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      10-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #1
Veritable
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Drives: '13 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan 6MT
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada

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Veritable and The_Ng's Epic 2012 Island Trip - 3 days, 1657km, 100 pics and 11 vids

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Between October 20th to 22nd I was on a 3 days Vancouver Island trip to drive pretty much everything that is worth driving. Normally I schedule 2 separate trips per year to do the Island, but this year I simply ran out of weekends and decided to cram everything into one trip. Saved on the ferry costs too, which is a bit of a bonus....

My co-worker Franklin (The_Ng on this forum, I think he signed up fairly recently) joined me on this trip, so the formerly Alpine White (resprayed with a slightly golden metallic white; a factory Lambo colour I believe) lightly modded (painted black wheels / kidney grills / side markers, front lip, rear diffuser, Akrapovic Evolution full exhaust system) 2008 BMW E92 M3 Coupe is his. The bone-stock (except for a full frontal Ventureshield treatment; yes my car was prepared from week one for driving trips like these, and I do a fair bit of them per year) Melbourne Red 2011 BMW E90 M3 Sedan with the plate IM STIG is mine.

Camera equipment was a Canon 50D + Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, with a B+W 77mm Circular Polarizer for the Qualicum Beach shots only. Video camera was a GoPro HD Hero 960, set at 720p @ 30fps.

Here is the overall trip map:



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Day 1 started in Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, where we caught the 1st ship of the day:




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Then, we took a route through the Highlands to skirt around Victoria:




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Onto the Sooke Loop:




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Here are a few pictures at the pull-out next to the bridge that took us over Roche Cove and looking into the Sooke Basin:







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Westcoast Highway (BC Highway 14), both the western-most and southern-most numbered highway in all of Canada, where the weather can and DID change at a moment's notice. A planned photo stop with the wildness of the open Pacific as the backdrop at Jordan River was cancelled due to rain, but the road was still as great as ever:




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End of the line at Port Renfrew, B on the overall map and the start of the Westcoast Trail:









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Port Renfrew used to be the end of the paved road, with the only way to go being back to Sooke, but the BC government decided to pave the logging road towards Lake Cowichan to make a circle route. Here is the result, formerly the Harris Creek Mainline and now the Pacific Marine Road:




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Here is Lake Cowichan:






And a video of the Old Lake Cowichan Highway (the pre-1970 alignment of BC Highway 18, now sparsely travelled and much more fun):



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Here is us arriving in Port Alberni for a quick break on the waterfront, with the paper mill in the background, D on the overall map... yes, that is indeed raindrops and rays of sunshine:





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Pacific Rim Highway, BC Highway 4:




Arriving in Ucluelet, C on the overall map... decided not to go to the more-famous Tofino because the 50km round trip on an arrow-straight road was not appealing. Besides, Ucluelet has a better waterfront:










And then, back to Port Alberni, with about 1/3 of the way done in the dark:



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But, we made it, thanks to the excellent HID adaptive headlights on the E9x 3-series. Overnight in Port Alberni:






Cold-start with a catless exhaust system. Love it... not :P

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Onwards through the (also) excellent stretch of BC Highway 4, now called the Alberni Highway, towards the popular East Coast... over the Alberni Summit, and through famous Douglas Firs in Cathedral Grove of MacMillan Provincial Park:



We ended up in Qualicum Beach, where Vancouverites aspire to retire to:










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We took the seaside Island Highway up the coast, and stopped at Canadian Forces Base Comox for a few pictures before continuing onto Campbell River, the gateways to both the North and Strathcona:



The front gate at CFB Comox, E on the overall map:





The outdoor museum:






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From Campbell River (G on the overall map), we jumped onto the Gold River Highway, BC Highway 28, one of the top 5 drives in the entire province:




Arriving at Gold River, F on the overall map:







Coming back, we stopped at the Strathcona Dam:












Back to Campbell River for a late lunch / early dinner, before pushing onwards to Port Hardy:



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The Northern Island Highway, BC Highway 19 north of Campbell River, I have frequently called the Loneliest Highway on the Island. 250km+ with only 3 settlements on the road itself, it is sparsely travelled every time I drive it. No cellular phone reception throughout its length is a given... and then having to drive it in the pitch black with no light posts, in the pouring rain, for over an hour, was an experience I will never forget. Sorry, no video of that run, as the GoPro showed NOTHING after the sun went down... so the below video was taken on Day 3 as we make our way back to civilization:




But, we made it:




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Morning in Port Hardy, H on the overall map:




Frozen Red and Frozen White


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150km+ in pitch blackness, 500km+ round trip, on the Northern Island Highway which is always interesting but never "epic," just to get this far north in order to do my own personal favorite road on the Island, BC Highway 30, the Port Alice Highway. Wonderful pavement with a complete lack of traffic, with the best curves I have ever experienced, I keep coming back again and again. Slightly short at 30km long, but you can believe me when I say that by the end of the journey, having done it to and fro, you will be tired from all the steering work you have had to do:




The scenery that greets you as you emerge from the forest isn't half bad either:















Coming back from Port Alice to the Highway 19 Junction:



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From Port Alice, we did a straight-shot down to Nanaimo and caught an early afternoon ferry at Duke Point back to Tsawwassen. Here is what the cars looked like after 3 days of rain, wet but drying pavement, puddles, and even some gravel from road repairs (and Strathcona Dam). Please note that Franklin cheated a bit by spraying his car down at a self-serve car wash in Qualicum Beach:








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Total mileage: 1657km
Total fuel spent: 204.63L
Total fuel costs: $296.52

Every time I do these kind of trips, I'm reminded once again just how perfectly BMW gets the sports car / grand tourer balance right with the M3. Over those 3 days, we tackled super-tight roads (like the Highlands), twisty mountain highways with barrage of turns (like the Port Alice and the Gold River Highways), weather conditions that change without notice (like the West Coast Highway), 100km/h+ for hours in the pouring rain and pitch blackness (like the run up to Port Hardy), and then the 400km+ straight shot down 2/3 of the island to catch the ferry. No matter what the driving task, as long as it's done on a paved road, the car felt completely at home. Best car in the world, but I think most of us know that already

Thanks for watching!
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