Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Hilarity of Visiting the Twilight Zone

I can’t deny it. I’ve read all the Twilight books, I’ve seen all the movies, and I enjoyed them. Now that you’re probably judging me or highly intrigued I must admit that this is where my fanship ends. I’m not one of those fans that lines up hours ahead of time to see the midnight showing of the newest movie. I don’t have posters covering my walls, there are no t-shirts in my closet and I most definitely haven’t chosen a “team.” But when my family decided to take a week long camping trip to the Olympic Peninsula I knew the land of Twilight had to be a stop. How often do you get to see places immortalized in the stories you read? I mean, I would visit Hogwarts if I knew it was real. Honestly though, I wasn’t prepared for what I found upon entering “The Twilight Zone.”

Forks it ‘self is barely a blip along highway 101, surrounded by clearcuts from it’s days as the “logging capital.” Unfortunately these clear cuts take away from the natural beauty of the area and make it not such an exciting place to spend the night, so we drove our pick-up truck down the highway to the Quileute Indian Reservation at La Push. Deciding to forgo camping on the beach we instead chose a campground nestled back in the trees. Little did we know WHERE we had chosen to stay. As we wrestled with our brightly colored tents I saw a small tour bus drive by emblazoned with the logo “Dazzled by Twilight” on the side. Instead of continuing on, the bus pulled over at our campground office and then I saw it… Really I don’t know how I could have missed it. A big sign, only 30 or so feet down the road from out tents announcing “Treaty Line, No Vampires Beyond This Point.” Being well versed in Twilightology I knew exactly what the sign was for, my parents on the other hand were thoroughly confused. All I could think was “seriously?” They are literally milking Twilight for all it’s worth. As the day wore on more tour buses made the stop, including another company who came equipped with cardboard cutouts of Jacob and Edward who they strategically placed on each side of the line for their patrons to take pictures with. These people weren’t annoying though, I actually found it quite hilarious to watch the groups which were surprisingly full of older women and men as well as the expected teenage girls. However, the cars that insisted on honking each time the passed the line I had a little bit of an issue with, like come on really? It’s totally unnecessary.

In La Push, it only takes a quick look at their stores and businesses to see the tribe has fully embraced Twilight. On my right we passed “Jacob Blacks Vacation Rentals,” then there was “Blacks Fireworks” and “Jacobs Java.” At the convenience store on the reservation you can find “Bellas Board,” a place where the devoted can leave messages so that everyone can know their obsession. Turn around and staring out at you from the glass door is a poster of Taylor Lautner aka “Jacob Black.” It was while I was observing these decorations that I was approached by a Quileute guy about my age. WE chatted for a bit and then I asked him how crazy Twilight fans were around there. He told me that a week before a girl had walked up to him and asked him if he was a “Real Quileute,” then she asked if she could take a picture with him. He seemed pretty flattered, but then I began to wonder if that was the type of reaction he was hoping to get from me? Is the resounding love of “Quileute Boys” from the movie starting to go to their heads? Hmmm.

The immortal First Beach in La Push, where Bella first talks to Jacob and learns about “The cold ones,” is beautiful, although not as much as neighboring Second Beach (so creative with names right?) Sun bleached driftwood lays at least 20 feet deep on the beach. Fans have taken to using charcoal leftover from years of bonfires to write messages, many of which are Twilight related on the white surface of the giant logs.

Back in Forks Twilight is literally everywhere. Go to any restaurant, be it a diner, Chinese or Italian, and you’ll find a Twilight menu. Ed Bread, Swan Salad, Vampire Shakes, mundane food names have suddenly been revamped and have become remarkably more desirable. At Forks Outfitters you can find Twilight rain boots, slippers, magnets and so much more. There are team Edward, Team Jacob and even Team Bella sweatshirts, tshirts, sweatpants, and tank tops. You can even purchase a Cullen Baseball Team shirt with everyone’s names on the back. Getting lonely without seeing the face of your favorite character? Don’t worry, as you walk through the clothing section you’ll be greeted by life-size cutouts of Edward, Bella and the gang. But be careful, they move everyday, so if you go back they might just “jump out” and scare you.

While the outfitters does have an impressive stock of Twilight gear, it’s really “Dazzled by Twilight” that is the mecca for all things Twilight. Originally I wasn’t going to go inside but it was just so intriguing, I had to, and oh boy, It was like a fairytale inside. Fake trees seemed to grow up to and along the roof where twinkling lights added to the atmosphere. Racks of shirts filled the room while items such as magnets, bookmarks and “Twilight Scene It” lined the walls. For all those girls that ever dreamed of being in Bella one of the life size cutouts had had her face cut out so you too can momentarily live the dream, and what would the picture be without Jacob and Edward? Of course they’re there too.

What would a visit to Forks be without visiting all the important sites from the book? Apparently locals went throughout their town and decided which houses would suit Bellas and the Cullens descriptions best. Then of course there’s Forks Highschool, which, unfortunately no longer fits it’s romantic description. At the current moment the entire grounds are fenced off where the historic brick building has been demolished and a beautiful new building has been put in it’s place. Not all traces of the old building are gone though. They left the 15 by 20ft façade that was once the entryway to the old school. Lastly there’s Forks Hospital where a parking space had been set aside especially for Dr. Cullen. Be warned though, don’t go inside the hospital unless you are actually in need, they’re a busy place and No, you wont REALLY find Dr. Cullen there.

So now I wonder, how long will this last? One year? Two? Five? Ten? If I go back one day with my kids will the outfitters still have a special Twilight section? Will Bellas red truck still sit outside the visitors center? Will Dazzled by Twilight still be going strong? I doubt it but I guess we’ll see. For now it’s a lot of fun to just observe this crazy phenomenon at the source and the be a part of pop culture history.

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