It's surprising how many sights and references remind us of last summer's trip through Eastern Canada. The tufted puffins and murres at the Newport Aquarium, the sea caves, the historical markers celebrating visits by Captain Cook are but some examples. Even the rather dippy text of the tourist brochures Semper Paratus, Garibaldi, OR reminds us of some of the publicity for tiny hamlets which manage to find something, no matter how small, to distinguish themselves. After encountering the shortest river, the largest sea cave, the most hotel rooms, the widest beach, the highest rock stack, and more, we encountered a banner next to the highway which read: VISIT LINCOLN CITY AND SEE ALL OF OUR URBAN RENEWAL PROJECTS!
A friend remembers his first trip to Depoe, Oregon in 1938 when it was already commercialized. Today, still shabby but lively, Depoe has a harbor with fishing boats, and some motels and tourist cottages. We learned that Depoe is named for Charlie Depot who got his last name from his place of work: the Army Depot. Later, his family revised the spelling, no doubt in hope of gaining respectability.
North of Lincoln City the highway turned inland, through farming country. All of a sudden there were no tourist attractions -- this was working dairy country. We passed some small animals that looked like a cross between a donkey and a pony; when we stopped for a closer look, the owner told us they were a separate breed of miniature donkeys, which they kept as pets. They were once used as light pack animals, capable of carrying 40 pounds. The miniature donkeys usually don't care for dogs, so they are also put in with a flock of sheep to guard against coyotes.
Tillamook is famous for cheese, and we stopped twice: first at the Blue Heron French Cheese factory, where we bought some American Brie. It's made with pasteurized milk, and doesn't ripen quite as nicely as French Brie, but it was still quite good. It would be nice if the U.S. F.D.A. would accept the centuries-old European cheesemaking processes without insisting on Pasteurization! Lewis and Clark
Our second stop was at the Tillamook Cheese Factory itself, a very large plant which ships cheddar and jack cheese all over the country. It's a dairy cooperative built through the administrative genius of a turn-of-the-century businessman. First we saw a video showing how the milk is heated, a starter culture added, and then the curds form. The whey is drained off to make butter, the curds piled in a heap to "cheddar" under pressure from their own weight, and then be aged, up to 15 months for extra sharp. We climbed to the viewing gallery to watch the complex assembly lines finishing the production process. The 40-pound blocks of aged cheddar were carefully cut into half-pound or full-pound slabs, then sealed in plastic for shipping. The assembly line workers had to add thin slices of cheese to hunks which weighed light and clear the assembly line whenever it jammed, which seemed to be quite often. They were mostly women, dressed in white, with hairnets and thin plastic gloves. It didn't look like fun work to us, but they seemed happy enough. Seaside Beach
The huge cheesemaking vats were all covered, so they were less interesting to watch. There were additional videos which gave quite a bit of detail on the process. We found it quite interesting. In the tasting room one could try today's cheese, unaged. This is the cheese we used to buy in Indiana called Longhorn.
We drove through the oldest shore resort, Seaside, and saw the lifesize statue to Lewis and Clark, who camped near the ocean at Fort Clatsop. We counted 50 people, mostly families with children, playing on the sandy beach, even though the temperature was 45. Brr-rr-rr!! Then we moved through Astoria, a working waterfront town, with evidence that there was once a large number of Finns there. The town would probably repay a longer visit, but we were anxious to get to Portland, where we plan to stay a while. U.S. highway 30 runs up the Columbia River from Astoria to Portland, and it runs through more working waterfront towns. We didn't pass a single motel until we got to Portland, and we passed that one by because it was surrounded by piers and industrial buildings! At last we found a place we liked, and made arrangements at $59 a night for a week -- Comfort Suites. This seemed pretty reasonable to us for nice accommodations in a city of 450,000.