Originally published 26 December 2014
Our hotel, Rockaway Beach, Oregon
The sun comes up late (around 8 am) and it's pitch dark by 5 pm. So we try to cram as much as we can into the short amount of daylight we have. We were up before the sun came up this morning, which isn't that early. We checked out of our hotel with a great view and hit the road....daylight is precious so we wanna get moving. Just south of our motel, we started our day by seeing two eagles on a rock.
The view from our hotel, Rockaway Beach, Oregon
Eagles on a rock
We stopped for breakfast at a little cafe in Garibaldi called "The Parkside". I had biscuits and gravy and Laurie had dungeness crab quiche. It was a simply superb breakfast! From there, we headed south towards Tillamook.
The line at the Tillamook Cheese factory
Laurie partakes of the free samples! It's awesome cheese!
The Tillamook Cheese factory outlet!
Just north of town is the Tillamook Cheese Factory, one of the Oregon coast's biggest tourist attractions. We figured we would pop in and check it out....not wanting to burn a lot of time. We figured it would be a guided tour and take a few hours....and it didn't. We were there around 40 minutes. We watched them cut and package cheese, had cheese samples, and even bought some.....cheese! We thought it would take a long time and weren't sure if it would be fun....it took only a short time and we really had a lot of fun!
Tillamook blimp hanger
From the cheese factory, we headed to the blimp hanger in town. This hanger was used by the Navy to store it's airships during the war, and was used as a filming location for the movie "An officer and a gentleman". It is the largest free span wood building in the world...and trust me, it's HUGE. There used to be two hangers, but one burned down. It must have been a hell of a fire.
The blimp hanger is now an air museum. Yes, I'm a big fan of old airplanes. I love to study them, but to be honest, I was much more fascinated with the building. I have constructed buildings my entire life....and really wanted to see the inside of this place. We arrived at the hanger and a piece of paper was on the door telling me that it was closed for maintenance until January 6! I was a little disappointed, and I only got to see the outside of the place. There were other people pulling up, walking up to the door, shaking their head and looking disgusted, then leaving. At least I wasn't the only one disappointed.
Oregon's rugged coastline is one incredible vista after another.
Tunnel Beach, Oregon
We head back out to the coast, checking out lighthouses, vistas, and beaches. There are small towns that come right down to the ocean, with tightly spaced houses looking out over the ocean.
In the town of Oceanside, we decide to walk a short way on the beach and go to a tunnel in the shear rock cliff face. It goes through the cliff and onto another beach only accessible by the tunnel. The tunnel was originally a natural tunnel, but they had to reinforce one face of it due to falling rocks.
Cape Meares Light, Oregon
With my recent knee surgery, I've had to be careful where and how I've walked on this trip. Walking and climbing on the rocks up to the tunnel was a bit dicey and a little hard on my knee. I have to pay attention and I can't go as quickly as I did before the knee problems....but hopefully this will improve as time goes on. This trip is fraught with rough terrain and slick walking paths. I must continue to be careful. Hopefully I won't tick Laurie off and she shoves me down a hillside. There are plenty here so I would be wise not to give her a reason.
Tsunamis are real here and have wiped out ports in coastal Oregon.
We head to Depoe Bay, the world's smallest harbor. The biggest boat I've ever piloted was a 32 footer and it was in a much larger place than this. I can't imagine squeezing a boat through this small cut through the rock. The ocean here is rough and angry....and mistakes bringing a boat through here would probably be fatal. While I'm not bad at handling a boat, I would pass on bringing a boat in here.
We check out the whale watching center and scan the ocean for a while....and I actually see one briefly about a mile out. They spot them often this time a year, and 20 sightings a day are not uncommon. We decide the day is getting away from us so we get back on the road.
An amazing location for a house. It is now a gift shop.
Yaquina Head lighthouse
Our last major sight before dark is Yaquina Head lighthouse, a very picturesque place that we really wanted to see. It turns out that it is in an Oregon state park and there is a 7 dollar fee to get in. There is a notice at the entrance booth saying that the lighthouse is "closed for maintenance". We figure this is acceptable.....we'll just take pictures of it and enjoy it from outside. We were mistaken.
We drive around the road and get to the lighthouse....it is scaffolded from top to bottom then wrapped in a plastic barrier. You can't even SEE the lighthouse! The blimp hanger was closed for maintenance...but i could still SEE it! We felt gypped, but complaints at the gate fell upon deaf ears. If you're coming to Yaquina Head....don't waste your time...and don't waste 7 bucks.
Our hotel for the night
We wound up at another mom and pop hotel tonight.....it's right on the beach and I'm sure the view will be stunning when the sun comes up tomorrow. It's chilly out and Laurie is warming herself by the fake fireplace. We're looking at our options for tomorrow....and we hope to make it close to California. Let's see how it goes.
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I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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