We drove north up to the costal town of Tillamook, Oregon. This is likely the farthest north we will go on the Oregon shore. In total we have driven about 300 miles of the Pacific coast in northern California and Oregon.
The major attraction in Tillamook is the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the main facility of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, a cooperative of dairy farmers. Settlers in the 1800s quickly realized that the Tillamook region with its bountiful grassland, rain, and moderate temperatures would be a great place for dairy farming. But there was a little problem as the area was on the wrong side of the coastal mountain range from the population centers of the West. The dairy farmers first built a schooner to carry milk and cheese to Portland. In the late 1800s, the farmers came to the conclusion that it would be easier if they could create a product that would be easier to transport – so they built a cheese factory. Tillamook cheeses are a very popular brand throughout the West today.
The factory in Tillamook makes various cheeses and ice cream There is a second Tillamook cheese factory on the Columbia River in north central Oregon. The factory in Tillamook produces around one million pounds of cheese a week. The aging area has a capacity of 50 million pounds of cheese. The factory tour consisted of a few overlooks of a production floor where large blocks of cheese were being cut and packaged along with several story boards. At the end of the tour was a cheese tasting area including “squeaky cheese” or cheese curds that are made from the solids of milk coagulated with some form of acid. They are only sold at the factory as they lose their freshness and “squeak” (fresh ones really do squeak against your teeth as you bite into them), very quickly after the curding process is finished. Of course they had plenty of cheese for purchase as well and we bought a couple kinds but we were already familiar with their products from Oregon grocery stores. And Gary felt the need to re enact a bit of his farming heritage.
And you may wonder what this pleasure boat has to do with the cheese factory. Note that it is parked with all the cars in the visitor lot at the cheese factory. Well we saw it rolling in right behind us when we entered the grounds of the factory. Yes, it was rolling. The owner has mounted the boat hull onto a vehicle chassis. I talked to him a bit when I went over to take the picture. His boat is a street legal fully licensed vehicle. He had driven it over to the Oregon coast from Spokane, Washington. There is a convertible top for it. Not something you see every day.
On our way back we stopped in the town of Pacific City and had dinner at the Pelican Brewery located ocean front. Gary was the adventurous one as he had the deep fried oyster po boy. The brewery was a fine one having earned the honor of being name the Champion Small Brewery at the 2014 World Beer Cup.