Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oregon Trail: Newport & Tillamook

If I could describe Oregon in one word, I think I'd have to pick "trees".  There are SO many trees in Oregon! Firs and pines galore!

Anyway, after driving through a seemingly endless forest, we reached the coastal town of Newport.


First we hopped to the Aquarium, and though it was much smaller than the big giants like Osaka and Monterey Bay Aquarium, it was still very well put together.
Loved the door handles!

They had an incredibly fun and active puffin/sea bird exhibit, some otters and seals, and a big octopus. I also really enjoyed a unique section featuring tanks with baby sea-life, like this baby dungeness crab:
Grow up so I can eat you!
He was only an inch or so, and fast - hence the blurry picture. Baby rock cods and other fish were so cute.

Anyway, after the aquarium we continued South to Seal Rock Beach.
Dude, I've got a serious Gollum pose going on.
Unfortunately it wasn't quite low tide, so there wasn't much tide-pooling to be had, but the beach was still beautiful.
And still teeming with life!
Mussels and crows? What, did they scare the seagulls away?!
Hungry, we headed into town for some sea-side fare.
Nope, not raw chicken legs or briny sea lion snout.
Now, growing up very, very close to the Monterey Bay - I have a high standard for judging charmy-coastal-towns.  Newport didn't disappoint. It definitely had charm.

Of course, there are two things you can always find in a quality coastal town. First - clam chowder.

We ate at Mo's, which has a bit of a chain around coastal Oregon.  Though I liked the addition to shrimp in my chowder bowl, they put bacon in it which totally overpowered the poor clams.  And just for the record - my favorite chowder is from Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf, my favorite bread bowl is from San Francisco (the more sour the better!), and my favorite overall is Splash Cafe in San Luis Obispo, because they toast their bread bowl and put butter all over it. Chowder is very near and dear to my heart!  Anyway, Sak had fish and chips because he loves fried fish, and they were amazing in chunky, flaky, juicy goodness.  Probably the best fish sticks I've ever had. Mmm.

To be good Oregon-tourists, we ordered a piece of Marionberry Cobbler to go, and then searched for the second Coastal-town-staple: salt water taffy. Yum.
College flavors, and butter!
The next day we left early and stopped at a beach called Devil's Punchbowl.
Creepy morning beach fog!
No one was there, which was romantic and eerie all at the same time.
Mini lagoon?
It was also low-tide, which meant lots of critters to look at!
What is that black shell thing on the right?
Now, I had to look up why it's named Devil's Punchbowl, and I find out (after the fact, *sigh*) that there's this nearby:
(source)
Ughh now I have to go back so I can actually see it! :P

But beautiful beaches aside, it was high-time we got to the point of this trip - the cheese!

The Tillamook Cheese Factory was pretty cool, and the best part is that it's free!

We walked around the self-guided museum, and got to see people packaging the local cheese.

And of course there were cheese samples and discount cheese you could buy.

Squeaky cheese was my favorite - it literally squeaks as you eat it!

I think I'm a Tillamook convert now, especially after I figured out Lucerne cheese isn't actually made in Lucerne, CA.  What's up with that?!

We topped our cheese trip off with some grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream!
Sticky bun ice cream is a great flavor, fyi.
After just a day and a half in Oregon, I decided I really liked the state. It wasn't the always-raining, hermity-mountain-man kind of place I hear about in the California-elitist propaganda. @_@.  Kidding, of course. California would never do that...

Next, it was onward to Portland!

9 comments:

  1. oh i really want to see a puffin! your trip looks so fun.

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  2. My first thought was that it could be an abalone: http://www.dohenystatebeach.org/ip-tidepoolprepack.htm

    However, I could very easily be wrong.

    I loved the Tillamook Cheese factory, too! Looks like you guys had a great time!

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  3. Yay you went to Seal Rock! Sad about it not being low tide...it's so much fun then! Glad you had fun!

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  4. All of this looks so yummy! My favorite charming coastal town in California is Carmel-By-The-Sea. It's so expensive, but the restaurants are so good there :) I love that you went to the Tilamook factory... Delish!

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  5. This is awesome! I love the coast, especially NorCal coast. (And my fave clam chowder is at Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf, too!!) The cheese factory looks so fun. =)

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  6. I'm an anti-west coast cheese girl but only because I've lived in Wisco and France so I'm very partial to my favorites. Tillamonk looks fun though!

    And is squeeky cheese just cheese curds? I've never heard anything else called squeeky cheese, and cheese curds squeek because they're so fresh!

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  7. I think I've already told you about my irrational fear of aquariums, but the cheese factory is totally awesome!!!!!!!! Also, I'm a total sea girl, in any type of weather so the beach looks dreamy. Can't wait to hear about Portland.

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  8. @Jenn - oh, you could be right! it was so neat looking.

    @marie - yes, thank you for all your suggestions! they were so helpful!

    @kim - yes! carmel is beautifully expensive. hehe.

    @gator - yes, cheese curds. I'd never had them before but boy were they ever fun :D

    @Kristin - that's okay. I have an irrational fear of killer whales so I understand. ;)

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