I came home from deployment to find that women had overrun the town of Forks, Washington. This was some time around 2008. I’d been going to Forks for years for the hiking and camping in the area, and had always known it as a gritty, hungover little lumberjack burg (no offense intended, Forks, I LOVE gritty, hungover lumberjack burgs). So it was truly surreal to find it suddenly overrun by well-dressed women and teeny boppers. It was like finding out that the area had been infected by a very classy form of zombie virus.

What I came to discover was that, while I as deployed overseas, a little movie named Twilight was released, and this little movie had been somewhat popular among Americans of a female persuasion. Furthermore, this movie had been set in a fictional version of the town of Forks, apparently because it sees less sunlight than any other town in the continental United States. This sunless factoid is of import because Twilight, in case you hadn’t heard, is about vampires that glitter in sunlight (and glittering is bad because it gives away that they aren’t regular people).

I learned all these facts from a group of 30-something ladies that I met at a bar that night. I’d drunk in that establishment many times in the past, and the only company I ever had there was 10 or so big dudes in jeans and flannel shirts. On this night, however, there seemed to be about 10,000 women crammed into this place. The air was absolutely pungent with the scents of perfumes, lotions, and body washes. It smelled like a garden full of synthetic roses.

These ladies were a blast, and they filled me in on Edward, Twilight, and the whole Forks craze. We, along with a couple hundred other women, shut the bar down.

Those days, however, are now done. At least for now. I visited Forks again last week when I was camping at Klahoya Campground, and the place has returned to its meditative silence. All the Twilight shops were shut down. The streets were devoid of female packs. It was back to the Forks I’d come to know and love, and that is one of the reasons I decided to write this, because Forks has more to offer than vampires or werewolves.

Forks is a great midway point to several of my favorite Washington locations. It’s half an hour from Ruby Beach and La Push, my two favorite beaches in the state, and it’s a bit more than half an hour from Lake Crescent, which is also where the trail head is for mean, mean old Mount Storm King.

The Olympic Suites Inn is also one of the best-kept secrets in the area. The Lake Crescent and Kalaloch Lodges are generally sold out far in advance during the summer, and the campgrounds can be even harder to find space in, but I’ve almost always been able to get a room at the Olympic Suites. They’re fair-priced and large accommodations (though the walls are a bit thin).

Pacific Pizza has some good pizza, and even better ice cream.

Forks has a certain charm of its own, even without the vampire-chasing ladies. It’s not a tourist haven and I don’t mean to paint it as such, but it does have a down-home sort of appeal. The people there work hard and have a no-nonsense, direct attitude that stands in sharp contrast to Seattle—they may not tell you what you want to hear, but you can be reasonably certain that whatever they tell you is honest.

The vampires have run their cycle…for now, at least. But who knows where things will go from here? The undead, just like billion-dollar movie franchises, have a way of resurrecting themselves at the most unexpected times.

Somewhere, Edward waits in the eaves…