[September 2008 edit: check out this link to a story about how the Twilight series has positively affected Forks:‘Vampire tourism’ breathes new life into small town. Also, the Forks, WA Chamber of Commerce recently added a great new page to their site called “Twilight Points of Interests.” Enjoy!]
In the summer of 2004 I snuck up to Forks to check it out; it was the first time I’ve ever been to any part of Washington. I took my sister Emily with me—she was a really great sport considering that she was seven months pregnant at the time. We flew from Seattle to Port Angeles in a “puddle jumper” (another first for us both) and then rented a car and made the drive down to Forks. I was afraid, as we left Seattle, that I was going to be disappointed. My Forks had become such a real place in my head that I was sure the reality would have some kind of jarring difference. It wouldn’t look like the pictures, maybe, or there would be some huge flaw that would make my story impossible in that setting. But as we flew in, low over the densely green hills with the incredible Cascades Mountains touching the clouds to the south, I stopped worrying.
Of course it was raining when we landed. It rained both days that we were in Port Angeles. However, the sun shined the entire time we were in Forks. I’m still not sure if that was a good omen or a bad one. Every local we spoke to commented on our rare luck.
Being in Forks was the most incredible experience. There were a few small differences: the logging presence was much more evident than I’d pictured it—the clear cuts put a bit of a lump in my throat, and the constant, gigantic log haulers barreling down the wet highway made driving a thrilling adventure—and it was sunny, as I’ve mentioned. Otherwise, it was eerily similar to my imaginings. Walking down Main Street, shopping at the Thriftway (I still have that receipt!), driving up side streets until we found a house that could have been Charlie’s, and then turning the car around only to find a beat-up, once-red, early-fifties Chevy truck parked across the road The word surreal gets overused a lot, but this really was like walking around inside of a dream. We spent half a day at La Push, and that was even more uncanny. Unlike Forks, there were no differences between my imaginary La Push and the real thing. I spent the morning expecting every minute that we would turn a corner and run into Jacob Black.
We had to leave much too soon. I have vowed to return and take my entire family with me (my boys are going to love that beach! (I have a glass jar full of the rainbow colored rocks I collected at First Beach sitting on top of my computer desk as talismans against writer’s block.)). Next time, I hope it rains.
I have a few surviving pictures from my trip. Sadly, the rest were lost in the great computer crash of February ’05, along with a year’s worth of birthday parties, Halloween costumes, and family portraits (back your computers up, people. Do it now). Here are the survivors-enjoy, but know that they don’t do it justice.