A Cow Has Four Stomachs and Other Tales from the Pacific Northwest

Cow T-shirt at Tillamook Cheese Factory

Raising cattle to produce dairy products is big business in the Tillamook area. Peggy and I found this T-shirt at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.


I am going to get to the cows and their four stomachs, but first I want to cover our stay at Rockaway Beach, which is about 15 miles north of Tillamook on Highway 101. Our suite looked out on the ocean. We could watch the waves roll in and hear the continuous roar of the ocean. Wintry skies brought rain but the clouds were also great for beautiful sunsets. We headed out whenever there was a break in the weather, and even when there wasn’t. We walked the beach, visited local shops, and ate out at the town’s restaurants. Thanksgiving dinner was at Grumpy’s and Mrs. Grumpy hovered over us to make sure we ate our veggies. How much more down-home can you get? The complete meal, which included all of the Thanksgiving favorites, cost a whopping 12 bucks. “I want it to be affordable for everyone,” Mrs. Grumpy primly informed us.

Gentle waves roll in at Rockaway Beach, Or P

The ocean was shallow and produced a long line of waves that created a roar as opposed to the sound of single waves crashing.

Sunset over Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast near Tillamook.

We were treated to several beautiful sunsets looking out from our suite at Rockaway Beach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Small shops had the usual touristy stuff found in coastal tourist shops everywhere. “Go to Flamingo Jims,” we were urged. As to why it was named Flamingo in an area where the tropical bird would freeze, I didn’t have a clue. But we went. And we weren’t disappointed; it was filled to the brim with cheap souvenirs. We wandered around and checked out T-shirts, mermaids and sea shells. We could have bought a sand dollar for a dollar, but Peggy prefers to find her own. I was reminded of this old tongue twister. Try saying it as fast as you can without a mistake.

She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Seashells for sell at Flamingo Jim's in Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

Any good tourist souvenir shop on the ocean has seashells to sell.

Mermaids for sell at Rockaway Beach in Oregon

And mermaids. A twist for the Northwest is Bigfoot(s), or is that Bigfeet? You can see some up in the righthand corner.

The beach seemed to go on forever. One end was dominated by the sea rocks that Rockaway Beach is famous for; the other by a forest covered mountain. If you look at the rocks from the right angle, they make an excellent sea dragon. Welcome to Oregon, Nessie! A creek divided the beach about halfway along. Sea gulls patrolled the waterfront, checking out both the ocean and tourists for possible food. A small boy threw out a couple of pieces of bread and was suddenly surrounded by 50 of the birds, in seconds! They seemed to materialize out of nowhere. How do they do that?

Rockaway Beach Oregon Beach

Looking north up the beach at Rockaway. Our suite was on the second floor of the building on the right. Our footprints lead down to where we took the photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The rocks of Rockaway beach photographed by Curtis Mekemson.

The sole rocks of Rockaway Beach look very much like a sea serpent with its head under water searching for tasty fish. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

creek that divides Rockaway Beach, Oregon

A creek flowing across Rockaway Beach limited how far we could hike south.

A seagull steps out at Rockaway Beach, Or

A seagull steps out on his gull-friend at Rockaway Beach.

When we ran out of things to do in Rockaway, we drove 15-miles south to Tillamook. I’ve already done posts on Cape Meares, Munson Creek Falls, and some very wet alpacas. On our way, we decided to check out a small county park in Barview and found the Coast Guard practicing air to sea rescue missions by helicopter, which is what our son Tony does.

Seagull stops to watch Coast Guard practice rescues

And here, a seagull joins us in watching the Coast Guard practice rescue operations at Barview, just north of Tillamook.

Practice rescue mission by the Coast Guard

Part of this practice included dropping a man down on to a rocking boat to help in a rescue effort, which was a operation our son was involved with several times while flying  helicopters over rough Alaska waters.

In Tillamook, it is almost required that people stop off at Tillamook Cheese and Ice Cream factory. The cheese is good and can be found throughout the US, but the ice cream is to die for. Our refrigerator is always stocked with a half-gallon.  I should probably weigh 300 pounds but we limit our consumption to Date Night, which falls on Wednesday, as it has for the past 27 years.

Welcome to Tillamook Cheese Factory

The visitor’s center at the Tillamook Cheese Factory included a number of exhibits on the dairy industry, from beginning…

Rear view rear at Tillamook Cheese Factory

…To the end.

cow stomach

I was particularly interested to learn that a cow has four stomachs, which were two more than I was aware of. I also learned that when a cow chews its cud it’s know an ruminating, is case you ever wondered about where the word came from. So, next time you find yourself ruminating, you might want to break out some gum.

When we were out and about and lost, we also came on the Latimer Quilt and Textile Museum where I found the alpacas. Peggy’s love of quilting demanded a visit. We found numerous quilts, a doll collection, looms, and a lot of history.

Alpaca photo in Tillamook, Oregon by Curtis Mekemson.

You will probably remember the alpacas. Check out the blue eyelashes on this gal.

Quilts at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center

As might be expected, the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center was filled with quilts. The Center was preparing for a big sale. These are more traditional quilts.

Quilt at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, Or

And this one a more modern version.

Interesting dress at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center

A number of other textile products were offered as well, including this dress. We assumed something would be worn under it, but possibly not at Burning Man.

Looms at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center

A number of looms were available for weaving.

Doll at quilt shop

There was even an extensive doll collection. I picked this one out for her reading material. 

Peggy Mekemson quilt

I’ll conclude today’s post with this gorgeous quilt that Peggy made for our bed using a vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine that her grandmother bought in 1933.


WEDNESDAY’S PHOTO POST: Join Peggy and me as we explore the Greek island of Santorini.




35 thoughts on “A Cow Has Four Stomachs and Other Tales from the Pacific Northwest

  1. Curt,
    On cows: if you feed a cow chocolate, you will not get chocolate milk but the milk will have a chocolate overtone. I grew up on a dairy farm in Hershey, PA where the cows occasionally got a treat of waste product from the factory, but we had to be sure they got it after milking. And somewhere along the line, I learned they had four stomachs.

  2. I need to visit Oregon. I haven’t been there since I was a child, and even after all these years I remember how fun it was to walk along the beach with its big waves. I even have a cousin there, so I have no excuse not to. Thanks for these wonderful pictures. Some ice cream from Tillamook Cheese and Ice Cream factory doesn’t sound so bad either!

    • Yes it was, Andrew. And having Mrs. Grumpy around was a bonus. We had several beautiful sunsets to amuse us. And I’ll pass the quilting comment on to Peggy. She’s already glowing a bit from the other comments. Thanks. –Curt

  3. Quilting, Yeah I done that! Actually, my grandmother would use Yarn and a large needle. At the age of 8, I was taught how to help the ladies of Relief Society, the youngest being in her 60’s by crawling under the quilting frames and shoving the needle back up. This went on for what seemed eternity but was probably less than 15 minutes and was the final step in finishing the quilt. I have seen quilts sewn by hand, the stitches laid down with precision and pride. Most of the quits made with yarn were given to members of the community out of need, I find that “Comforting”…

      • They are treasures, Yvonne. Peggy has made sure that each of our children, and even some of our grandchildren have quilts. I can see where quilting would help occupy people during long, dark, cold winters and provide an important social outlet. –Curt

    • Thanks, Bradley. Sounds like you were a real trooper. My role in the quilting business is to provide feedback on color and pattern selection. And then, of course, to admire the finished product. 🙂 I also benefit by having lap quilts made for me, always appreciated on a cold morning. I am appreciating one right now. –Curt

    • There was definitely a learning curve for Peggy in the beginning of her quilting efforts and it certainly takes patience. It was only when she started quilting and talking with other quilters that she learned the true value of her grandmother’s Singer. Thanks. –Curt

    • As it was to me, Sue. I spent my summer working on farms, but they were pear orchards. My main experience with cows was avoiding cow pies. 🙂 I did help deliver a calf once, though, that had to be turned around. That was interesting…
      I’ve told Peggy that she has to read the comments on her quilt. And I agree with your’s. Thanks. –Curt

  4. Curt, I will start with the last – the fabulous quilt made by Peggy. Wow! It’s magnificent and I couldn’t stop staring at it. Wonderful array of colours and super pattern..a labour of love and how wonderful she made it on her grandmothers’s old Singer.

    One can never tire of the sea and it was lovely to see your photos of the ocean, the sea monster rocks are fantastic and so real looking whilst the helicopter practice rescue is dramatic and dangerous looking. What an amazing job for your son. Does he work with something else now? A terrific post. 😀

    • I think describing it as a ‘labor of love’ is completely accurate, Annika. Peggy worked long and hard on her quilt. I never pass it with out stopping to admire.
      The ocean always has beauty… and danger. Tony is now stationed at the Coast Guard Academy, preparing Cadets for their roles in the Coast Guard. –Curt

  5. We also had a chance to stay in Rockaway for a couple days last September, a bit further south on the coast. One of these days I need to post about it. We also dined at Grumpy’s, but for a hearty breakfast. And I too am impressed by that quilt.

    • We managed a hearty breakfast at Grumpy’s as well, Dave. It’s what led us to come back for thanksgiving. We asked what they were having and Mrs. ‘Grumpy’ wrote out her menu for us! We will be back to Rockaway.
      Peggy has enjoyed all of the positive feedback she has received on her quilt. Thanks. –Curt

    • Another fan of county fairs! I still love them, and I always head for the animal barns before I head anywhere else. The goats and the pigs are my favorites. 🙂 I never checked with the cows to see how many stomachs they had, however. Peggy is a Midwest girl from Ohio as well and was raised on Catawba along Lake Erie’s shores. Not ocean beauty, perhaps, but a beauty of its own. –Curt

  6. I do enjoy quilts, and Peggy’s is splendid. I have one that my grandmother made: probaby with the help of some neighbors. It’s a pattern known as Grandmother’s flower garden, and I enjoy it because I still can find scraps of my playsuits, my mother’s dresses, and so on in the patterns.

    I’ve eaten a good bit of Tillamook cheese in my time, and have some white cheddar in the refrigerator right now. it was fun to see it mentioned here!

    • I can see where your grandmother’s quilt would be meaningful, Linda. I find it interesting that quilts often become heirlooms. I could see that happening with Peggy’s quilt.
      I’ve been to the Tillamook factory three times. The two times before this, I’ve been inside to watch them processing the cheese. They are doing major plant remodeling so we missed that this time. It’s quite an operation. Peggy and I did buy some of their aged white cheddar at the gift shop, however. It is also residing in our refrigerator. –Curt

  7. Rockaway Beach is one of my favorites in Oregon. Just lovely. And let us honor the Tillamook cows and the delicious cheese. Peggy’s quilt is simply beautiful. Thank you for this excellent photo/essay.

    • You are welcome, JoHanna.
      From what I can tell, Tillamook cows are happy cows. They certainly have a beautiful area to chew their cuds.
      I passed your comment on to Peggy and she said thank you. –Curt

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