Words by Jasper
Mysterious, mossy pine forests punctuated with immense boulders. Waterfalls spewing mist through tree covered cliffs. Clear streams that lead to bleak craggy coastlines, dotted with raggedy islands. Ultra-trendy cities nestled in amongst the wilderness. This describes the Pacific Northwest, probably one of our favourite parts of western USA. Here are a few of the best places we checked out.
There was so much to say about the ‘hipster capital of the world’ that it warranted a whole post to itself. Find it here.
Ok, we admit it, we came here entirely because of Twilight. But if you’re like us, and thought the best thing about that film was the location, we hope you’ll understand. Forks sits on the edge of Olympic National Park, a huge expanse of temperate rainforest, classified by its high levels of rainfall, but lower average temperatures.
Forks is a small town that has been thrust into popularity by the famous film series, but other than a couple of Twilight shops and location tours, life ticks over like any other small unassuming community.
North West of Forks is La Push, a grey beach with imposing cliffs and brutal waves. We wrapped up and took a stroll on the beach but we left the paddling to the flotilla of hardcore surfers (sadly any vampires out there won’t be able to reach La Push as it is past the werewolf treaty line).
Tucked just off the interstate from Seattle toward Montana, this mysterious town is most famous for Laura Palmer’s death and “damn good coffee”. For those of you who missed the reference, North Bend houses many of the shooting locations for David Lynch’s supernatural cult-thriller Twin Peaks, several of which are definitely worth seeing regardless of whether you’ve seen the show or not.
The most iconic spot is probably Twede’s Cafe, which is better known by Twin Peaks fans as the Double R Diner. Peaks Geeks will be pleased to know they do, in fact, serve some damn good coffee, and the cherry pie isn’t too bad either. People who have never seen the show will probably also be pleased to know this.
Just down the road is the Salish Lodge and spa that overlooks the Snoqualmie Falls. It’s a high end place that we could only dream of being able to afford a night at, but when your hotel is perched precariously close to a huge and picturesque waterfall, I guess you can charge what you like. The setting obviously caught David Lynch’s eye as the Salish Lodge serves as the exterior shots for the Great Northern Hotel, yet another crucial TP location.
Just a stone’s throw across the Canadian border is Vancouver, a lively, modern and artsy city. Sadly we only had a day and night to explore it, but what we managed to cram in gave us a good glimpse into life in Vancouver.
The downtown area had a great mix of independent shops, cool eateries and imposing buildings new and old. It also has one of the best libraries we’ve ever been in. Inspired by the colosseum, Vancouver Public Library is almost as impressive, with cosy study areas, modern interior design and dizzyingly high walkways looking down over seven floors of books to explore. Any ancient Roman academic would have been proud to study here. Jo, however, read a book about Finding Nemo.
Tucked underneath the main bridge to downtown is Granville Island, a once industrial area that, like most others in the world, has now been transformed into an arts district, with theatre, music, independent craft retailers and a food market. If this sounds a little too pretentious and grown-up for your taste, have no fear, there’s always the pirate party ship.
Interstate 90, Washington/Montana
This is literally just a motorway, with nothing of interest other than the odd Native American Casino resort. We don’t recommend it as somewhere to visit. It does, however, get a special mention for some of the most spectacular and iconic tumbleweed we’ve ever seen. It’s amazing that in West Washington state you have lush forest, and yet after a few hours driving east toward Montana, it’s barren and prairie like. The only things that weren’t void of life were, ironically, the perfect spheres of dead bush making a dash for freedom across the road.
For us, the Pacific Northwest is a place we’ve wanted to visit for so long for so many reasons, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Each place we visited was worthy of weeks, possibly months, of exploration. As has been the case with most of our travels so far, we will be leaving with more on our bucket list than when we came.