Tuesday, Nov. 5th - Friday, Nov. 8th
We left Astoria on Tuesday and headed on down the coast through Seaside, Cannon Beach and other small beach towns before making our first stop at Tillamook Cheese factory. I think it's the fourth time we have been here, but you just can't drive by without stopping because it's udderly amazing. It's the tenth top tourist attraction in Oregon.
They have the self-guided tour where you can look down at factory workers keeping the blocks of cheese moving along the conveyors, getting them trimmed and cut and packaged and sealed. Each of 8 stainless steel vats holds 53,500 pounds of fresh milk and each vat makes 5 batches a day. It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese. 1.7 million pounds of milk arrive each day to make 167,000 pounds of cheese. Cows can drink a bathtub full of water each day. It takes 2 gal. of water to make one gal. of milk. An average cow can produce 6 to 8 gal. of milk per day, over 100 glasses. It takes approximately 350 squirts to make a gal. of milk. Good thing they don't have to do it by hand anymore!
Tillamook is the first major U.S. cheese maker to produce a kosher cheese where a rabbi personally comes in and observes the cleaning of the equipment, adds a microbial rennet and gives the final packages his kosher stamp, Medium Kosher Vegetarian Cheddar Cheese. But this is the best part of the tour, the tasting bins! John can't wait to get here and have some "squeaky cheese", it's mild curds or leftover crumbs, but very tasty. We bought a couple bags of them and a couple other kinds of cheese, before we headed over to the ice cream counter for our five flavor sampler. We always say we're going to try the 27 flavor sampler tray, but we always chicken out. Probably a good thing.
Then we drove down to Newport, where we set up camp at South Beach State Park, and went the next day to the Sea Lion Caves a little further down the coast between Yachats and Florence. This shows about half of the trail from the gift shop down to the elevator which descends a 215-foot shaft through solid rock down to almost sea level, 20 stories in 50 seconds. People have been going down to see the cave since the 1930s. The elevator was completed in 1961. Prior to that, after the 1,500 foot hike down the trail, there was a 135 foot staircase in an enclosed wooden tower.
On the far distant point is Heceta (ha-see-ta) Head Lighthouse. It was a very foggy day, but the blinking light was very visible. It was built in 1894 and can be seen 21 miles out at sea.
Zooming in, you can see the light, and the keeper's house is a ways over to the right. 16,000 gray whales migrate along here from the Arctic to lower California for calving and breeding, the longest known migration of any mammal - 6,000 miles each way.
Stepping out of the elevator, we have arrived at the world's largest sea cave. It was discovered in 1880 and has a two acre floor with the dome 12 stories above (125'). It is home to 500 to 2,000 Stellar (Northern) Sea Lions. They stay here year around while the strongest bulls swim 4,000 miles to winter in Alaska and rejoin the herd here in the spring for breeding. California Sea Lions also come here, but travel to southern California for breeding season. They generally go in the cave for protection from weather and rough seas in late fall and winter. We were a little too early to see them in the cave. We did see hundreds of them barking up a storm on the beach the first year when we stopped near here.
When we left the cave, we drove on down to Florence and had lunch at Mo's on the harbor front. Mo is famous for her clam chowder. We ate at the original Mo's in Newport a couple years ago. There are branches in several of the coast towns. Mo opened her restaurant almost 60 years ago in Newport. Her chowder has been featured in magazines (America's Favorite Seafood Dives) and on TV. In 1999 it was a featured entree at the first luncheon ever held in the Smithsonian Institute, celebrating "Best American Regional Foods". They opened several other restaurants and eventually two stories of chowder factory, packing and shipping facilities where they produce about 500,000 pounds of Clam Chowder a year. It's shipped to grocery stores and delivered fresh to all of her restaurants and you can even order it on-line at www.moschowder.com . We both had it with our lunch, delicious, and stopped a couple days later in Newport to pick up a quart to take home.
A Dead Guy Ale and his smart phone to play with, he couldn't be happier, but just wait till they bring our clam chowder and that seafood platter! Mmm, Mmm, can't wait!
View of the harbor and Yaquina Bay Bridge from the patio of the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center in Newport.
I loved this picture in the museum. She was holding up a Wolf Eel and the cameraman said he got her to smile by telling her that she had finally found someone uglier than her.
Log trucks hauling sections of one giant spruce tree in 1943. It isn't even a redwood or a sequoia.
Yaquina Bay Bridge.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
We were down on the waterfront in Newport looking for a place to eat. We thought we might fit right in here, but they didn't have food. The Historic Barge Inn - Home of the winos, dingbats and riff raff.
We settled on Port Dock Restaurant and these were the views out the window from our table. Crab pots on the end of the pier. They say the commercial ones weigh 80 pounds. I don't know how much these weigh, but I tried to move one on the top of a stack and I couldn't budge it at all.
Yaquina Bay Bridge. There's a sea lion swimming in the middle next to the boat.
Just below our window, the sea lions were barking up a storm. On the jetty just on the other side of the pier, the rocks are covered solid with sea lions.
Closer view. Yaquina Bay has the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon Coast with about 250 commercial vessels and 500 people. Newport brings in 322,000 lbs. salmon, 301,000 lbs. rockfish, 112,000 lbs. halibut and 200 million lbs. dungeness crab annually. We watched a lady fishing for the dungeness crab off the pier while we ate. She was casting in with a flat triangle piece of netting with some bait tied to it and seemed to be pulling one in every few minutes.
Mushrooms next to our camper. We went for a night hike down to the ocean for a view of the bridge and lighthouse and called it a night. Tomorrow we head for Crescent City, California.