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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I was in Oregon last week, visiting Tillamook. You’ve heard of Tillamook, right? If you live anywhere on the West Coast, you probably just nodded your head and drooled a little bit.

If you’re from the mid-west or the east coast, you may recognize the name but not be able to place it. I’ll give you a hint.

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CHEESE. Tillamook = Cheese. The best cheese in the whole wide world.

When I was a little girl my parents had an RV. You probably know my stories about how we drove 2 weeks north or south from San Francisco every summer, either to Disneyland and San Diego or through Oregon and into Washington. Once, we spent two weeks driving south and east, ending up in Colorado.

Even though I loved Disneyland, heading north was my favorite. I’d get to see my Uncle and cousin, I’d get Mountain Bars, we’d visit Garibaldi for baklava, and we’d go to Tillamook. The stop at Tillamook was something I always looked forward too. It meant a fun afternoon of watching cheese get made and buying cheese and chocolate milk and lots and lots of ice cream.

When the folks at Tillamook asked if I’d like to come visit, I literally jumped for joy. Nothing was going to keep me from that trip – it was a dream come true. I thought it would be like taking a step back into my childhood, and I was right.

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I actually got a little emotional when we drove up to the factory. It’s been over 25 years since I’ve been there, but I remembered it like it was yesterday.

You know you want to see inside, right? Hang on, we’ll get there.

The trip actually started in Portland. Tillamook is a city close to the coast of Oregon, and there are no airports nearby. But the distance didn’t stop the Tillamook Ice Cream Truck from welcoming us to Oregon.

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Ice cream #1: Oregon Strawberry from the Tillamook Truck.

I ate a lot of ice cream last week. A loooot.

But that didn’t stop me from visiting a Portland institution while I was in town: VooDooo Doughnuts.

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A bowl of ice cream, french toast for lunch, 3 ice cream sandwiches for dinner, and I ended my night with a lemon filled doughnut.

{My trainer hates me right now.}

And that was only Day 1.

On the second day, the group of us headed out to the coast of Oregon. We got to tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory (going behind the scenes the regular tour doesn’t cover) and we got to eat lots of cheese. And more ice cream.

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If you ever find yourself in Tillamook, Oregon you can take a tour of the cheese factory too. The ladies on the line are used to photos. They smiled for our cameras.

One of the things I love about Tillamook is that it’s a co-op, owned by the farmers. The dairy farmers who raise the cows actually have a part of the company. In 1909 some small creameries banded together to create the Tillamook County Creamery Association to produce official Tillamook Cheese. Nearly 100 farmer families make up the association, and many of the families have been farming in Tillamook County for generations.

Those huge blocks of cheese you see are their signature medium cheddar. All the cheese is made and aged on site. They process over 500,000 pounds of cheese per day and go through over 1.6 million pounds of milk.

That’s a lot of cheese!

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We got to meet Dale, the head cheese maker. He’s been there for 45 years. I’m guessing he’s made of cheese, at this point.

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We also got to meet Jill, the manager of product quality. Her taste buds are my heroes. She’s got such a refined palate, she’s often asked to judge at World and National cheese contests. She showed us how they test the aged cheese (the medium cheddar is aged 60 days) and we got to pull our own plug.

She also let us in on some new secret flavors of cheese and ice cream that are coming out in January. I can’t tell you what flavors, but be ready to race to your store in 2015!

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We had some fun trying to pile into the Tillamook Cheese Van.

Then we shopped at the gift store. When I was a kid, we’d stockpile the RV with medium and extra sharp cheddar (the black label), chocolate milk, and ice cream. The RV wouldn’t be out of the parking lot and the huge ice cream cones would be gone, as would the quart of chocolate milk.

Once we left the factory, we headed off to the Oregon coast for the night.

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It was typical (gorgeous) summer Oregon weather: overcast and foggy. We stopped at Cape Meares to see the scenic lighthouse.

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I don’t often share my non-food photography here on the blog (truth is, I rarely take any non-food photos!) but I got some good shots of the lighthouse and the trees.

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I absolutely love this photo. The entire time I was there I was expecting a werewolf to run alongside the bus and a sparkly vampire to show up in the woods.

{I’m not even kind of joking. Forks, WA is on my to-see list. For reals. #twinerd}

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That night we had dinner on the beach.

{Toenail polish: Mintilicious by Rimmel. Best nail polish ever. It lasts at least 3 weeks on my toes without chipping. I only have to re-do it because my nails grow out.}

Then there was wine.

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I have to give a shout out to this wine-in-a-can. The Union Wine Company Pinot Gris now comes in a can and seriously? Best Pinot Gris I’ve ever had. It’s an Oregon wine, and they have red too.

Wine and the beach. Does it get any better?

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Oh yeah. It kind of does.

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More ice cream. Tillamook now makes Tillabars. This is the Salted Caramel. To. Die. For.

We stayed that night at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, which is a gorgeous hotel. Every room had a view of the beach! I’m totally taking Mel and Jordan back there.

On the last day of the tour, we got to visit a Tillamook farm.

Okay, I gotta be honest. Before that day, I was all Cows? Okay, they moo. They smell. They make milk. What’s the big deal?

Now? Now I want a cow.

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I swear they’re like very large dogs. Each gal has a different hairstyle. They were friendly.

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They let me pet them.

I let them lick me.

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We took selfies. She’s totally posing, BTW, don’t you think?

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Wendy and Ryan, whose farm we visited, gave us a tour of what it’s like to be a dairy farmer. He handles the cows, she handles the calves. We even got to see baby calves!!

You can just tell the cows were happy at their farm. When Wendy would walk up to one of the gates, cows would come running to greet her. She’s their momma.

{Seriously, really big dogs. Can someone convince my husband I need one?}

Before last week I didn’t know “happy cows” was a thing. I thought it was just a commercial. But it is a real thing. Happy cows make happy cheese.

Happy cows make Tillamook cheese!

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Totally posing for me.

I loved getting to see Tillamook again, as an adult. It reminded me that there’s more to vacation than Disneyland and the beach. I cannot wait to take Jordan back with me to Oregon so she can experience Tillamook like I did when I was a kid.

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I had so much fun with these ladies last week. I’m so glad I got to meet them all!

And then I had to come home, to real life. I couldn’t pack Tillamook cheddar or greek yogurt (seriously, we didn’t discuss it but it’s the best greek!!) or ice cream in my suitcase and that made me sad.

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So this happened.

Then, tomorrow’s post happened. And another one next week. #icecreamfordays #tillamookaddict

Have you ever been to Tillamook? I’d love to hear about your adventure!

Thanks for reading!




Last Updated on March 4, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. loved your post about your trip to Tillamook and the Oregon coast, some of the most beautiful coast line on the west coast. We lived in Pennsylvania for 20 years and my dear mother-in-law always send 2lb brick of Tillamook cheddar for each birthday ( there were 5 of us) and Christmas, my kids called it “Oregon Cheese”.  Now we live in Oregon, only an hours drive from the coast and Tillamook cheese and ice cream sold in every grocery store. We’re in heaven! 

    1. It’s the best! I cannot wait to take my daughter there. I’ve been to Oregon twice this year and I really, really want to move there!