Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CRACKERS, RAIN AND THE PIRATES OF SUMMER…


Arch at Rockaway Beach
The day of the Summer Solstice we set off, in the rain, for our next destination, Rockaway Beach, OR.  We cross the 45th parallel (the midpoint between the equator and the North Pole.) Our home this week is the Paradise Cove Resort and Marina, an AOR, ROD and RPI affiliate.  Like so many RV resorts, this one has seen better days and our space is at the end of a tightly packed row but we have a spectacular view of the bay and there is decent Wi-Fi in the clubhouse, which is situated at water’s edge. The sewer connections are a tad odd – they drain horizontal – something we have not encountered before – but everyone seems to have some solution that ranges from special adapters or bungee cords or large rocks to hold the sewer lines in place, we should never underestimate the ingenuity of our peers. 

After setting up, we headed a couple of miles up the road to the town of Wheeler in search of either groceries or a hamburger diner.  Since we found the Tsunami Bar and Grill before a grocery store, hamburger won out.  Chris’ hamburger was cooked perfectly and was accompanied by awesome onion rings (no kidding awesome!) After perusing the menu, the steamer clams called my name. They were cooked to perfection in a white wine reduction and a side order of garlic bread made a complete meal.  This restaurant recently moved from a mid block location across 101 to their current waterfront spot and just had their “soft opening” five days prior. It was early evening and they were already sold out of a number menu items. Seems they underestimated just how many people would come to dine in their new location. To sum it up: great food, great service and killer location and views.
Tsunami Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

WWII nose art
Rockaway Beach is located about mid way between Tillamook (of the cheese fame) and Cannon Beach (of the beach fame.) In Tillamook, we visit the Tillamook Air Museum.  The museum is in the remaining Blimp hanger from WWII and according to their website, houses one of America's finest collections of over 30 magnificently restored war birds including a P-38 Lightning, F4U-Corsair, P51-Mustang, PBY Catalina and SBD Dauntless dive bomber. It is definitely worth a stop for anyone interested in the history of flight or WWII aeronautics.

Clipping Fingerlings
We noticed a small sign on the road to the museum indicating a fish hatchery up the road. So after visiting the planes we figured, “What the hell, we’re here, lets check it out.”  Signage was a bit sketchy, but we finally found the Trask Hatchery at the end of an unpaved road. Sometimes we just don’t give up.  It paid off as we were given a wonderful one-on-one tour of the facility.  This hatchery was constructed in 1916 and is used for adult collection, incubation, and rearing of fall and spring Chinook, Coho, wild winter Steelhead and hatchery winter Steelhead. They were in the process of “clipping” a somewhat controversial process of cutting off the fat fin on the back upper tail of fingerling salmon to differentiate hatchery fish from wild salmon.  Even though they have a quota of 1,000 clips per hour, the five techs were friendly and willing to share the process with us.

Heading back into Tillamook, we stopped by the Blue Heron French Cheese Co. We went based on signs along the road.  This is just a specialty gourmet boutique, with a petting zoo to entertain the spawn.  However, we did purchase some really wonderful smoked garlic Brie, a fresh baked baguette, did some wine tasting and picked up a few bottles of wine.  Note: they charge for wine tasting and do not credit the tasting fee toward purchases. (If we had read the fine print we probably would have passed on the tasting & just picked up some wine – live and learn)

On Saturday we ignored the rain and went back to Tillamook for the farmer’s market.  We picked up some Kumimoto oysters, some so-so fruit turnovers, fresh veggies and CRACKERS.  Yes Crackers, the hi-light of the day. So here’s the back story: We were down to our last partial package of Rain Crisp Crackers from Taylor’s, our gourmet market back in Sacramento and we had all but given up on finding any crackers of that quality any time soon.  Walking through the market, Chris spotted the crackers and this is how we met Jan Skelton of More Than A Cracker.  Jan offers three flavors in regular and gluten free.  We found the gluten free to be more flavorful and actually better than the Rain Crisp Crackers, so we stocked up and now we have crackers for a while, and when we run out, we can order more on line - and so can you :o) HERE!

We also stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. You can’t miss this huge plant right on the 101 at the north end of town.  They have a self-guided tour and you can watch the packaging of the famous bricks of Tillamook Cheese.  Since this cheese is readily available at most supermarkets, we didn’t fight the crowds in the gift shop and store, but we did grab a couple of Tillamook ice cream cones which were pretty tasty.

Pirates invade Rockaway and sing
about chickens.
Friday through Sunday, the City of Rockaway Beach hosted a Pirate Festival.  Not able to resist a tribute to swashbuckling criminals, we headed down to watch the festivities and snap few photos. Our two favorite pirate quotes of this week:  “Why is there no more Rum?” and “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

One stop that we would not revisit was the Nehalem Bay Winery.  The wines there are not to our taste.  Half of the offerings were the novelty type sweet fruit based, pear, berry etc.  The more traditional wines all had a strong chemical flavor that reminded us of Los Angeles Tap water and were extremely dry to the point of being really sour.  Tastings were $5 per person, but applied to purchases. Prices were high $20-$35 in our opinion for the quality.


Bill's six shot sampler
The scenery is incredible along the drive up the coast up to and past Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.  After photographing along the beach, we decided to walk through town and do a little window-shopping and grab a bite to eat.  We stopped at Bills Tavern and Brew House.  There we ordered a 6 shot sampler of their seasonal beers.  The beers were all tasty. Our favorites were Rudy’s Red and the 2X4 Stout so we ordered a couple of pints to go with grilled oysters and fish and chips.  It’s tough to make fish and chips outstanding or memorable, but these were some of the better we’ve had. The batter was light, the Halibut moist and succulent and the “chips” crisp with tender insides. Nothing was greasy, just fried to perfection.  The Oysters were a real treat.  They were dusted in panko, lightly fried and accompanied by the same perfect fries. We also substituted the clam chowder for the salad and were not disappointed, great flavor and texture without being overly starchy as some chowder’s can be.  All in all: a most excellent meal!
Bill's Tavern & Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

So another week of good, bad and fun, lots of rain and a little sun… but we wouldn’t change a thing!

Click here for this week's photos.

k








0 comments: