|Yaquina Head Lighthouse|
"Oregon's nearly 363 miles of pristine, public coastline is made up of diverse terrain that changes from rugged cliffs to evergreen forests to Sahara-like dunes and boundless sandy beaches. From Astoria in the north to Brookings in the southern tip, follow the shoreline past a smorgasbord of one-of-a-kind attractions including scores of quaint towns, historic lighthouses, and breathtaking viewpoints. Mild temperatures, dramatic scenery and a wide range of recreational activities make the coast one of the state's most popular regions." It is here that I decided to focus my trip.
I entered Oregon from Washington to the north, via the Oregon Coast Highway, aka U.S. Hwy 101, over the monolithic Astoria–Megler Bridge. "The bridge, which was formally dedicated in 1966, stretches 4.1 miles from Point Ellice, Washington, across the mouth of the Columbia River, to Astoria, Oregon. Its construction was an impressive feat. The bridge’s main span is 1,232 feet in length, the longest “continuous truss” in the nation. It is designed to withstand river flood speeds of nine miles per hour, and wind gusts of 150 miles per hour." If I could do it over again, I would just drive back and forth over the bridge for a day, lol.
First, I visited Cannon Beach, "northern Oregon's most beautiful seaside village," to check out the "sandy beaches that stretch for miles, interrupted by massive basalt sea stacks, particularly the iconic 235-foot Haystack Rock, one of the largest sea stacks on America's Pacific coast, and the third largest coastal monolith in the world."
It was raining when I arrived in Tillamook, "home to dozens of dairies and the famed Tillamook Cheese Factory; here, the highway tucks inland, passing forests and dairy and artichoke farms before rejoining the Pacific at Lincoln City." I took the short, self-tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory, with interactive kiosks, videos, and viewing windows that provide a "bird's eye view of their cheese-making and packaging teams in action, churning out 167,000 pounds of cheese each and every day." Of course MY favorite part of the experience was the free cheese sample buffet, offering up six of their tasty cheeses: Squeaky Cheese (a squeak in every chew!), Medium Cheddar (awarded 2010 "World's Best Cheese"), Vintage White Medium Cheddar (aged over 100 days), Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar (aged over 2 years - my fav!), Pepper Jack (with real jalapeno), and Garlic Chili Pepper Cheddar (flavor explosion - my other fav!). Shameless, I went through the line multiple times, lol. I didn't know they made ice cream, but before leaving I tried a 3-scoop combo of Marionberry Pie, Mountain Huckberry, and White Licorice. This was a tasty stop! I didn't make any couch-surfing arrangements for tonight, because I wanted to take today at my own pace, so when I was tired I pulled off the road into a large turnout, and slept as well as I could, given the noise of the passing cars throughout the night.
~ The hazelnut is Oregon's official state nut. Oregon is the only state that has an official state nut.
~ While it is illegal to buy or sell marijuana in Oregon, it is legal to smoke it on your own property.
~ Oregon has no sales, restaurant or liquor tax.
~ In Stanfield, Oregon, no more than two people are allowed to share a single drink.
~ Oregon is home to the world’s shortest river. The D River is only 121 feet long.
~ In Portland, people are banned from whistling underwater.