Some questions are impossible to answer. Among them is, “What is the most beautiful place on Earth?” I’ve seen places as diverse as Alaska, Hawaii, and upstate New York that are all in the running, but one thing is certain: The Oregon Coast is high on my list.
We woke up this morning in Tillamook, Oregon. If the name of that little town is familiar, it is probably because you have seen it in your dairy case, as in Tillamook cheese, ice cream, etc. Dawn and I toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory on our honeymoon trip six years ago. It was a fun memory, so we started today with the same tour. One of the coolest things about the cheese factory is that you can literally follow the entire process for making the cheese, from the milk trucks pulling up to the delivery door, to the bars of cheese being wrapped for sale. It’s kind of an old fashioned Rube Goldberg machine, which just adds to its charm. Plus, their huckleberry ice cream is wonderful, and it would be rude to leave the factory without least trying a scoop, right?
By the time we got out of the cheese factory and got gassed up and ready to go, it was already 11:00, and getting hot. Oregon has been experiencing a scorcher of late, and today was no exception. As we were leaving Tillamook, the Silver Bullet said that it was already 94 degrees. Ten miles later, we were on the coast, and the temperatures dropped down into the mid-seventies. This is among the reasons why we have chosen to move to Long Beach.
Driving the Oregon Coast is a slow proposition for us, as pullouts and state parks dot Highway 101 every few miles, and we feel compelled to stop at almost all of them. Here’s why:
Beautiful, yes, but add in the sound of the surf crashing, and the smell of the salt water, and it is irresistible to us.
We found a gorgeous bay just south of Lincoln City and stopped there for our picnic lunch, which we shared with our winged friends, who were getting pretty chummy by the end of our repast.
By mid-afternoon, we had only made it down about sixty miles of coastline. We knew that if we wanted to make it to Crater Lake by tomorrow, we needed to put some miles under our wheels. So, we did our best to hustle directly down the road and at least partially succeeded. We did stop to see this lighthouse, but how could we not?
We finally drove in earnest starting in the late afternoon. It helped that we weren’t flitting directly along the coast anymore. We did have about a three hour flirtation with the Umpqua river though, which followed along with us as we drove east and south. We spent yesterday tracking alongside the Columbia, which is epic and powerful. The Umpqua is much more relaxed as it meanders through central Oregon. The farmland that spreads out in all directions from the Umpqua’s banks is verdant and lovely.
In the end, we managed 315 more miles today, putting us at 994 miles so far.
Are you wondering what Dawn and I do in the car as we drive? Mostly, we talk and listen to music. Having satellite radio is a blessing, since local stations fade in and out pretty quickly when you’re driving cross country. I also tell her bad jokes, she rolls her eyes, and we argue about pop culture questions like: How often has Keanu Reeves played a bad guy? Or, how many songs did Stevie Nicks sing in, aside from Fleetwood Mac’s and her own albums? (We came up with quite a few: Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, with Tom Petty, Leather and Lace with Don Henley, Whenever I call you Friend, with Kenny Loggins, and Magnet and Steel with Walter Egan. I’m sure there are more, but we are playing a Google-free game here, folks!) Also, Dawn hasn’t read my latest release, The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver, so I am reading it to her a bit at a time as we ride. We are never bored.
Tomorrow, after several days of delays, we finally will make it to Crater Lake, which is one of my most anticipated places of our whole trip.