Home | Directory | Contact | FAQ | Recipes | Restaurants | Vietnamese Recipes | 100 Vietnamese Foods | Subscribe

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I-5 From LA to Portland

I-5 LA to Portland 1

Happy Birthday Oregon! My home state turned 150 years old this year!

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 2

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 3

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 4

It's a long, monotonous drive up I-5, nice sunsets are much appreciated.

I-5 LA to Portland 5

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-5 LA to Portland 6

I-5 LA to Portland 7

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 8

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-5 LA to Portland 9

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 10

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!

I-5 LA to Portland 11

Lil' sis was getting mighty bored.

I-5 LA to Portland 12

Oh no! Global warming! I remember when this lake was filled with water.

I-5 LA to Portland 13

I-5 LA to Portland 14

There's always a forest fire in California it seems like.

I-5 LA to Portland 15

And planes flying over with fire retardant.

I-5 LA to Portland 16

*Sniffle.* More drought. Sad!

I-5 LA to Portland 17

Northern California's trees means we're getting closer to home.

I-5 LA to Portland 18

I-5 LA to Portland 19

No snow at all on top of Mount Shasta or Shastina! Sad!

I-5 LA to Portland 20

I-5 LA to Portland 21

Just a little more. We're almost at the border now.

I-5 LA to Portland 22

Yay! Welcome to Oregon!

I-5 LA to Portland 23

Still hours left to Portland though...

I-5 LA to Portland 24

Trees! Douglas fir trees! I've missed Oregon's greenness.

I-5 LA to Portland 25

I-5 LA to Portland 26

I-5 LA to Portland 27

I always get freaked out when I pass a big rig. Triple trailers scare me even more.

I-5 LA to Portland 28

A mesa! Random landmarks that signal my way home.

I-5 LA to Portland 29

I-5 LA to Portland 30

I-5 LA to Portland 31

Mountains upon mountains of Douglas fir trees. It's Oregon's state tree, you know!

I-5 LA to Portland 32

I-5 LA to Portland 33

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 34

I-5 LA to Portland 35

Lumber. It used to comprise quite a bit of Oregon's industry.

I-5 LA to Portland 36

Here, the lumber is cut up. We passed a pulp mill too.

I-5 LA to Portland 37

I-5 LA to Portland 38

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.

I-5 LA to Portland 39

I-5 LA to Portland 40

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)
Blackberry Cobbler
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.


  1. I felt like I was in the car right with you! How fun!

  2. Ah, the best way to travel long monotonous roadtrips -- by someone else's photos! It's lovely that you see your family and get to surprise them once in a while.

  3. I love the part where you talk about the "happy cows"! The Oregon one already looks a bit closed off for the cows with the trees close by but the California one makes the cows look they are in a jail of some sort. Weird! I agree that the CA Milk board should rethink its ad. You're not the only one...I've heard others talk about this happy cows situation!

    Is it just me or do I see Japanese on the bottom on the page linking to different places?

    And JanuskieZ... please don't bombard WC's blog just by leaving a comment not related to the post at all :).

  4. aww that is so sweet that you were able to surprise them. my mom did that to her parents back in june. she even called her sisters and they didnt believe that she was there.

  5. hi wc - e reading about road trips. i remember seeing those hordes of cows in the 5 on our way up to sf this summer.

    that's so funny that you took a photo of your foot (both of them in fact) - i thought i was the only who did that!!! :)

    during road trips - i had to suffer listening to jonas brothers (my daughter). otherwise, it my my music or no music. ha ha.

  6. Weezer Monkey,
    Ha! Who knew looking at scenery along I-5 would be fun? Only because you could scan this in 15 seconds instead of a 15-hour drive. :P

    Surprises are hard to come by since no one can keep a secret in this family!

    I would say the California Milk Advisory Board has some smart marketing. If you didn't know better, you'd really think the cows graze on grass and all that. Just some Japanese ads below. And don't worry, I delete spam comments.

    Cute! Once long ago, I decided to surprise my parents, but oldest uncle again told them to prepare the house for a special visitor. They thought that meant ba noi and frantically started cleaning. Then realized that my ba noi doesn't know her way around enough to just show up unannounced and who else would it be except me?

    Canine Cologne,
    Smelly cows! Those are actually lil' sis' feet. Mine are too short to reach the windshield. I prefer to be the driver because then I can insist on my music. :)

  7. I love your photos! They remind me of my family's vacations - we drive from Northern CA up to a lake in central Oregon, so we too spend hours on I-5. ^_^

    To be fair to the CA dairy industry, the cows in the feedlots you passed are probably not dairy cows. They're beef cows, being grain fattened before being sent to tehe slaughterhouses. Dairy cows do generally roam free on pastureland. There are lots and lots of fields of dairy cattle around where I grew up! The feedlots are horrible, though. I wish more ranchers would grass-feed/finish their beef.

  8. Ruth,
    Good point. I hadn't even thought of that. Although there are ranches in Oregon that raise their beef all-natural and free range too. I wish more people would do that as well.

  9. Love your I-5 pics. You had to drive through my hometown on your drive (Stockton, CA).

  10. Beth,
    When I was a kid, and my dad was the only one driving, we often stopped off in Stockton to spend the night at his friend's house since it's such a long haul.


Thank you for stopping by. I try to respond in a timely manner, but am not always able to do so. If you're awaiting a response, check the post in which the comment is made or click the "Notify me" option.

If you're not a blogger and you'd like to leave a comment, you can do so using your Google/Gmail account.

I welcome questions, discussions, and feedback, but please be mindful that this is my home online. I reserve the right to delete any comment that is anonymous or unknown, rude, promotional, or has a link.

Thank you for reading!