I guess most of us Malaysians haven’t heard of ‘Tillamook’. Well….at least I haven’t until I came to Oregon and saw Tillamook written all over the cheese, yogurt and ice cream shelves of supermarkets and food stores. Yup….these are dairy products…..which happen to be my favorite kind of food 🙂 But when we talk about Tillamook, it isn’t only a brand of dairy products, let’s not forget that the name originated from the city of Tillamook in Oregon, located on the southeast end of Tillamook Bay on the Pacific Ocean.
What’s the first thing we took notice of when we reached this place? Why….definitely the distintive smell of cows filling the air! That’s because the economy of this place is based primarily on dairy farms. The farmland surrounding the city is used for grazing the milk cattle that supply the production of dairy products. So with all the hype about dairy products, obviously the first place we visited had to be the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was raining that day but the rain didn’t stop the big groups of visitors from pouring into the place. When we entered the factory, the first thing that caught our eye was the long line of people queueing up to buy ice cream….yum. But we decided to tour the factory first before we indulge.
The tour is a self-guided one, there are pictures and write-ups about the history of the factory and information that involves topics such as milk, cows, cheese, yogurt and ice cream….forgive me if I didn’t elaborate much on that, I didn’t pay much attention to the write-ups coz my thoughts were still on the ice cream at the front entrance….hehe. Anyway, there we had a bird’s-eye view of cheesemaking and packaging from the upper-deck glass window and we also sampled some of that cheese.
After the cheese factory, we went to the Tillamook Air Museum. Opened in 1943, this hangar is one of 10 built by the US Navy during WWII to build and house a fleet of blimps that patrolled the northern Pacific looking for enemy warships. It is now turned into a museum which exhibits old warplanes used back then.
Next, we headed to Tillamook Forest Center . This is the place if you want to be close to nature. You could take a walk on the suspension bridge which crosses over a stream; or you could go along the walking trails through the forest or even take a climb up the observation tower; or you could try to lookout for migrating salmon jumping upstream or just hang out at the exhibition center and read more about the forest fires in the Tillamook County and the great results that came from years of replanting efforts that were made.
I would say this was quite a fruiful trip though it rained almost the whole day. At least now when we see the ‘Tillamook’ brand in the stores, it’s more than just a label, it’s also a place filled with cool people, cool scenery and also…cool cows 😉