Washington vacation offers family more than vampires

 

“Can we go to Forks?” our daughter asked when we planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Forks, Washington, is the setting for Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular Twilight book and movie series, which chronicles the romantic triangle among teen Bella Swan, vampire Edward Cullen, and werewolf Jacob Black. The town claims to be “the rainiest town in the contiguous United States”—perfect for sun-shy vampires—and sounded particularly inviting to folks from drought-stricken Texas. We had no inkling, however, that the region’s scenery would eclipse its celebrity.

From Seattle we headed out to Forks on a route that paralleled the clear blue waters of Lake Crescent on our right and Olympic National Park, with its magnificent Olympic Mountains, on our left. As we drove, we left behind the sunshine and noise of Seattle and entered the thick coastal mists. Soon, we arrived on Forks Avenue, the main street of infamous Forks. There we found charming eateries and quaint businesses, many of which cater to Twilight fans by offering souvenirs and tours. We skipped the official tour, but we did see City Hall, Forks High School, Forks Outfitters, and the Swan House—all settings in the Twilight books and movies. No vampires and werewolves lurked about. At least, we didn’t see them.

Next, we headed to the Olympic National Forest and to the sandy, driftwood-strewn beach of La Push (home to the Quileute Indians in real life and in the books). We wandered into the Hoh Rain Forest, where the mosses and ferns evoked the same other-worldly atmosphere that they do in the movies. Ruby Beach left us speechless, with its rock formations jutting up in the mist. The nearby forest featured conifers and deciduous trees so tall and thick that they formed a canopy a hundred feet above the forest floor. Slivers of sunlight filtered through the branches and leaves. Logs, ferns, moss, and other plant species covered the woodland floor. We were so in awe that we would not have noticed if Edward Cullen, with his vampire strength, had scrambled up the towering trees next to us. Reluctantly, we drove out of the park, leaving behind the real-world scenery that made the imaginary world of Twilight so convincing a home for vampires and werewolves.

If you decide to visit Forks and the Olympic National Park, you may not see vampires, werewolves, or celebrities, but the scenery certainly won’t disappoint.

By Cindy Weigand

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