Life is Filled with Possibilities – Day 91

Life is Filled with Possibilities

Day 91 – June 30, 2003 – Monday

Day 3 on the Oregon coast — traveling Highway 101 from Lincoln City to Astoria.

Today I saw the very special Drift Creek Covered Bridge. I enjoyed a great breakfast and Marionberry Pie at the Otis Cafe. I saw a couple of lighthouses. I toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I hiked out into a rainforest to see a 319-foot waterfall. I enjoyed more beautiful Oregon coastline. And the driving day ended at the very early hour of 5 pm, so I had a chance to do some website work for the first time since leaving Ryan’s home.

The Drift Creek Bridge has a story, so I had to go. The bridge was built in 1914, and it is Oregon’s oldest existing bridge. The truss structure is of the Howe type, and was originally constructed for a cost of $1,800. Like many wooden bridges, it was covered to extend its usable life past 9 years to about 80 years, the cover keeping the huge truss timbers dry and subject to far less rapid deterioration. In 1997, the Lincoln County Commissioners determined that the bridge’s deteriorated condition was dangerous and required condemnation and demolition.

It was then that Laura Sweitz and her husband, Kerry, believing that “Life is filled with possibilities” (a motto that now hangs from the bridge) asked for a chance to save it. The Sweitzes offered to salvage what timber could be saved and reconstruct the bridge on their own land. The County Commissioners accepted, and the process of sifting the good wood from the rotted and infested wood began. They harvested replacement wood from their own land.

Although a lack of funds and volunteer labor frequently delayed the project and disheartened the Sweitzes, the bridge appeared on the cover of a nationwide calendar in 1999, and the Oregon Heritage Commission included the bridge project in its “Heritage Needs Assessment.” The calendar gave their hearts a lift, and a donation of the mammoth main cord logs by Simpson Timber Company furthered their resolve to rebuild the bridge and preserve it for the citizens of and visitors to Oregon.

On July 14, 2001, the bridge was finally re-dedicated. It now sits across Bear Creek just twelve miles from its original home. More than half of the reconstructed bridge was created from original materials, including much of its early graffiti. The Sweitzes gave the bridge and the land upon which it rests to Lincoln County.

I drove east from Lincoln City on Highway 18. Approximately 3 1/2 miles east of the Otis Cafe, I turned south on North Bear Creek Road. I drove approximately one mile, and the Drift Creek Covered Bridge was on the left.

In a story available to bridge visitors, Laura Sweitz admits that while building the bridge she lost hope several times. And each time, something appeared to deliver a “miracle” that enabled her and her family to continue. She kept the faith, and knew “the Lord’s project” would eventually be finished.

Laura Sweitz has said: “There’s no greater joy in your life than knowing you’ve helped somebody in some small way.”

Needless to say, I think it is wonderful that Laura and Kerry Sweitz took the initiative to save this glorious bridge from demolition.

And oh by the way, the Sweitzes also have a wonderful mailbox. It is a miniature version of the Drift Creek Covered Bridge.

Filled with respect for the big effort by the Sweitzes, I drove back down the road to Otis, Oregon and the Otis Cafe. I learned about the Otis Cafe as I researched pie places before the trip, and the Otis Cafe popped up as one of the few places in the country that makes Marionberry pies. It’s a little tiny place in what appears to be the country. It was clear that the cafe had gotten a lot of publicity, because people from all over come there to eat. It was packed the whole time I was there with people waiting to get in. Breakfast was wonderful. The black molasses bread was a pleasant surprise, and the Marionberry Pie was really tasty. It tasted to me like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. The pie was filled with fruit and did not have seeds.

The Marionberry is a distinctly American berry with worldwide appeal. Marionberries are harvested from July to early August, and they are grown exclusively in Oregon. A cross between the Chehalem and Olallieberry blackberries, the Marionberry captures the best attributes of both berries and yields an aromatic bouquet and an intense blackberry flavor for which it has become known. This premium quality flavor, described by tasters as “earthy cabernet” and “sweet with notes of tartness,” makes the Marionberry a superb choice for pies, canning, freezing, jams, jellies, and ice creams and has earned the Marionberry an outstanding reputation. It was a treat!

I saw folks on the side of the road selling blueberries as I headed up the coast, so it appears that the blueberries and Marionberries were harvested a little earlier than normal this year as mid July to mid August is the norm.

I spent much of the day exiting the highway to take photos along the Oregon coast. It was an ugly gray day, but I took photos anyway. I visited Cape Kiwanda and drove on the Three Capes Loop. In Cannon Beach, I saw the rock that looks like a big haystack and is appropriately called the Haystack Rock.

In Oceanside, I saw some big rocks close to shore. One had a hole in the middle. I’m sure it has a clever name. I photographed some interesting coves. I saw Pacific City, Manzanita Beach, Neahkanie, Nehalem Valley, Cape Lookout at Netarts Oregon, Cape Lookout State Park, Seaside, and more.

I stopped along the coast at Cape Mears. I wanted to photograph the lighthouse, but it was being restored.

I passed the Tillamook Air Museum. It is a huge building — the world’s largest wooden building. The building is 1,072 feet long, 296 feet wide, and 192 feet high (over 15 stories). It covers over 7 acres, a large enough area for six football fields. The doors are 120 feet high. The buildings was built in 1942 to house eight 242-foot long U.S. Navy blimps. Since 1994, the building has been home to one of the top five privately owned aircraft collections in the country.

I read about a beautiful waterfall near Tillamook, and while it required a hike through a “rainforest,” I was committed to the effort. Munson Creek Falls tumbles 319 feet (higher than the length of a football field), making it the tallest waterfall in the Coast Range.

I turned east from Tillamook looking for Munson Falls. I saw a sign, and I turned onto a gravel road. I came to a fork in the road with no indication of which way to go to Munson Falls. I chose left. The road had BIG potholes. I saw a sign for Munson Creek to the right so I tried it. This could best be described as a dirt road with potholes way out in the boonies. The road became a one-lane road. Ferns and green bushes were up about 15 feet high on the side of the road with big Western Red Cedar and Sitka Spruce trees behind them. After about five minutes, I came to a parking area. A sign said 1/4 mile to the Falls. It was a hike through heavy rainforest. Munson Falls was well worth the effort. It was beautiful to see. I’d never seen anything quite like it before. We’ve seen some waterfalls over the year, but never out in a rainforest like that. As with so many natural wonders, my photos do not do it justice.

As I returned to Tillamook, a sign proclaimed it to be “Land of Many Waters.”

I met a nice couple walking down the street, Mel and Helen. Mel was originally from Georgia. They said I must go to the Cheese Factory and be sure to have a butter pecan caramel ice cream there.

Most of the gas stations in Oregon are full service, so they wash your window and gas you up and usually look for a tip. I gassed up and tipped.

The next stop was one of Oregon’s biggest tourist attractions, The Tillamook Cheese Factory. I enjoyed the tour. It was the best demonstration of cheese making that I have ever seen. It is actually the only demonstration of cheese making that I have ever seen. I met Stephanie, Joey, and Karen in the ice cream area, and I thoroughly enjoyed the caramel butter pecan which I would say is not as good as Cherry Garcia, but my second favorite. Thanks to Mel and Helen for the tip.

When I reached the town of Twin Rocks, I came to a spot where someone was building a covered bridge over the highway. I believe it was for pedestrian traffic. I investigated, and it seems to be for the Twin Rocks Friends Camp and Conference Center, a Christian camp.

This is Lewis and Clark territory, and I took a photo of the end-of-the-trail monument in Seaside. Seaside is a national landmark. This is commemorated with a statue of Lewis and Clark and a reconstructed camp site.

Once again, I saw many beautiful Oregon bridges today, but the Drift Creek Covered Bridge was my favorite.

The Sweitzes and people like them remind us that we can all make a difference in this world if we will just do something. Life is filled with possibilities and opportunities, but we have to take the initiative.

Random Comments:

Astoria is right on the border with Washington, so I will be driving along the Washington coast tomorrow. State #25.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Drift Creek Covered Bridge — Otis Cafe — Cape Kiwanda Oregon — Cannon Beach Oregon — Oceanside Oregon — Cape Mears Oregon — Tillamook Air Museum — Munson Falls — Tillamook Cheese Factory — Seaside Oregon