Millions of gallons of water thunder over a slice of rock and down into the hellish, gaping jaws of the earth. Stood on the viewing platform, it feels like just as many gallons are hitting me in the face.
But as the watery mist clears momentarily, I don’t actually mind — I might be as soaked through as a drowned rat, but the view is unmistakable and alluring. Perched on a precipice, this is the Great Northern Hotel; the quintessential location for an altogether more grown-up TV show, David Lynch’s weird and wonderful Twin Peaks.
Except it’s not the Great Northern Hotel at all, because the sign in the valet car park tells me that it’s the Salish Lodge. Still, it’s everything I want. In the little shop next to reception, they do a surprisingly hip line in ‘Damn fine cup of coffee’ mugs, ‘The owls are not what they seem’ postcards and cute paintings by local artists re-interpreting iconic moments of the show. It’s just perfect for a fan like me.
I tell the shop’s assistant how excited I am about Twin Peaks’ return (it returns to our screens after a break of a quarter of a century on 21 May) and she reminisces about watching it being filmed back in the early 1990s, when she attended the local high school that also starred in the series.
The Salish Lodge still hosts conventions for Twin Peaks fans, who book the entire place and invite actors from the series to come and speak, and sign autographs. Upstairs in the Attic Restaurant, I order (what else) a damn fine cup of coffee and a cherry pie, just as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper did with a regularity that might have alarmed his doctor. As I tuck into the piping hot pie, looking down over the turbulent Snoqualmie Falls, I examine the locations map I was handed in reception.
After I’ve eaten, I’m ready to go. It’s not a long drive around Snolquamie and North Bend, the two towns where filming took place, and it’s hard to believe I’m only 40 minutes from the hustle of Downtown Seattle. Because out here in the woods of Washington State feels like I’m really in the middle of nowhere — and that something sinister could lurk around any corner, in any copse.
The constant rain and low cloud gives everything a murky edge. And the mysteries don’t stop. I look for the Twin Peaks sign on Reinig Road, but can’t find it. Has it been abducted by aliens or stolen by local thieves? Or, is my mind just playing tricks on me? I can’t be sure.
But I do something else I really want to see: the old red metal railway bridge dating from 1891, which crosses the Snolquamie River about two miles downstream from the hotel. The bridge featured in a particularly spooky section of the show where the character Ronette Pulaski walked across it, after having been savagely attacked by someone (or something) unseen in the forest.
There’s no one around and trains here are a rarity these days. Indeed, back in Snoqualmie you can see the old station and steam trains that used to haul the lumber down to Seattle at the little railway museum. But here, I just ponder the weirder aspects of Twin Peaks as the water of the river gushes below me.
All alone, I think about murderers, monsters and things going bump in the night. And I can see, all too vividly, why David Lynch chose to film here.