Day Fifty: Forks in the Road: Washington (Olympic National Park)

Events of Monday, May 4th, blogged Sunday, May 10th

It rained all night. Which was good, in that it washed all the dead bugs off the windshield, and not totally unexpected as, well …. DUH… RAIN FOREST!

My initial plan for the morning was to launch another sneak attack on the dog unfriendly rainforest trails, but I did not anticipate the rangers arriving at 8am, which was just as I was heading over. Scratch that. The next idea was to drive out to Rialto Beach to see the wild and rugged coast that Olympic is also known for. And on the way, it just so happened I would pass through a little town called Forks.

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You may, or, like me, may not, know that Forks is the setting for a “moderately” popular book and movie series known as Twilight. Not only were the novels set here, but the movies were filmed here as well, as you will find within seconds of setting foot in the Visitors Center. We were more than happy to set foot in there though, as soon as we saw this sign on the door.

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Prior to the Twilight phenomenon, Forks’ major industry had been logging and timber. But once the conservation movement, and the protection it afforded to much of the nearby forest areas, brought about serious declines in that area, the town fell on hard times.

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So it’s no surprise that most of the residents have embraced the Twilight phenomena whole hog, as it has literally doubled tourism numbers and even brought international visitors to this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Many of the local businesses are grabbing on with both hands.

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Once you’ve stocked up on all the Twilight themed tchotchkes your wallet will allow, you can tour locations from the movie including: Bella and Edward’s houses, the high school, the police station, and you can even pose by a replica of Bella’s truck . . .

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All of this excitement can really work up an appetite, so, as the Twilight Lounge had recently shut its doors, I stopped for a burger at Sully’s (which offers a special Bella burger, but it had pineapple on it of all the godawful things, so I took a pass). Sully’s does serve exceedingly cheerful beverages though.

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I will say that the foggy, misty, murky atmosphere of a town surrounded by dense towering pine forests and two Native American reservations really does seem to fit the feel of the Twilight series remarkably well. Supposedly the author, Stephanie Meyer, had never even visited the town prior to writing the novels. She chose Forks for its distinction in being the least sunny place in the entirety of the United States, enabling her to have vampires walking around freely in the daylight.

Speaking of vampires, they were NOT ALLOWED as we traveled further down the road to the tinier town of La Push where the werewolf dudes hold sway.

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The clouds, which had been pouring rain off and on most of the afternoon, lifted as we pulled into First Beach in La Push, but it was so freaking windy I couldn’t bear to do more than snap a few quick photos of the rocky “islands” (more properly known as seastacks), interrupting a seagull confab in the process, and hop back in Marigold.

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FINALLY we made it to Rialto Beach. And it was just as wild and wooly as promised! The waves CRASHED on the shore. The wind WHOOSHED around our heads, and storm clouds hung low and threatening. The whole place felt alive with energy. It was GREAT! (Note: all of these photos are in color, it just doesn’t look that way. My hat and Annie’s collar were about the only things not shown in shades of gray. Quite a change from yesterday’s explosion of green.)

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The beach was LITTERED with huge bleached drift logs – once towering spruce trees that had fallen from the cliffs and been tossed ashore by the pounding waves. I had to scramble quite a bit to make any headway, but Annie made short work of it.

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It was very cold and very damp and VERY windy, but I was in love with the raw elemental nature of the place and the sharp tangy smell of the ocean and would have stayed all day.

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Given the weather conditions, I decided beach camping was a less than ideal option, so we headed back to our rain forest haven, passing our friendly neighborhood elk out again for their “twilight” foraging . . .

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The good news is, I had managed to score a PRIMO campsite, directly on the Hoh River, which is hard to distinguish from the gravel bar that runs down the middle, as it too is a slate gray. This murky color of the water is caused by “glacial flour,” basically the tiny residual particles remaining from centuries of rocks being scraped and worn down by the glaciers that formed this waterway.

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The bad news is, the rain had become ever more persistent, and attempts to wait it out in the cozy confines of Marigold were to no avail. It was to be a damp dinner.

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Some of us got creative, and, wanting to be able to enjoy the rush of the river, rigged up a towel over the two open side doors of the van to serve as a de facto awning (since the Camper Van rental place had failed to provide a van with a preinstalled one as I had requested), and were able to enjoy the fire well into the evening.

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Others of us . . . preferred to stay as dry as possible.

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Oh, and a question . . . an open door, a flag that says Open, an Open sign on the open door, and . . . a Closed sign in the window?? What gives Forks?

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