The black tour bus hasn’t even pulled onto the two-lane Highway 101 in Forks, Washington, when the first question—one of dozens, maybe hundreds, to pepper guide Travis Belles on this sold-out two-hour tour of the town of 3,100—is fired by a jumpy woman from Edmonton. “What do you mean Twilight wasn’t even filmed in Forks?”
Belles sighs quietly and invokes the diplomacy he learned when working as a guard in the local correctional facility after he and his wife read the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s boy-meets-girl, boy-tries-not-to-devour-girl saga and moved to the rain-forested western edge of the Olympic Peninsula, the wettest spot in the continental U.S. (and conveniently for resident vampires, the darkest).
“Star Wars wasn’t filmed on Tatooine, and Twilight wasn’t filmed in Forks,” Belles says, informing the group that Oregon and British Columbia offered sweeter tax breaks to the film crews, his delivery a soothing baritone that once gave homes-of-the-stars tours in his native Southern California.
Still, Vancouver restaurants may be overrun with fans stalking leading man Robert Pattinson and his young co-stars, but most Twi-hards make the pilgrimage to Forks, where creative entrepreneurs have been welcoming them since the series’ third book, Eclipse, caught fire in 2007.
Signs like “Edward Cullen didn’t sleep here” (because he’s a vampire, get it?) adorn hotels, and local restaurants (including ones featured both in print and on screen) serve must-eats like Bella Lasagna and Ed Bread to throngs—mostly teenaged girls and the families who let them pick vacations—that numbered 18,000 for all of 2008, according to the Chamber of Commerce, but swelled to 16,000 this past July alone.
But perhaps the yardstick for the meteoric rise in tourists to the area running west from Port Angeles to the Pacific beach town of La Push, has been the Dazzled by Twilight tour company and emporium. Not only does it offer up to four daily tours, with Belles doing most of them, it now boasts four area locations selling all things Twilight.
On this day, the 46-year-old owner of Dazzled by Twilight, Annette Root, wore a “Kiss Me, I’m Vamp-irish” T-shirt while trying to be heard above 35 customers weighed down with equally clever odes made possible by a love of the story, a screen-printer and copyright lawyers with a soft spot for rebirth.
From downtown Victoria, take the car and passenger Coho Ferry (sailings at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) for the 90-minute crossing to Port Angeles, Washington. Once there, grab dinner (and Twilight cred) at Bella Italia (118 E. 1st St.; 360-457-5442) before heading west to Forks and the Dazzled by Twilight tour.