With my beaming new 300 watts of solar now in place, I am ready to head back to the coast and pick up where I left off with my lighthouse stalking. I have loved every single mile of the Oregon coast and decide I don’t want to miss a single milepost, so I head due west to Newport where I left off a week ago to come inland for the solar install. Only the weather has now turned dreary and rainy, an ironic twist considering I am now on a mission to see how many days I can go without plugging into the pole!
I found a great place to land for a couple of nights and test my new found independence. Freecampsites.net listed a place just outside of Tillamook near the Air Museum for only $10 a night. No hookups, but nice long, level gravel parking places with picnic tables and fire rings. Not that I seem to use too many of either these days, but somehow, it makes me feel a little more official than parking in a pasture. (I’ll get there, I’m sure!)
I had a nice green “privacy wall” of vegetation behind me, but with only two other rigs in the entire lot, I really didn’t need it. It was quiet, private, and only a couple of miles outside of Tillamook. What a peaceful, easy feeling, this solar-powered dry camping!
No question as to my reason for stopping in Tillamook. It was a well positioned for my last two lighthouses along the Oregon Coast, Cape Meares and Tillamook Rock. It had nothing to do with the Tillamook Cheese factory, of course. The cheese samples, nor the creamery serving ice cream flavors like Oregon Marionberry Pie. 😉 Nope. No question of priorities here…
But more to my liking was the Blue Heron Cheese Factory and Gourmet shop, also in Tillamook, which sampled their cheeses on top of baguette cubes, served on cheeseboards rather than spearing them in a big plastic tub with toothpicks. Wine tasting was offered in the back of the shop, and in between was a unique and vast selection of gourmet foods, not only local Oregon products, but other specialty items as well.
But back to serious business here, I still have two more lighthouses to see on my Oregon Coastal Crawl!
Cape Meares, named for John Meares, a British Explorer, is located on the Three Capes Scenic Loop. For a road marketed to tourists, this has to be one of the worst roads I have driven in the Winnie. I really wished I had left it parked in Tillamook and driven the Tracker, as dodging the hundreds of potholes while going slow enough to avoid feeling like I had a bucking bronco towing behind me from the many dips and heaves in the road, all while trying to stay out of the way of those who equate “scenic loop” with “speedway” did not make for a pleasant drive. I’ll never understand why someone would choose to view a scenic drive as a chance to simulate the Grand Prix. If you want to speed, stay off the advertized scenic tourist route!
The Three Capes Scenic Loop travels to Cape Lookout, Cape Kiwanda, and finally at the northern end, Cape Meares, location of Cape Meares Light, put into service in 1890. Standing at only 38 feet tall, it is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, though due to a boost from the cliff below it, the light is actually 223 feet above sea level. Made from sheet iron lined with bricks, it is a one of a kind on the Oregon coast.
Cape Meares is yet another lighthouse with the stunning ruby red glass panes over the First Order Fresnel lens, however since the light has been decommissioned, with the beacon now emitting from a nearby automated light, the lens no longer rotates on the carriage wheel as does the larger lens at Umpqau River.
The sweet little lighthouse has been vandalized twice in her past. First, the four bulls eyes were stolen from the lens. One was recovered in a Portland drug raid, while the other three were eventually returned. Then in 2010, two men pumped a few rounds into the priceless Fresnel lens, doing over $500,000 worth of damage. As much as I am mesmerized by those beautiful prisms? I could almost see the theft. But shooting her up? I will never understand what causes people to do such heinous acts to such a rare beauty…