My lovely wife typically takes her vacation during the first week of August and her request for this year was to go to someplace that would not be hot. Finding a cool destination during the summer months is somewhat of a challenge and whereas we visited Alaska last summer, that option was off the table. After a little discussion, we finally decided that a trip down the Oregon coast would fulfill all of her vacation objectives. We have both lived in Oregon more than thirty years and both of us have traveled the length of the coast once, so we knew that had to be at least a few hidden gems left unexplored.
Our first stop was in Tillamook which is known as the “land of cheese, trees, and ocean breeze'”. The area is home to several large scale dairy operations that supply the milk used to produce Tillamook cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter. If you have never tried the cheese or yogurt, I envy you because you still have something to look forward to in life.
Our first undiscovered gem was a visit to the Tillamook Air Museum which houses one of this country’s top privately held collections of World War II aircraft. Even more impressive is the building that houses the air craft. During World War II, the it housed blimps that were part of the costal defense system.
Tillamook Naval Air Station Blimp Hangar B
The building is massive; it is believed to be the world’s largest wooden, free standing, clear-span buildings. It measures in at 1,072 feet in length, 296 feet in width, and looms over15 stories in height. To give you some sense of scale, the structure covers an area approximately equal to three football field end to end.
The building was capable of housing eight blimps AKA known as air ships that were nearly 200 feet in length
While in Tillamook, we also visited the Cape Meares Light which is also known as Oregon’s shortest lighthouse. Measuring a mere 28 feet in height, the light was one of twelve lighthouses that once safely guided ships as the navigated the Oregon coast.
Cape Meares Light
My lovely wife at Cape Meares searching for sea birds that inhabit the rocky cliffs
Continuing our drive south, we arrived at Newport which is the largest community on the coast of Oregon. Newport is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium which is a world class aquarium and frequently ranked as one of the top ten aquariums in North America. The Passages of the Deep exhibit allows you to immerse yourself in the ocean without getting wet. A series of underground walkways pass through the center of the three massive tanks; while you pass through, sharks and other species of fish glide by and literally surround you. Several of the exhibits have a “hands on component” which furthers the visitor’s experience. If you are ever in the vicinity of Newport, do not miss the aquarium.
One of the most recognizable sights in Newport is the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Completed in 1936, it was the last of the eleven bridges necessary to complete the 363 Oregon Coast Highway.
The Yaquina Bay Bridge just before sunset as the fog rolled in from the ocean
Newport is the homeport to the majority of Oregon’s commercial fishing fleet
Nothing describes the Oregon coast in the summer better than the word foggy. It often begins to roll off of the cool ocean waters in the early afternoon and frequently shrouds the coastline until late morning.
The fog beginning its evening journey from the ocean to land
Jackets are a near constant companion for those visiting the coast during the summer months
Overall, we had a great trip despite the lack of sunshine and the near constant fog. On the other hand, I never once heard my lovely wife once comment that it was too hot.