Monday, December 12, 2011

Forks and Beyond (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome to Forks: Spoons also Welcome

Arriving at Forks in twilight was funny, even if I have never seen or read the books or movies. To me, the city of Forks has always been a small town which I competed against in high school. It was the place of many racial incidents, as well as a school made up of a few last names. Forks is also a town that my dad was offered his first teaching job, and despite the fact that they told him that he, his wife and newborn could sleep in a tent for 6 months (in the winter) until a house was built for them, he declined. To say that the city of Forks and I have an interesting relationship would put it mildly.

Forks, with a population of is just a shade under 3500 people is a stereotypical failing lumber town with nothing more than a school and small businesses to keep their heads above water. With over 100 inches of rain a year, staying above water isn’t so easy, personally or financially. Historically, Forks had a huge lumber industry, boasting as having more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world. While that fact may or may not be true, remnants of the once proud logging industry is prevalent, from their Timber Museum, to the abandoned mills surrounding the city.

Next to the timber museum, Forks has set up a tourist stop for Twilight fans. Whether or not you like the films and books, the fact that this enterprise gave the city a boost is pretty obvious. From movie posters in all shops, to stores being named after the books or characters from the books, Twilight fever is stronger than ever in Forks. Part of me is torn about this, because Makah Tribe (hunters of whales)owned,Native American arts and craft stores, which used to just sell their own goods, have been renamed after the books and sell fake memorabilia. Selling out your culture is tough, but Forks has seen a 800% increase in tourism since 2005, so more power to the small business owners of the area.

Sitting in the parking lot of the closed museum, next to Bella’s (a character from Twilight, I have heard) truck, I watched the near full moon rise over the western Douglas fir trees and from behind the old wooden building that holds so much of Forks history. The city of Forks is behind the modern era, with little cell service, old fashioned diners and a skeptical eye of outsiders taking notes on a bench. However, the undeniable beauty and unique culture fills your spirits, and the fresh air rejuvenates your lungs. Forks, for good or ill, is taking to the Twilight books and making a profit, and I can’t blame them. They still respect their elders, as is obvious by the weekly meeting hosted on the only radio station, where old town’s folk recall funny anecdotes about life during the logging boom or the scare of bombs during the great wars.

The city of Forks is an interesting town that everyone should see. Soon, the old, quaint Forks I know and somewhat loathe will be gone, transformed into a tourist trap with hostels, tour services and a thriving economy. Until then, Forks is a small logging town still reeling from the days when we decided on saving the spotted owl instead of timber jobs. The small town feel won’t last forever, and maybe that is a good thing. Maybe the whole Twilight Saga will help Forks, Washington move into the 21st century.

I pondered all of these thoughts for a bit, took some silly pictures of me groping statues of loggers and continued on my journey around the Olympic Peninsula. No further pictures were taken as my car weaved around and, through and by Lake Crescent. I stopped at Port Angeles and tried to see the lights of Victoria, Canada from the Ferry dock, but no pictures. Nor did I take pictures of the night sky from Deer Park, by "Sunny" Sequim, though I did see a satellite and my favorite constellation, Cassiopeia. I drove past the 7 Cedars Casino, past John Wayne Marina, through Dosewallips, Hoodsport and Shelton. I finally arrived home, 13 hours after I left, with more love for the Peninsula than I can put on paper.

The Olympic Peninsula is backwoods, sometimes depressing, dark, dreary and of course, rainy. The Olympic Peninsula is home to Native American tribes that respect the land. The Olympic Peninsula is home to thousands of people, just trying to get by. The Olympic Peninsula is where I make my living, experiencing beauty daily in the world’s best kept secret, tucked far away from modern society. I love this place and whenever possible, I suggest you take the drive around highway 101, stop in some of the small towns and parks, and experience and fall in love with this unique environment.

Until next trip, be safe and much love and peace,

Douglas Scott of Exotic Hikes

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