|Subject: Re: Tofino etc.|
On your Saturday drive from south Seattle to Tsawwassen and then on to Tofino, the most demanding driving will be in the last leg from Alberni to Tofino. The road is paved but is narrow and poorly engineered, and in places is really just a number of old logging roads linked together. It's much like some of the back roads in your nearby Anza Borrego Park except that there is dense forest along the road margins, so make sure that the driver is rested and alert for wild animals and impatient drivers.
In terms of timing it would be good to get through the sometimes heavy traffic area between south Seattle and Everett early. Maybe plan to start out from the airport hotel and drive for an hour and then stop for breakfast if progress is going well?
Summer weekend traffic at the border can be heavy depending on vagaries of cross-border shopping and whatever sports or other events are going on at a particular time. As you get closer to Bellingham try tuning the radio to either AM980 or AM1130. These are two Vancouver stations which normally give border crossing wait times as part of the "traffic watch"after half-hour newscasts. There are two border crossings at Blaine, the main "Peace Arch" or "Douglas" crossing, and also the less picturesque "Pacific Highway", sometimes called "Pac Highway" or "Truck Crossing". The radio stations give crossing times for each of these and often they can be quite different. According to the CKNW AM980 broadcast archive for last Saturday July 12th (available at the station website) wait times at 10:00 a.m. were 60 minutes for northbound traffic at Peace Arch and 40 minutes at the Truck Crossing.
Because BC Ferries reservations are void if you present yourself at the ticket booth less than 30 minutes prior to the posted departure time it might be safest to allow for a two-hour border crossing. Hopefully it will be half that or less.
Crossing time from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo is approx. 2 hours and adding another 15 minutes to unload and get oriented toward Tofino should make it 3:00 p.m. that you leave Nanaimo, putting you in Tofino at about 6:30 p.m. allowing for weekend traffic.
Once there you can ponder whether to order the fresh Ucluelet hand-peeled shrimp cocktail, or perhaps the Tofino dunginess crab. Enjoy!
P.S. If you like clam chowder the BC Ferries onboard cafeterias offer great Manhattan style chowder.
Cheers from Jerry in Victoria, where it is mild and partially cloudy but forecasted to be warmer by the weekend.