Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Say "Cheese"

The Pelican Pub
Our next major foray was exploring up the Oregon coast north of Newport.  Since we got a late start, our first order of business was food.  We blew through Depoe Bay and Lincoln City and stopped at the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City (which is not really a city but a tiny hamlet that barely shows up on the map).  This is a highly rated microbrewery with hundreds of awards from national beer competitions which they have won since they opened in the mid-nineties.  The medals are all hung on the walls and make for an impressive display.  A couple of years ago they were voted the best brew-pub in the state.  It seemed like someplace worth the visit.

We had an order of calamari and a couple of beers.  The beers were really good, all those medals are probably deserved.  Then Vicki had cioppino, which she thought was just OK, and I had a burger with roasted poblano peppers and mozzarella cheese which, as burgers go, was certainly better than average.  So, a nice meal.  But here's the thing,  the tab with tip came to over $100.  Now I know we went in with our eyes open and had the option of walking out and going to McDonalds instead, so we have no one to blame but ourselves.  Still, a hamburger and a bowl of fish soup shouldn't cost that much.  It was a good lunch but we can't afford to go back any time soon.

Derelict barn and low clouds
North of Pacific City the 101 runs inland about 10 miles and passes through some very rural farm and ranch lands.  The day was a constant battle between sun and clouds, overcast one minute, hazy sunshine the next.  I stopped for a few photographs of derelict barns and low clouds crawling over the hillsides.

Munson Creek Falls
We pulled off the coast highway to visit Munson Creek Falls which has its own state park maybe 10 miles south of Tillamook.  The 67 acres for the park were sold to the state in the mid-90's by the Simpson Timber Company for just half of its appraised value and then the purchase was paid for by Paul Allen, who was apparently looking for some way to dispose of some of the embarrassing amounts of money he had acquired as one of the founders of Microsoft.  The parking lot for the falls is at the end of about 5 miles of gravel road and then there is a not unpleasant 1/4 mile hike to get to the falls themselves.  These tumble 319 feet over a cliff side, making this the highest waterfall in the Cascade range.  The creek is apparently an important salmon spawning ground and in the fall you can see them struggling upstream as you hike along the trail.

From, there we headed up to Tillamook, famous primarily for
Cheese Factory
cheddar cheese which, if you are in the US, you can probably buy at your local supermarket.  The dairy business in Tillamook county began in 1851 and the wet grasslands proved ideal for raising dairy cattle.  Getting rid of the resulting dairy products was somewhat problematic.  The road system was almost non-existant and overland transport was too slow for a product with such a limited shelf life.  So the farmers in the area got together and built the Morning Star, the first ocean going vessel built in the state, and began transporting their goods to Portland by sea.  The Morning Star now sits out in front of the Tillamook Cheese Factory and is the boat depicted on Tillamook Cheese packages.  It's about the length of our motohome.  It's hard to believe they could make money running cheese back and forth to Portland in something so small.
Part of the self guided tour

Morning Star

The local farmers eventually figured out the advantages of larger scale production and banded together to form the Tillamook County Creamery Association in 1909.  Over 100 years later, the co-op is still owned by the member farmers and has grown to absord almost every significant dairy farm operation in the state.  Their main factory is still in the city of Tillimook and you can take a self-guided tour at your leisure, looking down on the production facilities from an overhead platform.

40 lb blocks of cheddar get sliced up
 They aslo make other dairy products including a premiun ice cream which we sampled at the ice cream parlour there at the factory which they funnel you through at the end of your tour.  It was good, but not as good as we remembered some of the ice cream we had in Maine tasting last summer.  The custard base was excellent but it was hard to appreciate the Blackberry flavor in the Blackberry ice cream I had.  You have to get east of Illinois to find it, but if you ever have a chance to try a scoop of Giffords Black Raspberry ice cream, do not pass it up. 

On the way back south we needed a few things, so we stopped in at a local grocery store and got some milk, eggs, bread, a couple of 9mm Berettas and an AK47.
Local business sells groceries and other useful items

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