Visiting Twin Peaks, ‘a place both wonderful and strange’

Visiting Twin Peaks, ‘a place both wonderful and strange’

Emrah Güler
Visiting Twin Peaks, ‘a place both wonderful and strange’ When David Lynch, the iconic demi-god for cinephiles, TV fanatics, pop culture freaks and practitioners of transcendental meditation everywhere, tweeted on Oct. 3, 2014, social media nearly broke. “Dear Twitter Friends,” read the tweet, now retweeted more than 16,000 times, “That gum you like is going to come back in style!” The tweet ended with a hashtag that has been used by Twitter users every day since then: #damngoodcoffee.

At exactly the same time, the exact same tweet was sent by Mark Frost. Fanatics of the 1990s cult TV show “Twin Peaks” – and anyone who has watched the show is more or less a fanatic – immediately went berserk. Lynch and Frost are the creators of “Twin Peaks,” and the tweet, along with the hashtag, are references to the show. Was “Twin Peaks” about to be resurrected after 25 years?

“I’ll see you again in 25 years,” the show’s tragic heroine Laura Palmer had promised to the show’s larger-than-life hero FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, as well as to the audience, in the surreal red room, the wormhole to dreams and nightmares. Laura Palmer’s prophecy was about to come true, and “Twin Peaks” would come back to the  screen, 25 years from where it left off, hopefully giving answers to many of the mysteries fans have been speculating about since then.

With the impending arrival of the show and a town and its residents we are all too familiar with the fandom has hit a new high. Not that “Twin Peaks” fandom had died after the show. On the contrary, “Twin Peaks” festivals, books and websites have never gone out of style. Fans have been reliving and reviving the fictional town as their hometown since its early demise in 1991.

‘Location sometimes becomes a character’

But now with social media in all its glory, photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, location-based social channels like Foursquare, Google Maps, hashtags and distant celebrities becoming close friends through Twitter, “Twin Peaks” fandom has transformed into something altogether different, something more personal, interactive and sophisticated.

One thing that has definitely become popular once again among fans through digital technologies and social media is “Twin Peaks” location scouting, informally known as the #TwinPeaksTour. One of the major factors lying behind the resonance of the show to date has been the haunting atmosphere of “Twin Peaks” and its surrounding area, or as Agent Cooper succinctly put it, “A place both wonderful and strange.”

In the latest teaser of the “Twin Peaks” revival, actor Michael Horse, who played Deputy Hawk, summarized the sentiment of millions: “Location sometimes becomes a character. There is a lot of holy places up here, a lot of sacred places. I can’t put my finger on how I would describe it; it just touches something in the psyche. It’s almost like being in a movie painting.”

With the news of “Twin Peaks” coming back to the screen next year, a #TwinPeaksTour was in order for this fan. Scattered over the Pacific Northwest, most of the locations are within a short driving distance from Seattle. There are fan sites, travel pieces and Google maps for “Twin Peaks” locations. If you have the time, and are on the extreme side of fandom, you can visit anywhere from Big Ed’s Gas Farm to where Laura and Donna took a picnic one cloudy day.

Meeting like-minded fans

With limited time, I took to major locations, one that sure touched something in my, as well as millions of others’, psyche. The opening credits, with the haunting theme music, are basically what establishes the at times dark other times funny always surreal and always captivating atmosphere of the show. The majestic trees, surrounded by a constant fog, the falls and the titular peaks rising to the sky set the background for the mysteries and mysterious characters of “Twin Peaks.” 

The first thing one remembers from the opening credits is the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign, welcoming outsiders and the audience to this town of alternate realities. While there is no sign in real life, the location of the exact spot is marked on Google Maps, close to the city of Snoqualmie. Driving to the location, you are reminded of Agent Cooper’s awe of the giant trees owning the region, “Man... Smell those trees. Smell those Douglas Firs.”

Standing on more-or-less the exact spot of where the sign once stood should be a rite of passage for every fan, a reaffirmation of fandom on a different scale. The next stop is a few kilometers away, the bridge where another tragic character, Ronette Pulaski, walked into town through the train tracks in a trance. Ronette walking over the bridge is an iconic scene, establishing the mysteries behind Laura Palmer’s death. 

There are no longer train tracks over the bridge, but the decrepit look is intact. Meeting like-minded fans over the desolated bridge is a pleasant surprise. While exchanging the experiences of “Twin Peaks” tours, the excitement of the revival of the show is palpable. “Do you know where Laura’s log is?” one of us asks. The other says, “You must definitely visit the town of North Bend to get a feel of Twin Peaks.”

Cherry pie at Twede’s Café 

Off I go to North Bend, another few kilometers. The town, along with Snoqualmie and Fall City, is where the exterior shots of “Twin Peaks” were filmed. Walking through the small town, with the Twin Peaks tower in the background, it’s a delight for a fan to see that there is almost no one on the streets. The eerie feeling of being in Twin Peaks is doubled with spotting the traffic lights, and remembering Agent Cooper once again, pinning down Twin Peaks to “a town where a yellow light still means slow down, not speed up.”

The only stop in North Bend is Twede’s Café, the home to the show’s popular Double R Diner, as well as the cherry pie and the #damngoodcoffee characters enjoyed in 29 episodes of the show’s run. The place is a semi-tourist attraction. While the regular patrons are enjoying their regular breakfast and coffee, I notice other nervous glancers, clutching on to smart phones waiting for the right moment to capture the place where Shelley and Bobby, Cooper and Annie, Norma and Ed flirted. T-shirts and mugs are on sale. And oh, of course, the cherry pie.

The final stop in the tour is the Great Northern Hotel and the falls that surround it. The trip takes me to the Salish Lodge, the exterior of the hotel where Agent Cooper stayed in his time in the town, got shot and dreamed the killer of Laura Palmer, and the Snoqualmie Falls right next to the lodge. The place is a huge tourist attraction, mostly for being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Washington. 
It’s hard to see anyone that has come to relive the “Twin Peaks” experience among the crowd looking in awe at Snoqualmie Falls. Only in the gift shop, you can see the kindred spirits, in the section where a few “Twin Peaks” memorabilia are displayed. You smile at the kindred nerd eyeing the “Owls are not what they seem” t-shirt and the red room prints. And you know that you are in “a place both wonderful and strange.”