Three Capes Plus One.. and Cheese

What a whirlwind start of summer it has been from ripping up our front yard, endless track practices and meets (my son made track districts yay), and end of school year festivities. Finally we were on the road for our summer vacation. It was a long-awaited and sorely needed vacation to get away from it all. This year we had planned ahead and set our sights on the coast for our annual week-long trip. The previous two years we always headed east of the mountains. While we enjoyed those vacations immensely, the wildfires and hot weather were not what we wanted this year. We chose wisely because we were enjoying the beautiful west coast of both Oregon and Washington in the low 70’s, while the East, and even the Seattle area was suffering from blistering heat. We were lucky enough be able to leave a day early making our vacation one day longer however, it was either a blessing or a curse because Friday traffic combined with US Open traffic made Friday a really long driving day. We did not go over 20 MPH on I-5 starting in Lynnwood, WA all the way to Chehalis, WA. It took us 4 and a half hours, which is more than double the normal travel time. We were so happy to finally get to our first destination, Toutle River RV Resort, a midway stopover on the way to the beautiful Oregon Coast.

After our extremely long day Friday we woke up Saturday morning refreshed and ready to hit the road to our destination of Cape Lookout State Park. We always hear how wonderful Oregon State Parks are and as a kid I felt they were the best in the country. So this was a long planned trip of ours to discover Oregon State Parks. I had been here once before as a kid and it will forever be ingrained in my memory, Cape Lookout, the state park with the scariest trail in the world. I will forever have nightmares of the sheer cliffs on the trail. My father chuckles every time I mention it because between that and the hiking at Beacon Rock on the Columbia River Gorge we were scarred for life on scary hikes. The reality is it probably was not as bad as I remember but that sad part is I had no desire to find out. In spite of it being a huge draw for this particular park we skipped the trail and just enjoyed the park, beach, and smaller not so scary forest trails.

Our first full day here we took a drive south to the small town of Pacific City. It was a short drive down the coast with spectacular ocean views as well as forest and sand dunes. Our destination was the Pelican Brewing Company. A lunch on the beach was just what the doctor ordered. We had a great meal with some good beer but it was the most expensive lunch we have ever had. We are still debating whether the scenery alone was worth the cost of the food and beer.  There is not much to the town of Pacific City. The draw here is  the town is a quiet and smaller version of Cannon Beach with their own haystack rock jetting out right off of Cape Kiwanda, the last of the 3 capes. There is plenty of recreating to do here however which is what fills up the small hotels and private campgrounds in the summer. This is a perfect destination for a beach vacation in a less dense and crowded area. If we come back we will explore the area further.

Cape Lookout is one of the three capes in this area, the middle cape, and part of the Three Capes Scenic Drive. After our drive to the southern most point of the drive in Pacific City, we decided to head north and hit the northernmost point of the drive at Cape Meares. This entire drive is just beautiful with plenty of epic ocean vistas popping out at you around every bend. We even saw a family of deer though I was not quick enough with the camera to get a shot before they bounded back into the forest. The three capes drive is definitely something to add to your bucket list. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is our last stop on our drive. It is a spectacular place with endless viewpoints and a beautiful lighthouse. It’s a little bit of a walk to get to the lighthouse and a pretty steep grade on the way back up, a lot steeper then it looked. There are several hiking trails in the area here, one of which you can find the famous Oregon octopus tree. During the winter and spring this is a popular place to watch whale migrations. We were on the lookout for sea lions on the cliff below but did not see any. They say you can sometimes hear them at the lighthouse from the rocky cliffs below, where they like to sunbathe.

This was not our first trip rving in the Tillamook area.  We were here in 2011 with our old trailer only we stayed further north in Cannon Beach. The 2011 trip however, left an imprint in the boys as all they wanted to do was head back to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The Tillamook Cheese Factory has got to be one of the biggest tourist traps in Oregon. Usually we avoid places like these like the plague, but who can say no to three boys who simply want to get free cheese. We picked the middle of the week to go hoping for less crowds but no, it was still as crowded as ever. The funny thing is it is not like you can not get Tillamook Cheese in the grocery store. It simply must taste better at the factory or it is simply the ice cream they were after. It is cool to see how the cheese is made but the self guided tour only gives you part of the story. It is far too crowded to watch any of the videos they have for informational purposes. Luckily a short distance up the road was the Blue Heron Cheese Company and this place is my kind of place, not crowded, amazingly good cheese, and a shop I could spend hundreds of dollars in. The Blue Heron Cheese Company makes their own french cheese (Brie) on sight. Inside you can get samples and then shop for the hundreds of sauces, salad dressings, and condiments they have inside. They have samples littered around the store. They also offer wine tasting, where they offer up their very own Blue Heron wine. We did not stay for that as the children at that point where restless. A small gift shop and deli complete the store. As a bonus for the weary travelers there is RV parking outside, so if you’re on the trip up 101 on the Oregon Coast, don’t be afraid to stop. Outside they have a small petting farm and a beautifully landscaped garden with quirky signs for some cute photos.

After one more lazy day at Cape Lookout it was time to head north, back to Washington, and back to my favorite state park, Cape Disappointment State Park. We try to go to Cape Disappointment once a year, usually meeting up with friends and family. This time was no exception as our good friends were meeting us there,as well as my Aunt and Uncle. So after a beautiful drive up the Oregon coast and crossing the scary Astoria bridge we arrived at once again, the most beautiful place on earth.

It is no secret I love Cape Disappointment and once again our trip here did not disappoint. The only thing disappointing about this park is how hard it is to get reservations. We again were unable to reserve a spot in the beach loop. It seems those spots are always taken for week long vacations and are not available for extended weekends. It worked out great though as we had a fantastic spot, #35. We started out the first night, and what turned out to be the last night to have a campfire thanks to a quickly issued state wide burn ban, with a roaring fire. Our children are not really s’mores fans so our time around the fire usually consists of just sitting there talking. That of course eventually bores the kids and they go inside to glue their eyeballs to their phones. This time I wanted to give them something to do around the fire so I pulled out the biscuit dough. Those of you who read this blog know that we often go camping with family, in fact most of my extended family joins us at one point or the other. We always get the whole group together once a year (this fall we are planning to do just that once again at Grayland State Park). Well on one of our previous trips my cousin, Trina, introduced us to dough boys which we affectionately call “Trina Puffs”. We found two sticks with perfect proportions to make them and off we went. We also pulled out the pie iron for some bigger pies. The red raspberry jam we bought from the Blue Heron was the perfect filling to our puffs with  just a little whip cream, mmmmm good.

I wish I could say the rest of our trip was relaxing and uneventful but while we spent the rest of the weekend having fun with our friends and family our middle child had come down with some sort of virus. Over the abundance of caution, we took him into Long Beach, to the ER to get his spiking fever and super red eyes checked out. After they got his fever to go down they released us and back to the campground we went. After that little adventure the rest of the weekend was a great time spent, visiting lighthouses (we just can’t get enough of them), and hanging out on the beach. The weather was perfect except for one windy, cold, day. Which was pretty funny being that it was 53 at camp and in the upper 90’s back home. That is a 40 degree difference in a 200 mile span. The wind made hanging out on the beach interesting. I think all of us were eating sand the rest of the weekend. You always got to make the best while camping when uncontrollable situations pop up. This was no different and with the interesting weather came a blessing, an amazing sunset, which I think I took about 900 pictures of. It is so beautiful here. I would move here permanently if it wasn’t for this article I just read about earthquakes. It makes you think sometimes. Of course living in the ring of fire always comes with risks. Someday one of the volcanoes we are surrounded with at home could blow. I guess you simply have to take each day one at a time and #GoRving!

We had a great vacation this year. Now the planning begins for next year. Where should we go next? Idaho/Montana or Eastern Oregon? Any suggestions?