Yes, cheese. Literally tons of cheesy goodness everywhere you look. Mouse Heaven! I will get to that shortly.
I left Pacific City on Tuesday morning and stopped at Nehalem Bay State Park.
Imagine waking up to the song of the seagull, spending your afternoon on a kayak trip around Nehalem Bay, then taking a short walk over the dunes to the beach. There you'll sit with a blanket and watch the sun set over the ocean in the shadow of Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain. Finally, snuggle down for the night while the ocean waves sing you a lullaby. This is Nehalem Bay State Park.
And these are photos of the boat ramp, the bay and a typical campsite. They have almost 300 of them here.
Horseback riding is very popular at this campground as well...
Gotta love a campground that provides shovels for, well, you know.
Thursday I drove to Fort Stevens State Park. This is the mother of all Oregon State Parks. In fact, it is one of the largest public campgrounds in the country with over 490 sites, including yurts and cabins. It lies next to the site of a military installation once used to guard the mouth of the Columbia River.
This area is called Yurt Village. Yep, those be Yurts!
Fort Stevens was the primary military defense installation in the three fort Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River (Forts Canby and Columbia in Washington were the other two). The fort served for 84 years, beginning with the Civil War and closing at the end of World War II. Today, Fort Stevens has grown into a 4,200 acre park offering exploration of history, nature, and recreational opportunities.
Coffenbury Lake just west of the campground has two swimming areas, a picnic area, restrooms, and a boat ramp (10 mph boating speed limit). Two other smaller lakes offer boat ramps for fishing and canoeing.
Well, you cannot visit Fort Stevens State Park without checking out Fort Stevens the, er, Fort. I have fond memories of Fort Clinch in Florida that Glenn and I raided last December, so I headed off down a colorful road.
The sign looks interesting.
But it looks like someone stole the Fort. They just left behind the foundations and a cannon.
To be honest, there were some remnants of the old fort still standing. They were crowded with school kids being led around by old guys dressed up in even older uniforms. I kept my distance.
One of the most famous spots for digging up razor clams is the beaches just south of the Columbia River. Locals claim they are the best tasting of the various clam species and there are clam bakes at the State Park. Here is a neat tip that a camper passed on regarding cleaning these ugly things.
"Bring back a bucket of seawater-enough to cover the clams. Pour a box of cornmeal over them and let it sit overnight in a cool place. The clams will ingest the cornmeal. The cornmeal will swell up inside the clam and they will be forced to vomit out the cornmeal, along with all the sand and mud and anything else they have in their stomachs. Makes cleaning a lot easier."
OK, I will get right on that...
But what about the cheese you ask. Oh yes, the cheese. I like cheese and when you are in Oregon, there is one place you have to stop at to indulge your cheese fantasies. I stopped here on Tuesday before I visited Nehalem Bay State Park.
Yep, the Tillamook Cheese Factory!
They have a self-guided walking tour that takes you to the processing area where big pieces of cheese are progressively made into smaller ones. At least there is some action there as opposed to a tour of the cheese aging room. Check out the neat shirts as well.
The color is a little off because of all the cheese dust floating in the air...
Here is the best part. After looking at cheese you can sample all the free cheese you want. These bowls did not remain at the same level for very much longer.
They had all different kinds of cheese for eating, I mean sampling. From their award winning medium cheddar all the way to their extra-sharp reserve, which is aged for 3 years.
I am leaving Oregon and busting into Washington on Saturday. On May 29 I will be entering the vast rainforests of Olympic National Park for 10 days. It should be quite an adventure!
Regards, Park Ranger