June 24 – July 26, 2021
Our one full day in Waldport would be spent pursuing those activities that mean a lot to us and no, that isn’t drinking beer. Joanna would drive south on the 101 past the Sea Lion Caves to C&M Stables for her appointment an equestrian ramble to the beach and I would follow on my bike, a nice 26-mile journey on a road not yet ridden by me, always something to look forward to.
A bit overcast when I set out, some miles in the skies cleared, and the day warmed, providing me with any number of picture worthy views as I pedaled down the highway. A few miles south of Yachats I entered the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and stopped at a viewpoint with a trailhead to a nearby natural phenomenon known as Thor’s Well, an old sea cave that has collapsed, creating almost a “drainage pipe” to the ocean. It’s a seemingly bottomless hole that thrashes and sprays water as the waves crash in and out.
As I paused, I noted a interesting bridge spanning Cook Chasm, home to another natural attraction known as the Spouting Horn, where incoming waves funnel seawater and air into a cave, building pressure until the water explodes in a geyser-like fountain. I didn’t get a chance to park the bike and hike to either of these attractions but will keep them in mind should we return to this part of the coast in the future.
I pushed on, climbing, and descending short inclines in the topography and eventually reached the stables, much earlier than I had anticipated, so I unlocked the car, loaded the bike, and settled in to wait for Joanna to finish her ride. Thirsty and hungry for something other than what we had in the cooler, I walked up to the lobby only to discover that likely due to Covid, they weren’t offering any refreshments, so had to settle with water and one of the energy bars I’d brought with me.
Joanna returned and he drove north up the highway to stop in Yachats for provisions and a sandwich at the C&K Market and to pick up an extension cord we could use to tap into the electrical box more easily at our camp site. It now being our fifth day or so since last doing laundry and recognizing that it is best to wash recently used bike clothes as early as possible, the rest of the afternoon was devoted to one of those needed but relatively unexciting duties of travel, that is ensuring one has another week’s worth of clean clothes.
Dinner pickings at the market didn’t excite either one of us so we drove across the bridge into Waldport to stop in at Grand Central Pizza which appeared to be highly rated, only to discover that because of the pandemic, they were operating only as a take-out operation. With limited options in the area, we decided to head across the street to Fresco Fresh Mexican Food for our second Mexican food experience in less than a week.
We were seated quickly as the place filled up around us and ordered, a margarita and the crab enchiladas for Joanna and a beef tostada and Negro Modelo for me. The food and drinks came quickly and was everything we could have asked for in terms of quality, quantity, and taste. Usually, we have a hard time finishing our plates but given our activity levels that day and lack of a good lunch, we both polished off our entire meals.
The tab came to a reasonable $48 including tip and we left full and satisfied, happy to close out our time in Waldport and ready to move on north. That next morning, we broke camp and started our drive, hoping to find a coffee and pastry somewhere along the road. We were rewarded when Joanna discovered Seal Rock Expresso in Seal Rock, where we waited patiently in line to get a large vanilla latte and one of the biggest maple bars we’ve ever encountered.
A couple of hours later we pulled off the highway to visit the Tillamook Air Museum, a few miles south of our intended destination before stopping for the day, Tillamook Creamery. The museum is housed in a former US Navy blimp hangar, called “Hangar B”, which is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world.
Constructed by the US Navy in 1942 along with its mate, Hanger A, during World War II for Naval Air Station Tillamook, the hangar building is 1,072 feet long and 296 feet wide, giving it over 7 acres of area. Standing at 192 feet tall, its doors weigh 30 tons each and are 120 feet tall. The two hangars built at Tillamook were designed for the “K” style blimps.
Eight “K” series airships (blimps) were housed here, each carrying a crew numbering eight to 10 and used for extended flight operations in the coastal patrols. The ships were 215.7 feet long, 79 feet high and 62.5 feet wide and were armed with four depth chargers and two 50-caliber machine guns, mounted in the extreme forward upper section of the car.
When the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Navy launched its full non-rigid airship program, which resulted in a series of hangars built in 10 different locations throughout the United States. These hangars mark a significant period of aviation history when airships were an important part of the U.S. anti-submarine defense. All were built using the same plans and construction began during the early years of World War II.
After the war, the 15-story structures were abandoned by the Navy and used for various civilian purposes including storage, lumber mill operations and manufacturing. In 1989 both hangars were listed in the National Register of Historic Places but on August 22, 1992, Hangar A was destroyed by a fire together with 300 truckloads of hay stored inside of it.
It was a fascinating look at activities the nation engaged in during World War II, and we’d learn even more at our next stop near Astoria. For now, we were ready to head up the road to the Tillamook Creamery for a long-anticipated lunch break, one that would not turn out at all like we planned. We’ll cover that in the next post.
C&M Stables: https://oregonhorsebackriding.com/
Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well: https://oregondiscovery.com/cooks-chasm
C&K Market: https://www.myckm.com/
Grand Central Pizza: https://www.grand-central-pizza.com/
Seal Rock Expresso: https://sealrockespresso.com/
Tillamook Air Museum: http://www.tillamookair.com/