Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's raining, it's pouring...

Okay, I don't mean to sound like an ad, but I really like the Park Lane Suites. They basically took an old apartment building, renovated it, and added a bunch of cool amenities. So basically I get a room with a full on living room and kitchen, as well as a separate bedroom. I think it's pretty cool.

I didn't take a picture of the bedroom, since I didn't leave it quite as tidy as the rest of the place.

Is all my motorcycle equipment so day-glo?

As I get ready to leave, this couple comes by and comments on my bike. Since I have a San Francisco BMW sticker on the back, they spotted me as a fellow San Franciscan. When they heard that I came to Portland by way of Key West and Bangor Maine, they were suitably surprised.

I fill up my tank and begin my journey to the coast. I'm supposed to meet Paul, Jim, and Suzanne in Tillamook, so I try to get on my way as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had something else in mind.

If there was anything that could delay me, it decided to show up. Rain, traffic, log trucks, you name it. It's a shame about the rain. Not only because I'm not fond of driving in the rain, but because this particular road was really beautiful. There were low hanging clouds, the rain making the road black and shiny. But given a choice between keeping both hands on my handlebars in a rain storm, or getting a picture or two, I had to opt for safety.

The rain isn't as bad as it could be, so the ride, although slow, is actually quite pleasant. It didn't really come down hard until the last five miles. Then it came down in buckets.

Now I know its sad, but the reason I'm so much drier now that I was in say, Palm Beach Florida, is that I'm finally putting on my waterproof hoodie when I drive. I know, it should have been obvious, but it wasn't until Suzanne said, "Did you know you can put the hood on under your helmet?" that it finally dawned on me. Oh well, better late than never. And so when I arrive in Tillamook, I am dry, safe, and happy.

I get to the rendezvous corner and barely have time to get off the bike and pull out my iPhone when Paul shows up. Jim and Suzanne are happily ensconced in a Starbucks down the street waiting for us. So minutes later I'm back with the group, with a hot latte in my hand. Life is good. Very good!

After loitering for awhile, we have one of those conversations you have when you want to do something, but you don't want it bad enough to argue about it. "Hey, how about going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory?" "I could do that." (Long pause) "Hey, maybe we can go to the cheese factory." Yeah, I know, a truly riveting conversation. But we do all agree to go in quest of cheese, and minutes later we're heading down the road to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Not only do they have happy cows, but they also happen to be high-tech cows. This display talks about the "cow tag" each cow wears to identify it, as well as keep track of how much it eats, how much milk it produces, and other bovine statistics.

The factory is quite large and impressive, and as you can see, they have quite the assembly line.

The amazing part is that so much more of it can be automated. There is a spot on the conveyer belt where the sliced blocks of cheese are pulled apart and someone puts the individual smaller blocks onto another conveyer belt. Not exactly rocket science. I suspect they did this a hundred years ago, and they never got around to making it more efficient. But can you imagine what this lady says at cocktail parties? "Yes, I work at the cheese factory. What do I do? I move blocks of cheddar from one conveyer belt to another."

Apparently they sent one of these huge bricks to the Queen of England for the 50th year of her reign. They politely wrote back thanking them for such an unusual gift.

Down here is where they make the cheese curds. Ah, if only Steve Rozmus were here. He does love his cheese curds.

I just love this display. It's just like so many others, but it talks about the Rabbi who works in the cheese factory. They have just one, and since it's a seven day a week operation, he's quite a busy guy. The part that I found amusing is that his lab coat has a name tag. It just says "Rabbi". I don't know why this amuses me so, it just does.

Of course, I can't come to a cheese factory tour and not taste the cheese!

It's good stuff. Although I do wish I had passed on the "chili garlic cheddar".

Thanks to the rain, I didn't get any pictures of us driving to Newport. It's a shame, since the Oregon coast is quite beautiful. At least it cleared up by the time we arrived.

Now Paul and I have been on the road for two and a half months, so we are both looking a bit shaggy. When we arrived we both concluded that it was time for a haircut.

After some research in Google Maps, we find a barber. I don't know if it was how we looked, but she saw us and chased us off, saying that she was really busy. The next one was much nicer, but was also too busy. Finally we end up at the "Sportsman's Barber".

Paul instructs the barber that he doesn't want to look scruffy, but doesn't want to look like he's had a haircut either. She does an excellent job, and follows it up with a neck massage, using this ancient but very effective, back rubbing machine.

Now its my turn. I get in the chair, and through a series of misunderstandings, I go from having the longest hair I've ever had, to the shortest! Dye my hair red and I could pass for my brother! I don't think they make guys in the military wear it this short! Oh well, I'm no longer scruffy and my helmet should fit a lot better now.

We return to the hotel and Jim and Suzanne are ready to head out to dinner.

We end up at this hole in the wall place that the hotel manager recommended. We were a bit worried when the restaurant was completely empty, but soon we realized that it didn't matter. The clam chowder and crab cakes were both incredible.

Afterwards, we went to the pier behind the restaurant, and we saw this sea gulls nest. Not only was she in residence, but had two young ones loitering around.

Newport could easily be mistaken for Cape Cod. Take a look at all these fishing boats...

We make our way up from the shore and go in quest of coffee and ice cream. Google maps on our iPhones comes to the rescue again, and we find a Starbucks and an ice cream parlor, just 200 feet from each other. Jim and Paul get coffee, but by the time we get to Oregon Maid ice cream, they've closed. We settle for some ice cream sandwiches from the supermarket, and head back to the hotel.

Other than the rain, its been another lovely day in Oregon. Tomorrow, Diamond Lake!


Edwin Hoogerbeets said...

Too bad I didn't know you were going through Newport. We stopped there on our way down the coast with Cipriana. We stopped at the marina right inside the mouth of the river, and there was this large brick edifice right next to us. Curious, we walk around to the other side and note that it is the Rogue River Brewery. What else could thirsty sailors want when they get into port than a brewery right there, about 50 feet from the boat!

But, that's not all! The beer is actually good too! Maybe we were biased from our days at sea, but it tasted really good. And, the tasting room also had a view of the entire assembly line as well. Alastair and I, always the engineers, sat there and thought up ways that the assembly line could be improved.

Overall, it was quite recommended. But hey, by the time I read this blog entry, you're probably already in California already. Heck, you might be home right now! Who knows? (Well, I guess you do.)

Peter Kevin Reeves said...

I didn't mention it in the blog, but the Rogue Brewery was just a block down from where we had dinner. Conveniently, the restaurant served their stout, so I was required to try it myself. I have to agree, pretty tasty stuff!