A Damn Fine Day in North Bend

This isn’t really a Backroads Bookscouting expedition, but only on a technicality: mostly because we didn’t have time for it. Once again, we had to cancel an overnighter, but except for the no-books part it worked out just as well doing it as a day trip.

Our original idea had been to spend the weekend in North Bend, a little town in the foothills of the Cascades; nice little place, with a fair number of antique places and junk shops. Eat diner food, do a little shopping, and finish by seeing our friend Kris in the show at Valley Center Stage.

We’d come into a little extra cash– my quarterly royalty check had arrived, not much but enough to cover the gas and a meal or two, and we figured the motels would be cheap in the off-season. But then we both got sick, our annual October ritual (despite being really diligent about not touching things and practically bathing in Purell, we always manage to catch whatever bug is going around the schools in the fall.)

But we really wanted to see Kris and the play.

For one thing, we like to support our friends in the arts. We knew Kris from Hello Earth, who puts on our local productions of Star Wars in the park and Star Trek in the park (documented here and here) and we had learned that she was an ardent Sherlockian in addition to being a giant SF geek. We saw her as Holmes in Baskerville up in Edmonds last year and loved it.

She is teaching a class in Sherlockian film adaptations for the Seattle International Film Festival next February as well, and though I am burning with a need to kibitz and offer unsolicited advice, I am trying very hard not to be That Guy about it.

So of course when we heard she was reprising the role of Holmes in a new production, The Baker Street Irregulars, we immediately determined to go.

The reason we had thought we would do it as a little overnight mini-vacation is because we didn’t want to deal with the drive up and the drive back in a single day, especially after an evening performance, a plan which would likely have gotten us home well after midnight. (Look, we’re old, all right?) Then, with us getting ill– it hit Julie especially hard– I had thought we would just have to miss it.

BUT! There was ONE matinee, last weekend, and we determined that we would just bundle up, layer on the mentholatum, and go to that one. And we’d go early enough to have lunch.

And for us, in North Bend, there’s really only one place to do that.

See, North Bend is where they filmed a lot of the exteriors for Twin Peaks, which we adore almost as much as Sherlock Holmes.

Twede’s Cafe, which served as the Double R Diner in the series, is literally on the same block as the theater, right around the corner.

(Kris told us, “I know, right? I’m doing a play in a former Masonic Temple right around the corner from the Double R Diner. I mean, I expected the Red Room to open up for me or something.”)

Somehow, despite being barely half an hour away from the place since Twin Peaks first aired, we had never actually been inside the cafe. Since we were in dire need of comfort food, this outing was the perfect excuse.

North Bend in general, and Twede’s in particular, is very aware that Peaks fans are a huge part of their clientele.

And they’re not shy about telling you, either.

The cafe itself is more or less a real-life version of the Double R, except it’s PACKED. We were informed that this is pretty typical.

The food was good and the portions were HUGE. We regard our excursions as cheat days for our normally austere diet and Twede’s was happy to oblige. I have to admit that neither of us tried the cherry pie– too full for dessert, frankly. My milkshake was almost a meal in itself and the Twin Peaks burger was roughly the size of a mountain– even AFTER I told them to leave off the lettuce and tomato. Our fries were ‘bottomless’ but neither Julie or I could manage seconds after the haystack-sized pile that came with the burgers.

The hall to the restrooms is lined with photos and memorabilia from the show.

I was pleased to see a number of framed copies of Wrapped in Plastic, the Twin Peaks fanzine. I used to pick one up at my comics shop every so often back in the 1990s and always enjoyed it.

The cafe also has a Marvel Comics connection, apparently.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I rarely meet a comics person who isn’t a Twin Peaks fan as well.

I have to admit we were utter geeked-out Peaks tourists in every way, to our waitress’s mild amusement. (I said to Julie, “Want to feel old? She’s younger than the show.”) We ate hugely, took a lot of pictures, and even fell for a couple of t-shirts. Julie opted for the “Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department” model in green, so I got this one.

In fairness, the coffee was just on the high side of okay, but it was pretty good for typical diner stuff. I am not really a snob about my coffee, though– too many years of overboiled urn swill in AA meetings.

The play itself was a delight. Here is Kris as Holmes, along with Dr. Watson, doing the pre-show announcements.

I took that one shot literally moments before she said, “No photographs or recording, please,” so that’s the only one we got.

Kris had been surprised to see us since she hadn’t really promoted the play much — her part’s not that big, and it was a bit of an excursion out of Seattle to get there, she explained– but we thought it was well worth it. The Irregulars, the band of street urchins led by the intrepid young Wiggins that Sherlock Holmes uses as his information network, is another great concept that Conan Doyle threw away in the originals, much like he did Professor Moriarty, Irene Adler, and Mycroft and the Diogenes Club.

And like those, the idea has proven irresistible to Sherlockian pastiche authors. I confess I’ve even done one myself.

If I had given it any thought at all, I probably would have assumed that the play was adapted from one of several YA novels starring the Irregulars. But in fact it’s from comics.

Specifically, a series of graphic novel originals from writer Tony Lee and artist Dan Boultwood.

I haven’t read them myself but if the play we saw is any indication (I gather Mr. Lee had a hand in the adaptation) the books are great fun.

As nearly as I can tell, the show we saw is an amalgam of two of the books…the first and fourth.

Very faithful to the original stories, but with lots of original characters, the story was a delightful romp through Holmesian lore, and the staging was remarkable. They even managed to include a version of this scene…

…and this one.

The North Bend production closes tonight, so I’m afraid promoting it here isn’t much help. But you might want to check out the books; we certainly will.

So I guess we got a little bit of bookscouting in after all. Kind of.

Back next week with something cool.

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  1. tomfitz1


    As a longtime David Lynch/Twin Peaks fan, I envy you. You’ve got to visit one of the iconic scenes of TP.

    I was rewatching the series TP from the dvd set TP: The complete mystery that has the entire 2 season, Fire Walk With Me, and loads of dvd extras before watching Season 3: The Revival.

    Anyway, it may be of interest to you that in the dvd extras, they showed the place that you mentioned and interviewed the owner of the restaurant. There is also an annual outing for TP fans that comes to North Bend and they do tours as well.

    If you haven’t seen the dvd set, it’s worth seeing it as it also shows the deleted/extended footage of Fire Walk With Me which has more David Bowie scenes than shown in the movie.

  2. Edo Bosnar

    Re: ” I rarely meet a comics person who isn’t a Twin Peaks fan as well.” Well, you’ve met me, and I’m not. (Although that’s just because I never really watched it…)

    Also, this: “…I told them to leave off the lettuce and tomato.” You…, I can’t… Wha-… There’s just no words.
    The place sounds great, though – I’d like to take up the bottomless fries challenge, because I really, really love French fries and will just keep eating them as long as someone keeps putting them in front of me.

  3. Jeff Nettleton

    Not a Twin peaks fan; but, the play sounds pretty darn cool. The Irregulars were a masterful creation’ loved the version in Without a Clue, where it was a toss-up who was more crooked, Wiggins or Reginald Kincaid/Sherlock Holmes.

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