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A model of the baby loaf bus at Tillamook Cheese Factory

I had seen all those Tillamook Cheese ads. I had even picked up some of that cheese from the supermarket, a few times. So, when I got to know that Tillamook Cheese Factory in Oregon was open to the public and that it was a good place to take kids to, I jumped at the idea.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
I thought my little boy could pick up a few lessons and I didn't mind some cheese-making knowledge, myself.  So, on one of those rainy days that the Pacific Northwest is famous for, off we went to the Cheese Factory that lets us see its day-to-day activities.

Note: Here is something to do if you find yourself in the Portland -Vancouver Metropolitan Area during it's really-long rainy season.

The hour-long drive from Portland took us through Tillamook State Forest and into the small town of Tillamook. The rain was incessant so when we got to Tillamook Cheese Factory, we covered our heads and the stroller with our littlest one in it, and made a dash across the parking lot and into the shelter of the factory’s roofs.

Once we were in there, we saw that there were a whole lot of information boards with notes on cows and milk and cheese. Even some Tillamook County history. After reading through some of those boards and making the boys pose by the cut-outs of a milkman and a cow at the entrance, we went straight to the cheese.

This was the yummiest part of the tour -- a cheese-tasting session. There, laid before us were plates with cubes of Tillamook's own cheeses: Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Garlic Cheese, White Cheddar and some Cheese curds.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
The cheese-tasting.

Plates of deliciousness -- some samples of Tillamook's cheeses. 

After sampling Tillamook's cheeses, we moved further into the factory to see what we were there to see -- the process of cheese-making. From second-floor viewing corridors we were allowed look down into the processing areas. This was where the milk went into large cylinders to be turned into curds-and-whey first, and then into cheese. Unfortunately we couldn't see the milk separate into curds and whey. But we did see chunks of 40-pound salted cheese fall out of presses and into large plastic bags and get sealed.

On the other side of the walkway we saw the sealed cheese being transported to the ageing room in paper boxes.  And on the other end of the room there were the blocks of aged cheese making their way to the cutting, sorting and inspection area. From there, they apparently got packed in Tillamook packaging and got all-set for the supermarkets and the aisles of Tillamook Cheese Factory's on-site store.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
The viewing area

Tillamook Cheese Factory
The processing area.

Tillamook Cheese Trivia, Tillamook Cheese Factory
Some information for the self -guided tour of the factory. The viewing area had several boards like these.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
The pressed cheese getting sealed and moved towards the ageing chamber.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
I believe these are the 40-pound loaves.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
Cheese on the way to the ageing chambers.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
These must be Tillamook's 'Baby loaves.'

Tillamook Cheese Factory
Inspection area, I believe.

Tillamook Cheese Factory
Look at all that cheese. This definitely is the cheesiest place I've been to. :D

I had gone in hoping to see the initial part of the cheese making: that of the milk being turned into cheese just as I had seen in the video on the cheese factory’s site. Not being able to see that was a bit disappointing. I also wish we could have gotten a glimpse of the ageing room. Even pictures of the room should have been enough. Anyway, I returned happy that I got to learn of the steps of the cheese-making process and also all about that cheese company called Tillamook.
Did you know that Tillamook Cheese Factory is a co-operative?
Tillamook Chese factory is owned and run by the people who own the farms in the area, and rear the cows that call Tillamook county home.

Tillamook Cheese Factory's store

If you'd like to visit Tillamook Cheese Factory:

  • You might want to save this plan for those rainy days. Since the cheese factory tour happens indoors, the rains of the Pacific Northwest will not play spoilsport. 
  • The Cheese Factory has a store attached to it so if you like any of the cheeses you tasted, you know where to pick it up before you leave Tillamook. 
  • You can find food here. There is a cafe at the Cheese Factory -- the Creamery Cafe. 
  • You can even taste some Tillamook ice cream here. It is not part of the factory tour, so you will have to buy it separately. 
[The video of the cheesemaking process here]

Aspen, CO
Aspen, Colorado
This week for the meme 'Catching Light' I have a couple of (point-and shoot) pictures from Aspen, Colorado. Aspen is a charming little city on the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

If you are in Aspen, a visit to Maroon Bells is a must. Read about our trip to Maroon Bells here -- Postcarded at Maroon Bells

Aspen, CO
Downtown Aspen at night.

Linking to the meme
Mountain House, CA
Caught: Some light (and shadows) on a tree lined street in Mountain House, California.

Linking to --
lighthouse on Surathkal beach,

After almost a week of tripping along the Karnataka Coast and beach-hopping along the way, we had a couple of days to spend in Malpe. On our second evening there (after the trip to St. Mary's island and all that) we decided to drive further south and visit one more beach. The plan was to drive along that highway one more time, chase the sun and watch it set in Surathkal. 

Here are few  pictures from that evening in Surathkal Beach, in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka. 

Sunset at Surathkal beach

Sunset at Surathkal beach

Sunset at Surathkal beach

Sunset at Surathkal beach

Sunset at Surathkal beach

Sunset at Surathkal beach
And we caught sight of the moon before we left that beach. 

Linking to --


Up next, was Malpe Beach.

Malpe is around 50 kilometres south of Maravanthe. But as we drove down Edapally-Panvel Highway, this time, it felt like our destination was farther away than we thought it was. It was only when I looked up the map on my phone that I realised we had ended up some distance away from a right turn we were supposed to take. We'd missed a road sign.

When we finally got to Malpe, it was late afternoon and we hadn't had our mid day meal as yet. So the first thing we did was to go get some lunch before the restaurant, in the resort we were staying, closed for the afternoon. We were staying at a seaside resort in Malpe. From the property's website we'd got the idea that the resort was on the beach, literally. However, when we got there, we found that it was a actually a place facing the beach.

Anyway, because it was a beach-facing resort and the restaurant overlooked the sea, we sat at a table by the window and watched the Arabian Sea and the goings-on on the beach. I noticed that an event was about to take place on the beach and hoped it wouldn't mar this sojourn of ours in the last leg of our coastal trip.

Later that evening, after the kids had had some indoor time (read cartoon time for the older one and nap-time for the then 11-month old) we set out for a stroll on Malpe Beach.

Malpe Beach was full-house that evening. Somehow, to me the throng didn't seem unpleasant at all; it felt just right for this beach. The hundreds of human silhouettes against the warm tones of the twilight sky seemed to belong there; to give Malpe beach its festal air. It looked like some boats hadn't called it a day even though the sun was long gone.

 As we walked further up the beach, we saw some lights; there was more action. There was a fair (n) underway. And that meant some popcorn and cotton candy  and some fun round-and-round rides for our 5-year old. He got his adrenaline fix from some car and bike rides and a mini-roller coaster trip. But the highlight of the evening was that he went on a Ferris wheel for the first time and was so proud of himself.

After his very happening evening on the beach, we decided to call it a day. As we walked back, we found that the crowds had thinned but there was one activity going on in full swing. There were numerous BJP* flags on the beach, a make-shift dais, rows and rows of chairs and a red runner leading up to the stage that confirmed that the beach was going to play venue for a political event the following day.

I dreaded the noise that would be blasted through those speakers but I still looked forward to the next day because my fascination for rock-formations was going to be fed.

After breakfast the next morning, we were back on the beach, this time to take a boat to St. Mary's Island, a few kilometres off the coast of Malpe.

St. Mary's Island

In Malpe, as the beach slopes into the sea, the ferry comes pretty close to shore but we still had to wade into some water to get onto it. The boat ride to St. Mary's Island was around 20 minutes. As we left the shore my eyes began to focus on the row of islands I had spotted from the beach. And I wondered which one we were headed for. The boat took us to the farthest one on the right, which also seemed to be the largest of the lot. 

As we neared our destination, the rocks that made up the island began to show what they were actually made of.  Pillars of Basaltic rocks. That is what St. Mary's island and its neighbouring rocky areas owe their existence to.

On St. Mary's Island there were coconut palms, (I hear this island is also called Coconut Island) some beach and of course the basalt formations. In the 45 minutes we had to spend on the island, I spent most of it looking at these geometrical rocks, the waves lashing against them and the mollusc life on them.  I noticed a few big dark crabs too on those equally dark rocks.

I must add that the beach here on St, Mary's island is both lovely and clean and has a character of its own.

Some time later were were back on the water and on the way to the mainland when I noticed that Malpe had a pretty long stretch of sand. I wonder how many kilometres of beach this place has.

Getting back on land this time was not as easy. Even when boat we were on, got quite close to the beach, it kept going round in circles quite like it was awaiting permission to touch land. Heated words were being thrown between the person who was manning the boat and the team who were there to pull the boat into shallow waters. The motor of the boat was still running and the tourists on board were getting bored of the wait, some men even contemplating a swim to the beach. Obviously, there was a misunderstanding between the two sides, and the men on the beach refused to help this particular boat on to land. A few minutes later we saw another boat, a bigger craft approaching the shore. As more hollering and trying to reach an understanding, went on, the bigger boat kept getting closer and closer to our boat, quite like it was out of control. Amidst the all the shouting and shrieking from the passengers on both boats, there was the sound of wood against wood and both boats let out a shiver. As the bigger boat tried to stand still beside our boat, we were asked to jump onto the already full boat. There was help but it was a far-from-pleasant transfer from one wobbly craft to another. Thankfully, without further incidence, the big one, now with 'one full load and another half' was received with grace. Strong hands helped us into the knee deep water and we let out a sigh of relief as we felt sand beneath our feet.

So, after all the beach-hopping we'd been doing we ended up doing some boat-hopping as well; this when the boats were still in pretty-deep water. Now if we hadn't had little kids along with us, I might have referred to this as a fun or thrilling experience. I reiterate: it was far from pleasant. So, if you have plans to take a trip to St. Mary's Island from Malpe beach, this could happen. ;) Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Nevertheless I'm glad we made that trip to St, Mary's Island. Being that close basaltic rock formations, I would have been terribly sorry if I had left Malpe without seeing them.

Would you like to see a post full of those rocks that filled me with wonder? That, coming soon.


You'll find links to all the other travel stories from Karnataka's coast HERE

*BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party (a major political party in India)
Columbia River Gorge
One day, I saw the sun setting on a highway (WA SR - 14).

Washington 14 (WA-14) runs along that part of Columbia River that flows between the states of Oregon and Washington, in US's Pacific Northwest. This east -west highway on the Columbia River Gorge makes for a great scenic drive because it gives you views of the massive Columbia River and if you are driving west in the evening, you might be treated to a sight like the one in the picture above. And if you are driving east from Vancouver, Washington, you will catch sights of Mt. Hood, one of the many volcanoes in the Cascade Range.

If you'd like to read about our scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge here's a link --
One mighty river gorge, two scenic routes and and umpteen vistas. 

Linking to --

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Catching some light on Mamalahoa Highway 
(the time I caught some light on a wet highway in HI)

Our next stop on the Karnataka Coast was Maravanthe Beach.

After a simply-perfect evening at Ottinene Beach, we headed inland to Kollur but the next day we were back on NH-99, the highway that runs through a good part of the India's west coast. We were driving south and got to a part of the highway that had water on both sides. And I knew we were almost-there.

Maravanthe Beach (sometimes spelled Marawanthe) lies on a strip of land that is sandwiched between the Souparnika River and the Arabian Sea.

There's the river on the left and the sea to the right.

The Arabian Sea from the highway.

Souparnika River as seen from the road.

Maravanthe Beach, Udupi district, Karnataka.

The sun was at its zenith when we parked by Maravanthe Beach and walked down to the seashore. The beach looked very quiet and almost deserted. Now this beach here, is a popular attraction, it is beside a busy highway and had some decent parking space too. I'm guessing there were hardly any beach-goers in sight, only because it was 'that' time of the day. The harsh Indian sun at mid day didn't however stop us from spending some time on the sands of Maravanthe. 

We were on a beach-hopping-trip along the KA coast and we just had to make a foot stop at this nice beach. We spent a peaceful hour there. SonnyBoy doesn't mind the hot weather one bit, if he can lay his hands on some sand. So while he was busy scribbling on the sand and sieving it, I sat down to watch the swell in the sea, and the waves come in and splash against the slight incline of the beach and then make its way back into the Arabian Sea.

A while later we dusted ourselves and made our way to next stop -- Malpe Beach, further south of here. Do come back to see what Malpe looks like.

Linking to 

More posts from the road trip along Karantaka Coast HERE

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