It’s all about the cheese

Tillamook mini bus!
Tillamook mini bus!

Driving the Oregon coast can make you really crave cheese.  Why not stop for a tour and some delicious cheese samples?  Where you ask? The Tillamook cheese factory, of course!

CHEEEEEEEESE!
CHEEEEEEEESE! 

The parking lot is huge and plenty of RV parking with easy in and out of the lot. I was really surprised on how busy it was in the middle of the week. So that might be a consideration if you do want a quick in and out stop. Our stop was about an hour and a half. I did find the prices of the cheese were all MSRP.  They seemed higher than the prices at the grocery store.

Tillamook RV parking
Tillamook RV parking
42 pound blocks of cheese
42 pound blocks of cheese
Cheese Curds Tillamook
Cheese Curds Tillamook

Something really impressed me about the factory…you know those thick slices of cheese? They are cut by human hands on a deli slicer right on the manufacturing line! We could not resist having a grilled vintage cheddar cheese sandwich on sourdough for lunch! It was fabulous.  Did I mention we really really love cheese?

Tillamook Fudge
Tillamook Fudge

“With about 30 different flavors, the fudge counter is no quick stop for the indecisive. Fortunately, a few sample tastes will steer you in the right direction.”

What is inside Tillamook fudge?
What is inside? Tillamook fudge?

If you need cheese, ice cream, or any other mouthwatering  dairy product or some lunch at the cafe. Stop by the Tillamook factory!  You can check hours etc on their website: Tillamook factory tour.

If you do like cheese tasting, here is a tip from when we lived in Seattle.  I love Beecher’s!  It is all handmade. Their flagship cheese is amazing! Check them out here:  http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/

We have nothing but Beecher’s and Tillamook in RV refrigerator right now 🙂

-Mara

Morphing Dunes- Oregon Coast

Florence Dunes
Florence Dunes

I have a new ultimate favorite place! If you know me, I always wonder what it would be like to live any new place we explore. One of the many reasons I love traveling in Thor, our motorhome. Florence, Oregon you are absolutely breathtaking! Ok, I know what I said about a sandy beach in earlier posts and I do stick with that opinion…but these sand dunes are alive! The ocean winds take each grain of sand… it moves and changes shape right before your eyes. It will not be the same landscape tomorrow as it is today.

Florence dunes
Florence dunes
Kuma at the Dunes Florence OR
Kuma at the Dunes Florence OR

One downside to that beautiful dune environment would be that I was digging sand out of my ears and hair and shoes and other places I would prefer not to mention.  A small price to pay for eye candy like the Oregon Coast!

South Jetty OR
South Jetty OR

We will be going back to Florence.  I need to add the Sea Lion caves and the hobbit hiking trail to my list of must see experiences.

We are learning as we go about internet access on the road.  We do have a Wilson electronics cell booster, however, we have been in a few places recently without cell coverage or acceptable WIFI.  I do believe we will need to upgrade our phones to a more recent model since we still have IPhone 4 and 4s.  4G will be uber helpful right now so our cell carrier would stop throttling our unlimited 3G connection. But that would require a full purchase price of a phone to keep our grandfathered unlimited data connection. Decisions…decisions.

Florence had great WIFI and Cell coverage!

-Mara

Mmmmmmmm! Blackberry Pancakes!

Blackberries at the campsite Florence OR
Blackberries at the campsite Florence OR

Free food is always a great surprise…What is better than free food? Ripe ready for pickin’ blackberries right outside your Motorhome front door! I thought …hmmm…. why not make some muffins for breakfast?  Then I looked in my tiny RV cabinets and said….I think I could do pancakes.

Blackberry bushes at campsite Florence OR
Blackberry bushes at campsite Florence OR
Blackberries for breakfast!
Blackberries for breakfast!

I walked outside selected about a cup of blackberries!

Free blackberries
Free blackberries
All picked! Blackberries
All picked! Blackberries

Pioneer buttermilk mix is a great alternative to completely homemade! Just add milk and eggs and, of course, delicious Oregon fresh blackberries!

Here are the ingredients!
Here are the ingredients!

I made the batter and poured into a pan…then added the berries.

OOOoooo blackberry pancakes!
OOOoooo blackberry pancakes!
Blackberry pancakes yum!
Blackberry pancakes yum!

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO amazing! Great cool morning camping breakfast!

-Mara

Little Victorian town in the Redwoods

Ferndale, CA
Ferndale, CA

Driving north on US-101 thought the rolling hills and dark dense California Redwood forest we stopped in a tiny town called Fortuna for the night (Riverwalk Rv park and Campground http://riverwalkrvpark.com/). While talking to some local residents (thank you Cindy!) we got a great tip that just five miles down the road was an even smaller town that was a delightful Victorian village called Ferndale.

Ferndale Clock
Ferndale Clock

So, the entire town of Ferndale is on the national historic register and was also named in the top 10 most beautiful towns in the USA.

Pasture land on the way to Ferndale
Pasture land on the way to Ferndale

As you turn off of US-101 at the Ferndale exit (of course) you drive through five miles of pastoral land of rolling hills and farmland.  Then it appears..a true Victorian town.  Time stopped and preserved this little town. Residents love that some of shops close around five or so and perhaps are closed on Sunday. What a great way to raise a family. Old fashioned values exist here! Not only buildings were preserved, but the way things used to be still live here.

Gingerbread Mansion B&B Ferndale CA
Gingerbread Mansion B&B Ferndale CA
Ferndale Meat Co.
Ferndale Meat Co.

The blacksmith shop was outstanding! http://www.ferndaleblacksmith.com/  Everything from jewelry to hooks to sculpture to furniture! All handmade.  Amazing! Definitely a must see! Imbibe on some handcrafted chocolate or pie or my favorite espresso and a scone from minds eye coffee shop.  Minds eye coffee lounge also serves local honey!

Golden Bee Honey Ferndale, CA
Golden Bee Honey Ferndale, CA
Crazy Ferndale Plants
Crazy Ferndale Plants

This little town is a break from what you expect in the Redwoods area of Northern California.  It is well worth the stop and a very short drive from the 101.  They do have truck and RV parking in a special lot at the end of town. Give it a try you will fall in love with the Victorian town of Ferndale!

-Mara

Ferndale little kitty bud
Ferndale little kitty bud

Manifest Destiny – AKA the great adventure!

Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Motel Kingman, AZ
Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Motel Kingman, AZ

The great adventure has begun!

We spent the second night of our adventure about 15 miles east of Kingman, AZ. The Blake RV Park and Horse motel was a great stop… super clean… great WiFi (we actually got a spot directly below the WiFi connection!) It is Arizona… so lots of rock but completely functional and great for one night. If you happen to have a horse they can accommodate…super neat! Blake Ranch RV Park

Blake RV Park Grounds
Blake RV Park Grounds

So here is the best part!  There is an amazing treat (other than the dunkin donuts) less than five minutes from this RV park.  We arrived and were driving the smart car around a bit and found a local Alpaca Farmer who gave tours! It was amazing. I got to lead around a white Alpaca named Ted. Super sweet big guy!  Ted the Alpaca is a gracious host. He allows you to hold his lead and make you think you just might be in charge. Talking with Ron, Alpaca farmer, they have shearing in April and also at the end of September have a spinning event and festival right on the farm grounds. We might stop back to help with one of their events.  We bought some brown alpaca yarn from an Alpaca named Max. The tiny shop is packed full of wearable alpaca fiber.  The socks are a big hit and according to Ron…bulletproof! Make sure to stop by and take advantage of the entrance fee of $6 per car load! You pay once and can keep coming back.  Make sure you don’t miss this one! Southwest Alpaca tours/farm

Ted Alpaca Man
Ted Alpaca Man
Max
Max

Oh yeah! Southwest Alpaca farm is also part of harvest hosts!

SW Alpaca sign
SW Alpaca sign

We are on our way to Russian River and so looking forward to some tasting at Korbel!

-Mara

We Didn’t Start the Fire or did we?

OK, bad Billy Joel reference!

In this case, we did start the fire with these homemade fire starters! How did we accomplish this magnificent project?

Finished homemade fire starters
Finished homemade fire starters

We gathered a bunch of cardboard egg cartons, cedar saw dust (from a gate project), recycled left over smoker pellets, and a few blocks of paraffin (purchased at amazon.com).

start - egg cartons
start – egg cartons
cedar saw dust and left over smoker pellets
cedar saw dust and left over smoker pellets
blocks of parafin
blocks of paraffin

This process is super simple and really effective!  We packed the sawdust mixture (mixed the saw dust and smoker pellets together in a box) into the egg cartons then

Filling egg carton with sawdust
Filling egg carton with sawdust

Melted the paraffin wax on the stove in an old pot we found for a dollar at an estate sale.

Meltin Parafin wax on stove
Melting Paraffin wax on stove

Then poured the wax into the sawdust mixture and let harden.  (We used about a 1lb block of wax  for every 3 egg carton bottoms).

Filled egg carton with saw dust and parafin wax
Filled egg carton with saw dust and paraffin wax

After hardened, we cut out each egg cup into an individual fire starter! This batch made 144 starters!

Underside of packed egg carton
Underside of packed egg carton
Cutting egg carton from underneath
Cutting egg carton from underneath

Here is the very best part of these project!  The whole project cost was from the paraffin wax! Not bad and a great way to recycle. The starters lasted about 17 minutes each…more than enough time to get a great fire started! Just keep them dry! We store ours in a plastic container with a waterproof lid. You just take a match to the paper/cardboard outside of the starter.

Homemade fire starters...ready for their fire!
Homemade fire starters…ready for their fire!

Check out the time lapse video test we did in our chiminea- Perfection!

-Mara