What the Forks?

Andy Clarke

For the first time on this trip, we woke up to rain bouncing off the roof of the RV as yesterday’s sunshine had given way to thick Washington cloud.

Whenever we plan road trips like this, it helps to have a few set-piece places to visit along the way, rather than a detailed itinerary of stops. I knew very little about the Olympic Peninsula before heading out to look for Yogi and I’ve been amazed at just how beautiful this area is. I would even go as far as to say that I prefer it to Yellowstone, despite the geysers, wildlife and other attractions.

Alex had made the Olympic Peninsula a set-piece largely because the Twilight series of books are set around here. He’s no vampire buffy but has read the books, so like thousands of other tourists we slipped out of the Elwha Dam RV Park and onto the 101 Olympic Highway for today’s drive to Forks and the Pacific Ocean.

The drive took us past Lake Aldwell, Lake Sutherland and along the south bank of the large Lake Crescent, eery and still and surrounded by the hills of the Olympic National Forest shrouded in low cloud.

Lake Crescent, Washington

I’d skipped breakfast, so by eleven o’clock I needed food. When a sign (starting with the word “hungry”) loomed up in-front in Bear Creek, I made a rush decision and swung the RV left into the parking lot of The Hungry Bear Cafe, not noticing that the sign looked like a hangmanÙs noose. “Sit anywhere you want,” said the server, but with all but one table still littered with the remains of other people’s breakfasts, we sat by the window and ordered breakfast with sausage (patties), hash browns, eggs (two, sunny-side up) and coffee. The breakfast was greasy but what amy biddy needed and better still the wifi was stronger and faster than the campground.

The owner told us that only two or three people a day stop by outside of the season when tourists head west in search of tranquility and others to Forks and beyond in search of vampires and werewolves. In the past, Forks has been a lumber town and relied on the nearby Clallam Bay Correctional Center, but since the Twilight books has seen a 600% increase in tourism. We drove the (short) length of its main street, then did a u-turn back to a rough gravel parking area, slipping ours into a line of RVs.

Every shop in town seemed to have jumped on the Twilight bandwagon and can you blame them, really? The main street was full of teenagers and their parents, most of whom would probably never have visited the town other than for the books’ references. Wet and bedraggled, they crammed into Dazzling Twilight, the official merchandise store with its fake forest and racks full of everything you can possibly print a Twilight logo or reference on to buy.

Forks, Washington

Shopping wasn’t our number one priority, but we did pick up a little something for a little somebody (megntioning no names) and I found it hard to decide between two options, taking a Twilight tour or giving blood. Oh, the juxtaposition! Oh, the agony of choice!

Forks, Washington

We shot a little video (to be posted later) and walked back to the RV to escape the vampires and the weather. I’ve not read the Twilight books or seen the movies, but I hear that vampires live in Forks and werewolves in nearby La Push. I’ve always had a problem with hairy ears (I mean, who shaves their ears?) so we slipped down the road to La Push at the mouth of the Quileute River where it meets the Pacific Ocean listening to an iPod search for anything with “blood” or “vampire” in the title.

The last time we were by the Pacific was at the start of our last road trip on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This time the Pacific was less welcoming (and visible) as the clouds had got lower and the rain heavier still. I pulled the RV into a marina parking lot, slipped on my (embarrassing) waterproof and Alex’s baseball cap for the short photo walk to the sea.

La Push, Washington

The people of Forks might be making hay while the Twilight shines, but in murky Las Push, its a very different story. The native Quileute Tribe and their neighbours seem to have resisted the urge. We resisted the urge to give the locals a good laugh at our waterproofs, so before long we were back on the road and on our way back to Port Angeles.

Miles walked 112, 101, 110
Miles driven 120
Campground Elwha Dam RV Park
Tune of the day If You Want Blood You’ve Got It by AC/DC

Feed the bears

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