Sunshine and cheese on the Oregon Coast

“Enjoy the sunshine,” our waitress at the Pelican Pub in Pacific City told us as we finished our delicious lunch. My brother Mike and his wife Sharon cracked up. “Why does everybody talk about the weather around here?” Mike asked.
The waitress, a friendly but disorganized coastie, explained that we haven’t seen much sun this year. We’ve had rain, snow and wind so intense the parking lot is still covered over with sand that blew in off the beach. As she spoke, the sun was muted by clouds, but she still deemed it a good day because it wasn’t raining and the temperature was up to almost 60.
Mike shook his head. Where he lives in California, it’s in the 90s now and the sun shines every day.
While Mike and Sharon visited, we were blessed with mostly sunny days and only a few spritzes of rain. On our first day together, we headed north to Tillamook. Mike wanted to taste some cheese. But I think he really wanted to taste the ice cream. This is a good time to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Tourist season has not quite started, so it isn’t crowded. Just inside the front door, Sharon inhaled the pungent mix of cheese, sugar and caramel corn. “It smells so good in here!”

We headed up the stairs to the viewing area where we could watch men and women in white clothes and hairnets turning 40-pound blocks of cheese into one- and two-pound loafs. What would it be like to do that all day with people watching, we wondered. As a computer kiosk babbled about sending “cheesemail” to one’s friends, we checked out the displays that described how they make their cheese and ice cream.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is all about marketing. The short factory tour leads past a tasting area into a room full of cheese to buy, plus a gift shop, cafe and ice cream counter. People were lined up about 12 deep when Mike got in line for his marionberry cone.
“We can get this stuff at the grocery store,” I kept telling my loved ones. Nah, not the same, they said.
From the cheese factory, we drove north a ways, stopping at a Jerky factory outlet, TCS There’s also a sausage factory, Debbie D’s, in town. Apparently, people are eager to get on the “factory” bandwagon.

Mike had a yen to see the bay north of town, so we took a turn at Garibaldi, where the wind whipped our hair and clothes so hard we paused only long enough to take pictures before turning back toward home.

Our next traveling day, we stayed local, stopping at the cemetery, Pick of the Litter Thrift Store and the shops on the Bayfront before a big enchilada dinner at home.

My visitors are gone now, and I miss them. Annie does, too. Auntie Sharon bought her peanut butter treats and gave her terrific head massages with her long nails.
Today the clouds have rolled back in. Feels like home.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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