Summer Market In Ilwaco Washington

The produce is fresh from the farm and the salmon chowder was really good, too. They ran out of garlic bread but that was OK. And you can’t beat the setting.
If you haven’t been yet, get all the information on our Events page.

Legos & Single Malt Scotch & the Ilwaco Railway & Navigation Company

The 125th anniversary of the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company.

See the latest exhibit at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco.

What makes it a top pick? You can trick your kids into getting jazzed about history! Bring them for the Legos, stay for the geeky Northwest history! Can’t beat that.

When I first moved to the coast, I was lured in part by the fine single-malt scotch list at the Shelburne Inn. Haven’t been there for a while, but for historical research purposes, this is the weekend. The Shelburne Inn was one of the main stopping points for the railroad. Even today, the Shelburne makes a great refueling stop.

The first run from Ilwaco to Long Beach was July 19, 1888.

Clamshell Railroad mapYou can learn a lot more about this little railroad that, most of the time, could. Read The Railroad That Ran by the Tide: Ilwaco Railroad and Navigation Co. of the State of Washington by Raymond J. Feagans.

The reason we say it’s the railroad that could, most of the time, is that it had the nickname “Irregular, Rambling and Never-Get-There Railroad.”

Another great source for history buffs is also called “The Railroad That Ran By The Tide” by Peter Marsh. Read an excerpt here:

It was in 1930 that the “Clamshell Railroad” went out of business, leaving just a few reminders of the part it played in the history of the lower Columbia. The story of this unique train service began back in 1865, when the propeller steamboat U.S.Grant began regular service to Bakers Bay.

NW Teardrop Fans Dream Big, But Camp Small

Primitive Teardrops this one from mag copy

This weekend, the Trask River Teardrop Camping Gathering happens on the middle Oregon coast in Tillamook.

Find out more about the weekend gathering on our Events page. Our plan is to visit the gathering this weekend to take in some of that Teardrop culture and cooking.

First in this week’s series is a visit with Jim Bailey. More to come as we count down to Saturday.

After our first blog about Camping the Coast, we wanted to learn about building teardrops. We heard from professionals, from those who started as hobbyists and have made a business out of it, and others who gave it a shot just for fun.

Retro vintage plans Measure OnceAfter all, that’s how the teardrops first became popular. When they were first built during the Great Depression, cash was tight and the little trailers allowed escape to the outdoors with a modest investment.

After World War II, returning vets used war-surplus material to build them. They were eager to put the scrap and their newfound skills to the test. Magazines like “Popular Mechanics” and “Mechanix Illustrated” ran “how-to” articles.

Today, the traveling-light ethos still makes sense given gas and travel costs.

Jim Bailey from Carson, Washington supplied the photos in the slideshow that follows. Jim says, “What you’re seeing is a reproduction of a 1950 Kampmaster, or as some called them the ‘Wild Goose’ because of the wing-span look.” With no blueprints to work from, he referenced old photos.

“We …take our annual trip to the coast and enjoy staying at Newport, Seaside and Lincoln City.”

The cabinets are solid oak which he says make for a better-looking and more solid cabinet. There’s a futon/couch theme up front with castors to take advantage of the roundness of the front of the cabin when you want to roll the bed into a couch. Builders need to be creative when space-planning these mini modules.

“I stayed with an icebox instead of going to a refrigerator to save money. I find for short trips, the icebox works great. Especially if there is no power to run the fridge.”

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He calls the trailer “a little bit old and a little bit new.”  Instead of the old water can to supply the fresh water, he installed a holding tank with electric pump and is getting ready to put in a two-burner cook top propane stove instead of the usual countertop camp stoves they used to use.

You can visit his website to see much more.

Hang on because the stories and photos will keep coming this week. Stay tuned for our road trip to Salem and a video tour a Teardrop factory.

Photos courtesy of James Bailey, Gorgeous Teardrops, 122 Shipherd Falls Road, Carson, WA , (541) 400-0393

Camping The Coast: Teardrops, Canned Hams & Pop Ups

Photo supplied by Marilyn Harris Marshall

Photo supplied by Marilyn Harris Marshall

Recently on the squidknot Facebook page, I asked the innocent question: “Have you toured the coast in a Teardrop Trailer?”

That simple request led us into a wonderful world, not just of the retro-hip teardrop-style tow-behind campers, but of a larger community who turned us on to other vintage camping rigs, like the “canned ham” style, some ultra-light pop-ups, and more.

What sparked my interest was a photo in Sunset magazine that showed a small camper by a lake. I thought, “what a perfect way to see the coast.”

Yeah, these rigs aren’t for everyone, way too small, no full kitchen, and so on. But what I like is that it’s a great compromise if you don’t want to go tent camping and aren’t interested in full-bore RV-ing. Plus, the teardrops have a cool vibe and leave a small footprint, both in terms of what it requires for support at the campsite and how much gas you burn up getting there.

If the point is to spend time outdoors on your camping trip, these small guys force you into the outdoors because there’s just not much room on the inside.

ScottsPicScott Chaney in Salem makes products even smaller and lighter than the teardrops. He runs Compact Camping Concepts, check him out at He posted this picture on our Facebook page and makes a great case for his product: “Has a smaller footprint for easy towing and storage and bigger sleeping quarters.”  The pop-ups are available at DIY kits or he’ll assemble them to the level you want. “Most people build an Explorer Box themselves following the construction manual I wrote. I can also build them to various levels of completion.”

The problem with any kind of camping on the coast is obvious: the weather is often lousy from Brooking to the San Juans. Welcome to our Northwest reality; a cautionary note provided by Jennifer and Kate who have been enthusiasts since they caught the bug in 2007. Their website is called Teardrop Trails.

If you want an exceptional tour of some of the prime spots they’ve visited, check out the photo galleries. By clicking on one of the sites between Beverly Beach near Newport, all the way south to Eel Point not far from Coos Bay, you can see what site might be best for you. Start here to begin the tour.

Kate and Jennifer were great hosts last night at Champoeg State Heritage Area, an Oregon State Park, near St. Paul OR. They’d just rolled in from Eugene for a weekend of camping, biking, and fishing.

Signs at the park entrance let visitors know they were “Full” for the weekend so be sure to reserve online in advance.

We met Kate and Jennifer at a “Sisters on the Fly” gathering to see their teardrop, and some other amazing vintage campers. Originally made by manufacturers Scotty, Williams Craft, Shasta, and others, you can tell these campers were restored with sweat and love in equal measure.

Looks like a follow-up article, or maybe a whole series, is in order. Here are a few comments we received on Facebook. Please leave more comments below.

From Amy: “I own a homebuilt Teardrop and my dad has an original 1946 Marville Dwyer Teardrop trailer and we use them as much as possible. We go to Gatherings with a group called TOW (Teardroppers of Oregon & Washington). We also have a Newsletter and website.” Thanks, Amy. The website is a great resource. We are reposting some of the information regarding their Gatherings on the coast our our events page.

From Rob: “I have an old one, home made. Great fun and so much fun. Everyone in the campgrounds asks what it is and wants a “tour”. The biggest surprise is always “you sleep in there?”

From Mark:  “I built our teardrop about 3 years ago and have taken it on a number of gatherings. They come in quite a variety of shapes and sizes. Check out the forum www.tnttt.comfor tons of information.

From Eric:  “I’ve camped all over, up and down the coast. My favorite campground near where I live is Cape Lookout State Park. Sure, weather can be a factor. You just need a canopy and a good rain coat.”

From Marilyn:  “Have a 1940 Nitey Mite that towed behind a 40 Ford from Washington to Florida. It was a blast!”

From Matt:  There is a great gathering at Ocean City. We have also done the Rain Forest, Seaquest and down the coast to Newport. We normally stick to the Cascades.”

Also hearing from lots of DIY folks. Manufacturing is happening all around the Northwest. We are a hotbed for this kind of camping.

What else to you love about camping? We’d love to hear from you. To be continued.

Teardrop Trails:
Link to the April 2013 issue of Cool Tears magazine here. Jim Bailey talks teardrops in the feature article.
Jim’s story starts on page 16.

Why Squid? Why Knot?

Even though squid are one of the less-researched marine creatures, they sure have us curious.

For example, what’s with the crazy iridescence? That’s the question posed by this video and you’ll see how squid researchers have tried to answer it.

Most common off the Washington and Oregon coast is the market squid. Yes, they are the tasty ones and there is an established fishery.

You’ll also find plenty of Pacific squid but there have been some sightings of the larger, less friendly Humbolt squid, too.

In 2004 and 2010, the area from Westport to Cannon Beach was the scene of squid invasions. They tend not to last long because seagulls find them awesome. Even when the lemon wedges are running low.

If you’re interested in squid fishing, Puget Sound is the hot spot. Most squid fishers opt for the nighttime hours. You catch some, let me know. There’s some marinara sauce on the stove and fresh tzatziki in the ‘fridge.