My wife and I just spent an anniversary weekend over on the Oregon Coast, in the southern town of Bandon. I think I’ve written before about how I really like this town; we’ve been three times previous but the last time was some nine years ago, which is too long.

Bandon is small (about 3300 people) and relatively touristy; it has a mix of the cutesy tourist shops (used books, candy stores, ocean art, antiques and gifts), a small but decent selection of restaurants, and mostly-nice lodging combined with the working-class presence of an Oregon coast fishing town. Add in several good state parks and fantastic beaches, and very decent weather (by Oregon Coast standards), and I do think it’s one of the coast’s gems.

Without going into full travelogue mode, I will say both Edgewaters and The Loft (both right downtown in the Old Town Bandon area) are fantastic restaurants, and the two candy stores of Cranberry Sweets and Coastal Mist are must-visits.

One thing I do notice however, is a distinct lack of beer. Not to say there’s no beer there—there is—but ironically the best selection of craft beers that we found on this trip was at the Mill Casino up north in Coos Bay/North Bend. In fact the entire southern stretch of coast below Florence is completely devoid of breweries, probably making it the most under-served area of Oregon in that regard.

To that end I have to say I think Bandon would be a natural location for someone to open up a brewpub; I suspect it’s got the tourist traffic that would support at least a small one, plus you have a population of at least 25,000 some 20 miles to the north from “Oregon’s Bay Area” (which, no joke, we saw on a sign entering Coos Bay). So naturally, I’ve already started formulating beer ideas in my head and wondering how the numbers might pencil. (You’d ideally need to be located in Old Town Bandon, I think, where you’d get the majority of foot traffic and tourists.)

So, who’d want to go in on such a venture…?

Bandon cheese woes

Among other things, Bandon, Oregon is known for two things: cranberries and cheese. Whenever we’ve been to Bandon we’d stop at the Bandon Cheese store and indulge in a bit of tasting and shopping. Not long ago, though, someone told me that the Tillamook Creamery had bought and made Bandon Cheese, though still sold it under the Bandon label.

Now I see that Tillamook has closed the Bandon cheese store completely. So, now you can’t even buy Bandon cheese in Bandon? That’s just dumb. What’s worse, the cheese is now being made in Wisconsin—Tillamook can’t even be bothered to make their own cheese?

They’re even goofier than that, according to the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project article I linked to above:

Another aspect of the sordid Tale of Tillamook and Bandon encompasses Tillamook’s misguided pursuit of its newly acquired “Bandon” trademark. Tillamook threatened the city of Bandon, Oregon with a lawsuit for violating its intellectual property by using the name “Bandon.”

Threatened the city itself for violating the trademark? Uh, hello?

Lee on RoguePundit has more on the closure and goofy Tillamook practices, too. Of course, he has a good point:

At one time, the purpose of the store wasn’t just sales, but promoting the brand. Since the brand looks rather hollow when the cheese has to be imported for sale, maybe it’s better to not remind folks that the Bandon Cheeses are just flavors that can be made anywhere. The attractive label with the Coquille River Lighthouse is just marketing.

Although the flavors can’t necessarily be “made” anywhere; cheese acquires some of its characteristics from the types of food the cows (or goats, or whatever milk-producing animal) eats, and that can certainly be regional.

Anyway, I just thought it sucked. That’s one less neat thing about Bandon, and that much more unemployment for Oregon.

There and back again

We just got back yesterday from a week-long vacation on the Oregon Coast. I should say, “We just got back and recovered,” because a week in hotels with young children is taxing. But, it was a good trip.

We started out in Newport, and the weather for the first few days was crappy: chilly, foggy, wet. Consequently, I started getting a cold and had to drink tea and take echinacea for a few days. But we found things to do before hitting the beach anyway; we visited Lincoln City for some shopping, wandered along the stores on the bayfront, enjoyed good food. We had lunch at the Rogue Brewery in Southbeach, but I couldn’t drink any beer because I was at the peak of my sore throat! How can you visit one of the best breweries on the west coast and NOT drink beer?

Our last day in Newport, the weather turned nice, and after a great breakfast (marionberry French toast), we spent time on the beach. The kids had a fantastic time. After that, we moved on to Florence for a night.

I’m not too crazy about Florence; it’s kind of a dingy town with a worn-out feeling. We visited Old Town Florence (decent shopping and eating), and went to the Sea Lion Caves about 11 miles north. That was impressive; you take an elevator 200 feet down into the largest sea cave in the world to see the sea lions on the rocks.

After Florence we moved on to Bandon, on the southern Oregon coast. I like Bandon; it’s a charming, tiny little town that I can picture myself living in some day. There’s not much around there, though; the largest towns are Coos Bay and North Bend to the north, which aren’t saying much. I hear people mostly like to leave Coos Bay.

Finally we drove over to Roseburg (not on the coast, but close enough) and visited the Wildlife Safari there, and the La Garza winery. The Wildlife Safari was fun; I’d been there years and years ago, as a teen. Kaitlyn and I rode an elephant, which was very cool.

We got back yesterday (Friday), spent a good part of the time getting unpacked, doing laundry and recovering. I’ve gotten caught up on everything, and getting geared to start my new job up this next week, on Tuesday. We’ve got office space, I’ve got a desk and three chairs that need assembling, and a computer.

Should be interesting.