Most people have heard of it because of its vampires and werewolves. And even thirteen years after the release of the first film of the saga “Twilight”, tourists make a pilgrimage to the town of Forks, northwest of Washington, to pose in the bed of a truck named “Bella” in front of the wood museum. What is really worth the detour, the museum, not the truck. The other day my husband and I went to Forks as well. But certainly not because of the movies.
Our bucket list had held Rialto Beach for ages, and we thought it was time to visit this iconic location. We were lucky: the weather was great when we got there. The waves lapped high and foamed on the pebble beach. Across the Quillayute river, we could glimpse the waterfront of La Push, the port town of the Quileute reserve. James Island and its neighbors towered majestically against the rising sea fog.
The next morning we woke up in thick fog. We returned to Rialto Beach because we intended to see another interesting rock formation, the Hole in the Wall. We had checked the tide tables beforehand as recommended as we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere on the beach and have to climb gigantic tree trunks that had fallen or drifted to the upper part of the beach. It was a fairly easy walk of just over a mile in one direction, and it was beautiful through the tall trees and fascinating rock formations as we came. The fog made everything even more magical. On the way back we were surprised at how quickly the tide came up. Where we had walked before, it was already well underwater.
As the reservation itself was closed, quarantined, we chose Beach # 3 as our next destination. The path is initially fairly flat, then climbs slightly to descend quite steeply with many roots emerging from the ground. Strawberry Bay is obviously a popular campground, although I wondered what passion you must have to carry all your gear for a mile and a half of a hike that ends with tree trunks blocking the end of the beach path. . The fog started to clear and we saw steam rising from the sharp cliffs of the bay. A movement nearby made us understand that we were also observed rather curiously. Two short-tailed Olympic weasels had poked their tiny heads out from behind a trunk, their white bellies contrasting beautifully with the rest of their darker fur.
On the way back to Forks, we stopped at another place that had piqued our curiosity and that should be checked out: the John’s Beachcombing Museum. You can easily spot it from the main road thanks to its giant colorful sculptures made of buoys. But what a place it is inside! Established in 1976, this museum has accumulated thousands of objects that owner John Anderson has found over the years on the beaches of the northwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Each of the articles has a story to tell. There are identical saddlebags dropped from a container ship, weather balloon items, WWII mine remains, items from the great 2011 tsunami, sculpted artwork, and messages from bottles. . You can feel the love that goes into this remarkable museum which even offers an activity for children and books on the beaches. John Anderson has plenty of stories to tell about the discoveries he also managed to return to their owners, like fully functional cell phones, for example.
It made me think how many items had been lost and how many had been thrown away. That only one beachcomber has built such a stunning collection over the years. That there are other beachcombers who might have found a lot too. That there is still so much there, lost or thrown away. And how this museum fascinates, teaches and berates so deeply at the same time.
In the end, the two museums in Forks and the trails around made our trip a highlight on our to-do list. We observed elk on an island, deer in a river, and saw a bear cub crossing a road further north. As for vampires and werewolves… reality beats them from afar.