2009 Summer Road Trip

2009/6/20 – 6/27

This was my first road trip ever. It was a pretty short one.

We (Karan and I) flew to Oakland, California and planned to drive up to Ashland, Oregon (possible Portland if we get bored in Ashland area).

We ended up staying in Ashland for five days.

For the first time, I didn’t read the guidebook, didn’t do research online on the interesting areas, didn’t even have desire to visit any of the famous tourist destinations.

We didn’t go to:

- Shakespeare Festival

- Crater Lake

- Oregon wineries

The most memorable moments on this trip are (in random order):

- lavender fields

- sleeping till 10am-noon most days

- spontaneity

- Hwy 1/Hwy101 scenic drive

- puky Hwy128

- Monica’s home brew Kombucha

- Bob’s pony tail

- Standing Stone’s beer

- outdoor dining in Ashland

- the abundance of rosemary plants in Ashland

- Dragonfly’s Buddha Bowl

- Annie & Jeff’s hospitality

- backyard creek at Annie’s

- poetry night at Julie’s

- Lithia Park’s creek

- giant ice cream at Zoey’s

- Bella’s growl

- picking fresh cherries

- late night chit-chat with Annie & Jeff

- saw an elk on the highway

- saw a deer (with big ears) on Annie’s front yard

- owl eating furry cat story

- house-hunting with Annie & Kirsten

- majestic Mt.Shasta

Ashland, Oregon is so beautiful and I would certainly go back for another visit. :)

I made a video summarizing this road trip. This is my first video ever!! I wish I had more time to learn about the video edit software, to edit the video/music and to match the beats. There are too many projects to do, too little time. :(

Here’s the movie. Enjoy.

Matanzas Creek Winery

Sonoma County, California

There are over 300 wineries in the area. It might sound crazy, but I actually didn’t plan to visit any. However, after knowing Karan had never been to a vineyard, I was itching to take him to one.

Matanzas Creek Winery was just a short drive from our hotel.
Tasting Room

Wine Menu – We chose Collection Two

The cost of wine tasting is only $5 but it’s refundable with wine purchase.

Since our hotel has a special relationship with this winery, the hotel guests receive complimentary wine tasting there. That’s perfect!

We tried two whites and three reds. The wines were very smooth. I really enjoyed our collection of wines.


You can pick up your favorite wine at the shop.

Also available in the shop are gifts (soaps, bath oils, etc) made from lavender.

Big smiles after wine tasting

Mumbling after a few glasses of wine …

Since we reached there pretty late, we ony had half an hour in the tasting room before the closing time. :(

Matanzas Creek Winery is famous for its neverending lavender fields. We don’t have lavender plants in Malaysia, so I went a little crazy when I saw lavender in such huge quantity!!  Here’s a short video … right before the battery went out.

I wasn’t able to take any videos any more.  Aikes. Here are some photos of the lavander fields.

Am I in France?

Walking through lavender fields

Lavender fills the air with intoxicating scent

I’ve always loved the lavender fragrance.

Lavender – one of my favorite plants

There are spots for the guests to chill, picnic or play bocce balls.

My obssesion with old wooden doors


If I didn’t put myself in front of the door, you probably would be able to see the door more clearly. Haha.

We wish we would come earlier to Matanzas. Nonetheless, we had a lovely afternoon here, and we left with little buzz in our heads. haha. :)

Winding Pacific Highway with a Head Spin


When a trip is well researched, it usually produces more predictable outcome.  This trip is different than my usual well-planned trips. I planned this road trip to be a more spontaneous one. I know where I want to be at the end of each night but I don’t plan out the daily schedule. I want the day to unfold on its own; unplanned and spontaneous.

We started on Hwy 101 in the morning and decided to cut across to Hwy 1 using Hwy128. We didn’t have GPS with us. I personally think it’s charming to use road map instead of GPS on a road trip. Based on the road map, Hwy128 seemed like a fairly traightforward road and we would reach Hwy 1 in no time.

The first fifteen minutes were scenic with wineries dotting the landscape on both sides of the road. I was bubbly with lots of eees, woos, wows and hahas. Then, majestic redwoods sprung out of the ground and shot 100 feet above the ground to greet us. It is quite a bit different than the 6 feet tall corn crop fields.

The road started to get winding. There was sharp corner turn every 5 meters. Karan was having fun driving on this roller coaster road, but after 1001th turn, I started to wonder when was this joy ride going to end? We haven’t even reached the Pacific Highway.

My stomach started to turn with each turn. I tried to focus on the landscape instead of my dizziness. My friend gave me a nickname of “Dizzy”, so you should know that car sickness is my weakness. I actually felt pretty proud that I haven’t thrown up after God knows how many hours on Hwy128. Finally, before merging onto Hwy1, I couldn’t help it but offered my digested lunch to the Redwood Gods.

Hwy 1 was pretty winding as well. However, the beauty of the coastline helped me to feel a little better. We stopped to appreciate the ocean a few times.

The coastline was truly beautiful. Too bad that once I felt dizzy, there was no way to “undizzy”. :( I tried my best to enjoy the view since I don’t get to see this view every day! It was really worth the dizziness. :)

By the time I reached Eureka, I have thrown up everything in my stomach. I actually felt much better.

We stopped by a cafe to have some vegetable soup. Looking at the road map, Karan had an idea, “why don’t we cut across using Hwy 299 to get to Hwy 5?”

With a little more experience reading the map now, I told him I doubted that Hwy299 would be less winding than Hwy101 since there are mountains between Hwy 101 and Hwy 5.

A diner on the next table overheard us and offered his advice, “If you drive like a maniac, it would still take you two and half hours to reach Hwy 5 using Hwy299. There are more deaths on Hwy299 than any other highways.”

Oh boy, we immediately abandoned the idea of getting onto Hwy299.

After the meal, I felt a little better and took over the wheel.

I had to make a stop at Arcata since it’s my friend Sarah’s birth place. To my surprise, Arcata is so different than Eureka. Arcata has a Fairfield vibe to it and Eureka is more like Ottumwa. Too bad I couldn’t stop by longer to appreciate Arcata since I had to rush to Ashland before it get dark.

I spent the next three hours driving and my dizziness was melting away by the minute. Hurray. I don’t want to be shameless, but I am a tough cookie!!

Another 100 wows came out of my mouth when I passed by Smith River area. The sun casted a golden glow on the mountain, it was so serene. This is what road trip is about, to see, to feel and to experience.

Oh, I saw the first elk in my life too!

We reached Ashland, Oregon at around 10:30pm. Phew! What a drive, what a day. :)

Off to bed now. Tomorrow I’ll wake up fresh and ready for another day of adventure.

Dim Sum Time

6/22 Oakland, California

What’s for brunch on a Sundy morning in Chinatown?

Dim sum of course!! That’s no brainer.

We asked around for the best dim sum place. Two out of three people recommended Legendary Palace.

Travel Tip: Always ask the locals for restaurant recommendation. Don’t just ask one, ask a few people.

It was peak lunch time and Legendary Palace was packed! So, do come here early (we overslept… :P ).

We waited 20 minutes for our table. While waiting, we rushed next door to buy some fruits (in season bing cherries, lychees, etc) and pastries to be consumed later of the day. When it comes to food, I always think ahead.

Karan can’t get enough of the red bean buns.

Pretty cakes
A box of goodies for only $3.50

It was definitely worth the wait for our table. There were restaurants nearby with no lines. You order the dim sum off the menu. In my opinion, you gotta order dim sum off the dim sum cart for an aunthentic dim sum experience.


Dig in!

Pastry cart

One of my favorite desserts is Tofu Flower. It’s silky custardy tofu in sweet syrup. I prefer to eat it warm. Some people prefer to eat it chilled.

Server: “We call this Tofu Brain in Beijing.”

Tofu Flower

Karan’s comment on Tofu Flower: “Hmm… Weird.”

Four dim sum steamers and a dessert later, we were full!

Our bill came to $17. Not bad, since we really enjoyed the food.

Come with your family and friends for some quality bonding time around the table! It’s a Chinese tradition that should be cherished forever.
Come again