Two girls, a yurt, and a cheese factory.

Turn right, duh.

Turn right, duh.

I picked my Kansas City-based friend Emily up at the Portland airport a few days ago, intending to spend a day or so in Oregon before heading up to Seattle. Whoops! We spent four days in the Beaver State, and would have lingered much longer if it weren’t for that meddling return flight of hers.

Exciting news from this unexpectedly long stay, however: I have decided to live out the rest of my life in a yurt on the beach. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Great idea! I don’t have any questions about this at all.” Nonetheless, allow me the indulgence of an explanation.

Cheese factory: Better than any stupid old chocolate factory.

Cheese factory: Better than any stupid old chocolate factory.

Emily and I spent our first night together camping on the stony ground of a private campground in southern Washington, just a few miles north of Portland. (No camping within city limits, alas.) It stunk, and that’s all I’ll say about it. There’s a reason Thomas Edison invented beds.

The next morning, we drove into the city for a maple bacon doughnut and a tour of Pittock Mansion, and then headed west to Tillamook, a town of about 4,500 just a few miles in from the Oregon coast. First things first: a free tour of the Tillamook Cheese factory, now celebrating its 100th anniversary. Happy anniversary, factory, and here’s to another 100 years of cheese.

Our camping luck improved at Cape Lookout State Park, a gorgeous, quiet, relatively small park that’s right on the beach. We staked our tent on much softer ground in an enchanted forest from which we could hear the ocean. We shared a smoked-fish pizza — trust me, it was good — at an excellent nearby restaurant called the Schooner. We strolled over to the beach to watch the sunset, and this is when I decided that the Oregon coast is the most beautiful place I’ve been so far. Deal with it, Zion National Park. Hang your head in shame, Rocky Mountains. Go home to your momma, Santa Barbara.

Now all I have to do is wait for the screen-saver millions to roll in.

Now all I have to do is wait for the screen-saver millions to roll in.

The next night was even better: We stuck around Cape Lookout, spent the day touring a lighthouse and checking out the a waterfall. One thing human beings love is to watch moving water.

Then night fell, and we spent the night in a yurt.

Apparently, many state parks in Oregon offer yurts as an alternative to tent camping. A yurt is essentially a circular domed tent, stretched over a framework of collapsible lattice. Ours boasted heat, electricity, window screens, a skylight, a porch, a lock, bunk beds, a futon, a table and two chairs. Did I mention the beds and the heat? And that we could hear the ocean? For dinner, we grilled some hot dogs for dinner outside and sipped some delicious frosty Bud Lights (beer snob outrage emails can be filed to rugraham2 at gmail.com). Oh, and the total cost of staying in one of these “rustic” yurts? A whopping $27.

Nobody puts baby in a corner, because there aren't any corners.

Nobody puts baby in a corner, because there aren't any corners.

We slept well. We woke up. We walked on the beach. In short, yurt living is pretty sweet, Oregon is pretty beautiful, and I was sad to see it recede in the rearview mirror. Before I knew it, I was off to Seattle, where it was time to take the Big Right Turn back to New York.

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11 responses to “Two girls, a yurt, and a cheese factory.

  1. I heart yurts too! And Oregon. And cheese. And running water, oh I could go on and on.

  2. Your grandfather LOVED Tillamook cheese. Couldn’t stop talking about it. Is it that good??

  3. Wow- yurts sound amazing! Add the Oregon coast and the cheese factory…I’m sold.

  4. Dad, that is … surprising. The cheese tasted completely typical to me. Not bad or anything, just regular old grocery store cheddar. Maybe I didn’t taste the right kind?

  5. Tillamook cheddar is a particularly highly esteemed grocery store cheese — I missed it, just a bit, when I moved out of Oregon.

    Not to be confused with Tillamook Cheddar, the world’s most successful dog artist.

  6. i was expecting about eight hundred more sunset pictures. admirable restraint.

  7. Another childhood myth dashed to pieces! I can cross Tillamook off my list now.

  8. Oh, I don’t know if you should do that! Paul (above) is a food writer, so I would trust him and grandpa over my quick impression of a tiny cheddar sample.

  9. I’m sure it was far better back in the day, like everything. 2009 is the creamery’s centenary!

  10. As a food writer/insane cheese consumer I, too, would say it was grocery-store grade. But I wouldn’t kick it out of the fridge, either.

  11. If you ever go back to that yurt and need a third girl… If we learned nothing else from Janet, Jack and Chrissy, it’s that three trumps one, no?
    Glad we’ll have you back soon. : )

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