Off the beaten path - Shawn Loughlin editorial
My wife Jess has always wanted to go to Seattle. Well, she’s always wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest; the home of rain, flannel coats and very tall trees.
Now, who knows when we’ll ever have the chance or the will to actually make our way there? But when we do, I told her I have a request: I want to go see Laura Palmer’s house from Twin Peaks. Located in Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle, the house has been the focal point of plenty of dread and terror at the heart of David Lynch’s weird television show. A tourist attraction for some, sure, but not for most, it would be safe to say.
My travel logs are full of weird little destinations like these. Sure, we could go see Pike Place Market in Seattle, or the mighty forests of the Pacific Northwest, but wouldn’t it be more fun to see stuff from Twin Peaks?
Jess might disagree.
Just recently a friend of mine made a similar pilgrimage and visited some landmarks from Degrassi, a famous Canadian show that shot in the Toronto area. I never watched the show much, but he seemed to get a kick out of it.
The very first time we went to New Jersey to visit my cousin Mike and his family, Jess and I stopped for lunch at Holsten’s restaurant in Bloomfield. It wasn’t a very active spot when we stopped by, but we sat in the exact booth in which HBO filmed the final scene of The Sopranos. And yes, we got onion rings.
When Jess and I visited Edinburgh, I was able to walk a stretch of Princes Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, that Renton and Spud traversed 25 years ago in the opening scene of Trainspotting, running away from police after clearly shoplifting a few things. On that same trip, we stumbled upon the Greyfriars cemetery, whose gravestones boast names known very well to readers of Harry Potter, including Thomas Riddell’s grave, which is apparently one of the most visited gravesites in all of the United Kingdom. (That one was for Jess - I haven’t partaken in the antics and sorcery of Harry and his mates.)
My friend Brett and I were dying to recreate the opening credits for Perfect Strangers (a relatively obscure, yet utterly beloved sitcom from years gone by) during our trip to Chicago, but we got derailed by the city’s fabulous restaurants and bars and imitating Larry and Balki quickly took a back seat.
This is in addition to my never-ending quest to eat and drink at places Anthony Bourdain has approved, fancy and unfancy alike.
Sure, we’ve hit proper locations of note in our travels. It just feels like we’ve prioritized weird, personal locations over the tried and true tourist attractions.
In Newfoundland, for example, Jess and I stood right where Terry Fox dipped his leg in the Atlantic Ocean and began his Marathon of Hope. In Ireland, we visited all the important breweries and distilleries, in addition to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Outside of the church is a monument and basin on a spot that’s believed to be where the actual St. Patrick used to baptize people. Also in Dublin, every day we walked past the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, where Irish rebels established a headquarters during the Easter Rising in their fight for an independent Irish Republic, free of British rule. You can still see bullet holes in the stone.
So, while there will be many who run for the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Trevi Fountain in Rome for their first trip after the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t be afraid to go visit your own personal Twin Peaks house. If it’s important to you, then it’s important.