The Land of Cheese, Trees, and Ocean Breeze…

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!

Tillamook Airport and RV Park

Tillamook Airport and RV Park

Tillamook Farmer's Market

Tillamook Farmer’s Market

IMG_0956No 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…IMG_0994

Actually, the Tillamook Cheese Factory was a fun stop.  Lots of interactive attractions for kids, windows overlooking the cheese making, and barrels of cheese cubes with unlimited tastings.IMG_1003 IMG_0997

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.IMG_0987 IMG_0988 IMG_0989

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!DSC_0196

Path to the "Octopus Tree"

Path to the “Octopus Tree”

The Octopus Tree, 105 ft tall, 46 ft in circumference with no central trunk.  Believed to be 250-300 years old.

The Octopus Tree, 105 ft tall, 46 ft in circumference with no central trunk. Believed to be 250-300 years old.

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.

Excitement builds upon approach!

Excitement builds upon approach!

Since the lighthouse is only 38 ft tall, it is possible to look eye to eye with the Fresnel lens.

Since the lighthouse is only 38 ft tall, it is possible to look eye to eye with the Fresnel lens.

IMG_0972Cape 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.

Although a First Order lens, still no where near as big as Umpqua River Light with its 24 bulls-eyes.

Although a First Order lens, still no where near as big as Umpqua River Light with its 24 bulls-eyes.

From the inside looking out.

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…

13 thoughts on “The Land of Cheese, Trees, and Ocean Breeze…

  1. What fun! Well, with the exception of the potholes. I know you are excited about the solar.

    BTW, I’ve never had much luck with freecampsites.net. In fact, I just removed the site from my bookmarks. Hmmmph.

    Look forward to meeting you soon!

  2. I’ve pinned this post for when we hit Tillamook in September, that Blue Heron Cheese Factory looks delicious!

    We will be at Columbia River RV Park on Monday 6/30, for a week. Don’t suppose you’ll still be there? Another near miss??? :-)

  3. Tillamook cheese factory – a MUST stop on all OR coast visits. I think I left there with $90 worth of goodies (and no ice cream). Still want to get into the air museum but like you, nature calls! So glad you are enjoying your visit to the coast and I feel your pain dealing with the “tourists”! LOL

  4. OMG!! The Umpqua lighthouse at night brought me to tears. What a gorgeous lady. We saw her two nights in a row. When it started to mist this evening, she really showed off her glory. The beams were so majestic and intensified in the mist as they swept around. Tomorrow is Heceta Head. But, it’s hard to leave Umpqua.

  5. You were absolutely right about the condition of the road! I commented to BJ that the road was fully qualified to represent Alaska roads – it was just misplaced.

  6. Kim — That was my first experience with freecampsites.net, and it was a good one, but maybe it was just “beginners luck.” I will have to get more inside scoop from you, it seems. 😉

    Nelda — Thanks for the link to Munson Falls. Unfortunately, I am hopelessly behind in the blog. I am now just across the river from you, so let me know if you have any Portland/Vancouver tips for me, please…

    Dave — Blue Heron did have wine “tasting,” but no wineries nearby. But there seem to be more in the state of Oregon than I could ever hope to visit! LOVE that quote! Mr Wilde must have met my former husband. LOL! Thanks for the chuckle…

    Lisa — Sweet Heat, or Tiki Bars…so many wonderful choices! 😉

    Sherry — How on earth did you pass up that ice cream? It’s all I could think about during my tour. haha!!

    Walt — I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for stopping by!

    BC Mark — If only I could go back… Damn this time delay!

    Sandybee — Oh, that makes my heart sing! I am so very glad you guys stayed over to see it after dark. It was a clear night when I was there, so you really lucked out with the mist! I heard that mist, along with fog, were the best times. I am so haunted by that lighthouse, it’s crazy. I would almost drive back across Oregon to visit it one more time…Hope you are still having fun!

    John — Right?? That is the first time in 18 months of full timing that I actually worried about the strength of my hitch pins!

    Contessa, my jewel…thanks for stopping by, but go rest that eye!

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