Remember back in early September when I wrote what amounts to a love letter to Tofino, British Columbia?
Well, following that post a crazy thing happened: we planned a quick trip to Tofino to close out our time on the west coast.
Crazy, right? Yeah. That’s how we do.
Shortly after our visas were approved and we began scheduling all of the moving stuff, Alan found out he had to go to Seattle for a couple of days for work. After talking it over we decided to tack on a three night trip to Tofino, and oh my god I’m so glad we did but holy cow how in the hades did we ever make it work?
The movers came to our apartment on Saturday. On Sunday, I dropped Alan off at the airport and then gave my father in law back his SUV. I stayed in the apartment – sleeping on an air mattress – Sunday and Monday night. On Tuesday afternoon, our friend S dropped me off at Oakland International and I flew up to Seattle to join him. On the flight up I started to feel queasy but chalked it up to nervous tension or the salad I’d eaten at Chili’s in the terminal. When I landed, I got sick, but again didn’t think much about it. I rallied and picked up our rental car and drove to the hotel. When Alan was done with his meetings for the day we drove into downtown for dinner at Elliott’s Oyster House, one of our favorite restaurants in Seattle. The view was stunning, the weather was gorgeous, and as always, the oysters were terrific.
Unfortunately in the middle of the night I started getting sick again and again, and by the time Alan woke up for the morning, I was in bad shape. I showered and we skipped breakfast in favor of getting on the road. We drove from Seattle up to Vancouver and were pleasantly surprised to see the border crossing free of traffic. I managed not to get sick which was a huge plus! Once in Vancouver we bypassed the city and drove north to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. It takes longer to get there than going to the Tsawassen terminal south of the airport, but it’s infinitely more scenic.
I tried eating an oatmeal at Starbucks but again – sick. By this point I was feeling all sorts of achy and feverish as well so I quit cursing the salad at Chili’s and started realizing that I had the flu. The ferry ride across the Straight of Georgia is a bit of a blur to me because I spent it trying not to get sick and then getting sick in a bathroom stall. We sat outside for a bit, but it started raining so we eventually made our way back to the car to wait out the remainder of the ride. Once off the ferry, I managed to stay awake and not get sick and the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino was beautiful … and torrential. The rain was coming down something fierce! At one point I stopped counting waterfalls because there were just so darn many of them.
We arrived in Tofino and checked into our rental at Pacific Sands Beach Resort. The second we got our luggage out and ran through the rain to get to the room I started shivering. Fifteen minutes later I was out of my wet clothes and wrapped in a robe that I wanted to pack away in my luggage when we left. I was so damn hot, but so damn cold at the same time. Alan asked what I wanted to do for dinner and I mumbled something about soup. He came back about an hour later, having gone to Wildside Grill, Tofino Brewing, and Beaches, a cute little gourmet grocery shack in town. We ate dinner together but I legitimately have no recollection of it. I managed to stumble back upstairs and burrow under the covers with sweatpants, t-shirt, socks, and robe wrapped around me to keep me warm.
I woke up sometime around 4 a.m. and my fever had broke and I was no longer freezing. Alas, I wasn’t completely out of the woods yet because the second I went downstairs and drank a giant glass of ice water, I got sick all over again. I ended up canceling my hot stone massage at Ancient Cedars Spa at the Wickanninnish Resort because I was worried that I’d get on the table and then have to rush out before getting sick all over the masseuse. Even though there’s a 48 hour cancellation period, they were gracious enough to let me cancel without imposing a fee. So thankful. Later that afternoon I started to feel better and we went for a long walk on Cox Bay, the beach our resort was on. Pacific Sands provides slickers and we’d packed our wellies so we were protected from the rain.
Once back inside, I worked on my book for awhile as Alan took meetings and did some more work. Later that evening I felt well enough to eat so we went for a long walk on Chesterman Beach and then drove into town for dinner at Kuma Tofino.
The next day we woke up bright and early to sunny skies and warmer temps. We drove into town for the 5.5 hour kayak tour we’d booked a couple of days earlier. When we got there we found out that we were the only people on the tour, something that happens for us quite frequently. I don’t know how we end up getting so lucky, but I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had a guide all to ourselves when an activity should have otherwise been loaded with fellow tourists. We picked up sandwiches at The Co-Op, wrapped my iPhone in a ziplock bag, and set out on our paddle. It was glorious! We were paddling with the tide so it was fairly easy to go far and fast. We went across the harbor and out toward Lemmings Inlet, where we paddled through an oyster farm and then over to Sharps Island for lunch before doing some more paddling and then coming back in. We wrapped up the paddle by having a helicopter take off right above us as we made our way back to the shop.
After our paddle we went for another walk on Cox Bay and then I fell asleep in the giant master bedroom bathtub while I listened to the sound of the waves coming through the sliding glass doors while Alan napped.
Before dinner we watched the sun set spectacularly on Mackenzie Beach, the first beach we set foot on in Tofino when we started visiting back in 2015. There’s just something pretty damn magical about Mackenzie as the sun dips beyond the horizon, and Friday night did not disappoint!
Following that wonderful sunset, during which we had a long, leisurely talk about how far we’ve come in life and about the journey and adventures we were about to undertake in a matter of days, we had dinner at Wolf in the Fog, a new to us restaurant and one that was named the Best New Restaurant in Canada in 2014 by Air Canada. Our meal was terrific – as you would expect of a restaurant of that caliber – but what was really neat were our drinks. Imagine if you will smoked salmon infused vodka and not hating. Imagine actually loving it. I don’t know that I’d want to drink it on the regular, but in that drink? Perfection! We closed the night out with another Friends marathon and feeling the effects of the paddle, the sunset, and the wonderful dinner I passed out cold.
Saturday morning came all too soon and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and make the long journey back to Oakland. We had a beautiful drive from Tofino, out through the Pacific Rim National Park, down Highway 4 to Port Alberni where mountains like you can only imagine loomed over you both threateningly and magnificent in their beauty, and then on to Nanaimo where we made it to the ferry hours earlier than we had intended. We boarded the boat and had a nice, leisurely sail back across the Straight before pulling in to Tsawassen and then driving through border control and down to Seattle where we encountered a ton of traffic before finally making it to the airport for our flight home.
It was a long day, to be sure, that capped off a whirlwind trip, but I’m so happy that we made it a priority and that we are fortunate enough to be able to throw together crazy plans like this at the last minute. It gave us the breath we needed to take before boarding a plane to Dublin to begin the next phase of our lives together.