Monday, June 30, 2014


When we pulled into the RV parking at the Tillamook Cheese Factory I spotted the barn quilt across the road. The conclusion was that they had a barn quilt trail. Turns out, they have a quilt trail, some of which are on barns. This one is on the Alteher/Gienger barn.

Driving around the area, we did spot some barns that might qualify for my "barn of the day" series,

but the most noticeable thing was the number of active dairy farms, both large and small. Researching the quilt trail led to the realization that the valley was settled by Swiss immigrants who introducing the dairy industry.

This quilt is on the south end of barn at the Abbott farm. This is the only barn on the Tillamook Quilt Trail that has two quilts. There is another on the north end of the same barn which is located on Highway 101 at the intersection

leading to the former Naval Air Station Tillamook and its one remaining blimp hangar which now houses the Tillamook Air Museum. I didn't visit on this trip, but was very impressed with their collection of flying aircraft when I visited five or six years ago.

The other trail was very low key. We wouldn't have known about it except that the ranger when we checked in at Cape Lookout noticed our boats and said we would want this info. The Tillamook County Water Trail documents are VERY well done. Unfortunately, boats in Oregon over 10 feet need an Aquatic Invasive Species permit (aka tax) which I need to get for the canoe before we could go paddling.

On a related note, a couple of my friends from the Colorado River trip this past March were key in getting the Black Canyon Water Trail below Hoover officially recognized recently. Congratulations to Izzy and Helen.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


One of the first things you come to when approaching Tillamook from the north on Highway 101 is the Tillamook Cheese factory. Seemed like a great place to stop and have lunch.

In spite of the parking lot being relatively full, I really wasn't ready for the crowds, especially around the ice cream counters.

We went upstairs first for a few pictures of the self-guided tour. The numbers were a bit staggering. Eight cheese vats each hold over 53,000 pounds of milk. Ten pounds of milk makes a pound of cheese. They make over 165,000 pounds of cheese each day!

The blocks of cheese weigh approximately 42 pounds each. They're packaged and vacuum sealed and then sent off to the warehouse for aging.

After aging, the blocks are removed from the package, sliced into appropriate sizes, and then repackaged for retail sale.

It was no small surprise that grilled cheese sandwiches had a starring role at the cafe. BJ went for the sandwich with two kinds of cheese while I went for a chef's salad which was large and very fresh. I was saving my carbs for the important stuff, but forgot to take a picture since a dish of ice cream and a spoon requires two hands.

Home for a few days is Cape Lookout State Park, about 20 miles southwest of Tillamook. It's full for the weekend but we made the decision to come here about four days ago and we were able to get this spot for the whole time we'll be here. Narrow access road and 90 degree driveway, but hedge privacy from other sites and no overhead shade, just in case the sun comes out to warm things up.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

North Head Lighthouse

 North Head Light sits on a headland north of Benson Beach in Cape Disappointment State Park. Like the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, it is an operating light providing service to mariners - in this case those approaching the Columbia bar from the north.

This is the view from the base of the light looking south, taking in Benson Beach and the North Jetty. Immediately beyond the North Jetty is the mouth of the Columbia River.

The light, which was built in 1898, can be approached on land from two paths that form a loop. No matter which quarter mile path you take, your first view of the light is just the lantern room.

The tower and the oil houses set at a lower level on the headland and aren’t seen until turning a corner in the trail.

The decorative base of the lighthouse tower was made of hand-shaped sandstone with a plaster or concrete finish coat. The paint and the decorative work is showing its age. 

The railing around the exterior of the lantern room is badly rusting but access to the catwalk is limited to Coast Guard staff who clean the windows and otherwise maintain the effectiveness of the light.

The classic circular staircase to the lantern is constructed of cast iron parts. The stair tread gets narrower towards the top. I’d love to see the architect’s specs for the stairs. I wonder if the parts change as the stair twist tightens up or if there is enough play in the holes to allow the same part to be used.

On the day we visited, Paul was handling the tour at the top while Nina, author of the WheelingIt blog, was staffing the downstairs. Business was a bit slow so Turk and Nina got to know each other while BJ enjoyed the view and her chance at the tour.

It was really nice to meet Paul & Nina. They write an excellent blog with lots of information about boondocking spots, eating spots, and places to see that might be off the beaten path. They do very complete and helpful campsite reviews as well.

This post was posted from our campsite at Cape Lookout State Park in Oregon using our Millenicom hotspot. We're seeing 4 bars of Verizon 4G using the antenna and amplifier.

Friday, June 27, 2014


It looks to me like we may have made a mistake. If I were to do it over, I think I would stay at Oregon’s Fort Stevens State Park on the south side of the Columbia instead of Cape Disappointment on the North. Oregon parks are just as nice or nicer, and their fees are about $10 less per night. The Astoria bridge was being painted so there was a flagman and one way traffic for a portion of the bridge.

Astoria needs more time than we gave it on this visit. The trolley is $1 per ride or $2 all day but we didn’t use it.

We heard about Bowpicker Fish & Chips from WheelingIt. It was a Monday the first time we were here and it didn’t look like much but there were lots of rave reviews, so I kept it in mind.

We went back to Astoria on Wednesday so that we could get some essential supplies from the Costco in Warrenton. BJ reminded me that the Bowpicker would be open so we had to check it out. The line took 50 minutes but it was worth it.

You’re out of luck if you wanted anything other than fish & chips.

They use tuna and it was very good! It looks like the line was even longer when I got my order than when I started standing in line. It was so good that I failed to take a picture of it. The fish is cut much smaller than Captain Bob’s was yesterday but a full order left a bit uneaten.

Across the street was the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

It’s hard to miss with the Peacock sitting on a street corner out front. Entrance fee was $12 for adults but the displays were very well done. Entrance fee included access to the Columbia lightship moored alongside.

They have displays on early wrecks including recently recovered and restored carronade from the USS Shark which sank in 1846. A tour of the museum added a different perspective to the history of Astoria’s founding that I’d just read about in Peter Stark’s Astoria.

There’s so much more to Astoria – looks like you could spend a summer exploring just one town.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


We headed to the far north end of the Long Beach Peninsula, in search of whatever we might find. Leadbetter State Park is located adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve but both are known for birding  and are day use only. This gate was located just before reaching the State Park boundary. No name or anything but it turns out it is the gate to Leadbetter Farms, apparently a relatively new and lavish estate. I still don't know who or what Leadbetter was.

For me, the big find was the village of Oysterville. Settled in the 1850s, there are still a number of homes built by the original settlers who were introduced to oysters by the local Indians. The community has been involved in the oyster business ever since. This house was built by one of the town founders in 1871.

This house originally served as the County Court House until the records were hauled off by the community of South Bend, thereby becoming the new county seat.

I really liked the gingerbread on this house. Turns out this house was later owned by the guy that built the red one, and his descendant lives in the house today. She is an author and has an active blog about living in Oysterville.

The community’s church appears to be in good repair and had a sign out front about Vespers Sunday evening. It appears that the whole town is listed as an historic place.

Just a bit south of Oysterville, the marina at Nahcotta was home port to a number of oyster boats and host to oyster processing plants. Looks like this is a place to come for fresh Willapa Bay oysters.

We stopped in Long Beach to check out the beach. Not many people were driving on it today and we passed on the opportunity as well, deciding to find some seafood for lunch instead.

Thanks to Yelp, we ended up at Captain Bob’s Chowder

where BJ had fish & chips (she said they were excellent and she wasn’t willing to share)

while I had a crab roll and a cup of clam chowder. I was willing to share, but I knew in advance that BJ doesn’t like crab or clams. Sounds like good planning on my part…

On the way back to the trailer, we stopped at Jessie’s Ilwaco Seafood

for a container for fresh shelled Dungeness crab. I figured there was no reason to shell it when I could get it already done for me. Looks to me like there are two servings of crab in the container, sort of like there are only four servings of ice cream in a half gallon container.

It was a really good seafood day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment is located on the north side of the mouth of the Columbia River. The Columbia River bar is known as one of the most dangerous in the world. The Cape Disappointment light was built in 1859. It is still actively staffed – Coast Guard stand watch in the small building below the light, watching weather as boats as they cross the Columbia bar.

The Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station is tucked in behind the bluff and is home to the National Motor Lifeboat School. They learn their craft in some of the roughest water on earth.

They’re fast movers about 50 feet long. They didn’t seem to be interested in providing free rides for interested spectators.

Unless you are Coast Guard, the Cape Disappointment light is reached by a 1.2 mile (round trip) trail. The black stripe is to differentiate this light from the North Head light which is located a short distance up the coast. We’ll visit that light also but we’re waiting until Paul and Nina, authors of the Wheeling It blog are back on duty as volunteer hosts.

I love the details of old lighthouse construction. Lots of cast iron. The surveillance cameras point out to the Columbia bar. It looks to me like it is time for a new paint job.

Posted via our Millenicom Hotspot while sitting at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Headed Further South

The sunset at South Beach Campground was consistent. Even on the beautiful last day, the sun was obscured by low clouds before it actually sank below the horizon. None the less, it was a beautiful place and one that has been highlighted on our "places to return" list. It was very nearly full on Saturday night, but less than half on the other nights we were there.

We drove south on Highway 101 to Aberdeen where we stopped at the first place we could find that had LP. I’d figured we would be getting close, but we ran the tank low enough that morning that the heater wouldn’t fire off. Aberdeen has an historic shipyard, but it was closed as we drove by. I’m pretty sure, but not positive, that this is the upper wheel for a very large bandsaw.

The town of Raymond had a wonderful collection of welded steel sculptures along the street welcoming people to town. They still had active forestry businesses as well as fishery related businesses.

Of course, there were lots of signs of not so active forestry businesses as well. Looked like apartments were being built on what would have been the log sorting yard for this mill.

There weren’t many agricultural operations along the way, but we did see a couple former dairy operations that were now raising beef. No surprise that they seemed to be challenged with a high water table.

We took a slow drive around the docks in Ilwaco. Looks like lots of salmon charters going on right now and a few places along the waterfront that might make for good eating. We’re not that far from Astoria, Oregon which is also known for some good eating.

A walk back from a windy beach was part of the program. Unfortunately, the campsites here don’t have the easy access to the beach like we did at South Beach. We did wear the dog out – he slept all evening!

Home for a few days is Cape Disappointment State Park, one of very few options in this area. NO Verizon signal in the campground but it is available at the end of a half mile hike to the Cape Disappointment lighthouse or by driving into town.