Every winter, I’m somewhat embarrassed to confess, my wife and I find ourselves wasting part of a Sunday evening watching the Academy Awards.
We record the show so we can fast forward through pointless items like chatter about who’s wearing whom and whose neckline plunges the deepest. We also skip the commercials, winners’ walks to the stage and most thank you speeches.
So, really, I guess there isn’t that much that holds our attention. But we watch anyway and I assume we’ll probably tune in Sunday night.
Last year, as we watched I was daydreaming about a category I’d find entertaining: Best performance by Washington’s outdoors in a major motion picture. Here are my nominees:
The movies: Most famously, scenes from the “Twin Peaks” movie “Fire Walk with Me” and TV show were filmed here and 25 years later the town still draws fans. North Bend also plays a role early in the 1993 kidnapping thriller “The Vanishing,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock. Looking for something a little lighter, scenes from the 1987 John Lithgow comedy “Harry and the Hendersons” were also filmed in the area.
The experience: Mount Si makes cameos in “Twin Peaks” and “The Vanishing.” Get up close and personal with this mountain by taking the 8-mile round trip hike up 3,150 feet to the summit. Be prepared for snow on the trails up high. For something a little easier, try nearby Little Si. Afterwards, swing by Twede’s Café to check out “Twin Peaks” memorabilia and grab a slice of cherry pie.
Mount St. Helens
The movies: Makes sense that the terrain annihilated by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens could double as a post-apocalyptic landscape. Scenes for the 2009 movie “The Road,” starring Viggo Mortensen, were filmed in the blast zone. The movie is an intense story of a father and son trying to survive end of the world. Mount St. Helens also played the role of a fictional North Cascade mountain when Pierce Brosnan inspects an active volcano in the 1997 action movie “Dante’s Peak.”
The experience: Mount St. Helens climbing permits went on sale Feb. 1 and weekend passes have already sold out. The climb to the crater rim is a challenging hike, climbing about 4,500 feet over a 9-mile round trip. But the view at the top includes Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount Hood and a bird’-eye view of the crater.
Want something a little mellower? In early summer, explore the trails along Forest Road 99 where scenes from “The Road” were filmed. Norway Pass is a scenic 11-mile hike that climbs more 2,300 feet.
The movies: The Cascades show their versatility in an Academy Award-nominated movie and a cult classic. In the 1979 examination of the impact of the Vietnam War on veterans, “The Deer Hunter,” the Cascades are used for Pennsylvania landscape. In the 1981 comedy “Continental Divide” starring John Belushi, the Cascades play the Rockies.
The Experience: A pair of ski areas will give you a taste of these movies. Mount Shuksan is seen in “The Deer Hunter.” The stunning mountain is on display for skiers at Mount Baker. On the way, stop at Nooksack Falls, which are also in the movie.
Crystal Mountain was a filming location for “Continental Divide” The scene where Belushi and Blair Brown share a tent during a snowstorm was filmed on Queen’s Run. The run is one of the more accessible on the mountain and is rated as one of the resort’s easiest.
The movie: The 2007 Sean Penn film “Into the Wild,” starring Emile Hirsch, is based on the popular 1996 Jon Krakauer book. Hirsch plays Chris McCandless, who sets out wandering the country on a journey of self-discovery.
The experience: Well before the movie’s sad ending in Alaska, Hirsch’s character befriends a woman played by Catherine Keener. The scenes of them playing on a beautiful beach were filmed at Cape Disappointment State Park. The park has plenty of beaches and an abundance of campsites that are open all year. Hike Discovery Trail to see the beach used in the film.
Fort Worden State Park
The movies: A sometimes sappy love story but still entertaining drama, and a horror flick used Port Townsend’s Fort Worden State Park. The park was used for much of the 1982 film “An Officer and Gentleman,” starring Richard Gere, Louis Gossett Jr. and Debora Winger. Gossett won an Academy Award for his role.
The terrifying 2002 movie “The Ring,” starring Naomi Watts, is about people who die after watching a video. One of the scenes in the video is on the park’s beach.
The experience: Take a day and explore Fort Worden State Park until you have nowhere else to go. Wander the retired gun batteries, a wonderland for kids. Then head to the beach near Point Wilson Lighthouse. This section of beach was used both for “The Ring” video and one of the scenes where Gossett tries to break Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”