[Editor’s note- this piece comes to us from Faye Murman, avid “Twin Peaks” enthusiast, journalist, adventurer, and friend to Aggressive Comix.]
Diane, 11:30 a.m., July 11th. Entering the town of Twin Peaks, five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line. I’ve never seen so many trees in my life…
I’m flying from Newark to Seattle for a trip that I have dreamed of making for over ten years to the Twin Peaks Festival in North Bend, Washington, just 40 minutes outside Seattle. As we descended over the city, I could see the gorgeous Pacific Northwest landscape that is so famously a part of the David Lynch/Mark Frost cult TV show. The trees and mountains becoming clearer and closer as the show’s soundtrack plays in my headphones, I hear Agent Cooper’s voice in my head “Sheriff, what kind of fantastic trees have you got growing around here? Big, majestic” to which he marvels “Douglas firs…”
I land, eager to get to North Bend, the original filming location for the pilot 29 years ago as well as again in 2017 for Twin Peaks: The Return.
The first moment my excitement overpowered my exhaustion was opening Google Maps to type in the address for Twede’s Cafe, the actual Double R Diner – you know, the place pies go when they die. I’m starving and I know that this is the only place I want to eat, knowing it will take care of me like an old friend. I had been having recurring dreams of being in the Double R for months leading up to the festival. In each dream I sat at the same stool at the counter – the one so many characters from the show sat in and shared memorable conversation. Like a woman on a vision quest, I buckle up in my rental car and begin my journey to a place both wonderful and strange.
I entered through the town of Snoqualmie, which also played a major role in the filming locations, and my heart skipped a beat at my first glimpse of White Tail and Blue Pine Mountain, the mountains used as Twin Peaks. They are enormous, looming and breathtaking. (If you ask my boyfriend, who I was talking to while driving, I screamed, but I prefer to say I gracefully gasped).
I pull into Twede’s Cafe and gaze upon the original yellow and white striped cafe sign that was used in the show. This is not my first time in North Bend or Twede’s, but it’s my first time attending the festival and frankly, the scenery here never gets old.
I walk to the door, brace myself, and enter. My eyes go right to the stool I’ve been dreaming of as I sit down and order a damn fine cup of coffee. Soaking up the room, I feel incredibly at ease, like I’ve finally come home after a long time away. The last time I visited Twede’s in 2014, the interior looked nothing like the beloved Double R, but the back hallway toward the restrooms was packed with Twin Peaks memorabilia, including behind the scenes photos during production and even contact sheets of characters in costume tests.
This time, however, it was the Double R. When Lynch and his team approached the owner a few years back about using the restaurant again for The Return, he agreed, but only on the condition that they would remodel the diner to code instead of dressing it for set, so he could leave it the way it would look in the show for fans to enjoy, and enjoy it we did. Just as all the characters in the town of Twin Peaks gathered or bumped into one another at the Double R, for the next five days festival goers would be doing the same. Even if you attended the fest alone, you always had your choice of new friends to sit with at Twede’s.
As I was sitting at the counter, a man walked up to pay his bill. Lynch nerds must be able to spot one another because I knew right away he was there for the festival. A second, longer glance confirmed this as I noticed his Twin Peaks tattoo (the same one I’ve been planning on getting, actually). I smiled, waved and introduced myself. That’s how I met Noah. We became instant friends and spent the whole festival together nerding out. It was so nice to be among my people. Knowing you both love the same thing this passionately allows you to skip over the formalities and jump right into being best friends.
Case in point: Noah and I – who had known each other for maybe ten minutes- left the Double R together and hopped in his car to visit some of the filming locations to beat the crowds that would be there the next day (not to mention it was cloudy and overcast, giving the locations the perfect Twin Peaks mood).
We stopped for photos in an open meadow as the mountains loomed before us; we lingered at Snoqualmie Falls, basking in the sound of rushing water and mist rising to the trees; hung out on Ronnette’s Bridge, which happens to be at the intersection known on the show as Sparkwood and 21 (you know the one, with the ominously swinging traffic light); then rounded the corner to the stretch of road that featured the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign in the show when Agent Cooper first enters town, talking on his recorder to Diane. After all of that, we headed toward a huge bucket list item: the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. In real life it’s a professional driving school called DirtFish on the same grounds as the Packard Saw Mill, the ruins of which still stand today.
It was after six so no one was around, but there was an old Bronco in the parking lot, done up to look like Sheriff Truman’s car with the department’s logo on the doors. Suddenly, after taking a few photos, an older gentleman appeared, tall, slender and wearing a DirtFish shirt, to say hello. We told him we were there for the fest and after about a minute of conversation, he got a glint in his eye and a grin on his face and asked “Wanna go inside?”
Yes. Yes we did. He unlocked the door and told us to go in and have fun and he’d be back in a bit. Noah and I gawked at each other. “We have the whole place to ourselves?!” Although the double set of doors are gone and the front room has race cars and racing suits on display, you know exactly where you are when you walk in. Lucy’s reception desk is still to your left, and the halls and rooms mostly look the same.
Being allowed private access to this building, after hours with only half of the lights on gave it the feeling that you were really in the Sheriff’s Station. The natural light was soft and diffused on the wooden panel walls; the frosted glass on the original office doors sparked warm and familiar feelings; we turned a corner and saw the unmistakable hallway where Dana Ashbrook’s character Bobby Briggs makes his first appearance in The Return. The only real bummer was that the beloved conference room had been converted to a gym, but you still got the idea. After a while Eugene returned and instead of kicking us out, regaled us with the most fascinating oral history of the filming of Twin Peaks for almost an hour. He had been around since the show started filming 29 years ago and was obviously there for The Return. He told us quirky stories about Lynch, showed us the closet that was used for payroll; the hallway the cast sat in while going over their scripts, which they wouldn’t receive until the day of filming; how well Lynch fed his cast and crew (the entire cast would have to stay on set all day, which was often 12 or more hours a day, so they dined on lobster and 3 a.m. sandwiches and the like).
The best part? He started talking to us while I was sitting in Lucy’s chair behind her desk, so I got to sit there for an hour, taking in the view from that angle, marveling at how amazing this trip already was and the fest hadn’t even started yet. The view from the receptionist desk was so familiar, it felt almost natural to be there, like it was a room in my childhood home that I had spent countless hours in.
After our amazing time with Eugene, we headed to the Roadhouse for a pre-fest mixer. Noah, who had attended the previous year, brought me around to the side of the building that was used in Lynch’s shots and lo and behold, the puddle was there. Leave it to David Lynch to make me feel starstruck over a puddle. Fans of the show know the puddle well as the home of the neon reflection of the Bang Bang Bar sign that was hung on the building during production. We photographed each other’s reflections in the puddle and headed in to meet everyone. I caught up with some friends who were also attending, made some new ones and finally got to meet some in person as we were only online friends up until that point. The Twin Peaks community really does possess a great group of people.
With jet lag setting in –and maybe even an adrenaline crash after seeing that puddle– I was ready for sleep. I crawled into my posh and cozy AirBnb (just a five minute walk from Twede’s) and drifted off, dreaming of the day to come.
Diane, 2:50 a.m., I’ve been shaken awake by an earthquake!
It sounded like a sonic boom, then my body began physically bouncing off the mattress. I awoke in shock and waited for it to pass (about 2 minutes) as the house shook and the ground audibly rumbled. Then – an eerie silence, followed by every dog in town barking. I thought to myself that that was a deeply appropriate experience to have in the town of Twin Peaks, then fall back asleep.
[Editor’s Note: While you’re waiting for the next chapter in Faye’s dispatches, why not enjoy one of Secret of the Booze’s “Twin Peaks” 21+ cocktails, like The Black Lodge Special?]