The Skeptical Cardiologist feels compelled to apologize for the paucity of new and exciting content on this website for the last few months. The reduced post production reflects both a sense that I have covered most of the important topics to which I bring a unique perspective as well as new work challenges and life events.
Unfortunately, post production for the next weeks relative to cardiology will be scant as I have decided to celebrate the end of the pandemic by going on a national park vacation adventure. For the next two weeks the former eternal fiancée and I will be exploring an area that I have never seen before; the pacific northwest.
I wrote about National parks devoted to plants in 2017 when I visited Saguaro National Park.
There are 56 National Parks (NPs) in the U.S. and prior to last week, the skeptical cardiologist had visited 13 of them, none of which were plant-based. Only 4 NPs as far as I can tell are created specifically to preserve a plant species. Three of them are in California, two of which are concerned with really large redwood trees. I haven’t visited Sequoia or Redwood National Park in California but I’ve been to Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco and apparently (per the eternal fiancée ) I wasn’t suitably impressed by the immensity of the coastal redwoods (Sequoia Sempervirens) that grow in their enormity there. Perhaps if I had seen the giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) which grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains my jaw would still be dropped.
There are no plant-based National Parks in Washington (but there are five national forests!) however on our trip to the PNW we are planning on adding three more National Parks and one National Monument to our résumé.
We start with a few days hiking in Mount Rainier National Park, “Washington State’s most renowned natural landmark. The mountain is the contiguous USA’s fifth-tallest peak and an enduring symbol of the Cascade Range, “studded with geologic wonders, boasts gushing waterfalls, wildflower-strewn meadows, and mile upon mile of forested trails.”
Next, we visit the San Juan Islands National Monument which is “situated in the northern reaches of Washington State’s Puget Sound and consists of nearly 450 islands and rock outcrops that lie scattered about the Salish Sea. The national monument—administered by the Bureau of Land Management—is home to a surprisingly diverse array of fauna. Its waters are a haven for harbor seals, porpoises, and orca whales.”
We will stay on “beloved” Orcas island, one of four main inhabitated islands before heading to North Cascades National Park, “an untamed wonderland that lies about two and a half hours northeast of Seattle. It is a hiker’s paradise that contains jewel-like lakes, evergreen forests, and spectacular panoramas.”
Twin Peaks Country
I’ve long been a huge fan of David Lynch and adore his ground-breaking TV production, Twin Peaks. The former eternal fiancée identified the diner where many iconic scenes from that legendary series were filmed.
Just a ten-minute drive from Snoqualmie, visit North Bend, Washington for Twin Peaks’ famous Double R Diner. In real life, it’s Twede’s Cafe, but once you walk in you’ll find Double R signs on the walls from the series, black and white checkered floors, and retro red bar stools. And, yes, you can order a damn fine cup of coffee (and hot!) with a slice of cherry pie. Remember to tell the waiter you take your coffee “black as midnight on a moonless night.”
Further investigations (see this article) revealed multiple other Twin Peaks-related sights in the Snoqualmie region.
The exterior shots of The Great Northern Hotel where Agent Cooper stayed were based on the Salish Lodge and Spa and nearby Snoqualmie falls forms the backdrop for a large portion of the mesmerizing opening credit sequence of Twin Peaks.
The sequence is set to the song “Falling” written by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch and performed by Badalamenti which is arguably the best opening credit music ever written/performed.
To view the 2.5 minute sequence and better appreciate the genius of Lynch and Badalamenti in general go here.
And while the slow transitions and sleepy imagery impart a sense of tranquility, the overall mood of the sequence implies something sinister or somehow unnatural. Lynch uses the title sequence to explore something he’s repeatedly explored: the potential for deception within the warmth of small town America. After all, the show is centered on the discovery that one of its most beloved citizens, the high school Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer, has been brutally murdered. The docile town introduced in the title sequence is now forced to investigate itself in order to unravel a murder mystery.
Our last NP stop will be in Olympic National Park, “one of the Pacific Northwest’s most wild and scenic areas. Encompassing large swaths of an eponymous peninsula, the UNESCO-recognized gem showcases temperate rainforests, glaciated mountain peaks, and dramatic wind-battered beaches.”
Olympic National Park’s three main sections are largely independent from one another. On its western flank, the park is home to rocky monolith-strewn beaches akin to those of the Oregon Coast. Inland, it features dense temperate rainforests carpeted in thick mosses and luscious vegetation. At its center, 8,000+ foot snowcapped mountains soar overhead.
If any readers are familiar with these areas please feel free to leave advice on hiking trails, points of interest, foodie restaurants, and off-the-beaten path esoterica in the comments or in an email (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
N.B. Brief descriptions of the Washington National Parks from this blog
N.B.2 I can’t seem to embed the opening credit sequence in the post (?copyright issues with YouTube) but here is the the haunting Laura Palmer’s theme played by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra for your listening pleasure