JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

From here to eternity…or was that LA…?

November 1st, 2004 · 3 Comments

Last week we drove to Los Angeles to visit relatives. Ted posted his notes. Below are excerpts from my journal…

Pommelo Sunday

Our first stop was a one-night stay with old friends near Portland who introduced us to pommelos. Gigantic and green, they resemble grapefruits, a guarantee that I would never have ventured to try one myself. Our friends dissected the fruit, peeling through the thick skin and handing pieces to us. The flesh was pink, crystalline and sweet, if words work to describe it. The girls wanted more. Soon we were packed full with pommelo. I marvel at the fruit… and at our faithful friends who gave us many gifts, ones we could carry with our hands and others we carry inside us.

Manic Monday

Mapquest predicted 9.5 hours of driving for our first long day on the road. By the time we finished the course, nearly 12 hours had passed since we left our friends’ house, including breaks for lunch, dinner and once when Ted felt ill. He doesn’t get car sick often. I can’t remember the last time it happened, especially this severely. But it was bad enough we needed to stop and switch our driving schedules.

…Ted didn’t want to stomach another burger so we tried Taco Bell instead. The Mexican pizzas I ordered were a mess, disintegrating as we ate them, requiring a rainforest’s worth of napkins, dissolving into bits of bean and broken tortilla on the paper. They also made other errors with our order… When we left the restaurant, we all agreed: Yo no quiero Taco Bell!

Fat and Happy Tuesday

Although already tired, I knew the trip was worth it when we pulled into the driveway at our destination. The girls saw their grandparents and began to get excited, yelling greetings to them from the van. So it was a happy day. Elisabeth can say “happy” now and it is quite cute.

Fat Tuesday because it was the day the food began. Lots of it. We had dinner that night at a Chinese restaurant, two tables of relatives and countless plates of food, from soup to nuts to crab and duck…but the eating was only beginning…

Wednesday Wedding Day

When I was in elementary school I remember kids teasing that Wednesday was Wedding Day: if you touched a boy or something that meant you two would get married (or get cooties…I can’t quite recall the difference…).

No teasing on this trip, but I was grateful for my wedding on Wednesday and every day. I’ve read that camping trips strengthen marriages. Road trips aren’t quite camping trips, but they certainly test communication, flexibility and self-control. We were both tired and grumpy at times. I got to see how selfish and cranky I can be. I got to see how Ted takes care of our family. Road trips are a great opportunity to work as a team together in ways that we don’t at home. We share shifts and split the driving. One night with two cars, we did a pas de deux on the freeway – well, perhaps it was more follow-the-leader than a ballet performance, but it was fun. Together on Wednesday night we took Michaela to the hospital for stitches (more on that later). Visiting Ted’s family, I am aware of our marriage and grateful that he chose me.


The days we were in LA were a whirlwind of dim sum and dinners, seeing cousins and their kids, dumplings and duck, always more food than you can eat and new people to introduce to our daughters. Ted had fun spending more time with cousin Elliot and I disovered that his mom, Katy, is also a blogger!

Friday Farewell

It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to relatives who live far away. As we part, I stare for a while, taking a a last long look, imprinting a permanent picture in my mind until our next meeting.

While we were still waving goodbye to Ted’s parents, driving into the street, Abigail said in a quiet voice, “I miss them.”

As we had loaded the car, I had handed out new memo notebooks to the girls. I encouraged them to write down their feelings and memories. Soon it was silent, each girl busy with her notebook, scribbling, and I sense I am sitting in a van full of writers.


I could drive all night

…or maybe not. Tonight it was tempting to keep going up I-5 and head home instead of stopping in Redding. I want to go home. While washing the girls’ hands at Burger King I realized that we have not had two meals in the same location for one day. I estimate 14 different bathrooms on the trip so far, 14 different sinks, toliets, soap pumps and towels to figure out for three little girls to use. Five different sets of beds in one week.

But it was fun to stop and decompress at the hotel. And even the ride was fun at times. Abigail and Ted sang a silly musical. Michaela told a story about her doll: This is a cute story!. Elisabeth cried potty! potty! alerting us to her needs, acting more mature than we had expected on the trip. She also has mastered how to say “Burger King”, her favorite restaurant.

Ted and I watched a history channel show on tanks and CNN. It was the most time we will have together for a while. Fit for a king: we have two king-sized beds in this double suite.

It was a good trip. We ate lots of food (Ted summarized that our week was “Three days of good food sandwiched by four days of bad food”!). Did I mention food? We visited cousins, aunts and an uncle. We saw Mandarin music videos. We ate chocolate gelato and rode a carousel. The kids decorated pumpkins and drew on a gigantic cardboard playhouse, thanks to cousin Katy and her family. Most of all we got to spend time with family, rare moments to be remembered, especially the girls with their grandparents.


Saturday Sunshine

We drive past Lake Shasta, the sun shining, the kids’ tape playing a silly song with the chorus I Love You. Like a miler, I feel a last burst of energy for this final lap and the weather increases my anticipation. Thick pines form the forest. A truck with trapezoid-shaped cargo wrapped in blue tarp drives beside us. We will be home by bedtime. Joy!

Red soil. Yellow grass. White clouds. Blue sky. Green tree. Below us, a train crosses a river. Above us fog and clouds trail in wisps from the mountains. I see a motorcycle abandoned by the side of the road and I imagine the rider couldn’t resist running into the wilderness. I wish we had time to stop. Soon bright maples appear amidst the pines, like flamoyant guests crashing an evergreen party.

All the way home the weather varies from sunshine to thick rain, sometimes changing suddenly, leaving a trail of rainbows.


After one last stop at Burger King, we are home, more than 2500 miles and 19 restrooms later….:-)

Tags: family

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Nov 1, 2004 at 11:41 am

    loved the simile about the evergreen party crashing

  • 2 emily // Nov 1, 2004 at 1:14 pm

    Welcome home to the great Pacific Northwest, our dear friends. We have been thinking of you and praying for your safety. We will keep praying for the time apart these next two weeks.

  • 3 jenny // Nov 1, 2004 at 9:12 pm

    Welcome home! Sounds like you all enjoyed quite an adventure together:)!!!

Leave a Comment