Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation Day 2

Day Two was a leisurely drive from Astoria down to Tillamook OR. We've made this drive down the Oregon coast many times now, but this is the first year I've planned it so that I had only a 1.5 to 3.5 hour drive each day instead of an 5 to 8 hour drive each day. The objective: RELAXATION, leisure time, (what a concept for a vacation!)

I decided our first stop was going to be Tolovana Park near Canon Beach, in order to see the great diversity of wildlife at the wildlife preserve, and of course, to stop and see Haystack Rock.

But as we were driving through Seaside, I thought, we've never stopped at the Seaside Aquarium before, let's stop there. We couldn't follow the signs (what should have meant turn right here and go 1/2 mile, looked like it said turn right in half a mile) but thanks to Google Maps on my blackberry we found it.

The address is SomethingSomethingSomething Prominade. Well, guess what, Prominade isn't a street it's this... a beautiful cement walkway that goes along the beach.

The Seaside Aquarium isn't much bigger than the tropical fish section at most modern pet stores, but I think it contains some beautiful things, several octopuses, and massive (ugly) wolf eels, and a bunch of really beatiful and odd fish, crabs, shrimp, etc. The major draw is feeding the seals which are in a big tank right inside the front door.

They give you a "tray" of fish to feed them for only $1.00. But don't let your eyes pop out of our head with excitement thinking cookie-sheet here, a "tray" is one of those wee paper french-fry bowls they give you at most fast food places.

It was still a lot of fun, and something interesting to do at the ocean when you are "rained in".

Yes, as you can see it was quite misty at Haystack Rock and the Tolovana Park. I was hoping to walk down the beach and see sea life near the Haystack Rock itself. It is supposed to have loads of cool birds and tide pools below it with interesting things to see. But in this sort of weather, horizontal spray of rain, my family and I decided we wouldn't make the hour-or-so walk up the beach to where that stuff is actually located, so after a brief strole we went on our way south.

The most important item on this day's agenda was, of course, a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, a family favorite. We had lunch there, and cheese: skipping the hour-long-line for a free sample the size of a tiny pebble in favor of buying some cheese which we were planning to do anyway. (Why do people wait in that line when they are just going to buy some cheese anyway????)

We decided not to get ice cream (again, about an hour-long line) and went to our hotel.

After we checked in and freshened up we decided to go out to see Oregon's shortest lighthouse at Cape Meares State Park. We were NOT disappointed. What a beautiful place with beautiful views and most importantly the SUN came out for the first time since we've gotten to the Oregon coast.

One of the highlights there at Cape Meares (asside from the spectacular views) is the Octopus Tree, a freakish Sitka Spruce that has eight main tree trunks growing up from a single stump.

On the way back to the hotel, and dinner, we stopped at another new place, the Blue Herron French Cheese company. I had somehow got it into my head that they made blue cheese there. I love blue cheese, and was really looking forward to that. But, alas, the only Blue in them is from their namesake, the Great Blue Heron. They make Bree. Delicious Bree, but not blue cheese. Anyway, it was a nice visit. Helen and Xenia liked it, particularly the petting zoo. Yes, "high class wine and cheese tasting" with a petting zoo: that's how they bill this place. If you like walking around in muck pretending you are in France (think a french barnyard) this place will really appeal to you.

It really wasn't so bad though, and it was relaxing, even though my family still complains about cr#p on the bottom of their shoes. I did not, alas, do any wine tasting. The really didn't have any wines that looked interesting to me. But if you want salted cock roaches, and mexican spiced dried worms, this is the place to come. (Seriously, they sold those sorts of novelty items in their gift shop right along side their delicious bree, and the classic Oregon Huckleberry everything from coffee-beans to chocolates to jams.)

It was a fun second day, and very busy really. Now, onward to the south. I'm hoping to stop at the Rogue Brewery for lunch or dinner.
~ Basil

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