Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Oregon Adventure - Day 1

I hope everyone had a great holiday. Happy New Year!

We got home yesterday after spending eight days traveling up and down the Oregon coast on Highway 101 in our camper. This is a great time of year to visit the coast because of the fierce winter storms that pound the beaches and rocky coastline. I had soooo much fun and Mother Nature put on quite the weather display. One day it felt like if we didn't like the weather, just drive ten more miles and experience something different. Hail, rain, sun, wind, snow...we saw it all during the course of our adventure.

First, if you are a camper and plan on visiting Oregon, check out their state park system. They have the best I have ever visited. Clean and well-run parks, friendly staff and during the Discovery period (aka the off-season), camp fees are very reasonable for full hookups. The most we paid was $22 USD per night with the typical rate being $20. We stayed in five different parks - Nehalem Bay, South Beach, Sunset Bay, Bullards Beach and Harris Beach.

Over the next several days, I will be sharing photographs taken during our trip.

We started our trip by crossing into Astoria, Oregon from Washington state via the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River. The bridge is just over four miles long with the highest point being four hundred feet. It is the longest continuous cantilever through-truss bridge in the world (at least according to their sign). I will have pictures of the bridge from our return trip.

We didn't stop in Astoria although I understand it is worth visiting. Instead we headed south on Hwy 101 and made our first real stop in Cannon Beach.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Karl and the Dogs at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Sky

As you can tell from the pictures, it was a gray day with periods of wind and rain. Plus it was chilly on the beach, too.

After leaving Cannon Beach, it was on to Tillamook and the Tillamook Cheese Factory. They offer a free, self-guided tour of their cheese making operation. First of all, it's FREE; and second, we eat a lot of Tillamook cheese so why not take a tour? I apologize for the color of the pictures. I was shooting through the windows during the tour and got weird colorations.

Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, Oregon

Here is where the cheese making starts.
  • On average, each of the eight stainless steel vats makes three batches of cheese each day
  • More than 1.7 million pounds of milk arrive at the plant each day
  • It takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese
  • Approximately 167,000 pounds of cheese are made daily
Stainless Steel Vats

After the cheddaring process, cheese curds go into the pressing towers where the curds are pressed for thirty minutes. Then a block of Tillamook cheese is born.
  • Although the blocks are called "forties", they weigh between 41 and 42 pounds.
  • After being bagged, vacuum-sealed, boxed and cooled, the forties are sent to the warehouse for aging.
Pressing Towers in Action (Note the block in front of the upper right tower)
After the blocks have aged a minimum of sixty days in the warehouse, they are moved to the packaging department. This is where the forty pound blocks are cut and packaged into the smaller sized blocks we purchase at the store.
  • Blocks are cut into individual pieces on one of three different packaging lines
  • Each piece runs over a scale called a checkweigher. Underweight pieces are patched; overweight pieces are trimmed.
  • Approximately one million pieces of cheese are packaged in a week
  • Tillamook Cheese is the number two brand of chunk cheddar cheese in the United States
Tillamook Packaging Area

At the end of the tour, there were free samples of Tillamook cheese as well as store area for purchasing Tillamook products. We opted for delicious Tillamook ice cream cones. Click here for more information on Tillamook Cheese and other products.

After leaving Tillamook, we thought we'd travel the Three Capes route that ran along the coast rather than Hwy 101. Big mistake.

This was one of the worst roads we traveled. Full of potholes, rough, and not very enjoyable. At least with an RV. Maybe on a bike this would be better suited but never again for us! I was glad to rejoin Hwy 101 again just below Pacific City.

Leaving the north coast section of Oregon, we journeyed into the central coast region. After a quick stop for lunch in Lincoln City, we made our way to Depoe Bay. Just south of town, there is the Otter Crest loop. I had read in our guide of a few scenic stops so we crossed our fingers and left Hwy 101 again. 

Almost immediately you come to the historic Ben Jones bridge that was refurbished in 2001.

Ben Jones Bridge - Depoe Bay, Oregon

Just down the road from the bridge, we rounded a bend in the road and spotted what we thought was a house perched precariously on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. No playing catch in the yard here!
Then we found out the building was a gift shop called the Lookout at Cape Foulweather. We browsed around the shop and looked out the windows. Neat little place five hundred feet above the ocean!

The Lookout at Cape Foulweather
Before long, the sun was setting and it was time to find a place to stop for the night. We knew there was a campground at the Newport Marina. It basically was a paved parking lot and with our Good Sam discount, it still would have cost $37 per night! Luckily, we came upon South Beach State Park just down the road and began our love affair with Oregon state parks.

Newport, Oregon Bridge

Until tomorrow...


Webster said...

What a nice travelogue of your trip down the coast. It's been years since I've done it. Thanks!

Small City Scenes said...

I love the Oregon beaches. I hate to say it but I like them better than the Washington beaches. Bad me!!! Stayed in a yurt at one of the places you mentioned. Great prices. Nice pictures.

I am going to Ritzville for awhile so see you when I get back. MB

don said...

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and reading about your trip down 101. The Oregon coastline is a favorite place to visit whenever I can get to the ocean. Your pictures show it very well. Nice job of shooting the scenes along the way.

lizziviggi said...

I agree, you can't beat the Oregon coast for camping! We have a vintage little trailer we took along the coast a couple summers ago. We didn't make it to the Tillamook cheese factory, though-- jealous! I LOVE Tillamook cheddar.

Gaelyn said...

Oregon State Parks are great. Stayed at many. Love that coastal route and the storm play this time of year. And oh yum, Tillamook cheese. I look forward to more posts from this trip. It's been a long time for me.

EG Wow said...

I would have loved to have been there with you. The coast looks beautiful and I have NEVER been to a cheese factory. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

debi said...

LOVE the Oregon coast, it's been too long, thanks for sharing your photos, looking forward to more.

JC said...

My Dad worked for the Tillamook Cheese Factory many many years ago.