Touring Bob’s Red Mill and Harry & David

Production facility where the tour is held

If you love whole grains, you would really enjoy visiting Bob’s Red Mill located in Milwaukie, Oregon near Portland. Perhaps you have seen this product line where you shop as they are sold all over the U.S. and even around the world in supermarket chains and specialty grocery stores. We occasionally buy Bob’s Red Mill products and I had been curious about visiting here for several years. Bob’s provides a factory tour to see their production facility and at a separate location nearby there is a restaurant, bakery and store. We started out with the tour which is held at 10:00, Monday through Friday and takes about 90 minutes.

One of Bob’s main interests – piano playing

While waiting for the tour to begin we heard a piano being played in the next room. Turns out that Bob, the Company’s founder loves to play, frequently delighting guests with his songs. He couldn’t stay long though because as he came out of the room and I shook his hand he reported that he was, “off to a meeting.” At the age of 90, it appeared that Bob was still not retired!

As our tour began, we sat in a room surrounded with Red Mill products, information and advertisements. Our guide gave us a history of the company and how grains are processed. In 1978, Bob and his wife Charlee moved to the Portland area to retire and having an interest in milling, opened a business in an old mill building. They began stone grinding grains into flours and cereals and blending whole grain mixes. Over the years the company grew and they moved into a larger facility in 2007. They now have 410 employees working three shifts. On February 15, 2010, Bob celebrated his 81st birthday and announced to his employees that Bob’s Red Mill was now an employee owned company. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan was created that provided an orderly transition of ownership to the same employees that helped it grow.

Sitting on old millstones yet to be restored. Bob’s Red Mill still uses century old stones incorporated into a modern frame

During our tour we were able to look into windows and watch grains like corn and wheat being milled and packaged. They don’t allow photos though of the production floor. Everything looked very clean and orderly. We learned that employees start out as “temporaries” and if they do well can be kept on. Workers wear different colored uniforms depending on their job duties. After seeing the production we went to a room where we could pick out a few samples to take with us as well as visit the tiny gift shop for souvenirs.

Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant, Bakery and Store

After our tour we drove to the restaurant for lunch and a little shopping in their beautiful, modern building. We ordered food at a counter downstairs and ate at a seating area looking out over the store and bakery on the first floor.

Restaurant counter and bakery area

The menu is pretty good and true to their whole grain concept. They offer whole grain hot and cold cereals as well as oatmeal for breakfast and grain bowls, salads and vegan sandwiches for lunch. But they also offer egg breakfasts and sandwiches with meat. Different varieties of bread are baked onsite and sold in the store.

Even the company founder waits in line to order lunch

While we were eating upstairs, I looked down at one point and saw Bob standing in line waiting to order at the counter. It struck me as funny that the founder of the company would wait in line rather than just go in the back area and have someone rustle him up a sandwich or grain bowl. Kudos to Bob for being just a “regular guy.”😀

A spurtle is a 15th century Scottish porridge tool made in different sizes from wood. They sell them in the store so I couldn’t resist getting one, but I haven’t used it yet 😊
The company grinds and blends over two dozen different hot breakfast cereals.

The store sells every product that they make and I found it rather astonishing how many products are for sale here. There were shelves of different kinds of cereals, flours and nut meals, some of which I had not heard of before like kamut, garbanzo fava, amaranth, teff, cassava and coconut. There were baking mixes, grains, seeds, berries, beans and rices. Besides all the packaged items they also have a bulk area where you can buy a little or a lot to try out. I bought a little teff flour, an ancient grain from Ethiopia. I was tempted to buy a lot of their products, but alas we have limited space in our trailer. I did get some steel cut oats which we often eat for breakfast, an 8-grain hot cereal mix and a kamut hot cereal. Kamut is an ancient wheat grain with probable origins in the Fertile Crescent. I haven’t tried the kamut cereal yet but the 8-grain was delicious! I also got a bag of Scottish oats so I could make oat cakes. Below is a photo of them using the recipe I got at Bob’s Red Mill.

Oat Cakes – not handsome to look at, but rather tasty and nutritious

Located in the Southern Oregon town of Medford is the headquarters of Harry & David, who produce and ship all kinds of gourmet gift baskets full of sweet and savory treats. During other past trips to Oregon, we had stopped at the Harry & David store, but had never done the factory tour. During this trip we made a point to go and it turned out to be the right time of year as the company was busy getting lots of goodies packaged for the holiday season.

The main store

Our tour was to start at the the main store where we would board a large van to be driven to the production facility a mile or so away. But since we got there early we checked out all the goodies and samples the store offered. I was most interested in the “Moose Munch” which is an addicting popcorn coated with different kinds of chocolate, caramel and nuts. There were samples of each kind they sold, yum!

Lots of lovely packaged gift ensembles

The Harry and David Company started when a man named Samuel Rosenberg bought some pear orchards and began marketing them in 1910. In 1914, his sons Harry and David took over and in 1934 began a mail order business. The company still produces special pears called “Royal Riviera” and during our bus ride to the production building, our driver took us by the orchards to see them. From pears the Company eventually moved on to other sweet treats.

This is how it began for the Harry & David Company

We covered a lot of ground on our walking tour as the main building is huge. This is probably the largest food factory type building we have been in. We walked above the factory floor and watched hundreds of people filling and completing gift baskets and boxes. It was quite a sight. Including seasonal employees, approximately 8,000 people are working here.

Closeup of workers putting together gift boxes of specialty foods
View of just one area of the gift packaging
Pears being readied for packaging – on the right pears travel down a conveyor and on the left are gift boxes

Although the gift box/basket area was interesting, the best part was going to the baking building. The delicious smell was incredible! From windows above, we watched moose munch popcorn being made in big mixers. Large chunks of butter were combined with hot bubbling syrup to make a luscious caramel sauce. Popcorn was then mixed in and dumped onto a conveyor belt where it made its way to be packaged. I could have stayed in the moose munch area for a long time taking in those smells and watching the process!

Moose Munch being dumped out of the mixing vat
Moose Munch making its way along the conveyor

The Company makes an incredible array of candies, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, pies and fruit cakes. During our tour, we watched them make cinnamon rolls – spreading out the dough, putting the cinnamon sugar on and rolling it back up before putting the rolls in paper cups.

Making cinnamon rolls

At the end we got a little box of delicious shortbread cookies filled with raspberry jam, a nice ending to a sweet day and fun tour of Harry & David.

Thanks for checking in and hope you enjoyed a look at our factory tours. Stay tuned for my next post on our Hollywood visit from one year ago.

Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park

I never forgot my first visit to Silver Falls State Park about 13 years ago. It’s not easy to forget a place where you can see ten waterfalls on one trail. Four of the waterfalls you walk behind, experiencing up close the power of water. Not only are the waterfalls impressive, but the canyon you hike through is a wonder as well with a thick temperate rainforest of huge Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Maple trees covered in moss with a trail bordered by ferns and shrubbery.

This was a wet hike! Not only the trail itself but all the greenery was dripping from the rainforest conditions
The trail follows Silver Creek through a dense rainforest

Silver Falls is Oregon’s largest state park and has been touted as the “Crown Jewel” of the Oregon state park system. It is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains about a 45 minute drive from the capital city of Salem.

At the beginning of my hike I was greeted by a group of Gray Jays

During our recent trip to Oregon, I took to this trail one day in early November. I wasn’t sure what to expect about water flow since it was in the middle of fall and I hoped the waterfalls still had a good amount of water in them. I was also not sure about hiking the whole Ten Falls trail as it is long and rather rigorous. So far in our RV travels I hadn’t hiked almost nine miles on one trail and I would be doing this by myself as Mark not being a hiker would not be joining me. There are opportunities to see some of the falls by cobbling together shorter trails or driving to a few different starting points, but I really wanted to do the whole trail again and see all the falls.

South Falls drops 177 feet and is the second highest waterfall in the park

Although long, the trail is so beautiful and easy to follow that it didn’t seem that hard and the time passed quickly. I met nice people along the way too, so it wasn’t a lonely hike. Although the falls were not running at capacity as they would have been earlier in the year, they still had a good amount of rushing water. It seems to see really good falls at most parks requires climbing stairs and this park is no exception. I had to hike into a canyon and out of it, with some up and down along the trail as well.

At one time there was a town located above the canyon and near South Falls, the most well known of the falls and the starting point of my hike. Silver Falls City was formed in 1888 primarily as a logging community. A local entrepreneur sold admission to the falls area and there were even some attractions including pushing cars over the falls and a daredevil stunt involving riding over South Falls in a canoe. One of the biggest advocates for creating a park here was a photographer who began a campaign with photos in 1900. But the National Park Service rejected the area for park status because there were so many unattractive stumps after years of logging. When the Great Depression hit, the timber industry was over. In 1933 the state park was formed and in 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps was employed to develop park facilities including trails, bridges and retaining walls. The South Falls Lodge was completed in the late 1930’s and remains open today.

South Falls
South Falls was the first waterfall on my hike that I could walk behind due to the amphitheater setting

I mentioned in my opening paragraph that you can walk behind four of the waterfalls. Behind the North Falls drop is the most impressive opening – a huge cave like overhang. It is definitely a place to sit a spell and just admire looking out at the falling water.

Huge recessed cave behind North Falls
Looking out from the back of North Falls
North Falls drops 136 feet and is the 3rd highest waterfall in the park

One of my favorite falls here is Lower South Falls. Although not as tall as South or North Falls, it drops 93 feet in a wide beautiful sheet. The trail goes behind as well, although the recess is narrow.

Lower South Falls
Walking behind Lower South Falls
Lower South Falls side view

The tallest waterfall in the park is Double Falls which drops 184 feet and is located next to a short spur off the main trail. There was not much water in it, so it fell in a thin stream. In the photo below, you can barely see the top tier of the falls to the right of the main drop.

Middle North Falls at 106 feet is the Park’s fourth waterfall you can walk behind on a narrow trail.

Middle North Falls

A couple of the waterfalls are quite small and not very dramatic, but still worth a stop as I came by. Drake Falls was the only one I did not photograph as it was the least visible of the falls and could only be viewed from a small deck.

Lower North Falls

I finished up my adventure by taking a spur trail to see impressive Upper North Falls. It had a large wide pool in front of the 65 foot drop and there were many slippery rocks to walk on to get closer. I walked part of the way but decided not to go right next to the pool. I’d rather not take the risk of falling and hurting myself so I can be sure and walk to more beautiful places like this in the future!

Upper North Falls

Although I had planned to see ten waterfalls on my trek I actually only saw nine. Unfortunately, the spur trail to see Winter Falls was closed when I visited. The chance to see nine waterfalls in a gorgeous rainforest was one of my best days exploring during our RV travels! If you ever find yourself in the north central part of Oregon make your way to Silver Falls State Park. It is a winner!

Our welcoming committee

I thought I would close with a photo from our campsite in Southern Oregon. We had just arrived when this flock of ducks waddled by to say hello! Stay tuned for one more post about our Oregon travels. Next up – fun food factory tours.

Good Times and Sunsets in Cannon Beach, Oregon

Entrance to Cannon Beach RV Resort

For those of you following and perhaps tiring of Oregon beach posts and photos, you are in luck as this is the last one! I loved my sunset walks on Cannon Beach and wanted to share some of my photos. This was our last stay and grand finale on the Oregon Coast. We camped at a pleasant and well located RV park and enjoyed perfect sunny fall weather. Cannon Beach is a nice little resort town with interesting shops in gray shingled buildings. One Saturday I headed downtown and found too many people enjoying a fine autumn day. This was the only day on the Coast that I actually spent looking at shops. I have to admit I am not much of a shopper but Cannon Beach is known as a great place to browse and has been compared to the coastal town of Carmel, California, so I didn’t want to pass it up. I decided to not take any pictures of my town exploring, but I have plenty of the beautiful beach area where people were having a blast strolling, flying kites, playing in the surf and admiring Haystack Rock. There was even some sand sculpting going on.

Sculpting a sand ship on Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock is one of the most well known landmarks in Oregon. It looms large at 235 feet and is a popular tourist attraction. Although not as big as the Haystack Rock we saw during our stay in Pacific City, it seems larger because it is closer to the shore and accessible at low tide. With all the smaller rocks around its base it is a great place for tide pooling. Several bird species nest here during the spring and summer including Tufted Puffins.

Surprise, the town of Cannon Beach really did get its name from a cannon! In 1846, the U.S. Navy schooner Shark wrecked while crossing the Columbia River Bar. (I talked in my previous post about how treacherous crossing the Bar is and here is an example). Cannons from the ship were let loose and one was discovered a few miles south of the town when it washed ashore on a beach. Later a few other cannons were also found. In 1922, the city officially adopted the new name “Cannon Beach.”

Tillamook Head Lighthouse is known as Terrible Tilly and is not accessible to the public but can be seen from Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach RV park featured a perk we haven’t had at any other camping spot. The town only has two gas pumps and they are located at this park. I was surprised because with all the tourist traffic I would think there would be at least one gas station. But I was glad about the pumps being available right near us so we wouldn’t have to drive to Seaside, the next town north. Perhaps the best thing about getting gas in Oregon is that they still pump it for you! I have to admit I enjoy being lazy and not getting out of the truck.

The only two gas pumps in Cannon Beach

If you need a shovel, paint supplies, boxes of nails and perhaps could use a good meal or beverage, “Screw and Brew,” also known as Cannon Beach Hardware is the place to come. The hardware store/restaurant boasts being Oregon’s first hardware store to serve beer, wine and food. During our travels, we like to try out unusual places and this restaurant sounded the most unique in Cannon Beach.

We came for an early dinner and sat at a table with compartments of hardware against one wall and sporting goods and toys against the other. The store is rather small, but it has two floors and manages to carry some hardware basics such as home improvement and gardening tools, plumbing and electrical parts. I really enjoyed my BBQ pulled pork sandwich and Mark had a meatloaf sandwich. This is actually the second hardware store we have eaten at during our RV travels. The first was in Tucumcari, New Mexico in April when we were passing through and decided to try a place called Watson’s BBQ, also known as a hardware/ranch supply store. That place was even quirkier and had tasty food served by a very friendly owner.

Eating with hardware

I thought I would close this post with some more sunset beach photos. Wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Exploring Astoria, Oregon

The Astoria-Megler Bridge reaching across the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon to Washington State

After a bit of a break from writing, I am back with more on our Oregon travels earlier in the Fall. We are currently enjoying being back in Northern California and near our former home base. Staying at an RV Park in this area gives us a chance to be near family and friends for awhile. I have several more posts I want to do on Oregon so bear with me. For those that have been following, I have written quite a bit about this wonderful state. For traveling, Oregon is one of the best and in years past, we have done a variety of trips around the state. This is our first time though in an RV taking our time, a luxury we never had when we were working! Come along with us as we explore some of what Oregon’s most northern coastal city has to offer.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

Our first objective when hitting Astoria was a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Astoria sits alongside the mighty Columbia River and this museum showcases life on the River. We found the exhibits to be really interesting and the museum just the right size – not too big or small for an enjoyable visit. We are fond of anything maritime and this is well done. After first watching a great 3D film of unusual deep water sea creatures, we headed outside to tour the Columbia Lightship.

This was the last lightship on the Pacific Coast to guide vessels across the Columbia River Bar, which is also known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” The Bar was a treacherous area with bad winter weather that kept the lightship crew on board for weeks at a time when no supplies could be delivered. Duty on the ship was full of lots of boredom with gale force storms. Nowadays a navigational buoy does the lighting and the ship remains on display at the museum. I had never heard of a lightship and found touring the inside and outside interesting. It isn’t very big and I was amazed at how much is stored onboard including thousands of gallons of fuel, water and over 12 tons of food.

On board the Columbia Lightship

One of the biggest surprises for Mark and I visiting the museum was learning about the Columbia Bar which is noted to be one of the more dangerous river crossings in the world. Where the Columbia River enters the Pacific, waves, wind and current create hazardous conditions and the area is littered with shipwrecks. Since 1792, approximately 2,000 vessels including over 200 large ships have sunk with more than 700 people losing their lives to the sea. Bar pilots now guide ships across the Bar, often boarding by helicopter. Besides photos and drawings, the museum had several videos showing the difficulties faced by mariners attempting this crossing.

Historical drawing of ships navigating the Columbia Bar

The museum has a collection of coast guard boats used on the river and the 36-foot boat in photo below was the standard rescue boat in use for 80 years on the Oregon Coast. Decommissioned in 1988, only one lifeboat (1961) was lost during those 80 years.

One of the more interesting boats on display actually arrived from Japan. After the 2011 tsunami, it floated on the ocean for two years, traveling 5,000 miles and washing ashore at nearby Cape Disappointment in Washington. The owner of the boat did not want it returned, so it was donated to the museum. This was the second Japanese tsunami “survivor” I had seen during our recent Oregon travels. The first was the boat dock exhibited in Newport.

Waves, currents and boat trips can’t help but conjure thoughts of seasickness and the museum has an exhibit called, “Why Don’t I Feel Well?” The best cure: “Don’t go to sea!” Sensory wrist bands help some, over the counter meds can combat the nausea although they have side effects or eating ginger which has no side effects. I don’t get seasick but have taken candied ginger root on a few whaling trips as a precaution. On one trip in Monterey Bay, California I passed some out to several sick passengers. And what does Mark do to prevent seasickness? He heeds the first recommendation!

I really enjoyed the historic map room! There were many maps from the 1600’s and 1700’s. It was fascinating to see drawings of the world as early explorers and map makers once envisioned it. For example, the map below shows California as an Island.

Historic map from 1656 showing California (far left) as an island

This map shows the Arctic Circle which early explorers believed was navigable by a water route to the pole. Back in those days, a water route was not possible, but today with global warming and the subsequent melting of the polar cap, the dream of those early explorers can now be realized.

Map of the Northwest passage

An exhibit of Japanese flags from World War II made for a heartfelt memorial. Japanese soldiers carried these flags with them and they were lovingly inscribed with good luck messages from family and friends. American soldiers kept them as souvenirs, but later their relatives wanted to return them to the soldiers’ families in Japan. The Obon Society in Astoria has been able to do just that. A short film showcased the return of one flag and it brought tears to my eyes.

Astoria has a solid history of fishing enterprises which are explained at the museum. The city once called itself the “Salmon Canning Capital of the World.” Mark and I found another intriguing exhibit about the harvesting of shark liver. Since liver is high in Vitamin A, it was given to World War II pilots to improve their night vision. It sold for $18.00 a pound which was a lot of money back in the 1940’s. In 1943, 270,000 pounds of liver was collected at a value of 5 million dollars!

Mark and I usually go our separate ways at some point during museum visits, since I spend more time looking than he does. When we met up later he asked if I had seen the infrared room. In this room people can see themselves as rescuers would using infrared vision technology. Usually I am pretty careful not to miss exhibits, but somehow I missed it. Mark took this ghostly looking photo of himself.

After our museum visit we headed for lunch at Curry and CoCo, a restaurant serving an interesting combo of ethnic foods, Thai and Cuban. During our visit we learned that Cuban entrees were being served at dinner time, but we love Thai food which was the main reason we came. The restaurant was gaily decorated inside with painted street scenes from Havana and colorful furnishings.

Inside Curry & CoCo Thai Restaurant

The food was so delicious and it had been awhile since we had eaten Thai food. We had a yellow curry special called Kao Soj and a Pad Thai.

After a stop at Josephson’s Smoked Fish House to pick up some smoked salmon to go (I have become quite fond of this fish during our Oregon travels 😊), we headed to our next destination, a national historic park. As I have mentioned several times in blog posts, we try to catch as many national park sites as we can during our travels. Fort Clatsop was a pretty important place historically as this was the farthest point of the Lewis and Clark expedition (Corps of Discovery) after completing their journey of finding a water route to the Pacific Ocean. After arriving in December 1805, they erected a small fort where they stayed for the winter, leaving in March 1806 to return east.

Sacajawea was an important member of the Lewis and Clark expedition

Fort Clatsop is located in a a beautiful area of old growth forest. The Visitor Center was nice although the film the rangers raved about was dated and silly. The original fort is long gone, but a replica was built on the site in the 1950’s. I think Mark spent a grand total of about three minutes looking inside the rooms of the fort before telling me he was heading back towards the truck. Before leaving he used his usual phrase of, “But take your time.” In those three minutes I was able to get a few photos of him looking around. It is true there isn’t much to see here, but I think Lewis and Clark deserved more than three minutes attention 🙃. From the Fort I did walk a short trail to see the expedition’s landing spot on the Lewis and Clark River.

Fort Clatsop
Interior of the Fort

This is the second national park site this year where we spent less than an hour visiting. The first was at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Southeastern Michigan. I would have to say the River Raisin remains the least interesting national park site we have ever visited. It was so boring that I didn’t take one photo and I always take multiple photos every where we go. Fort Clatsop was more interesting, but not much time needed to take it all in.

Thanks for taking the time to read and stay tuned for more Oregon posts!

Caves, Waterfalls, Stagecoach Road and More

Hug Point State Park

Our last campsite on the Oregon Coast was in the lovely town of Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach has a popular beach and large haystack, but there are also great state parks with beaches not far from the town. One day I headed south on Highway 101 to check out two of them. The first promised caves and a waterfall which I was excited to see.

Stagecoach Road at Hug Point

Hug Point State Park has a cute sounding name but did not get its name as a romantic spot for hugs and kisses. Before Highway 101 was built, early pioneers had to travel on the beaches and at the point, a stagecoach road was carved into the rock where travelers “hugged” the cliff to get safely around. At low tide this “road” with its grooves can still be walked on to another beach. I didn’t want to walk around the point though because the waves were fairly close to the rocks and signs warned of getting stranded if the tide came up and covered the road way.

Beach view from Stagecoach Road

The waterfall at Hug Point State Park is small and did not have a lot of water when I visited, but it is always a delight to see a waterfall dropping to a beach and this was my first one on the Oregon Coast.

Caves can be found here, some that would be better for little ones as they were so narrow. One cave was fairly roomy and at the back had a large tree trunk that had been carried by the surf and pushed into a hole in the cave coming to rest against the wall. It was dark inside so I had to take the photo below with my camera’s flash. Although the surf was not close to the cave when I visited, inside it sounded loud and booming. I went out a few times to make sure the water wasn’t creeping up and I didn’t get caught by a sleeper wave.

Cave with tree trunk
Looking out from the cave’s entrance
Another cave with colorful rock at the entrance

The beach at Hug Point State Park has a number of cliffs with interesting and colorful rock formations like in the photo below.

After exploring Hug Point I headed several miles south to Oswald West State Park. Walking one half mile through the woods on a maintained trail brought me to Short Sand Beach. The walk felt like a stroll through a magical forest with trunks and roots of trees shaped into interesting formations. This would be a great place to take kids with so much to climb under over and through.

A magical forest

Oswald West is well loved by hikers, beachgoers and and surfers. I was surprised to see so many surfers walking by with their boards as well as plenty enjoying the surf.

Short Sand Beach
Surfer at Oswald West State Park

Oswald also has a waterfall dropping into the ocean. This one is thinner and taller than at Hug Point and if the tide had been a little lower, I could have walked to the base.

I walked on a trail above the beach and through a forest to capture the view below.

View of Short Sand Beach

I decided to continue on the trail and came upon many large tree roots. Walking over roots is a common occurrence on trails along the Oregon Coast due to so many old growth forests. One reviewer for this park commented that she fell and broke her wrist after tripping over roots. When she went to Urgent Care, the doctor told her she was the second patient that week with a broken wrist from hiking here.

it is hard to enjoy the forest scenery when you have to watch your feet all the time. I was fine with the roots for awhile, but when I kept encountering really muddy areas I eventually turned back and explored some shorter, less “rooty” trails.

On my walk I passed two different streams making their way to the beach. The stream in photo above was full of water and one of my favorite spots in the park. I spent some time here sitting on this mossy fallen log and enjoying the rushing water.

I loved both Hug Point and Oswald West State Parks. They were full of many interesting things to explore and simply gorgeous.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

A Walk at Sitka Sedge, Oregon’s Newest State Park

Sitka Sedge State Park

I was trying to decide if I should do a hike at Cape Lookout State Park or try out the trails at Sitka Sedge. After reading reviews, the Cape Lookout trail sounded gorgeous as it traversed a headland with commanding ocean views. But people mentioned having to walk over many tree roots, rocks and muddy spots. I decided Sitka Sedge would be more relaxing, plus it was only about three miles away. I also liked that Sitka Sedge has a variety of habitats including a marsh, lake, forest and beach access. Oregon has many state parks and this is its newest addition, having opened in 2018.

Sand Lake

The trail started out on a dike which divided the marsh between the fresh water portion and the saltwater. It traveled around Sand Lake which in season can be a great place to see waterfowl. During our Oregon travels I didn’t see as many birds as I thought I would as migration was over and the birds seemed to have retreated elsewhere to settle in for the winter. On this walk I did hear and see several Kingfishers flitting about which is always a delight and a flock of Mergansers gliding on the lake. The trail led to a barrier peninsula which protects the marsh from the ocean. There were several loop trails and I started with the Kinnikinnik Woods trail. The word Kinnikinnik refers to an evergreen shrub which was first recorded by the Lewis and Clark expedition when they were in North Dakota.

The Kinnikinnik Woods trail

A side trail from the woods traveled over grassy dunes to a beach which stretched for some distance. I only saw one other person walking on the shore and at one point a state park employee drove his truck by and waved.

After a beautiful and peaceful walk on the beach I returned to the trail to go back into the woods and finish my loop. From the dunes I entered once more into a dense canopy of trees made up of Coastal Shore Pine. It was an interesting walk as the thick forest with short trees seemed dark and mysterious in places.

Trail disappearing into the woods

Taking another short side trail I headed out of the forest briefly for a view of the marsh from a small hill. The sky was so beautiful that day with big, puffy clouds.

The Kinnikinnik Woods trail featured Sitka Spruce trees covered in dense moss. Lots of red mushrooms carpeted the forest floor.

I finished my hike with a second loop called Estuary View before heading back on the dike trail to my starting point. Along the way, I stopped to take photos of beautiful bushes covered with red berries. I tried to figure out the name of the bush and berries but I am not yet certain what they are called. They were a lovely spot along the trail.

I was very glad I explored this park as it had great scenery with trails perfect for walking. Plus, it is always fun to hike to a beach and I enjoyed all the different habitats. Oregon continues to wow me with all their wonderful state parks! Until next time!

A Visit to Tillamook Creamery and Driving the Scenic Three Capes Route

Tillamook Creamery is a popular stop for tourists visiting Oregon. Located on the northern coast, the factory is very visitor friendly. Here you can learn about making cheese and view the process from large windows above the production floor. In addition, there are a number of exhibits and fun facts throughout the building. Other activities include sampling cheese, checking out the gift shop and eating in the dining hall. Seeing everything and having a meal can take several hours and we did just that during a busy afternoon one weekend.

We hit the cafe first before it got too crowded and the menu at the order counter was of course very cheesy. Mark had macaroni and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich. I tried the tomato soup with cheese curds mixed in. They were both good. I ate some of Mark’s mac-n-cheese and thought it was prepared pretty well. A variety of other cheese related items can be ordered here such as tempura fried cheese curds and cheddar cheese fries. After lunch it was time for ice cream which may be the most popular item. It seems everyone was walking around with a cone or cup of Tillamook ice cream. I think their ice cream is good, but in my opinion they don’t seem to put as many mix-ins (chocolate chips, nuts, candies, etc.) as two of my favorite ice creams, Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs.

Visitor Center entrance with stairs leading up to the factory viewing windows

I wasn’t sure if we would see anything happening on the factory floor during our visit, but we were in luck. On our self-guided tour we saw where milk is brought in through pipes, the stainless steel mixing vats and the different stations where the cheese is processed.

The 40-pound cheese blocks are sealed, boxed and travel to Cold Storage for aging.

From several windows we saw the process of cutting, weighing and then patching the cheese. Each block must meet a certain weight requirement, so those that are too small get patched with extra slices of cheese.

Patching some cheese for the correct weight

We viewed other sections including the heat shrink area which uses a machine called the “Blue Octopus” for fast vacuum-sealing and the quality control area. It was interesting to see a metal detector to be sure something not on the recipe didn’t make its way in. (We saw this again later at the Bob’s Red Mill grain tour, but that is another post). After our tour was the tasting section which was my least favorite part of the factory. It was small with only about three different cheeses to try and the pieces were tiny. I guess this is understandable as they have so many people come through on a daily basis.

Gift Shop

I love factory tours and seeing how things are made so I thought this one was definitely worth a visit. Actually, this was our second time here although it had been years and before they built the new Visitor Center in June 2018. I thought the design of the new building was beautiful and very roomy for the 1.3 million visitors the factory gets each year.

“Fall in loaf for the first time”

As can be expected, there is lots and lots of cheese for sale in the gift shop but we left without any. We love cheese, in fact we could probably eat it every day. But, cheese is not the most healthy thing so we don’t buy it all the time. Plus, there is plenty of Tillamook for sale in most major grocery stores.

After our “cheesy” visit we drove a different route back to our campsite in Pacific City. The “Three Capes Scenic Route” was supposed to be a not to be missed drive along the coast and it started just south of the town of Tillamook. And what is a “Cape?” It is a large headland that extends out into a body of water. Our first stop was at Cape Meares which has Oregon’s shortest lighthouse at only 38 feet. The lighthouse does have a commanding spot 200 feet above the ocean on a headland.

Cape Meares Light

There are several trails for visitors to walk and see the scenic vistas from the Cape.

My favorite view at Cape Meares – loved the dramatic cliffs
Scenic vista from Cape Meares looking south

Besides the lighthouse, Cape Meares also has one of the largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon called the “Octopus Tree.” This tree measures more than 46 feet in circumference and has no central trunk. Instead, limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and estimated to be 250 to 300 years old.

Trail through a thick forest of Sitka Spruce to the Octopus Tree

The question is how did the Octopus Tree develop such a strange shape? It could have been natural events, but one legend is the tree was used for ceremonial purposes by local tribes who forced or trained the branches into a horizontal position to hold canoes and other ritual objects. Evidence points to Native Americans living on the shores of Cape Meares and placing their dead in canoes.

Octopus Tree

After leaving Cape Meares our scenic drive took us south past Cape Lookout where we stopped briefly at the State Park located there. And then on to the third Cape of our route – Cape Kiwanda which I wrote about in my last blog and where our campsite was located.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more to come!

Camping at Cape Kiwanda: Birds, Bunnies and More

View from our campground site

Although we often know a good deal of what our camping experience will be at each RV park, we usually find a few things along the way we hadn’t expected. A bonus at Cape Kiwanda RV Park in Pacific City was all the wildlife that came regularly to our site. We put out seed in our hanging feeder and a dish on the ground and immediately the Stellar Jays came calling. Since Stellar Jays live in the Western U.S., it had been awhile since we had seen them near our trailer. I always enjoy seeing their bright blue coloring accented with black.

Stellar Jay

We had a number of birds visit us including one we hadn’t had before – Northern Flicker. Another frequent visitor were the Dark-eyed Juncos (I like to call them the little executioners because of their black hoods 😊 ). A spotted towhee also made an appearance.

Northern Flicker
Dark-Eyed Junco

Seeing bunnies around the campground was also something unexpected. They looked more domesticated than wild and were all colors including pure black, black and white and tan. Toward the end of our stay I asked a lady working in the office how the bunnies got here. She reported that many years ago a man kept about 100 rabbits at the Thousand Trails Campground several miles up the road. For some reason he had to let them loose and they commingled and bred with wild rabbits, continuing to multiply.

This little fellow was our most frequent bunny visitor

The bunnies were more tame than most wild rabbits, probably because they are used to all the people at the campground, who I am sure give them treats from time to time, like we did with carrots.

This little deer came to see us a few times

There were a couple of benefits to staying at Cape Kiwanda RV Resort. The best part was its location right across the street from the beach. It was also nice to find eateries right outside the entrance and the RV Park also had an onsite market and gift shop. Next door was a pizza restaurant which Mark enjoyed because he likes pizza places with salad bars. My favorite was the bakery and two mornings I walked over there to get freshly made pastries and bagels for our breakfast. This is the first time in our RVing where we have been such a walkable distance to places to eat.

Stimulus Coffee and Bakery

By far the most popular eatery is the Pelican Brewing Company looking out over the beach. They brew their own beer and also serve meals. People love coming for the beach view, sitting outside to eat and drink when the weather is good. The Company states it is the only Brewpub located on a beach in the Pacific Northwest. Mark and I usually avoid the trendy places as we don’t feel they are a good value for the money and are usually quite busy. But after walking past the restaurant multiple times throughout the week I felt compelled to try it out. Inside, our table had a nice view of Haystack Rock, the most prominent feature of Cape Kiwanda. The Rock is located offshore and stands 327 feet above the sea, the largest haystack on the Oregon Coast.

Pelican Brewing Company
Haystack Rock

The Beach at Pacific City is well loved by visitors. I was surprised to see that vehicles could drive out onto the sand and park. I wanted to venture out but my driver wouldn’t have it. Later we learned that many people get stuck and a few locals make a living out of rescuing them.

The waves are noteworthy here and surfers are a common sight.

Surfer finishing up for the day at Cape Kiwanda

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see the famous Pacific City Dory Fleet. These flat bottomed fishing boats launch right from the beach and have to maneuver over the waves as they head out to sea. Visitors are warned to get out of their way when they return because they come in fast with the waves and are therefore unable to stop on their own accord. The Fleet has been a Pacific City tradition for over 100 years. During the warmer months there are probably more boats going in and out, but we were there in the middle of Fall with some cold days.

Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda State Park features sandstone cliffs that are known for strong wave action and at 240 feet, the highest sand dune on the Oregon Coast. I regularly saw people climbing up the dune on their hands and knees. I debated doing the climb, but it is steep and slogging through sand straight uphill is so hard, something I realized during our stay near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. I did head up part way and then veering to the left walked for awhile on the Cape. Much of it is fenced off though to prevent injuries. Signs warned of the dangers climbing or walking on the cliffs, with seven people having lost their lives falling into the ocean. In spite of the fencing and signs, people still regularly climb over and walk onto the cliffs.

View climbing up part of the dune
The fenced off Cape Kiwanda cove. I listened to the echo of the surf as it entered the cave on the left

As always, thanks for checking in and I hope you enjoyed a look at the Cape Kiwanda area!

Exploring Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Cape Perpetua’s Headland – the highest point on the Oregon Coast

Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast is an area of amazing scenic sights as this is where the forest meets the sea. I spent some hours exploring this special place known as having the highest point on the Oregon Coast. Captain Cook first observed this headland in 1778 and named it after Saint Perpetua. It features rugged coastal scenery, blow holes, tide pools and a Sitka Spruce rain forest. Come along with me while I show you my day on this part of the Oregon Coast.

View of Cape Cove Beach from the Visitor Center balcony

I had saved a visit to Cape Perpetua for a day when the weather cleared up. We finally had a sunny, clear day the day before we were to leave nearby Seal Rocks Cove RV Park. My first stop was at Devil’s Churn, a channel cut into the rock where the tide surges in. This is best seen at the highest tide which wasn’t happening when I arrived. Several sets of stairs lead all the way down to the channel for the closest view. When the water is high the waves put on quite a show crashing in. Below is a panoramic photo of Devil’s Churn as well as a second photo at the opening of the channel.

Devil’s Churn
Opening to Devil’s Churn

A trail from the Visitor Center led to another section of coast covered with lava. The Spouting Horn is located here as well as Thor’s Well, a depression in the rock where the water rushes in, shoots up and is pulled back down into the “well,” creating an interesting effect that photographers love to capture. Below is a photo of Thor’s Well.

I walked as close as I dared as I didn’t want to be caught by a sneaker wave. I so enjoyed seeing water forced through holes in the rock and then soaring high into the air. It was mesmerizing and I stayed for quite awhile taking in the power of the waves.

After some time near the water I headed inland to walk the Big Spruce Trail along Cape Creek. I entered into what looked like a rainforest where everything dripped and trees were covered with thick moss like in the photo below. But is it moss or lichen? I did some research and still don’t know and feel I should …. it seems the older I get and the more I see, the less I know. Oh well, it was thick, spongy and so nice to touch.

Sitka Spruce trees thrive on the Oregon Coast where it is cool, rainy and foggy. They are very large trees, the third largest after the coastal redwood and Douglas fir and live a long time, up to 800 years. Here is some new information I learned about them; the wood is great for making musical instruments including guitars, harps, violins and pianos. Today’s Native Americans still make traditional wooden flutes out of Sitka Spruce. The trees have had a myriad of other uses, one example is that nearly all of the airplanes of the Allied Forces in WWI and WWII were largely made from Sitka Spruce.

A forest of Sitka Spruce
Walking the Big Spruce Trail

The Big Spruce at the end of the trail is one of the largest on the Oregon Coast and is noted to be almost 600 years old, over 185 feet tall with a circumference of 40 feet.

Looking up at the Big Spruce

I am glad I decided to walk the Big Spruce Trail later in the afternoon after my visit to see the blow holes on the coast. The ranger had told me when I checked into the Visitor Center earlier that afternoon that a class of “well behaved” 3rd graders were n the trail at the time. The trail was so narrow perched above a creek that as I walked I was trying to imagine how a group of school kids would have fared single file on it. Perhaps they caught the trail closer to the end at the Big Spruce which was possible from the campground. Either way, when I did my walk I had the trail, forest and creek to myself.

At Cape Perpetua a road leads to the top of the headland, the highest point on the Oregon Coast with views that are supposed to stretch for 37 miles. I didn’t end up going for a couple of reasons – it was later in the afternoon and I wanted to get back and I didn’t feel that day like driving the truck up a windy road to the top. To be honest, I don’t really like driving the truck that much, well really at all. I guess I miss my Toyota 4-runner. Luckily, Mark doesn’t feel that way about the truck as he is after all #bethsdriver. Of course, now I wish I had as I knew the view would be stupendous and it was a clear day. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) that was started in the 1930’s by President Roosevelt built a shelter up there for checking out the view. They also completed trails, campgrounds and other improvements at Cape Perpetua. During our travels we have seen the result of many CCC projects and I am constantly impressed by this program whose efforts still provide so much to our country today.

Little Log Church by the Sea in Yachats

I have mentioned in past blogs how much I enjoy checking out historic churches on our travels. If I hear about one I always try to find it. I had read about the Little Log Church in the town of Yachats which is the closest town to Cape Perpetua. At first I had a little trouble finding the church, but was glad I made the effort. It is darling and even though it was not open, I could peek into the windows and see inside. This is one of the few log churches I have seen on our travels.

Seal Rocks RV Cove: View from the door of our trailer

And so we bid goodbye to our great campsite near the sea at Seal Rocks RV Cove. We knew we would miss the view! But it was time to head to our new location up the coast in Pacific City.

Sunset view from our trailer at Seal Rocks RV Cove

Exploring Newport, Oregon

Yaquina Bay Bridge and Harbor

Newport is a great town to explore on the Oregon Coast. In this post I wanted to share some of the places we visited. A number of years ago before our RVing days we stayed in Newport, but this time we explored a couple of places we hadn’t seen before. The Oregon Coast Aquarium was one of those places and it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours seeing marine animals. For those of you that have been to the Monterey Aquarium, it is not near as big or have the variety of seal life. But we still found it to be nicely done.

One of the best parts is the “Passages of the Deep” which is a long undersea tunnel to walk through while a variety of sharks, rays, and other fish swim over and around both sides. I especially liked the school of mackerel that swirled around closely together in a silvery mass for protection.

A school of mackerel and leopard shark
China Rockfish

We had a good view of the sea otters during feeding time. I was surprised to learn that sea otters disappeared from the Oregon Coast over a century ago after being hunted to extinction. An attempt was made to reintroduce them in the 1970’s but failed. Sea otters have always been my favorite sea animal and I found it sad that they have not made a comeback in Oregon like they did in parts of California. Here is a fun fact about sea otters: they have the densest or thickest fur of any animal on earth, which certainly got them in trouble when they were hunted in great numbers so many years ago.

As a bird lover I really enjoyed the Seabird Aviary. I had a close look at a number of Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres and Pigeon Guillemots. I was rather amazed how many birds they had and how nice their pools and enclosures were.

Tufted Puffin
The puffins were frequently preening their feathers by dousing with water and shaking them
Common Murre

There were a variety of tanks where people were welcome to touch Sea Anemones, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Star Fish, Sea Snails and various kelp. During my beach and tide pool wandering in Oregon, I had hoped to see Sea Urchins but was not successful.

Colorful Sea Urchins

The Aquarium features other animal exhibits including sea lions, pelicans, octopus (which were hiding) and even a turkey vulture exhibit, which surprised me. This isn’t your typical marine animal, but apparently the Aquarium noted their importance as scavengers along the Coast. In addition, a pair of vultures raised by humans could not be returned to the wild and ended up here. I always hope to see jelly fish exhibits at aquariums and they have one here as well. It is mesmerizing watching them float through the water and changing their shapes.

Although the octopus evaded us at the Aquarium, I had a great look at one at the Hatfield Marine Science Center located a short distance away. Visitors can watch octopus feedings several days a week and I found it fascinating. A staff member spent some time introducing us to the resident Giant Pacific Octopus and allowed the octopus to wrap its arms around her arms. She said the octopus knew her and liked to rough house around during feedings. It was strange to hear the sounds when she pried the suckers off her arms. While they played together, she also fed bits of fish, clam and shrimp (the favorite). Staff have toys for the octopus to play with since living in a tank doesn’t afford them much opportunity to exercise as they would in the wild, catching prey and fending off predators. It was interesting to watch the octopus play with balls, rings and a toy shape sorter lid. The staff person also poured water on the octopus during the feeding which she said was enjoyable like a massage.

The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest known octopus species. Males can weigh up to 100 pounds and measure up to 98 inches in length. They are sometimes brought to the Center by local fishermen who find them in their catches. Once at the Center, they are kept in a holding tank to get acclimated and are evaluated to assure they are healthy enough to keep and display. They remain at the Center for six to nine months before being released back to the wild. The life span of an octopus is three to five years.

At the entrance to this marine center is an unusual and interesting exhibit – a large piece of concrete dock that was once used in commercial fisheries in Japan. The dock was ripped from its mooring during the March 2011 tsunami and since it had built in flotation, floated across the Pacific. It was discovered washed ashore on a Newport beach on June 5, 2012. After arrival, it had to be thoroughly cleaned of all marine life due to threat of invasive species causing environmental or economic harm. Over 118 different Japanese species were found on this piece of dock. Today the Center displays the dock as a memorial to honor the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami victims.

Speaking of tsunami’s, Mark says he always thinks about them while on the Coast and finds it a little unnerving. He never had to worry about them growing up in Tucson, Arizona 😊. We saw many warnings about heading to high ground if an earthquake occurs. There was a warning about it on our paperwork from Seal Rocks RV Cove as well. It said that if an earthquake occurred to run, not walk to the designated higher point above the RV Park. As we drove up and down Highway 101 we saw many signs telling us that we were entering and then leaving low lying areas that were tsunami hazard zones.

Tsunami informational sign at Hatfield Marine Science Center

The Yaquina Head Natural Area several miles north of Newport is a place to see incredible ocean views, wildlife, tide pools and Oregon’s tallest lighthouse.

Rugged Coastline at Yaquina Head
Yaquina Head Lighthouse – the light has been shining here since 1872

I took a walk up Salal Hill for even better views of Yaquina Head, the lighthouse and beaches in both directions.

Salal Hill Trail

I remembered eating at a really good fish shack the first time we came to Newport years ago and hoped it was still there. I couldn’t remember the name, but when I saw it on the side of Highway 101, I knew that was the place. It is an atmospheric eatery with crab 🦀 pots bubbling outside, picnic tables and inside a wide array of fresh fish for purchase or fish meals to order. Luckily there was seating inside too as it was a little cool outside. We had clam chowder, halibut fish and chips and what they call, “smoked salmon candy.” Actually I ended up eating here twice, once on my own and the second time with Mark. It was still as good as I remembered.

South Beach Fish Market

Hope you enjoyed a little tour of Newport – more to come on our Oregon Coast wanderings!

A showy lion fish at the Oregon Coast Aquarium