Day 10 - Nehalem Bay State Park
|Tuesday, August 22, 2023: We had a lovely and restful night, and for breakfast we made mashed potatoes and gravy with beef from Backpacker's Pantry. It looked like brown mush but it tasted okay.
|Doesn't Tom look like a happy boy?
|We returned to Sunset Bay on our way out of town, and it looked quite a bit different at low tide.
|As we drove back toward US Highway 101, we passed Qualman Oyster Farms and had to turn in to take this photo. All of the piles around the building were oyster shells. There was a bulldozer scooping up bucket loads of them from the large pile on the right. That's a lot of shells!
|We saw this beautiful mural as we drove through the Empire District in the town of Coos Bay, Oregon.
|Welcome to North Bend, Oregon, the home of ...
|... the Oregon Merci Train! It was inside a plexiglass shelter to protect it from the elements, ...
|... but that didn't stop us from walking all the way around the enclosure to check it out.
|Check out the cool 40 & 8 logo on the door to the enclosure.
|Everything on the boxcar looked original, especially the provincial shields. Well done, Oregon!
|Wow. At the north end of the town, this giant "Come Back" sign was strung over the road, and it was neon. Neon! Very well done, indeed.
|We crossed the McCullough Memorial Bridge over Coos Bay, ...
|... and then entered the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
|There are some seriously big dunes in Oregon.
|All along the coast was a tsunami hazard zone, and we loved that the warning sign showed a person fleeing from the giant wave.
|Another cool bridge. Many of the bridges we saw had large Art Deco pillars on either side of the road before you entered the bridge.
|Just as we entered the town of Florence, Oregon, Debbie saw this sea lion statue and we knew we were going to be hunting for more. This was part of the Dancing with Sea Lions series from 2016.
|We saw a second statue almost immediately after the first, this time in front of a bank.
|This one was also in front of a bank. We were starting to notice a pattern. As we left town, we were expecting that we'd seen the last of the sea lion statues.
|As we climbed a hill out of the area, we pulled off at a scenic overlook and got a good look back at the coastline and the line of dunes.
|Surprise! The next town to the north had a sea lion statue. Sweet!
|We drove past a tourist trap for a nearby seal cave, and then stopped at an overlook a half-mile down the road. There was a great view of the cliffs and the ocean, ...
|... and an entire colony of cormorants (with one seagull apparently adopted into the flock), ...
|... and a group of sea lions surfing on the waves. They would float until a good wave came, and then they would turn into it and ride the crest for a few dozen yards and then swim back to the group.
|Here's another group just hanging out.
|You could see Heceta Head Lighthouse on the point in the distance.
|The next town to the north had a sea lion statue, ...
|... and so did the one after that.
|We stopped at the Luna Sea of Seal Rock Restaurant for lunch. We were on a mission to eat as much fish and chips as we could stand and this was an excellent place to start.
|It was a nice place, with about ten booths and tables.
|Debbie ordered the shrimp and prawn combo, and Tom ordered the fish combo. Both were exactly what we'd been craving. We would definitely eat here again if we are ever in this area.
|After lunch, we continued north on Highway 101, and as we were on the bridge crossing Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, Debbie spotted a Rogue Brewing tasting room at the bottom of the bridge. We turned around as soon as we were across, ...
|... and drove there immediately. The building was labeled as Rogue Nation World Headquarters, ...
|... and also Rogue Ales Brewery, Duty Free Shop, Bay View Dining, Gift Shop, Tours, ATM, Library, Lottery, Events Center, Roguesonian Cultural Heritage Interpretive Center, and Beerquarium. We were pretty sure that not all of these were true, but we headed inside to check it out.
|It was a little bit of a maze once we were inside, and we wound around the giant stainless steel brewing vats, ...
|... to the Rogue Gift Shop. Okay. That one was apparently true. Good.
|They had lots of six packs available to buy, both warm and cold, and a display case showing what appeared to be every beer that Rogue has ever made. Knowing that we had limited space in the van and lots and lots of driving left, we were able to resist the beer temptation and only purchased a single tasting glass with the Rogue logo on it.
|Luckily, we'd just had lunch or we'd have been tempted by their restaurant and pub.
|We headed back over the bridge, ...
|... and Debbie stated all of her reasons that she wanted to live here.
|Our next stop was Agate Beach, which we soon realized would be difficult to reach without finding some parking and doing some long walking. This mural was a nice consolation as we were leaving town.
|As we headed to Devil's Punchbowl, we saw this display of buoys dangling from a tree, and it was at least the third such display that we'd seen.
|Here's Devil's Punchbowl, a hollow rock formation with a few openings in the side that let the ocean in.
|The view looking north from Devil's Punchbowl showed more of those curious coastal rock formations.
|We kept driving north along the coast, driving through Siuslaw National Forest, ...
|... on the Trees to Sea Scenic Byway.
|Shortly before 2:00 PM, we arrived at cheese heaven, er, Tillamook Creamery.
|There were so many people here that we had to park in their overflow parking lot.
|It turned out that the huge crowd was all at the ice cream parlor part of the building, and not the cheese part. Who knew that Tillamook made something other than cheese? We headed upstairs to go through the self-guided tour of the cheese factory, ...
|... but were immediately distracted by the free samples.
|There were individually packaged samples of medium cheddar, sharp cheddar, and colby jack.
|Back to the self-guided tour. They had great display boards explaining each of the steps to making cheese, and giant windows showing the factory floor below.
|There wasn't much to see for the first few stations, as everything was happening in giant steel tanks.
|We learned two very important things though. One: a cheddarmaster is a machine that Tom really wants to have. Two: apparently, cheddaring is a verb.
|The cheddarmaster has three zigzag belts! That must be good!
|More chemistry, salt, yada yada. Where's the cheese?!
|Here it is! Pale blocks of cheese were packed into bags to start the aging process at this end of the factory.
|Look how big those blocks of cheese are! From here, the blocks go off to age for about 75 days before they come back to the other side of the factory, ...
|... looking much more like cheddar and less like velveeta. Workers were unpacking the 40 pound blocks of aged cheese and placing them on a conveyor belt, ...
|... headed for the cutter. This turned them from 40 pound blocks into much smaller sizes.
|At the next station, the smaller blocks were weighed and slices of cheese were added or removed to make sure they were a uniform weight.
|The smaller portions of cheese then headed to the blue octopus, a vacuum sealer with eight bright blue arms, hence the name.
|The now-sealed blocks were checked for quality, ...
|... and headed on the conveyor to somewhere out of the factory.
|More knowledgeable about cheese making, we headed downstairs to do some shopping at their gift shop.
|Tom was sad that we couldn't take the two pound blocks of cheese home as souvenirs.
|There were plenty of other items to choose from that didn't require constant refrigeration on a road trip with more than 3,000 miles remaining.
|Look at these adorable stuffed animals! Who wouldn't be comforted by squishy cheese friends? We made our final selections of non-perishable souvenirs and continued our drive north.
|When we got to Rockaway Beach, we had to take a photo of this Pronto Pup store. For those of you not familiar with the Minnesotan dialect, a pronto pup is what a Minnesotan calls a corn dog.
|We watched as the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad pulled through town with a load of happy tourists on board.
|We were here to do a load of laundry, so after our washing load was done, we loaded a single dryer, fed in our quarters, ...
|... and headed to the beach while we waited.
|Check out this rock formation just off shore.
|There was a nice sitting area with benches just above the beach, ...
|... where we watched a squirrel play hide and seek with the seagulls that were flying overhead.
|At one point, he popped up on a rock with what looked like a piece of apple, ate a little more than half of it, and then ducked back down into the safety of the rocks, leaving the piece of apple on top of the rock.
|Not five seconds later, a seagull landed on the rock and picked up the dropped apple and flew away with it.
|When time was up for the dryer, we walked back to the laundromat and got there just as the dryer was completing its cycle. Nice!
|We sorted and folded all of the laundry and then headed back to the van.
|Around 4:30 PM, we arrived at Nehalem Bay, ...
|... and made our way to Nehalem Bay State Park, our destination for today.
|We found our campsite, set everything up, and hiked up the dunes to get to the beach.
|There was a rock formation just north of the bay with a disk-shaped cloud formation clinging to it, ...
|... but here at our end of the bay there were patches of blue sky, ...
|... and plenty of sun.
|Dinner was cheese and crackers, using the cheddar cheese curds we'd bought at Tillamook earlier in the day, and a tin of jumbo calamari that we'd bought at an international grocery store back home and brought with us on this trip just for this purpose. As weird as it looks, it was actually a delicious meal.
|Here's a view of our campsite all set up. We often set up our tent on the paved parking area. Since our tent doesn't require stakes, it is often more even and less muddy than setting it up on the grass. On this trip, with our new electric cooler, we run one extension cord into the van to keep the cooler powered overnight, and we run another extension cord into the tent to power all of our gadgets. Who says tent camping has to be primitive?
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy