Inquiring minds want to know: Is Mick Dodge eclipsing ‘Twilight’ on the West End?

Robert Pattinson

SINCE “THE LEGEND of Mick Dodge” began on the National Geographic TV channel last year, has Dodge’s Hoh River fame eclipsed the tourism of Twilight?

As main tourist season comes to a close, employees in the hospitality industry of Forks are in a good position to comment.

It’s hard to think there isn’t a North Olympic Peninsula resident who has not heard of Twilight the books or “Twilight” the movie saga.

For the uninitiated, here are the facts:

In 2005, Stephenie Meyer of Arizona published the first book of four about teenage vampires and werewolves in the Forks area.

The books spawned movies, and Forks has become an essential stop for fans of Twilight.

Last weekend, Tiana Christensen of Ashburn, Va., and Elizabeth Hulet of Seattle were sightseeing on the West End.

Hulet has made four such trips to Forks and the West End, bringing family and friends to see the natural beauty — and home of Twilight.

This was Christensen’s first trip out here, and although she does not describe herself as a “Twi-hard” — the term for die-hard fans — she confesses to having read the books while waiting to give birth.

“They were a fluffy distraction for pregnancies that made me very sick,” she explains of the books.

Twilight Tours is owned by Charlene Leppell and operated out of Leppell’s Flowers and Gifts at 150 Spartan Ave. (phone 360-374-5634 for information).

Her white and black tour van has large windows, allowing visitors to gaze at places in the area Meyer wrote about.

Throughout the year, three variations of the tour go around Forks, LaPush and out to Rialto Beach, varying in price from $30 to $60 per person.

Lately, she said, there have been several people coming in saying there is a new Twilight publication coming out.

[Actually, Meyer and Lions Gate Entertainment announced last week that a series of new short films based on “Twilight” will be issued next year as a competition to encourage women film directors. Instead of releasing the films in movie theaters, they’ll be shown via the social media site Facebook.]

“Hurray! I get to stay in business!” Leppell said last weekend, as she was busy handcrafting wristlets and boutonnieres for the Forks High School Spartans homecoming dance.

Tour driver and volunteer Richard Breeden still sees life in the saga.

“Twilight has died down a lot, but it is certainly still going,” Breeden said.

He said 101 persons took the “Twilight” tour in September, compared with 117 in the same month last year.

Fewer ‘Twilighters’

Down Forks Avenue, the Forks Coffee Shop sees a lot of tourists, and the staff can spot the Twilighters — the local term for “Twilight” fans.

Longtime server Lori Kelso noted that there was a definite decline this last summer — except Sept. 11-14 when Forks hosted its annual Stephenie Meyer Days.

“That’s when the serious Twilighters are out,” said Kelso. “I see the same faces every year.”

June Colby, who has worked at the Dew Drop Inn, echoed Kelso’s sentiments.

“This last summer was the busiest I remember, but not so many people this year for ‘Twilight,’ ” she said.

Out of every 100 visitors to the Forks Visitors Information Center, 40 are there for “Twilight” and 40 are there for Olympic National Park, said Lissy Andros, center director and Forks Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Five are “not really sure why they are here,” Andros said.

The other five visitors out of the 100 are there for Mick Dodge.

Last summer, the visitor information center called Peak 6 Adventure Store on the upper Hoh River trying to locate souvenirs for the steadily increasing Dodge tourism.

During the call, it was suggested that the store in Dodge’s stomping grounds become the “unofficial Mick Dodge visitors center.”

“ ’Twilight’ is mostly a girl thing, but Mick Dodge is interesting to men, women and people of all ages,” said Charlotte Peterson of Peak 6.

For this store, it’s mostly about Dodge, not “Twilight.”

Peterson recalled a grandmother who brought her young granddaughter to the store last summer. The child had been a part of the Oso mudslide in Snohomish County, and Grandma brought her to the Hoh to look for Dodge as a distraction from the sadness and loss.

Peak 6 now carries Dodge souvenirs and receives his fan mail (Attn.: Mick Dodge, 4913 Upper Hoh Road, Forks, 98331).

Peterson notes that Dodge stops in every other week to read his mail and visit for a bit.

Until the middle of this month, Dodge, a professional outdoor fitness instructor, said he will be “very focused of filming,” as he wraps up work for the new season of “The Legend of Mick Dodge.”

(Dodge euphemistically calls the show “scripted reality . . . It’s a show. It’s a TV show.”)

It airs locally on Tuesdays throughout the evening plus numerous other timeslots during the week (check your local listings) on the NatGeo channel.

The channel’s news release about the Sept. 30 season premiere promises that the new season is “more barefoot than ever.”

_______

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools. Her column, West End Neighbor, appears in the Peninsula Daily News every other Tuesday. The next column will appear Oct. 21.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at [email protected] or phone her at 360-327-3702.

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