Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day Ride to Tillamook

Obviously Oregon has not received the memo that Autumn has indeed arrived.  After a day or two of rain our weather returned to brilliant sunshine and highs in the 80's.  

Saturday morning we rode our motorcycles to coffee and thought of taking a jaunt afterwards since the weather was so nice.  There were 11 people at coffee and the place was quite loud. We felt drained after leaving around noon and decided against a longer ride.  We rode home and relaxed on the patio and puttered in the yard for the rest of the day and made plans for riding on Sunday instead.

Sunday dawned just as nice and the forecast high was 88˚F (31˚C), perfect for riding.

The plan was to ride to Tillamook to the Air Museum.  We'd passed it numerous times on our travels, but never stopped by.  I read on the Roadside America website that the Tillamook Air Museum is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest freestanding wooden structure in the world.  I was intrigued.

The hangar is 1072 feet long, 296 feet wide, and 192 feet tall.  The doors are each 120 feet tall.  For the metrically inclined that is  326.7 meters high, 90.2 meters wide, and 58.52 meters tall. 

Click this LINK for a google map our of route described below.

We set off just after 10 am with a liter of water, a few apples, and granola bars for lunch.  We headed East and fueled up in Philomath then headed North on Kings Valley Highway.  No GPS for us, just my memory of reading the map and Brad's intuition to get us through Dallas on the truck route.  North of Dallas we turned east on Highway 22, then North on Highway 18 to Hebo.  At Hebo, Highway 18 joins Highway 101, where we turned North to Tillamook.

On Highway 101, a few miles South of Tillamook, is the little hamlet of Beaver.  We decided to pull over for a wee break because we were following 4 school buses and a few other vehicles going quite a bit under the speed limit.  The school buses refused to use the pull out lanes and let the faster traffic pass.  So rest a few minutes we did.

Beaver is very small and we stopped in the parking lot of the Mercantile.

Which is right across the road from the Fox Grocery Store and Firearms dealer.  Troubadour wondered if there was a 3-day waiting period to buy groceries or just a background check.

(Close up of store sign)
We rested for about 15 minutes giving traffic enough time to disperse, then headed north again.  

You could tell we were getting close to Tillamook. For the most part all we could smell was derriere dairy air.  Tillamook is pretty much the dairy farm capitol of Oregon.  Nothing like getting that smell trapped in your full face helmet for miles.

The Air Museum is located just south of Tillamook.  It is one of 17 air hangars commissioned in 1942 to house K-class blimps for anti-submarine patrol on the coasts of America. Two were built at NAST (Naval Air Station Tillamook)  Hangar A & Hangar B.  Hangar A burned to the ground in 1992, but Hangar B is still standing.

According to their website:  "Stationed at NAS Tillamook was Squadron ZP-33 with a compliment of eight K-ships.  The K-ships were 252 feet long and filled with 425,000 cubic feet of helium. With a range of 2,000 miles and an ability to stay aloft for three days, they were well suited for coast patrol and convoy escort.  NAST was decommissioned in 1948."

The hangar appears massive from the outside.  We stopped prior to getting there to take a few pictures from a distance.

The letters on the roof of the hangar are each 100 ft tall and 20 ft wide.

We arrived, parked the bikes, stowed the helmets, and headed inside.

We paid the entry fee of $9 each and were informed it was a self-guided tour.  Alrighty, proceed.

We were a little surprised that it did not appear as big from the inside as it did from the outside. One third of it was taken up with lumber storage, the middle third with RV (recreational vehicle) storage and the last third was the museum.

(Looking at a portion of the wooden trusses)

(Middle third RV storage, lumber at the far end)
Maybe that is why it looked smaller.  The lighting was rather odd, but they did have one of the large doors open to let some natural light in.  Of course that was bright enough you could only take pictures in one direction.

We wandered and visited the helium room first.  It housed a General Electric motor which powered two Chicago Pneumatic Compressors used to remove impure helium from the blimps and pump it into a 60 foot spherical tank outside the hangar.

They had several training cockpits that visitors were allowed to sit in and experience.  Since Troubadour was wearing his flight suit Aerostich he partook.

(Troubadour in an F-8J Crusader cockpit trainer)

(That's a lot of buttons)

(Clearer picture of controls - photo by Troubadour)

(OH-58 Jet Ranger Helicopter cockpit trainer)
There weren't a lot of planes on display, but we did manage a few pictures.

(Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II - click name for more info)

(Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-17/Lim6 - click name for more info)
(originally built in Poland in 1961)

(Benson B-8M Gyrocopter, sold as war surplus)

(Kaman HTK-1, Trainer/utility Helicopter built between 1951-1953)

(Early Ford Tri-Motor seat taken from the site of a crashed plane in the
Wasatch Mountains north of Salt Lake City, Utah in the early 1930's)

They had a few rooms of memorabilia and also had videos playing.  One of the display cases held this little book and it got my attention. Nothing screams safety like cartoons.

(US Army Air Force Flying Safety Manual)
I thought this sign was cool too.

(Cow Evacuation Route)
Just outside of the hangar is an Erickson Air Crane, aka Aero Spacelines Mini-Guppy, One ugly plane.    For more information and better pictures click ---> LINK.  The link will tell you that: "this plane was originally delivered to Pan American Airways in 1949 as a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (prior to conversion), which flew until 1960 when it was returned to Boeing and and sold to Aero Spacelines in 1963."

We were allowed to walk into the plane at our own risk.  It is un-restored and the metal flooring/bottom of the plane felt a little soft unstable to me.  I tiptoed across it whereas Troubadour wasn't scared at all.

(Looking towards the cockpit)

(Looking from cockpit back towards the tail)

(The end of the hangar - Troubadour in the picture for scale)
We walked back inside, wandered through the gift shop, then headed outside to have our lunch. We found a shady spot across the street and relaxed and I took a few pictures of the exterior of the hangar and our bikes.

I couldn't resist taking pictures of the rusty roof and sides of the hangar.

(Front half of the hangar)

(Middle section)

(Back half of the hangar)

We suited back up and headed South on 101.  Fuelled up at the Shell station in Beaver where a rumpled looking man sporting a mullet asked me if my bike was a Kawasaki KLR650.  I pointed down at my tank and said, "This?".  He nodded and I replied "It's a Suzuki."  He looked perplexed and got in his green Kia Rio.  I could hear Brad in my helmet over the Senas telling me not to engage the locals, lol.  

We turned East and took a back country road up into the hills. Blaine Road turns into Forest service road 85.  We took it as far as the information Kiosk at Bible Creek Rd.  We stopped for a minute to change our face shields from tinted to clear since we were in the hills and the trees were casting shadows on the corners making it really difficult to see.

(We turn right at the intersection, it gives you an idea of the shadows)

(Just finished changing my visor - photo by Troubadour)
We went South on Bible Creek Rd.  A narrow twisty road that for the only time that day made me wish I was on a different bike on a cloudy day.  Tight 15 mph corners with blinding sunshine turning into darkness.  I had to slow down enough so that I didn't overshoot the corner I couldn't see and end up going over a cliff.  Of course this was a forest service road so the bumps and frost heaves were sending my tush out of the seat on several corners as well.  I was thinking to myself - just get me down off this mountain.

We probably should have stopped in Dallas on the way home and changed our visors back to tinted as the sun glared at us from the west, but we were both tired and just wanted to get home. The temperature in the valley had also reached the predicted 88˚F (31˚C) so we were quite warm as well.  I think was our longest ride all summer.  We left just after 10 am and arrived home at 5:30 pm.  We covered approximately 200 miles (321.8 km).

For a full map of our route from the museum home to Corvallis click LINK.   If I could figure out how to embed the map, I would.  I welcome tips and tricks on how to do that on an iMac.

Bikes were put away, sweaty gear was stripped off, and beer and hard cider were consumed in the shade of our back deck as we reminisced about our day.

Good times.

- Au Revoir

"....I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.  So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, 10th October 1842


  1. I'm glad you got out in that glorious sunshine because Oregon looks beautiful to someone who loathes winter. I thought you rode a Gold Wing? (ps: for the map try a screen shot for simplicity.).

    1. I have no idea how to do a screen shot with a Mac. You think after owning one 13 years I'd know. I could probably google it, but have never bothered.

      Gold Wing, Ha, you funny guy.

  2. Thankyoi for a great post - interesting engineering stuff and good photos too! Looks like you had a great day. Lucky with the weather too, here in Holland it's wet cold and dismal.

    1. Thank you. It was nice to get out on the bikes. Our rains are coming. Usually when they start they don't stop, which is why we had to get out with these temps lingering.

  3. Nice photos of the place, especially the ones of the outside of the building. I like the peeling paint on the doors as well as the rust color of the roof. Very artsy.

    I've passed that place many times but haven't stopped since my brother inlaw said that their wasn't much there. Isn't there another air museum in the area that has a lot more exhibits?

    1. Thank you. I had to rein myself in not to take too many pics of the outside.

      Truth be told we were a little disappointed with the museum, we expected more planes. I am sure we won't be back.

      The other one in the area is the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. It is way cool. Huge with lots of exhibits and a theater. Here is a link to their website:

      I blogged about it in these three posts from January 2011. The water park is open now too and it was under construction when we were there.

  4. Soak up the days! Who knows what winter will bring!

    The local confused about your motorcycle was trying to find a way to convince himself you were a dumb girl who didn't know any better and he left hoping he conveyed that. D'oh!

    What a great day and a great museum! Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Rains are coming this weekend, but we need them so I really won't complain. We've had a beautiful September and October so far.

  5. An odd building out in the middle of where-ever ... but I like the artsy photo of the Gladius in front of the rusting building. Sorry Tiger ... she kind of looks great on her own too.

    1. It is out in the middle of nowhere. Just fields all around. You can see it from Highway 101 and it looks large. Hard to imagine 7 blimps in there.

  6. Sounds like a great day out on the KLR...

    Dig the big shed and the toys in it. Would love one like that...only with the odd 2-wheeled toy as well.

    1. KLR, lol. Good thing I had a full face helmet on so he couldn't see the confused look on my face. Most people can't tell what it is, but they usually think it is a Ducati or some such, not a KLR. That was a first.

      I too think the shed needed some two-wheeled toys. I wonder what they would have done if we'd snuck our bikes in the big door. It was around the corner from the gift shop/attendant.

  7. great report as per usual and pics do the report justice again
    thats one large shed and be a great man cave if you had the room

    1. Thank you sir.

      7 acres under the roof of the hangar. That is 35 x the size of our whole yard. The neighborhood might be that big though.

  8. Glad you had a great ride..
    That hangar just might be large enough for my motorcycles...LOL!!!
    See... I gave you good directions for Bible Creek... I don't need no stinkin' GPS...
    I liked Bald Mountain Access Rd much better..

    See you at coffee....

    1. You gave great directions. We decided not to do Bald Mountain over to Carleton as we were both tired and looking forward to home. Figured down to Highway 22 and 99 were quicker even if more traffic.

      I believe we will be at coffee Saturday.

    2. Maybe you coud put something like that on your lot. I'm sure your neighbors won't mind, and then you don't need a bigger garage.

    3. Somehow I don't think the neighbors would appreciate it. Maybe a mini one in the side yard for extra bike/trailer storage.

  9. Woo hoo motorcycles got ridden!!! Finally a motorcycle story yey.
    Thats a pretty big shed, you could fit lots of bikes in that baby.
    Was troubadour making machine guns noises when he was sitting in the cockpit of that plane?
    I hate it when slow drivers don't use those turn out lanes, makes you fell like running them off the road.

    1. Yes, finally a riding story. It's been a while, I know.

      I am pretty sure Troubadour was making noises, not sure if they were rat-a-tat-tat though.

      Damn slow drivers. When you have to shift clear down to 3rd and are debating about 2nd, it is time to pull over and let them get a ways ahead. Safer when people have come up close behind you too. I'd think school buses would be more professional type drivers and would use the pull outs, but not these ones, sigh.

  10. RV storage, lumber storage, and a museum all under one roof. Gotta love it.

    1. It was quite a mixture of different items for sure.

  11. Trobairitz,

    Wow what an adventure! You can't get much better than Beaver and Blimps :-)

    I'm always fascinated about what rich history we have all across our great country. I would have never known about the Blimp Hanger if not for your post...the history behind it is way cool. I laughed when you highlighted the Cow Evacuation Route. That's definitely not something you see or hear about very often.

    It looked and sounded like you had a great day and a great ride. You and Troubadour are truly Living Free, Riding Hard, and Being Happy! Can't wait for your next motorcycle adventure.


    1. Beavers and Blimps, there's a blog post title I should have used.

      It is nice to combine learning and riding. The cow evacuation route was a new one. Something like that would never have crossed my mind if I didn't see the sign.

  12. Glad you got out on your bikes, Brandy, and it's always a bonus if you can combine culture/history with a trip.
    Brad looks by the way very authentic in the pilot seat, especially with that Aerostich suit.

    1. It was nice to finally get out for a ride. I like to combine something of history or learning with riding. It helps with destinations a bit. I know it is about the journey, but without a destination we never seem to have a journey.

      With the suit on, he fit right in when in the training cockpits. And what guy can resist fiddling with all those buttons.

  13. Tillamook would be a nice day trip. Nice time of year to go, especially with the weather we've been having. I love the photos of the bikes beside the old buildings. Makes a great background.

    I didn't realize the Air Museum was still there. For some reason I thought they had relocated. (Must be mixing it up with some other museum I guess.) I love those old hangars. They are so huge. You don't realize how much til you get up close. They overwhelm. Ron and I visited them once before the museum was there. They were abandoned, but you could get inside. There used to be a bunch of old train cars that you could walk through, rusting out in the fields. We visited one other time after the museum moved in. Fun to see all the old planes, but I think our first "unofficial visit" was the best.

    1. If we took a direct route Tillamook is only 90 miles so an easy day ride. Now i fonly we could do something about the smell.

      RickRick told us that they were still thinking of moving he Air Museum to Madras or another drier location within the next year or so. I am sure they are waiting for funds. Of course the hangar would be left as is. Very cool you could wander though when it was abandoned.

  14. I love the old machinery and the rusty hangars. Those things make me think of what they must have been like brand new.
    I need Steve to remind me to not engage the locals. Once in a bar in Globe, AZ an old Navajo was selling a turquoise bracelet to me and there was almost a bar fight. AND IT WASN'T EVEN WITH ME! Steve told me to not pissoff the locals, which is what your story reminded me of.
    "I'm just trying to buy a pretty bracelet!"

    Sash ~ The Rude Biker Chick
    See Sash Videos!

    1. The locals can definitely have colorful personalities. Glad my gas station story could remind you of one.

  15. Brandy, even with the photos, I'm still having difficulty wrapping my brain around the size of that building. I had no idea this place existed. Thanks for stopping and sharing the trip. Hopefully you'll have a lot more easy riding weather yet these months.

    1. It really was a sight to behold. Hard to believe it was made of wood too. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

      We are hoping to get more riding days in, we usually do in fall. The off road areas are now open and the rains start tomorrow. There may be some muddy fun in our future.

  16. That hangar seems frail from a heritage perspective. Especially if lumber is stored there.

    I would think the RVs would be safer out in the open.

    A lightning strike and that structure would make an incredible bonfire.

    What a fascinating slice of history.

    1. It smelled like really old wood in the hangar. That smell you smell when renovating an old house.

      It would be scary if lightning struck it, especially since the other hangar was already lost to a fire.

  17. what, no pics of the sidecar rig I saw when I was there?

    1. The only two-wheeled vehicles were outside in the parking spaces (ours and a few cruisers and a BMW or two) and there were no three wheel vehicles in sight. Sigh.

  18. Sounds like a lovely day out. You knew I'd love the cow evacuation plan, right? LOL. I love all your pics. The rusty building is interesting and big, but I would have been disappointed, too. Still a nice stop. Tree lined roads on sunny days are tough. Those curves sound interesting. I wish we lived closer, we'd all have fun riding together.

    1. We had a great day out. Haven't been on the big bikes since. We are supposed to go dirt riding in the rain tomorrow though, should be fun.

      Yeah those tree lined roads with alternating blinding light and black shadows with cliffs on one side are not my favorite. And yes, I think we'd have fun riding together. The trouble we could get into, muahahahaha

  19. Oh no, I've shrunk Troubadour :-)
    Were you two the only ones visiting the place? I recently got a photo of a MiG-17 too during my visit to the USS Alabama. I would love to visit this place. We also have a huge hangar in Lakehurst, famous for the Nazi zeppelin Hindenburg crash in 1937 but it's still a military base, I have only been inside when they have air shows.

    1. He did look small against the hangar did he?

      There were a few others wandering around but not many at all. A few bikes were out front and a few cars, but that was it. Old hangars and planes are always cool to see if you ask me.