Monday, June 26, 2017

Big Fires and Small Harbors

June 22-25, 2017
Garibaldi, Oregon

Timber is a large part of Tillamook's history. When 350,000 acres burned every tree in sight over three devastating fires, there was much doubt about a sustainable economy. The fires occurred every six years, becoming known as the Six Year Curse, and many believed it was unstoppable.

Photo from scuffproductions. Nothing but ash and naked sticks as far as we could see.
Fortunately there were people working on a solution of fire breaks, updated equipment, trained fire fighters, and permanent water access, and when the fourth fire started (six years after the third) it was stopped with 39,000 acres burned. The curse was broken, and the population finally had hope for the future of their community.

The Tillamook Burn was an ugly area covering mountains and valleys. Nothing was left alive. Teams of Snag Fallers were sent in to bring down the remaining burned trees for lumber. They would come home completely black except for their eyes and mouth, and became known as the Tillamook Coal Miners. 

Once most of the snags were removed, replanting began. Buses of school children, government work crews, lumber company workers - all planted hundreds of thousands of seedlings over a decade. Returning wildlife slowed their efforts by eating two of every three planted, but they continued to plant. 

The success of their efforts is visible in the lush green forests that once again surround Tillamook Bay. Timber continues to sustain the largest town in the county. The Tillamook Burn no longer exists, except in the memories of those who still live here.

It is those memories that make up most of the film offered at the Tillamook Forest Center. Thursday we visit this lovely facility on Highway 6, along the Wilson River.

Beautiful bridge over the Wilson River at the back of the Center.
A small museum, suspension bridge, lookout tower, and interpretive trails make up this wonderful education center. Knowledgeable, friendly staff, and the informative film, enhance the experience.

Well laid out with wonderful visuals about the forest eco-system.

Several exhibits about the history of the forest and its relationship with humans. An interesting balance of use and conservation is presented.

One of the replanting crews. The young man in the back row at the very right end is one of the story tellers in the film (a bit older now).

Trails with information signs run along both sides of the Wilson River.

And through the surrounding forest.

I couldn't get a good photo of this magnificent 100 foot Big Leaf Maple, but I want to remember it.

The grounds are beautiful with several benches to just quietly enjoy.
Hmmmm, I must have misplaced the pics I took when we climbed to the top of the lookout tower........uh, huh.

On our way back toward Tillamook we stop to check out the Misty River RV Park as an option for next time we're here. With FHU sites on the river and good water access for fishing, this is likely where we'll stay. And there will definitely be a next time.

Large bouquets of Foxglove and Daisies line Highway 6.

I learn at the Center that Foxglove flourish where the earth has been "disturbed". The highway was cleaned up last year after all the rains, causing this year's bonanza of blooms. Also explains their presence at all the clear cut sites.
The stop is all Bill needs to suggest we look for a fishing spot. Let's go to the Trask River!

Like all the others, the Trask has limited access. There are two boat ramps on the map so we figure these are a good start. We've been wrong before...

This is an open boat ramp, nothing more than what you see here. The escaping ghost is probably trying to tell us something. Slick mud on both sides deter attempts to reach the water.
Steep drop to the rushing water.

Pretty to look at from "up here".
The road to the second ramp isn't much more than a two-track. Rutted, narrow and steep - yeehaw! But instead of the previous death trap, we can walk out to the river. 

Catching a dozen small trout makes for a happy man.

The water is so clear, all those dark spots are rocks deep underwater.

Not sure where they park with a boat trailer. 

The sun dances in and out of the tall trees.

As I've recently been reminded that Fluffy Dog pics are required......
Friday morning Tessa and I walk the marina, and the working harbor. Nothing is fenced off so we can explore the "parked" boats, watch the birds and fishermen, observe a busy world so foreign to me. It's wonderful.

Water and electric sites, close to neighbors. Level, not level, level, not level, level........

Lots of sizes and styles. This one is just right for us!

The Port of Garibaldi opens into Tillamook Bay.

This spot is packed on weekends.

I've admired these in several places, but never seen anywhere they're made and sold. The large ones are $800. Love the fish!

The bay sparkles under misty mountains.

Need some oyster shells? We have a few.

Finally catch this lone seal.
Not pretty, nor as famous as the Astoria Column, the Whitney Mill Chimney is visible from most of Garibaldi. Built in 1928, it is all that remains of the old mill.
Saturday's forecast is for high temps so we figure stay close to the coast. Did I mention we've been wrong before.......

We head north, wanting to again see the area we explored in the rain. Guess what everybody else is doing on a hot Saturday in Oregon?

None of the beach parking is available so we just drive, catching wonderful views along the way. Our AC is on the whole day. Temps top out at 101 just south of Nehalem Bay!

Amazing views from the hills above Manzanita.

Where everybody wants to be on a hot day.
At every beach parking lot the cars line Hwy 101 for a mile before and after. 

Falcon Cape

Terrible Tilly, the famous lighthouse, to the north. See her in the upper right corner?

See? We'll go check her out when we're in Astoria.

We do stop at Buttercup in Nehalem for delicious ice cream (thanks again Laurel and Eric!) and chowder to take home. Watching the chowder made from cold drawers of fresh ingredients is unique! Ice cream flavors like Burnt Chocolate and Honey Lemon are perfect on a hot afternoon. Definitely a destination when you're in the area.

Every bowl and quart of chowder is made separately with pre-chopped fresh ingredients. It's fascinating to watch them put it all together. (Photo from Google Images)
South of Wheeler where the Nehalem River enters Nehalem Bay.
It's still over 90 when we return home and we hunker down with the AC for the evening. 

Cold wind greets us Sunday morning and the day never gets over 65. I thought California had fickle weather! But we aren't complaining about returning to our new normal :-))))

A subtle sunset ends our one-day heat wave.


  1. I love the story of how the whole town pitched in and replanted the forest. Sounds like the museum is quite informative. And the surrounding trees and river walk are beautiful too. Glad Bill got in some fishing time :-) Happy Hubby, Happy Wifey :-) That sure is a full beach! Guess Tessa had to settle for zoomies somewhere else that day. Our temps are finally coming down. No 100+ days in the current forecast :-) That sure is pretty boat you have your eye on. I get too sea sick so no boating in our future...

    1. Yep, zoomies on the grass back home that day! I really enjoyed learning about the fires and the little town - makes a lot of what we think are problems today seem petty.

  2. That Forest Center looks very interesting.

    I wonder if that 101 was a record? It's crazy that the next day was sooooo much cooler!

    1. I can't find anything that says it was a record - it was in one spot near Nehalem and cooled off almost ten degrees by the time we got back to Garibaldi. And yes, yesterday barely made 67 degrees!!

  3. Really love the history of it all. For some reason I enjoy reading about it in a blog rather than looking it up.

    Can't say I can recall seeing another blog post in Oregon with people on the beach. Good to see they use it. Wonder how cold the water is but suppose that's relative to what one is used to.

    1. We really enjoy the little museums with local history.

      That was certainly the first time in a month that we've seen people on the beach like that. Even Pacific Beach the weekend before had about a dozen. Usually it's a couple or one family. I didn't have to try it to know it's too cold for me!!

  4. It's crazy how the weather varies with the wind direction out here, Jodee! We were warm at our campsite on the east side of 101 yesterday, but about froze our butts off at the lighthouse. And today we had a thunderstorm. Needless to say, we closed the tower at that point. 😊

    1. We got a little drizzle today - missed the thunderstorm :( We can have fog on one side and blue skies on the other so it is never the same!

  5. I can't believe how many people were on that beach!! Guess all it takes is a heat wave. :-)) So glad you enjoyed Buttercup. I'm still thinking about that fish chowder....and the burnt chocolate ice cream. I wish we had stopped at the Forest Center -- next time (and as you said, there will be a next time). LOL at your "level, not level, level, not level..."

    1. Thanks :-)

      I much prefer the empty beaches of the colder weather!

  6. Love the Oregon coast! And, love the clam chowder. It's fun walking down the street in some of the beach towns checking out the signs indicating they have the best chowder. Love to taste, love to sample and funny how they are all different.

    1. Right?! Every one is voted the best. I think they must all have their own contests :-))) Haven't found many we don't like I'm afraid.

  7. Heat waves on the Oregon coast are rare enough that's all the excuse needed to go to the beach. And it seems everyone did. That's one inspirational community story in Tillamook. And I thought they were just about the cheese.

    1. Growing up there was always a block of Tillamook cheese in the frig. I didn't know there was any other kind for years! I never thought I'd be in the place they make it - and that it would have so much more to offer :-)))

  8. What an interesting story on the Tillamook Burn! The photo you shared sure demonstrates how devastated the area was from continuous burns. Glad they finally figured it out. What a job as a Snag Faller! No thanks! The Tillamook Forest Center looks like my kind of place. All that information about the forest I am so enjoying would be perfect. Love that bridge! Glad Bill was able to locate a place to fish. I am surprised your temps got that high by the coast. We never got over 80 thank goodness. But it is nice to be back in the 60's. My idea of a great temperature. Thanks for the very cute fluffy dog photo:) Made my day:) Tessa is so white. She is doing well at staying cleaning even with her exploring. Now you have me putting this area on my list. You have done a great job as a tour director!!

    1. I think you guys would really like it here too. Both the PCT and the Oregon Coast Trail are close enough to access with lots of other forest and river trails. Another fun thing just up the road is a railcar you power like a bicycle with two, three or four people that goes along the bay and into the forest. It might go into Tillamook. No, trains don't use that section anymore. No, we didn't try it :-)))

  9. And here I thought Tillamook was all about the cheese! I've been there many times but only long enough to snag a sample and an ice cream. The beauty of staying longer in one place is that you move beyond the popular and find the interesting. We are only starting to appreciate that, but still struggle with staying put.

    1. We haven't been to the Tillamook factory yet, keep saying we're going and then get side-tracked :) It's been nice to slow down a bit this summer.

  10. Great post Jodee. So fascinating about the fires every 6 years. And so glad they stopped! Love all the rivers and creeks...nothing quite like the sound of running water! Burnt Chocolate sounds yummy. Enjoy your cooler days!

    1. There were many people then who thought they would never stop :-( The combination of rushing rivers and trickling creeks has given us such a variety of sounds while out playing.

  11. What beautiful pictures. We've been in that area and somehow that forest museum escaped us. Looked very informative. I love those kinds of museums. Glad Bill got some fish. I have a request, more FISH pictures please! I was watching those crazy temps that made their way up to you as well. My maiden name is Wheeler. While we don't have any connection to that town, we did by t-shirts and hats and pretend that we do. Cute little town. Those beach shots looked so pretty from up above.

    1. He hasn't taken pics because they've been small ones (you know how fisherpeople are), but we'll get some on here :-) The center is a ways out of town, easy to miss, but worth making the drive to see.

  12. How in the world did I miss such an interesting post? Thought it had been a while since I'd heard from you and went looking. What a story about the 6 year fires. Did I miss how long ago and for how many years? Wonder what kept starting them? Dry forest from 100 degree temps? I have so many questions, I must go see this. Thanks! Seems like you have your own happy dinner provider. Mmmmm trout. Sorry you missed the beautiful looking beach. I would never ever have imagined triple digits on the Oregon Coast in June. Wonder what happens in July and August?
    Hope it is only a one day heat wave. The weather is so strange but of course we don't need to be part of Paris. Opps, sorry

    1. No sorry here :-)) Summer temps rarely get above 72 degrees here so that day was really unusual. Average annual rainfall is 89 inches!

      The first burn was in 1933, caused by dragging a large logging chain over the forest floor - the last was 1951.