Friday, September 09, 2011

Tofino - Day 1

One of the things I love most about Tofino is how remote it is. This is not a place you wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to go there.” To get there this time, we flew out of SFO to Vancouver at 6:15 a.m., which meant we had to leave our house at 4:15 a.m. Which meant we had to get up at 3 a.m. To say that we didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before would be an understatement.
When we flew to Vancouver last year, our flight from SFO was severely delayed due to fog. Knowing that this is a frequent issue with SFO and that plans rarely go according to plan, I padded our schedule pretty heavily. Imagine my surprise when everything worked out perfectly.
  • We got to SFO in twenty minutes from our house. 
  • At Park & Ride the van was there to pick us up within minutes of pulling in.
  • Our van driver took us to the right departure terminal - given that we were flying to Vancouver and left out of the international terminal last year, we told him to take us there. He asked a couple of questions and let us know that we were actually flying out of the domestic terminal. We were dubious, but he was right.
  • Security went quickly and smoothly.
  • Our flight left on time - no fog delays!
  • We landed twenty minutes early. 
  • Unlike most airports we’ve recently visited, the rental cars are located right outside the terminal which means we didn’t have to wait for a van to pick us up and drive us offsite and so we had our car - a Nissan Versa - within minutes.
I had reserved us a spot on the 12:15 ferry out of Horseshoe Bay to accommodate any delays in our schedule getting in to Vancouver but with everything running so smoothly we arrived at 9:45 a.m. Pulling up to the gate, we were told we could get on the 10:15 ferry to Nanaimo - in the end we were the second-to-last car they put on the ship. Success!

Horseshoe Bay is a much more scenic departure point than Tsawwassen. 

I thought it would be cute to wear the same shirt I wore on our ferry to Vancouver Island last year.
The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino takes about three hours without traffic. Because of our perfect morning, even with stops at Cathedral Grove and Kennedy Lake we were able to get into Tofino much earlier than we had anticipated, which meant we could relax a bit before dinner. 

While it was sunny & warm just miles from Tofino, once we reached the Pacific Rim National Park, it became cold, gray and foggy. I didn't mind because I like that weather, but the forecast we had read the day before said the entire area would be warm and sunny with temps in the upper 60s.

Pulling in to the area and up to our hotel, I was happy to see that everything was as I remembered it (as I have a tendency to romanticize things I love). Check in was easy and we were happy to find out that we were given the same room we stayed in last year. Making check in even lovelier, when we got to our room we found a basket of goodies and a note from the manager welcoming us back and wishing me a happy birthday. There was a bottle of sparkling wine chilling in the fridge and two champagne flutes on the table. 

Rather than wasting brain cells hemming and hawing about what we should do for dinner, we decided to create a Tofino tradition by returning to the Sea Shanty restaurant on the harbor as that's what we did on our first night last year.

We wrapped up our first day of vacation by attempting to watch the sunset from Mackenzie Beach, just below our room. While we may not have had blazing orange skies on our first night in town, all in all the day was a lovely way to kick off our vacation.

As I was finishing writing this post, a 6.7 earthquake has struck off the coast of Vancouver Island, 50 miles from Tofino. Twitter tells me everyone's fine in Tofino and while there was a whole lotta shaking, rattling, and rolling, so far there's no damage reported.