https://goo.gl/maps/8NnmBExAhLjm56Wb9

event website: https://terrapinevents.com/event/grateful-dad-half-marathon/

My goal for this race is run a half marathon not at too fast pace for me but finish strong at the end because I was a little sick. It has been either too hot or cold this week.

Course Map – The course was very similar to Hop Hop Marathon in last April. Running along Columbia River and Portland Airport. The turnaround place for the half marathon was almost at the same spot.


Registration, Bib pick up and shops were close to each other. There was a huge line for toilets before the race.


8:30AM Half Marathon Start


This was the finish line.


Chill out after the race.



Hop Hop Half Marathon, Portland Oregon

This was a half marathon event in April 20, 2019 near Columbia River and Portland International Airport in April 2019.

It was a relatively small marathon event for Easter. The event was managed by Foot Traffic, which is a local running shoes and gear company in North West area.

Race website: https://foottraffic.us/hop-hop-half/

This picture was the start and finish line.

It was a little cold weather.

The course map shows running around the PDX airport and along Columbia River.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.55.57 PM

This picture below was taken while I was running along Portland International Airport, which was cool. I saw airplanes taking off and landing.

Here was the finish line.

After race event.

Finishers got a free glass of hop to drive and take the glass home.

Exercise, Travel

Explore a New Park No. 8 : Forest Park (Oregon Zoo to Burnside Rd) in Portland, Oregon

Here is the run after work. I ran on Wildwood trail. Today was another sunny day, so it was easy to get thirsty while running. The forest definitely helped cool down the temperature a little compared to running on concrete in a city.

Entrance to Wildwood trail!


Wildwood trail is a very famous trail for runners.

Unfortunately, the trail to pass the Burnside road all the way to Pittock Mansion was closed. So, I just ran on concrete a little to see traffic jam on Burnside Road and came back to Oregon Zoo. Good news is they are building a bridge over the Burnside Road according to this website. https://www.portlandpf.org/footbridge-over-burnside-construction-updates-1

This looks like we lose some of the uphill challenges 😛

Engineering, Gardening

Smart Gardening #1: Study Data Science in Analog Way


Three-way Meter which can be purchased at Amazon can let us measure (1) Moisture, (2) Light, and (3) pH of soil without any battery. Not sure about accuracy. I would like to use this analog meter as a starting point for smart gardening.

When it’s sunny, luminance level when up to 750.

When it’s sunny

From here on,  I would like to improve the backyard gardening system by taking measurements using my engineering skills and gardening experience and help grow plants efficiently and effectively.

Let’s start the journey begin.

Here is a picture of strawberries from the garden. This is the third year since I started growing strawberries. The number of strawberries is growing exponentially this year.



Backyard Gardening #2: 2019 June Week 2

Here is our gardening update in June 2019.

Strawberry is close to fruition. We started eating and fresh strawberries are very tasty. We need to find a better solution for garden weeds.

Japanese long eggplants need more sunshine. This year, we planted 6 and we hope to collect a lot.


Last year, we planted a bunch of tomatoes. However, during our vacation last summer, tomatoes grew too fast because of lots of sunshine and the support was not enough. So, the tomato plants started falling down and it was a lot of efforts to recover.

Tomatoes are very strong. Even if we cut some brunches, the tomatoes started growing back again from the main stem.

This year, we are just okay with one tomato plant.


Bell papers are our favorite. We cook Japanese and Chinese food. This is good for stir fries.