(More photos are here).
Most people who know me also know that I am a very, very big fan of David Lynch. This all started when I accidentally watched Eraserhead on public broadcasting at midnight when I was 16. It was like someone had lit a match in my brain. I wasn’t allowed to watch Twin Peaks when it was first broadcast, but when I was 17, I fell absolutely in love with it, and would search in vain for cherry pies to eat with my friends while we watched the show at each other’s houses (usually we had to settle for doughnuts, as Australian summer isn’t exactly conducive to an abundance of cherry pies).
So now, many years later, I finally made the trek to the Pacific Northwest, where most of the series was filmed, with my friends Marley, Andreas and Simon.
We booked a room at the Salish Lodge and Spa, the exterior of which doubles as “The Great Northern” in the show, and is perched precariously over the majestic Snoqualmie Falls. To our disappointment, unlike the Great Northern, the Salish does not have 24-hour room service, resulting in dinner on our first night consisting of caramel popcorn. So, the next morning, we drove in to the town of North Bend to eat a huge breakfast at none other than the diner where our heroes ate so many years before us. As any self-respecting Twin Peaks fan knows, the coffee in Twin Peaks is supposed to be “damn fine”. Ironically however, several groups of guests stormed out of the diner after having to wait too long for their coffee. We could hear the poor waitress in the back lamenting this turn of events and saying “How can I serve people coffee if we’ve run out of coffee cups?” As we drank our own (delicious) coffee, we realised that the cafe was probably the victim of Twin Peaks fans quietly pocketing their signature coffee mugs. We resisted stealing any crockery, but I did buy a sweet - and utterly useless - map of “Twin Peaks” on the way out.
After marveling at the cheap prices in the local drugstore while we stocked up for New Year’s Eve (“That champagne is half price, that’s why it’s only $3.99,” remarked Marley. “Um, that means it was only $7.99 in the first place,” I added dubiously) we set off in search of the place where the “Welcome To Twin Peaks” sign had been. The only actual sign is painted on the back of the cafe wall in an alley, for the real location you need to stop on a barren stretch of road just outside town.
I would dare say that the Twin Peaks sign is the most famous non-existent sign in the world. We actually had to queue behind some tourists from British Columbia to get the shots we wanted. In the meantime we stared at the majesty of Mt Si and Snoqualmie Mountain. For days after this trip I was imagining Snoqualmie Mountain on the horizon, even over Manhattan. There’s something spellbinding about it. (Marley found out that in Native American legend, Snoqualmie Mountain is the dead body of the moon, who fell to earth while climbing down a rope made of cedar bark. Why the moon is still also in the sky remains a mystery.)
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the lovely little Express-o coffee hut, across from Snoqualmie’s giant log. Drive-through coffee appears to be a North Western thing, and one of which I thoroughly approve.
The next day, after once again failing to get breakfast at the Salish Lodge, we drove to Falls City, where the Roadhouse is in Twin Peaks. The Roadhouse looked entirely different, which, considering it’s slightly seedy status in the show might not be a bad thing. While waiting for Simon to bring the car around in the carpark, one of the many strange Twin Peaks-style coincidences happened, the kind which Agent Cooper would remind us deserve our strictest attention. I recognised one of our fellow diner's cars in the parking lot - it was none other than our Canadian friends from the day before. Wondering if the town was in fact crawling with David Lynch fans, we decided to go off the Twin Peaks trail for a while.
After wandering around the truly spectacular Rattlesnake Lake, where we took photos for our fictional album cover, we attempted to find the local ice-skating rink. We did find it, tucked behind a YMCA in the spookily perfect little town of Snoqualmie Ridge which felt as if Microsoft had built the entire thing in the last year and then vacated it for use as a film set. Unfortunately the ice skating rink was very small and actually plastic, not ice. We decided to find a local pub, where we vaguely watched a football game while commenting on the signage for the rest rooms (SEATLLE SEAHAWKS and SEATTLE SEAGALS, although we were rather partial to SEATTLE SEAGUYS and felt that the sign-makers should reconsider.)
The next morning, my heart sank knowing we had to leave. I had half made up my mind to abandon everything for a spooky cabin in the woods: fireplace essential, ghosts optional. If I’m ever a millionaire, that’s probably where you will find me. At long last, we had breakfast in the hotel dining room overlooking the falls. The pancakes were the best I’ve ever eaten. But the “damn fine” - I use the term loosely - coffee was actually from Starbucks, and was accompanied by whipped cream and chocolate flakes. Not that I have anything against cream and chocolate, but I am fairly sure that the fictional Agent Cooper would not approve. On our way back to Seattle, we stopped to meander around the ominous-sounding but entirely lovely Phantom Lake, where despite our mock fears of being murdered, friendly locals wished us a happy new year. We decided to take one last walk around Sammamish Lake. “Yeah, no-one gets murdered at Sandwich Lake,” said Simon approvingly as we trekked through the forest.
All in all, I loved the entire area, and Seattle, more than I even thought I would. My only regrets about the entire holiday were that it was too short and that catastrophically, we failed to try the local cherry pie. If that’s not a reason to go back in the summer, I don’t know what is.