Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garibaldi, OR then on to Astoria

 Located a few miles north of Tillamook, is the town of Garibaldi, Oregon which is also located on Tillamook Bay. We figured we should go up there and take a look. We noticed right off that they have a great marina with many private and commercial craft.

One of the things we were told to watch for was "The Stack", a huge smokestack that dates from 1926. Once, this stack was attached to a very large lumber mill which filed during the Great Drepression. The buildings eventually were torn down, but the Stack remains as a reminder. 

 We had a nice lunch at a marina restaurant and then decided to head back toward Tillamook and the coach, but Rick suddenly heard a steam locomotive whistle! (oh-oh says Orinda). Sure enough, just a couple blocks away we found the Tillamook Scenic Railway and their amazing, operating Heisler steam locomotive!

 This is a great find, as the Heisler is a gear driven steam locomotive designed for lumber railroads operating on steep grades with sharp turns. This locomotive was built in 1910 and is one of 8 world-wide that is still operable. Rick really enjoyed watching this one get ready for its run along the coast.

 There are a few other items at the station that we found very interesting. This is well worth a stop as you travel Hwy 101 in the Tillamook area.

 The next day, we headed north out of Tillamook on our way to Astoria, OR. We had used an RV site that was part of a local motel in the area which worked out great. Here, Rick reports we are ready for the road.

 Highway 101 is a beautiful route as it parallels the coast. We crossed many bridges and rivers, such as this one, that add to the scenic beauty of the route.

 However, the road is often pretty narrow, especially for a large motorhome towing a car. In fact, as seen above, there are many areas where the shoulder of the road simply does not exist, which provided a hands on test of driving skill! Orinda said to be especially careful of that rock cliff face since that was on her side of the coach.

We stopped for lunch overlooking the Pacific and loved hearing the surf crash onto the shore while we could relax in the coach. A few more miles, and we will be in Astoria.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Cape Meares Scenic Drive

Located a bit south of Tillamook is the Cape Meares area which sits on the entrance to Tillamook Bay. This beautiful drive starts on the bay where we saw a number of old pilings and wondered what might have been there in years past. 

Right next to the old pilings picture site, we saw this interesting sign at the former site of Bay Ocean Park, even though we could see no sign of any structure. Bay Ocean Park was a new seaside development started in 1907. A few years later, many lots had been sold, houses built and a thriving summer destination existed. 

Here is an old picture of part of Bay Ocean Park; there was also a large motel and dance hall. Unfortunately, the ground was not stable and by the 1940's most of the structures had fallen into the sea. Today, there is no sign of the town.

 Today, the scenic beauty of the Cape Meares area takes priority with scenes like this. The mountains seem to drop directly into the sea which makes for a dramatic contrast between the land and sea.

We especially liked the archways that the sea has carved into the rocks over time. This ridge of large rock formations extend perhaps a mile out from the coast. 

 This is a beautiful area with the surf doing its best to break apart the rocks. We learned that in different seasons, a large number of whales will be found here, but we could not find any during this visit.

 Here was a real surprise -- as we looked out over the ocean, we suddenly saw these two hawks swirling overhead.

 They put on an amazing aerial display for us as they zoomed next to the cliffs and over the sea. Wow -- wish we could fly like that.

 The Cape Meares lighthouse is the star attraction and well worth the 1/2 mile walk out to the end of the point to see. This is a surprising short lighthouse, made possible because it is at the top of the cape cliff, which is a couple hundred feet high. As a result, the light is visible many miles out to sea.

 We had a great day at the Cape Meares light and scenic drive. This scenery is unlike any other we have seen and is a wonderful experience

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Tillamook Cheese Factory, a Tasty Visit!

 Located a short way from our RV site was the Tillamook Cheese factory, where they make excellent cheese and offer factory tours.

We learned that Tillamook Creamery had celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2009 and were interested to see what the tour might offer. 
 First, Orinda had to do some delivery of cheese in the official Baby Cheese Loaf vehicle, an early 60's VW bus. Rick was delighted to see this since he actually owned a '60 VW Bus back in the day!

The VW bus differs dramatically with the early modes of cheese delivery -- such as the Morning Star, Tillamook's own sailing vessel that delivered cheese on the Oregon coast. This made quite a bit of sense, since roads literally did not exist in the area at that time. 

 Of course, to make cheese and dairy products, you need happy cows! Here, Orinda checks out how it feels to be a member of the Tillamook  herd. Looks pretty happy, too!

The making of cheese starts here as the milk is transformed into cheese curds, which are the raw materials of cheese making. The cheese is then aged and developed into the many different varieties that Tillamook offers. 

 The finished cheese is then packaged in several different sizes on this interesting packing line. The cheese starts in very large blocks and then is cut to the finished size, inspected and sent to the packaging area via conveyor belts.

This is the final stage where the cheese is packaged and readied for its trip to the grocery store. You can see the final packages on the conveyor systems to the left of the picture. 

At the conclusion of our tour, we came to the best part of the visit -- samples! Tillamook offers all kinds of cheese samples and we enjoyed trying all the different cheeses -- although, that meant that we then wanted to buy several of the cheeses as well! This is a fun and informative tour which we enjoyed. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Tillamook Air Museum

Tillamook, OR is home to the Tillamook Air Museum and housed in the WWII Tillamook Blimp Hanger. This picture of the hanger is from about 1 mile away and it is huge even from this distance. This building originally housed large blimps for the US Navy that were used to patrol for submarines off the Oregon coast in WWII.

This picture shows how the blimps were stored during the war - Rick learned that these K class blimps were about 250' long each and these 8 blimps could easily fit into the hanger with room to spare.

 Rick learned that the building is 1,072' long, 192' high and 268' wide. Plus, it is built almost entirely of wood, since strategic materials, such as steel, were in short supply in WWII. Amazingly, this huge structure was complete in only 27 days in 1943.

 The hanger provides an interesting and ideal building for the Tillamook Air Museum collection of aircraft and related materials. This collection consists of a wide variety of aircraft, many of which are in flyable condition, such as this great P-47.

 The museum offered exhibits from many different time periods and included items from WWI days, such as this Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine from 1917. This 90hp engine was famous for powering such aircraft as the popular Jenny from that era.

 Naturally, the museum housed a wonderful P51 Mustang from WWII, and again, it was in full flying condition. This is arguably the best overall fighter from WWII and made a dramatic difference to Allied air power in the war.

This is an interesting and rare plane -- the Grumman J2F-6 Duck amphibian. This flyable plane is equally at home on the runway or the lake and is in great condition. We learned that the museum has its own restoration operation and has worked on most of the planes in the collection.

This F4U Corsair is another beautiful plane that appeared ready to fly. You can also get an idea as to the size of the hanger from this picture. The Corsair is located about half way back in the hanger, so there is still several hundred feet of hanger remaining. Indeed, if you look closely on the right side of the hanger, you can see several large motorhomes (40+ feet) parked in storage. The huge hanger made these RVs look like miniatures.

Here is one of Rick's favorites - the PBY Catalina flying boat. This was a real workhorse of the Navy in WWII and was used extensively for scouting and searching for submarines.

Here is a very unique aircraft is a Bellanca Aircruiser which has been restored by the museum to flying condition. This aircraft has the remarkable ability to carry more cargo than it weighs, largely due to the extra lift built in to its W shaped lower wing.
Rick loved visiting the museum! Seeing the planes was great, but to be able to see them in one of the largest wooden structures ever built. In fact, this photo shows the helium filling room that was used to fill the blimps. It was great to wander around and experience this great hanger that was used in WWII.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Newport Chocolate Factory and Oregon Flowers

 The Oregon coast offers a wet, temperate environment that must be wonderful for growing flowers. We were amazed at the variety and color of the flowers we saw in the RV parks and along the road.

 Rick is not sure what these are called, but they were beautiful. They must be easy to grow since we saw them used as grown cover, but they were sure nice to see.

 Hydrangeas must be the flowering plant of choice as we saw them everywhere. We believe the climate must really encourage these.

 We also learned that the color of the flowers depend on the acidity of the soil. pH levels under 6 (acid soil) produces bluish color flowers, while alkaline (pH over 6) will yield pinkish flowers. We saw only blue to very dark blue flowers, so we believe the solid must be highly acidic.

 Flowers are great, but chocolate is better, according to Orinda. Fortunately, there was a great chocolate factory in Newport and it was definitely calling Orinda's name.

 The factory makes their own chocolates of all description. Here, we watched as the workers melted the chocolate and created:

 All of these great goodies. We had a hard time deciding what chocolate to buy and the free samples really did not help, since they all tasted great, but finally, we made our decision.

A couple of chocolate covered almonds, macadamia nuts, and chocolate turtles we selected and made the trip back to the coach -- at least most of them did. Looks like one of the macadamia nut chocolates didn't quite make it all the way back -- and was it ever good!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Depoe Bay - Smallest Harbor in the World

Just a few miles north of Newport is the harbor of Depoe Bay, which is known as the smallest harbor in the world. We are not sure if this is actually true, but the 6 acre harbor is pretty small and one of the most interesting harbors we have seen. 

 The harbor is very close to the Pacific Ocean, indeed, it is just under the Hwy 101 bridge seen above. The harbor is a beautiful spot and offers nice calm water for boats.
The harbor was always small, but used to be pretty shallow, causing boat owners significant challenges in getting the boats through to the ocean. 

As a result, the entire harbor was drained in 1950 and dredged to allow operation at any tide level. This must have been quite an operation, but was certainly worthwhile. 

 After the dredging operation, larger boats could use the harbor, as well as for a  Guard station as shown above. Today, there are quite a few boats coming in and out of the harbor, so they stay pretty busy.

 The harbor is not just a place for boats, but also for harbor seals such as this fellow who was really enjoying a nap on the bed of kelp. We thought perhaps we was part of the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce! We also learned that whales are often seen just off the bay, but we didn't see any during our stay.

 The harbor mouth is very narrow, with waves coming right in from the open Pacific. Boats, such as this one, make sure to enter with plenty of speed for good control. 

 Immediately after entering the harbor mouth, the boats have to make a quick turn to the port (left for the landsmen). Notice how close to the rocks they have to run -- this would be a terrible place to have engine trouble.
Next, the boat slips under the bridge and into the small harbor. Now, the water is calm and life is easy! Again, notice how narrow this channel is. 

A few minutes later, another boat zips out into the Pacific among the breakers and rocks. You would have to be a very good Captain to routinely transit this channel.

Depoe Bay is a great place to visit and fun to watch the boats and wildlife in the area.