This summer we’re delighting in our gorgeous, green home-state of Oregon. After five years away, we relish the familiar splendor through new, appreciative eyes. I shared already about our favorite hike to a hidden mountaintop lake, but here’s another lesser-known blip on our well-worn Oregon map…
On a quiet highway that winds from Portland’s urban sprawl, through a sea of towering conifers, to the coastal pastures of legendary Tillamook dairy farmers, is a nondescript sign directing drivers to a hidden gem: The Tillamook Forest Center.
Unassuming from the road, you’ve no idea the fun that awaits just out of sight. What greets patrons first is the replica fire lookout tower to climb, explore, and make believe.
Fun fact: Husband’s late grandfather/namesake/doppelgänger spent at least two summers in the 1950’s holed up in just such a treehouse perch, as a fire lookout for the Ochoco National Forest.
The center itself is an artfully curated interactive museum home to a host of multi-sensory, hands-on displays & activities, as well as regular presentations from friendly rangers… a brilliant resource. Most incredibly, admission is FREE to patrons as the site is state-funded through the Forestry Department.
In addition to the displays, there’s a gorgeous bridge over a coast-range creek that teems with life in the moss-laden fern gully of the deciduous rainforest… This is where we recently discovered freshly laid frog eggs and hatching tadpoles, to the delight of the kids & geeky homeschool mom alike.
Of course, since you’re nearly to the beach already you might as well go the rest of the way and dip your toes in the surf & sand.
I <3 Oregon.