The cheeses of Tillamook have been known to us for years and years. It is the natural wonders, the breathtaking coastlines and the funky hidden gems that we were yet to discover. “Tillamook” is a Native American word for “Land of Many Waters.” And it’s true! There are 5 rivers, 5 bays, and the Pacific Ocean. Now we know, there is more to Tillamook than cheese and ice cream! Although, it was so good, that could have been enough too! Let’s share!
Tillamook Elks RV Park
Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a big deal where you lay your head at night when you’re traveling to unknown places. We have to say being Elks members has given us some beautiful places to lay our heads.
Tillamook Elks RV Park is like a big green open bowl where grass stretches out for quiet a distance and you are surrounded by pine trees on the distant hills. This place is huge! You can get a game of horseshoes going down by the river or kick back by your fire ring and chat it up. Once you travel around a bit and meet fellow Elks, you run the chance of meeting up with them again.
Much to our delight, in pulled Lanny and Oke whom we met at the Lodi, CA Elks last month. Too chilly and rainy to sit around the fire ring, we gathered in their coach and got to know each other better. One of the many reasons we love being a part of the Elks family. Fun little treats along the way!
Tillamook Cheese Factory ~ 4175 Highway 101 North, Tillamook, OR 97141
It all gets started with the cows and milk. Everywhere you drive in and around Tillamook County you see cows! Lots and lots of cows! There’s lots of rain in Tillamook too (we can verify that!) and more rain makes for great grass and happy cows.
The Tillamook Co-Op is made up of nearly 100 farmer families. Most families have been farming in Tillamook County for multiple generations. Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream and butter are all created under the Tillamook label.
Did you know? A Holstein cow’s spots are just like human fingerprints; no two patterns are alike.
This place is massive! Conveyor belts loaded with blocks of cheese can be viewed through tinted windows above the plant. The cheese flows along the belts from station to station, cutting, trimming and packaging in one big room. On a daily basis they make about 171,000 POUNDS of cheese!
Fresh! Milk arrives at the cheese factory within 1 hour of leaving the farm. Milk! A whole lot of milk goes into our cheese: 20 lbs of milk just for a 2 lb Baby Loaf. Cheese! Milk from farms are turned into cheese within 24 hours of arriving at the factory. The cheese is aged at least 60 days to over 3 years. 3 Year Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar is a fine example of the extra aging process.
What makes a cheese curd “squeaky”?
The squeak you might hear when you munch on cheese curds comes from the protein composition of fresh curds. When the protein in the cheese rubs against the enamel of your teeth it makes a “squeaky” sound. As cheddar ages, more moisture is released in the form of whey, and the protein in the cheese consolidates.
Squeaky Cheese Curds are extremely perishable, and start to lose their “squeak” after just a few days and that’s hwy they are only sold at the factory. If I had realized you couldn’t get Squeeky Cheese Curds anywhere else but the factory I would have picked up a bag. Must be the kid in me, ‘cuz it was fun to hear and feel the curds “Squeek” against your teeth!
Life is good and life is fair! We both got what we wanted. Ice cream for David (Caramel Toffee Crunch) and Cheese (5 kinds, even “Squeeky Cheese”) for me!
The Three Capes Loop
Probably one of the most popular drives along the northern Oregon coast. We started the 40 mile drive at Cape Kiwanda. Unfortunately it was a rainy day (tough for pictures) and there was also a huge bike race that crowded the streets through town. We got a spot to pull off and climbed the sand dunes to the top of the cape. From there you can see a view of the coastline including Haystack Rock.
We hoped back in the car and headed north to Cape Lookout. The scenic route takes you on a winding drive that moves inland in spots and then to Cape Lookout Trail where there is a parking lot . We would have loved to hike the trail but the weather was just giving us brief moments for short walks and snappy pictures. We were feeling grateful for those moments! Cape Lookout is a rocky headland extending one and three-quarter miles into the ocean.
What a slug! Technically a Banana Slug we’ve been told. Aptly named don’t you think? Almost missed this gross little character as we wandered through the wet, yet beautiful, plants on the path to the beach.
As we wind our way along the coast, we come to Netarts Bay and the quaint community of Netarts considered one of the best coastal locales for clamming, crabbing and hang gliders. Just off the coastline is Three Arch Rocks. In the early 1900’s President Theodore Roosevelt made this a National Wildlife Refuge . It is home for many types of bird life and an area frequented by sea lions.
Last stop on the scenic tour is Cape Meares Lighthouse and the famous Octopus Tree.
The Cape Meares Lighthouse is 217 feet above the ocean and is only 38 feet tall, making it the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast.
The Octopus Tree looks like an octopus standing on it’s head with it’s tentacles reaching skyward. It is a Sitka spruce that sends six huge trunks into the sky.
Hidden Acres Greenhouse & Cafe Botanica ~ 6760 S Prairie Rd, Tillamook, OR 97141
This is truly an hidden gem. If it was only a green house it would have been such a beautiful place to be and shop! But it has a cafe……………….
Anniversary lunch ~ Tuna Salad. Not your mama’s tuna salad either! Surprisingly great food inside the shop! Great lunch by Max! Roasted turkey, Havarti and cranberry sauce with pine nuts on grilled sour dough!
And for dessert – wow! Our 1st Marion Berry Pie! What intense flavors! If you’ve never had one, it tastes like a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry with an indescribable zing!
Great place for a summertime lunch! Tables are placed throughout the garden shop and you can dine in the garden. Garden vignette with turquoise chairs to sit back and admire the flowers, plants and trees for sale in the garden shop. I loved all the colors in this nursery!!Here is one of the many greenhouses full of plants and arrangements. Perennials, annuals, herbs and more in several greenhouses. The owner Jill is as delightful as the gardens she grows!
Our 21st Anniversary lunch at Hidden Acres Greenhouse and Cafe was the perfect place to be and eat. Beautiful potted flowers, trees, kitschy shop of classy gifts and an amazingly great cafe and garden dinning. The shop is filled with Do what you LOVE! Be filled with JOY! And so we did!
Rodeo Steak House ~ 2015 1st St, Tillamook, OR 97141
Yee Haw! We saddled up and rode into town for dinner. Rodeo Steak House is a fun place with great steaks, toss your peanut shells on the floor, country music and a relaxed atmosphere! We started our anniversary date at a garden party for lunch and ended up making friends in low places (Garth Brooks fans) for dinner!
We showed up in boots, tossed our peanuts on the floor but tried not to embarrass ourselves by riding the sawhorse pony by the front door!
Steak cooked to perfection and a seriously loaded potato! This was the smallest steak we could find on the menu! The “Dale Evans” coming in at 8 ounces. I asked for a loaded baked potato and when it arrived I could see the mound of butter and sour cream, a sprinkling of green onions but I was thrilled when I dug in and found a huge pile of real bacon bits!
Tillamook Air Museum ~ 6030 Hangar Rd, Tillamook, OR 97141
NAS (Naval Air Station) Tillamook Air Museum is home to the largest free-standing, clear-span wooden structure in the world. Covering more than seven acres, the building is 1,072 feet long, 296 feet wide, and towers more than 15 stories high.
NAS Tillamook stationed blimps during 1943-1945. They were used to watch over ports in Oregon and Washington and shipping lanes from California to the San Juan Islands, a 500-mile radius.
After years of other uses, Hangar B has returned to much of its erstwhile glory. In 1992, the Port of Tillamook Bay established a small blimp museum and by 1996 had acquired one of the finest collections of operational vintage World War I and II aircraft and a modern F-14 Tomcat fighter jet. The museum features more than thirty war birds, including a Bf-109 Messerschmitt, A-4B Skyhawk, P-38 Lightning, Martin AM Mauler, 1938 Bellanca Air Cruiser, Bell Helicopter, Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber, AD-4W Skyraider, and the rare Nakajima Ki-43, known as the Peregrine Falcon.
Approximately 80,000 people a year visit the museum, which is open daily, year-round. Visitors can climb into a jet simulator and view historical wartime and aviation artifacts, including pieces of the German airship, the Hindenburg. The museum offers guided tours for school groups.
Considering Tillamook is really a small town, here’s lots of fun to be had in Tillamook County!