Astoria to McMinnville via Tillamook

A mixed day of driving and museum visiting today. Poked around Astoria until the Columbia River Maritime Museum opened. An amazing place. I had no idea that the mouth of the Columbia was such a treacherous place to take a ship. ‘The Graveyard of the Pacific’ etc. etc. Hundreds of wrecks due to the shifting sandbars and shallow water with huge waves where the unstoppable river meets the immovable ocean.

Then down the rainy coast to Tillamook, home of a famous cheesery… cheese factory… cheese plant…dairy… cow-juice thingy. And Hangar B, a full-size airship hangar that now houses a warplane collection. But first lunch at Pacific House, a Mexican place with seafood leanings and a good reputation. Only restaurant I’ve ever visited where you can get Fish & Chips and Pastel Tres Leches.

Pouring rain and no parking except in the RV/Camper overflow lot a long way from the front door of the cheese place, so we would have got soaking wet. Jammed out and headed down to the hangar. That is one large building – intended to allow the manufacture of a full-size Zeppelin class airship, it’s toweringly tall as well as very long. A big rigid airship was never actually constructed there, but the building did once hold nine blimps at the same time. To put it another way, if you could put the Walsten Air hangar on a (large) dolly, you could wheel it in through the big door in one piece. In fact, you could stand it on edge and still do it. However, the tour is limited to walking around on the floor at one end, where ten or a dozen warbirds are displayed, and you don’t get to see much of the hangar itself, let alone go up on any of the old cat-walking higher up. Liability, they said. The building is very old, and is not expected to last much longer, so I’m glad I came to see it this year.

Back on the road down the coast, turning inland just before Newport, so we have left a dozen miles or so of Oregon coast untraveled, but we got to see a different highway through the hills.

Tree Moss. No relation to Kate.

Deetoo has a new name now: Dingbat. He could not find our hotel on Hwy. 99, but he did offer us a choice of seven or eight identical Hwy. 99 destinations, all with the same zip code. We picked one at random. As we approached McMinnville, he tried to give us vectors in the other direction. It seems he was trying to take us to one end of Hwy. 99. After we got that sorted out, he found our destination on his list of nearest hotels, but still insisted that the building is across the street from where it really is. Luckily I’m used to driving with Caroline, so I understand that left and right are not fixed in meaning.

We’re in McMinnville now, and we have a great room on the ground floor right by a side entrance and the laundry. The CRV is parked right outside our window. Heading out for dinner in half an hour at Maison Bistro, a lovely French restaurant.

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