Last September, lil' sis and I loaded up her car with pomegranates, dragon fruits, loofahs, freshly picked chili peppers, a couple of jars of tuong ot xa (Vietnamese lemongrass chili sauce), and a few chickens. My youngest aunt sent up a whole jackfruit. It was wonderfully sweet. Youngest aunt really knows how to select the right jackfruit says my momma.
Almost all of my extended family eventually moved down to Southern California and only my dad and second-youngest aunt stayed in Oregon. So when my brother and I were little (waaay before lil' sis was born), my dad used to send us down almost every summer. Sometimes it was by plane, but most of the time we drove. It's funny how years later when I see these mountains, I'm always reminded of those trips.
With all the congestion, it's easy to forget Southern California is rich in oil.
Lil' sis and I were filled with such anticipation as we set out on our trip. We both hadn't been home in quite a while.
We were planning to surprise our parents, even cautioning our aunts and uncles not to say a word. My family is terrible at keeping secrets. Oldest uncle's idea of not spilling secrets is to tell my parents to be home because someone is coming, but I didn't tell who, he'd say. :P We got suspicious when mom called out of the blue that day to ask me to bring a persimmon tree up the next time I go home. It just happened to be a mighty big coincidence though.
Happy cows do not come from California. Just sayin' there's nothing happy about being jammed onto a dirt lot with a bunch of other cows. The smells! I've gotten pretty good at remembering to turn off the air right about now so the odors don't waft into the car's vents.
It's a long, monotonous drive up I-5, nice sunsets are much appreciated.
We stopped off in the San Francisco Bay area to crash at cousin Q's older brother's place for the night. It was late, his fridge was mostly bare, but luckily I had packed spaghetti and meatballs. I know, not the most sensible of road trip foods, but I just packed up what I had in the fridge so it wouldn't spoil. The next morning, I made a tomato and avocado salad for the drive. Ha! I was a poor planner. Again, not the best of road trip foods.
The Carquinez Bridge.
I don't like being in the car for long stretches, but the PDX to LA and LA to PDX route has been a constant in my life. The occasional layover has been a more recent addition when cousin Q's older brother moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. For the most part, it was dad driving us down so we could spend time with our ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) and cousins. My family's inordinate closeness can be partly attributed to those summers.
The other aspect of road trips is that when there are only the two of us in the car, conversations always take a confidential turn. We catch up and talk about stuff that we might not have unless faced with 13 to 15 hours of conversation to fill.
I get to listen to my cheesy 80s pop, New Wave, Euro, Free-style, or Scottish folk music. The music has to be sing-along-able or else I'll fall asleep. And truthfully, I don't need music to go about my day. I mean, I like it and all, but I'm perfectly happy with silence.
Look! It's a sign for Willows and I only know this small town because I read Tongue-in-Cheek. And right after I pointed that out to lil' sis, I got pulled over for speeding. Whoops! Luckily, the nice police officer let me off with a warning and a fix-it ticket to update the address on my driver's license. Phew!
Lil' sis was getting mighty bored.
Oh no! Global warming! I remember when this lake was filled with water.
There's always a forest fire in California it seems like.
And planes flying over with fire retardant.
*Sniffle.* More drought. Sad!
Northern California's trees means we're getting closer to home.
No snow at all on top of Mount Shasta or Shastina! Sad!
Just a little more. We're almost at the border now.
Yay! Welcome to Oregon!
Still hours left to Portland though...
Trees! Douglas fir trees! I've missed Oregon's greenness.
I always get freaked out when I pass a big rig. Triple trailers scare me even more.
A mesa! Random landmarks that signal my way home.
Mountains upon mountains of Douglas fir trees. It's Oregon's state tree, you know!
See? Happy cows come from Oregon where they graze on grass in open spaces. Someone should tell the California Milk Advisory Board that their commercials are so wrong.
Lumber. It used to comprise quite a bit of Oregon's industry.
Here, the lumber is cut up. We passed a pulp mill too.
Oh no! I didn't make very good time on this trip. I wanted to hit the 45th parallel while it was still light out so I could get a picture of the sign between Salem and Portland that says we're halfway between the equator and the North Pole. Lil' sis sat armed with my camera ready to snap photos but it was simply too dark.
We pulled up to the house and lil' sis decided to call my mom on her cell phone.
"Hi, ma," said lil' sis. "What are you doing?"
Watching TV with your dad and second-youngest aunt, mom says.
Then I rang the doorbell.
Second-youngest aunt got up to open the door, then remembered that my sister and I were due in that night and that it was supposed to be a BIG secret. She walked slower so my dad could pass her and open the door himself.
Daddy looked confused when he saw me at the door.
Mom was even more confused when she saw lil' sis standing right beside me. She glanced at the phone in her hand, then at lil' sis, then back at her phone.
Second-youngest aunt just stood in the hallway giggling because she was in on the secret.
Haha! We did surprise our parents after all!
All Oregon posts can be found in the tag, Series: Oregon. I suggest reading this particular trip in this order:
I-5 From LA to Portland
Mom and Dad's Garden
Burgerville - Portland - Oregon
Hakatamon - Beaverton - Oregon
I Think I'll Go For a Walk Outside Now...
Vista Point - Oregon City
End of Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Oregon City
Stevens-Crawford Heritage House - Oregon City
Museum of the Oregon Territory - Oregon City
Mom's Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes)
Bonneville Lock and Dam - Cascade Locks - Oregon
Bonneville Hatchery - Cascade Locks - Oregon
Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Horsetail Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Wahkeena Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Historic Columbia River Highway - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Crown Point Vista House - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon
Banh Cuon Tan Dinh - Portland - Oregon (Closed)
Downtown Portland - Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden (Portland Classical Chinese Garden) - Portland - Oregon
Powell's City of Books - Portland - Oregon
Mom's Geoduck, Dynamite-Style and Chao Oc (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Clams)
How to Prepare Geoduck and Razor Clams
Geoduck, Japanese Dynamite-style
Chao Oc (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Clams)
Le Bistro Montage - Portland - Oregon
Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen - Portland - Oregon
1 year ago today, nectarine blossoms and musings on the grilled cheese sandwich.
2 years ago today, chocolate buffet at the Sofitel Plaza - Saigon - Vietnam.