We left our beautiful accommodations in Newport at the Elizabeth Street Inn and headed to Astoria. On our way we stopped at Devils Punchbowl State Park where we saw very interesting rock formations at Otter Rock. The community got its name from a rock off its coastline that was once a haven for otters. Today, the offshore rocks are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and serve as a home for a variety of marine birds, including the endangered brown pelican, seagulls, cormorants and common murres. Devil’s Punchbowl is known for its unusual geology and impressive surf action and therefore got the reputation by some as the “Waikiki of Oregon.” Otter Rock’s history as a surfing destination is legendary and is considered a favorite place for surfers of all levels attracting surfers from around the world.
We were urged to go to the Tillamook County Creamery Association, a place neither of us knew about. The area of Tillamook County is ideal for dairy farming because of the temperature, climate and abundant rainfall, nearly 90 inches of rain for a year. There’s also a large seafood industry and timber industry and, of course, the recreation industry from all the tourism. There is a commitment to sustainable practices for the water and for the land as misuse of these affect the timber, the seafood, and the dairy industry as well as the recreation industry.
The creamery, founded in 1909, is a co-op comprised of family farmers as well as the individuals who work at the co-op. The cheese factory gets over 1 million visitors a year. We were able to watch the production of cheese, taste a variety of cheeses in various stages along the process and to try out their ice cream including the latest, and our favorite Oregon Hazelnut & Salted Caramel
In 1894 well known cheese maker Peter McIntosh brought his cheddar cheese-making expertise to Tillamook County, where he taught the locals all he knew. Over 120 years later, they still use the same cheddar cheese recipe developed all those years ago!
There was a very comprehensive video by Dale Baumgartner, head cheese maker for the past 17 + years. He took us through the process and we learned that within 24 hours of the milk leaving the farm it is turned into cheese. 100 pounds of milk = 10 pounds of cheese— 171,000 pounds of cheese made in a day. Aging of the cheese is a slow process and they don’t force the process with additives.
We left Tillamook after a cheesy lunch and continued on. We were seeing lots of signs about Myrtlewood and finally did stop in Garibaldi at a factory outlet where we spent quite a while choosing the perfect bowls and plates. Myrtlewood can grow 100 feet and there are no two bowls or plates alike.
The Myrtlewood industry began in the late 1800’s along the Southern Oregon Coast.
This tree is a member of the laurel family and is an evergreen. Myrtlewood is found in Southwestern Oregon and Northern California. It extends from about Florence, Oregon to the north portion of California. It has yellowish-white blossoms, and blooms in February or early March. The tree is so symmetrical it appears as a carefully pruned, cultivated tree.
Myrtlewood logs, when green are 70% moisture so the log will not float. The wood is 20% harder than oak, and harder than black walnut or hardrock maple. No other wood is so strongly accented by figured grain and color.
Myrtlewood has a color spectrum that has been variously described as ranging from “golden hues to velvet black with warm brown, yellows, greens and reds”, from “ebony to a rich maple color”, from “soft gray to mauve”. There wasn’t a piece of wood in the store that wasn’t interesting and beautiful. No wonder it took so long to make choices.
Oregon’s largest Myrtlewood Tree is approximately 88 feet tall and 42 feet in circumference. Its canopy is nearly 70 feet wide. The tree is about 10 miles up the Rogue River east of Gold Beach.