Knowing where to start this is even more difficult than knowing where to start one of my novels. You see, my family and I just returned from an epic road trip adventure in which we hopped in our Honda Civic (her name is Luna) with our two dogs and drove the entire coastal length of the western United States. And back. That’s just about 2,200 miles in total. If you’ve never done this, I have to say it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Going from San Diego, California all the way up to Port Angeles, Washington, you will see some of the most extravagantly beautiful nature that there is to be seen. Snuggled in between California and Washington lies Oregon. Oregon. As I type that, my brain sighs and I smile a soft smitten smile at the memory of this coastal treasure. I’ll be sure to insert a picture right about here so you can see without me bumbling around trying to find the right words.
As I said, I’m not sure exactly where to go from these beginning details. I suppose it’s important to add the dates of this trip, only because they fall within a time in our world’s history that will never be forgotten. The reason is we happen to be in the midst of a global pandemic.
Our trip began on June 5, 2020, and we arrived back home on June 18, 2020. A somewhat global quarantine/lockdown has been in place since mid-March, enacted to help protect against the highly contagious Novel Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. People and local governments are handling things differently by region. Here in San Diego we started out adhering pretty strictly to the health guidelines, which has helped us avoid the tragic numbers that other locales have suffered. At least for this first wave of the infection. While taking on this new way of temporary life due to the virus, our country suffered another heart-wrenching blow when George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. Those officers have since been arrested and charged with varying degrees of homicide. But the killing has led to not just a national, but an international uprising and call for justice and change. Our family are loving of all people, and we do not refer to, nor judge any human being on the color of their skin. It is our hope that this experience will bring as many people as possible into that way of thinking and that once and for all, every single person will be known for how they treat themselves and others and not how they look.
While we will continue to be who we are, to be part of positivity, strength, bravery, compassion and love in all aspects of our lives and all those we interact with, the incredible negativity surrounding so much of our world right now urged us to get out of our home and away from our tv and computers. This was not an escape, but a re-set.
Into the enchanted movie magic making land that was the first Twilight movie.
It has been twelve years since Catherine Hardwicke and crew filmed the first movie based on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels. Ever since reading the books back in 2007, my family and I have always wanted to go to Forks, Washington. To see where these beloved characters walked, breathed, ran and sparkled. We had no true sense of what this kind of road trip would look like, considering that the nation is still in semi states of lock down, but what we found was that it was really kind of perfect.
It was as if we had the whole of the Pacific Northwest to ourselves to explore and be awed. On the way up to Forks, we stopped for a couple nights in Saint Helens, Oregon. This was perfect because almost exclusively, this is the area where the movie was filmed. For this first film, there wasn’t a huge production budget and so things were filmed in actual homes and businesses, rather than on expensive and elaborate movie sets and sound studios. For a fan, this. Is. Fantastic. Twelve years after the fact, the addresses to all the locations have been shared publicly and so where there is a will, there is most definitely a way. The wonderful thing about the Twilight filming locations is that the locals actually welcome the fans, still to this day. Everything is so accessible. It was really cool to find this out. And so began our Epic Twilight Trip, twelve years perfectly late to the party.
The first place we came to was along a road in a town called Sublimity, Oregon. My husband had found this address which noted it to be where some of the tree scenes were filmed. It was our first view of the magic of movie making. This particular area had only a couple of patches of the big beautiful trees whereas in the movie, it is made to look like they are in a vast forest. In reality, the trees for this particular filming are located around the property of a private residence. As we were pulled over on the side of the road and out taking a few pictures, a patrol car pulled up behind us. If my thoughts had been that we were about to be in some kind of big trouble, I was wrong. He kindly asked us to get back in the car and pull right around the corner where we could park without being vulnerable on the main road.
Not far from Sublimity lies the town of Vernonia. This small town served as the exterior shots you see of “Forks”. One of the absolute coolest things we did in Vernonia was to pull into the bank that was used as Police Chief Charlie Swan’s station. We marveled at the steps and the parking space that we clearly remembered Edward and Bella using from the movie, giggling like fools. It was then that we spotted the bank building’s ATM. Of course we had to hit it. How cool is it to be able to say that they got a $20 dollar bill from Charlie’s police station! I will be framing that bill very soon. Smile.
As if things could get any cooler than that, we next arrived in Saint Helens, Oregon. Where things proceeded to get even cooler. Here we saw the home that was used as Charlie and Bella’s house, where the interior and exterior shots were filmed. It is currently an Airbnb tailored to Twilight fans. The home was available on one of the nights we were in town and we would have loved to stay except for that we had our precious furry family members with us and at this time, they are not able to accommodate guests with pets. The current owners seem very loving of the fans though and someday we might have to make our way back up and plan to stay a night.
Saint Helens really did turn out to be the candy dish of filming locations. We next visited the house which was transformed into the Thunderbird and Whale Bookstore for the film. It’s situated on top of a hill which overlooks a river so it doubles perfectly as the town of Port Angeles, Washington.
From this location, there is a set of stone stairs that leads down into a sizable parking lot. The parking lot that immediately stands out as the one where…
Edward pulls his Volvo in at a startling speed to rescue Bella from the creepy guys who have her trapped. It took us a moment to get our bearings, but as soon as we did, the whole Port Angeles sequence just comes to life, right before your very eyes.
On the main street which serves as the access point to this parking lot are several more Twilight gems.
There is the Columbia Theatre, which you see as Edward and Bella are racing to get out of the town, and a little farther down is the shop where the girls try on prom dresses (currently a hair salon called Cuts +). It looks like they still have purple flowers painted around the window frames.
Just a few more store fronts down is a shop called Jilly’s. No scenes were filmed here but cast and crew found this eclectic shop a favorite and we could see why. The fairy wings used to decorate the prom dress shop were bought here at Jilly’s. On the day we visited, we had the chance to chat with Jilly, a lady the locals wished would run for mayor, and she said the entire cast and crew were very lovely and kind, especially the girls who frequented her shop for capes and sunglasses. While I would have loved to have gone on a shopping spree here, I am delighted with the $8 pair of sunglasses I found. Already full of character with the tiny shatter in the lens next to the nose piece. I have no idea how those glasses came to be in Jilly’s shop, but I love the possibilities and will never willingly part with them.
Across the street and about one more block down is a building that served as The Bloated Toad where Edward and Bella eat Italian dinner after he rescues her. Edward then proceeds to read the minds of the other diners. In the book, this restaurant was called Bella Italia. In reality, the building is that of a law or consulting firm I believe. The way they transformed it for the movie is incredible.
It was hard to say goodbye to Saint Helens because it’s just one of those towns that grows on you within a nanosecond of your arrival, but there was so much more in store for us and so we bid this charming little town adieu.
Next we ventured to nearby Portland, where we were for the first time, truly starstruck. Not by people, but by a house. We ventured a little further into one of Portland’s hillside suburbs. Hidden by trees, we had no idea of the gorgeous home that lay just on the other side. It was the home, formerly owned by a Nike executive, which was used to film the Cullen residence. It. Is. Majestic. Twelve years later and it looks just like it did in the film. We were on our utmost respectful behavior not to disturb whoever the current owners are. Their sweet little Corgi was posted right at the glass front door, regarding us kindly yet appreciative that we kept our distance.
The Portland area turned out to hold quite a few cool filming locations like the historical Yale Union building that was used as Bella’s childhood ballet studio and also the place where Edward is lying on a hospital cot, dying of the Spanish Influenza with Carlisle perched at his side, ready to turn him. We were only able to view the outside but as soon as you see the windows and their distinct size and shape, you are transported instantly to Edward being perched just inside, ready to make his move and take out James.
It was within Portland city limits that we also got to see Madison High School. It is currently under a massive renovation but some of the original red brick structures still remain. You’ll recognize these bricks as part of the science classroom. Unrecognizable is the cafeteria where that scene is filmed of Bella seeing Edward and the rest of the Cullens for the very first time. Sadly, I’m not sure if the school’s cafeteria has already been torn down but I’m glad we got to see what remains of the school.
From first meetings of humans and vampires, we now traveled to where Charlie’s good friend Waylon is attacked and killed on his boat by Victoria, James and Laurent. This all took place near the Blue Heron Paper Company property which is off limits to the public but has the definite feel of the scene from the movie.
The next stop on our epic adventure was to visit Clackamas Community College where the science class field trip took place. This is the greenhouse scene where Edward is apologizing to Bella for always being rude and then she trips and he asks her if she can please watch where she is going. I have to say that this location turns out to be very surreal. It takes a moment to sink in, but once it does and you can clearly picture in your mind’s eye the scene with the school buses parked right there and the significance of that conversation between Ed and Bells, it comes springing to life! The area is pretty tight and you realize, it all took place right there where you are now standing! This happens again a couple more times. If you’re any kind of a Twilight fan, or behind-the-scenes movie making, I truly hope you make this trip at some point.
From the greenhouse, we ventured out into the gorgeous hills of the Portland area to a less populated area. As you climb, you get the sense that you are travelling through those iconic Twilight treetops. And then voila, you reach what used to be The Viewpoint Inn. This is one of the locations I’m glad we got to see when we did because I’m not sure how much longer it will be there. It is fenced off and the grounds are overgrown and unkempt, the building too, but if you close your eyes, you can see Edward leaving Bella in the driveway and going to park the car, Jacob coming up to give her his dad’s warning, and then off to the side, where the gazebo once existed, in which Bella stands on Edward’s feet as they dance. I hope this building will be saved somehow.
Of note, not too far from The Viewpoint Inn is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area pull out where you are treated to some of the most beautiful views you will ever see. The Columbia River Gorge stretches out below you and this is the stuff of legends. The clouds nestle in and around the treetops and blanket the river below. The forest-covered cliffs are sublime and once you see this place, you will never ever forget it. Twilight is written in these trees and clouds. A definite must see.
Back down the hill and across the river on the Washington side, along Hwy 14, is where we drove past the location of the baseball scene. The spot, which is called The Shire, is owned by the University of Oregon and is only accessible through official tours given by the university. By use of Google locations, we were able to pinpoint the time when we were driving right past it, although we were unable to really see the field. We figured out a way to be able to see it, sort of, though. The Shire is located directly across from the Multnomah Falls which are back on the Oregon side.
As you are driving past these falls, if you look very closely across the river, you can somewhat see a field and we believe that was our best view of the filming location for that fantastic baseball scene.
We saw so much this day! It was time to head back to our motel and rest up for the night. In the morning, we would have breakfast…
Squeezed in between the numinous multitude of filming locations the day before was a moment when we drove into Damascus, Oregon (another town in the general Portland area). We learned that the Carver Café was located here and that this was the place where the diner scenes with Charlie and Bella were filmed. Sadly, the café was closed by the time we got there. Happily though, we had a little time this next morning and as I sat in the motel room (the boys were still getting ready), I called the café to see if we could at least get some take out. We were sure their dining room would be closed like so many others due to Covid-19. When I spoke to Shay to ask about placing an order, I ended up spilling that we were Twilight fans who had driven up for the first time from San Diego. Shay immediately said that their dining room was in fact open and that she would reserve the Twilight table for us! Little did I realize that our motel was about 45 minutes away from the café so I had to get the boys a movin’! We arrived and sure enough, Shay sat us at the corner table right near the front door and windows, Bella and Charlie’s table.
While we were there, a couple other patrons enjoyed their breakfast but near the end of our meal, everyone else had left and we were the only ones inside. I really couldn’t believe that we had the place to ourselves. We had a great time chatting with Shay. Inside, the place is perfectly cozy. Alice’s cinnamon French toast and the coffee are delicious. And, I got to sit at the counter where Stephenie Meyer filmed her cameo scene.
Super Twilight fans will also notice the tree just outside the front window where Mike Newton has a human moment and shows his moves so to speak for Bella. We left the diner with a serious case of perma-smile.
The food was so good, we were in no way in need of a visit to the local hospital, however that’s exactly where we landed next. When you drive by the Vibra Specialty Hospital of Portland, you can instantly recognize the corner inside where Bella and Edward converse. She has just been seen by Dr. Cullen for her near fatal collision with Tyler’s van. This corner is where Edward tells her no one will believe her story of him stopping the van with his bare hands. This was so cool because it looks just like it did in the movie. I really love how this movie was filmed in places you can actually go see. So so cool. Thank you, Catherine Hardwicke.
Another completely surreal location was next on our must-see list and it took us to Kalama, Washington, specifically to Kalama High School. We didn’t realize it when we pulled into the student lot that we had parked Luna in one of the spots where Bella’s truck had been parked and also that directly behind us was the spot usually reserved for the shiny silver Volvo. We were so excited at first at the school building itself, and the stairs leading up to it…
that it took a moment for it to sink in…that this parking lot was the exact place where Bella is nearly crushed before Edward saves her. And we were parked in it and standing in it! Un. Real. PS-the movie magic was in abundance beings as the student lot is incredibly tiny compared to how it appears in the movie. So cool.
And that was a wrap for the movie filming locations. Now it was on to the actual Forks, Washington to see where the book that we all love so dearly was born. Forks is small. It is a one stop-light town with nearly everything you need located off of the main street. With a few exceptions. As you enter from the south, you are greeted by the now famous “The City of Forks Welcomes You” sign
and the Visitor Center where Bella’s red trucks are on display. I say trucks because there are both the book and movie versions of The Thing.
We made sure to stop at the Visitor Center first where we picked up a map of all the locations. If you’re up for it, you can even set off on foot and take their mini-nature trail to get a feel for the Forks woods. I could just see that this is where Bella trailed off and then was told by Edward not to go walking in the woods alone anymore as he’s not always the most dangerous thing out there.
Drive a little farther and you get to see the Thriftway (where everyone does their shopping—including Stephenie Meyer when she visited), Forks Outfitters (where Bella used to work)
and Pacific Pizza (where they have amazing pizza. The restaurant is not officially in the book by name, but I’m sure when Charlie and Bella are noted as eating pizza, they would have gotten it here). Across and just off the main street, behind the motel where we stayed, is Forks High School. The buildings are new, but the original Home of the Spartans sign proudly sits outside the main entrance.
To see Bella and Charlie’s place, and a few other key sites, you get to venture out into the side streets of the town.
The Swan house is cute and has a sign posted in the front yard that the residence is currently being remodeled by Alice and Esme Cullen.
It’s only a couple minutes’ drive to the Forks Community Hospital where you can see Dr. Carlisle Cullen’s reserved parking space.
And then one more minute to arrive at the police station. You’ll know you’re there when you see his police cruiser parked outside.
Last on our Forks excursion was the Miller Tree Inn, also known as the Cullen Residence. This home looks just like the one described in the book and it’s beautiful.
There was a fantastic sign posted to the tree at the entrance of the driveway that kindly warned visitors to keep their distance out of concern for Renesmee’s health and wanting to limit her exposure to Covid-19. The sign states that Jacob is very protective, and they do not want anyone to get hurt.
There is one other little spot, though. It is out of business and hard to tell if it has just been hit hard by Covid-19 or if it’s a permanent closure. The Forks Coffee Shop from the book, where Bella and Charlie would have dined on that famous berry cobbler. I hope it makes a comeback. Fingers crossed for all future visitors.
Some really cool non-book locations but places that we still enjoyed were the Native To Twilight gift shop, The Leppell’s Flower and Gift Store, and the Mocha Motion coffee drive thru, not to mention our hotel, The Forks Motel. Everyone in these places loved that we were Twilight fans and offered cool book tie-ins for us to enjoy. One of my favorite places was the Visitor Center. There was a lady there who was full of joy and gave us all the insider info she could possibly share. She felt so bad having to be the bearer of the news that the official Forks Twilight museum was still closed due to Covid-19…
but made up for it with so many other little tidbits. I didn’t take a photo, but I just couldn’t help looking at her. She could have been Bella’s “grandma” vision of herself in the beginning of New Moon. Graying hair pulled up in a loose bun atop her head, dressed in a soft colored loose yet feminine flannel top. So beautiful.
Have I mentioned this was the trip of a lifetime??? Not to be left out, we also journeyed about 70 miles north to the actual town of Port Angeles, Washington.
All Twilight related businesses were closed due to the coronavirus, but we got to walk the streets and take pictures outside of the Bella Italia restaurant…
the movie theater, a bookstore and a dress shop. We also came as close as was possible to Canada. Standing on the docks where the ferries would normally be water-taxiing people across, we could see Vancouver Island. This was amazingly cool because it’s where the remaining movies were filmed. For now the border is closed, but if we ever get to make our way back up north, we’ll definitely be visiting this beautiful place.
Before departing Washington, we knew the trip would not be complete if we did not make it out to La Push and the Quileute Reservation. While La Push itself ended up being closed to non-residents…
we did get to see quite a few phenomenal sites on the way. I think this is so cool…they have actually made an official Treaty Line which marks the exact location from the books where the Vampires are not allowed to cross over into wolf territory.
And then just a mile or so farther down you can see Jacob Black’s house and his workshop where he works on his vehicles. His motorcycle is parked right out front.
Not being able to go onto the reservation meant we didn’t get a chance to visit the La Push beach. So we’re saving that for next time. Smile.
We finished our stay in Forks with an evening stroll on our last night there. Getting out on foot and walking up and down the main street is something I highly recommend. It is in doing this that you will see the small little signs and murals put up in so many of the rest of Forks’ businesses, sharing in the love and appreciation for Twilight. It was a beautiful night. Even Aro seems beholden to agree…
In the morning, we began our drive back down that would eventually land us at home in San Diego. That is roughly 1,099 miles. On the way, we just couldn’t help but make one more special stop…..a stop to a place we’d only just barely discovered existed one night in the motel room as we were casually reading through fan blogs to see if there were any other locations we might have missed…..
The Stone Cliff Inn, located in Oregon City, Oregon.
Thankful, lucky, speechless.
To practically stumble upon this place which is SO RICH in Twilight lore and magic. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The specialness of Twilight never goes away. In September, fingers crossed, the town of Forks is still hoping to hold its annual Twilight Festival and I know we’re all beyond excited that Midnight Sun releases on August 4th!!
Suffice it to say, this was the drive of a lifetime, filled with epic memories that will never be forgotten, and one that anyone even vaguely interested in Twilight would enjoy. So, dear friends, I have only one question to pose to you now…
What are you waiting for?