Unfortunately, it was 80 and sunny so we missed all the vampires lurking about as we hiked through the woods. We drove past the high school and didn't see any remotely pale and sparkly people (okay, I lie, there were plenty of pale people, just not quite that pale). We even made it out to La Push and got our picture taken at the treaty line between the vampires and the werewolves (yes, there is actually a road sign).
I'll admit, I'm not a huge Twilight fan. And we didn't come as pilgrims to this land of dark romance. We came on a scouting expedition.* We might have snickered a time or two at the tour buses making their rounds to various 'real and true' Twilight destinations. And once we definitely guffawed as a battered truck with a pit bull in the back passed us on the road. Over the tail gate was painted 'Twilight Sucks'.
|photo by Bryan Bell|
If you can't get out and experience a setting in person, though, Google is your best friend. Even Stephenie Meyer didn't really visit Forks when she wrote Twilight. Here's from her website:
For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs, and looked for the place with the most rainfall in the U.S. This turned out to be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I pulled up maps of the area and studied them, looking for something small, out of the way, surrounded by forest... And there, right where I wanted it to be, was a tiny town called "Forks." It couldn't have been more perfect if I had named it myself. I did a Google image search on the area, and if the name hadn't sold me, the gorgeous photographs would have done the trick. (Images like these of the Hoh Rainforest (a short drive from Forks). Also see forks-web.com ). In researching Forks, I discovered the La Push Reservation, home to the Quileute Tribe. The Quileute story is fascinating, and a few fictional members of the tribe quickly became intrinsic to my story.
Your other best friend might well be Netflix. I love the huge selection of National Geographic specials they have. And watching Ken Burns's National Parks series opened my eyes to so many beautiful landscapes - and not static ones, but ones that changed through the seasons and through time, and because of the people who visited there.
Take home point, then, before I collapse into bed, dream and be wild with your worldbuilding. Be open to using all your senses and use all the tools available to make your setting amazing.
*Every year my dh leads an intrepid group of a dozen+ boy scouts into the wild (last year it was to a rattlesnake infested desert). This year he thought he'd scout out the Olympic Peninsula. After hiking by the beautiful Sol Duc Falls and the Hoh Rainforest, I think he's finally settled on a 30 mile hike down the coastal beaches where he'll only have to keep the boys safe from riptides, high tides, rockfalls and raccoons. Sigh. I love my dh.