Tillamook County is home to more cows than people. You will believe it when you get a waft of the air. There is no mistaking that dairy farmers rule the roost, Tillamook is a co-op that produces cheese, ice cream, yogurt and sour cream. Factory tours are available daily; they are free and self guided.
On our visit, production was extremely limited due to the holiday weekend. We only saw a few 40-lb blocks of cheese being packaged. At the end of the tour, you get free cheese samples and all sorts of products are available for sale. They also have a cafe, I had been ogling the grilled cheese on their website and had to have it. Only I was denied, it was 10am and they were serving breakfast and they had no room on the grill (not even for a wee grilled cheese). Frank was determined to get me a grilled cheese so we drove down the street to Blue Heron, they specialize in Brie. Which is one of the few cheeses (along with goat) that I don't particularly enjoy. They did have a Tillamook grilled cheese on the menu, I anxiously awaited biting into the crunchy gooey deliciousness. Unfortunately, what I was presented with was slightly melted cheese pressed between toast. My craving was not the least bit satisfied. Oh well. I make a damn good grilled cheese on my panini press (yes, I made one soon after we returned home).
From Tillamook, we planned to drive the 101-N to see as much of the coast as we could before we had to head back to Portland. We had our flight to catch later that night. You pass a couple bays before reaching the Pacific. Our first stop was Rockaway Beach. We stayed long enough for Frank to enjoy a cigar and build a small dam. Then, I wanted to move on to find coast with more character. Cannon Beach was our destination.
It was far too crowded to stop for lunch like we planned so we continued on. It was a surprise how little of the 101 actually took you along the coast. Frank made every effort to get me views of the ocean, but the roads just weren't carved out the way we would've liked. As we approached Seaside, he noticed helicopter rides and no reservation was required. After giving it some thought he busted a U-turn and stopped to check it out. After a short video, and swipe of the credit card. We were above it all in a helicopter. It was a first for both of us. It was an amazing ride between Seaside and Cannon Beach. It gave me a perspective of the coast I couldn't get any other way. It was awesome!!
While we were on the coast, I had to try some local seafood. We had lunch at the Bell Buoy Seafood Restaurant. It's a no frills quaint stop on the freeway. Friendly service and tasty chowder, crab cocktail, and fried halibut.
After lunch, we drove back to Portland. The ride back felt like we took a Delorean instead of the Chrysler. We stopped for gas and the station had the old fashioned pumps, they sold groceries, bait, hunting gear, and cds. It definitely felt like we stepped back in time. Oregon is full of charm.
Back in the city, we checked out the Riverwalk. We found a quiet bench near the Hawthorne Bridge, we soaked up the sun and enjoyed the peaceful afternoon as we watched the
It couldn't have been more perfect. We were parched and stopped at the Bean & Tree for something refreshing. I ordered a berry smoothie and Frank chose an iced Oregonian coffee. It's made with hazelnut milk and honey. I don't know if it was the Stumptown Coffee or the hazelnut milk but this was a special drink. Maybe not to Frank, but to me, it was. I rarely enjoy iced coffee and this one was delicious. I've been craving it since. My berry smoothie tasted more like apples, which is right up Frank's alley so we switched. Our thirst was quenched, but we had grown hungry.
I chose one last restaurant for us to enjoy before heading home. Tasty n Alder was my pick. They didn't reopen for dinner until 5 o'clock and a long line had already formed. I feared we wouldn't have enough time and sought out alternate options which ended up closed for the holiday. We found ourselves back at Tasty n Alder, and a table was available against the window by the bar. It was hot & sweaty there with the setting sun beating in, but I'm happy we stuck it out. We were in for treat.
We started with Charcuterie board, followed by scrumptious Korean Short Ribs, with the best kimchee I've ever had and we finished with fish tacos that were perfection. We've had pretty great fish tacos in San Diego and Mexico, but this set the bar. They were outstanding. I wish we had time to order more. But time had run out, in fact, we also ordered scallops but there was such a lull between courses we cancelled the request. We needed the bill, we had a plane to catch. Oh, my last beer in Portland was pFriem Belgium Strong Blonde (Hood River, OR).
Getting a cab back to the airport was an ordeal, as I mentioned before, but we caught a beautiful sunset and saw a clear shot of Mt Hood on the way to the airport. It was like Portland was offering a hug good-bye. We flew Alaskan Airlines (same price as Southwest, but better schedule) and had no complaints. I've never planned so little for a trip before. However, it worked out beautifully. We had such a great getaway. Portland, we'll definitely be back.