Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 9--The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure

Day 9--Friday, July 3rd--The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure

Today we awoke at The Bunkhouse in Nehalem,OR and had an excellent breakfast at their Bunkhouse Diner. The place was filled with an eclectic mix of bikers in leather, elderly tourists, families and our favorite....a little kid in a skull hoodie with a patch of Peter Criss. I tried to talk Zilla into yelling, "The hottest band in the land, ........KISS!" But she was more interested in the wood and metal puzzle tricks lining all the window ledges. The French toast and hash browns were great and Du's Tillamook cheddar omelet, while too gooey for Mr. easy on the cheesy, was delicious. I'm glad we decided to extend our stay at the coast an extra day.

The kids explored their kitchy parking lot waterfall, made from piles of geodes, agate and sea shells bedecked with fairies, garden gnomes and miscellaneous knick knacks. I was intrigued by their hand printed sign declaring rebar bending, brick breaking and fire walking demo at 9pm. Unfortunately, we'd be back in Hillsboro by then, to miss the holiday weekend crowds flocking to the ocean.

We met the fire walker, a grizzled older man, who claims the 2 time Guinness World Record for fire walking on the hottest coals. He was proudly sporting a fire walking t-shirt and was quite friendly. They may not have had a king sized bed, electric fireplace and a hotel pool, but what they lacked in amenities, they more than made up in character. What's not to love about a place with night stands stocked with good paperbacks and a note that says "Take a few books with you".

We were happy to find a reasonable last minute room available, after driving down the coast and checking at a number of places with vacancy signs, only to find the rooms were two small for 5 people or super expensive. Click on the link below for an interesting story I found on line that captures the essence of The Bunkhouse.

Our room was creatively decorated with a giant saw blade, hand painted with birds and a round stretched skin, hung with bear claws. Knickknacks were everywhere. In addition to coffee, there were many interesting and unusual packets of tea. I tried a green tea ginger and a Wildcraft and my sister tried Blackberry. The kids loved the bedside lamps that turned brighter or off with a touch and the glass chess/checker board.

The night before, we were even invited to build our own bonfire at a communal fire ring. They provided a huge pile of wood at no extra charge. At 10pm, there were embers smoldering from some earlier guests, but we had the fire ring to ourselves.

We packed up, said bye to The Bunkhouse, and hit the road after breakfast. It was just a short drive of a few miles back north to Oswald Beach. We parked
a lovely
half mile
wooded trail
to the beach.

Fog had descended over everything, and we had a delicious feeling of isolation as we caught glimpses of the crashing waves, surfers and dogs through the rolling mist.
Sagezilla's in the mist (tee hee)

It was jacket weather for sure,
so we didn't wade this time.
And a waterfall my sister had seen on past visits
wasn't running. But it was still a pleasure to hike in
and visit this gorgeous, non touristy beach.

From there, we drove south to Tillamook and the cheese factory. Mmmmm. Smell our dairy air. Everything smells like cow poop for miles, but it's an olfactory sacrifice worth making for the taste bud treats at the factory.

Sagezilla is obsessed with cheese sandwiches and very brand loyal. At least she picked a good one. Costco carries Tillamook medium cheddar and Zilla has taken a cheese sandwich to school every day for 3 years of preschool and kindergarten. The few times I've switched cheddar brands on her, she tasted the difference and refused to eat it.

So we took my poster child for Tillamook to see where her cheese originates. We all had samples of 5 types of cheese, toured the factory, and laughed over old photos and ad campaigns.

Then we ate a decidedly un-cheesy lunch in their cafe--shrimp and hot dogs--except for the cheese queen who had her cold cheddar on sourdough. We capped off the day with phenomenal Tillamook ice cream cones in waffle bowls dipped in chocolate. Pure vacation decadence!

We still managed to make it back to Hillsboro in under two hours. John was working at McMenamins Grand Lodge, a funky hotel in Forest Grove, OR. So we stopped there for McMenamin's own handmade ales, brewed with "green", earth friendly practices. Ruby, a raspberry brew, was tasty and sweet. And The Hammerhead was my favorite of the night. Dug was a fan of Terminator Stout. By then the kids had finished coloring their mythical creature pages and were getting squirrely.

We took a tour of the grounds that used to be a Masonic nursing home and orphanage. To quote the hotel history: 1917: After 20 years of planning and fundraising, designs are initiated at Forest Grove for a Masonic and Eastern Star Home for the State of Oregon "for the aged and infirm, and the poor and distressed worthy Master Masons, their widows and orphans . . ."

The part that cracked me up most, however is this quote from a mere 10 years later: 1927-28: It is determined that the orphanage should be closed because the relations between the elderly and the children are less than harmonious. Children start relocating to outside families.

When present management took over, the hotel hired artists to do quirky and mystical art that Incorporated some of the people who had lived there, symbolism, and music. Rooms have rock and literary themes and rates are reasonable. It was our kind of playful and creative decor, and we all had fun snapping photos. I'll do a "best of" photos page from each of the kids and Dug at the end of our adventure recap. They all got some great shots! We finished the evening off with a relaxing dip in the Japanese salt water soaking pool. Awesome!

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