Leafing Out to the West Coast

I believe I just made the first journey out to the west coast in a Leaf. The other week Sun Country added a Level 2 charger to the Hospitality Inn in Port Alberni, as well as one at the Black Rock resort in Ucluelet. The one at Black Rock isn’t as critical as you’re staying overnight in Ukee anyways so even a 120 V Level 1 charger (i.e. a wall plug) would do.

I took that as the sign to take my Leaf out to the west coast, something I’ve been planning to do for a while. After the ferry I topped up my charge in Nanaimo at the free charger at Beban Park, then headed off to Port Alberni around 10 p.m. As I crawled over the hump into town it became apparent that I’d only end up using half the batteries to get from Nanaimo to Port. Then I spent 4 hours sleeping in the back of the car in the foyer of the hotel to get a full charge because I had no idea how the run to Ucluelet would sap my power. I awoke at 3 a.m. to the noise of the cleaning guy and drove 30 km out the highway to find a nice little side spur to finish my sleep until 8 a.m.

I was treated to brilliant sunshine in the morning. I chose the blue colour to go along with the ocean theme, but I now realize it exactly matches the sky.

After breakfast of peanut butter sandwiches and local huckleberries I continued on into the unknown.

At Sutton Pass I stuck my GoPro sports video camera on the windshield and got some great footage driving down the highway. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted it without realizing I hadn’t copied to the computer first…

Across from the new hydro generation station along Kennedy River is a riverside giant cedar forest trail.

A couple months earlier the pink fawn lilies were in bloom.

And the trilliums.

They are some of the first plants to come up in the spring and the seeds are ready to drop in early July. I had stopped two weeks ago to check them out and the seeds weren’t quite ready, and something had eaten / taken most of the pods. But this time they were ready to go and I salvaged a few.

I took more footage of the crazy highway section above Kennedy Lake and a big rig whizzed by right at the hairy section, making for some good video. Unfortunately I lost that one too.

In the end I only used 2/3 of my batteries to get from Port Alberni to Ucluelet! And I was envisioning dying in the middle of nowhere and having to fire up the emergency generator! It’s just a matter of driving slowly and conservatively.

At the new Black Rock charger. I may have been the first EV to use it.

I kept track of how much battery each section used up, from Nanaimo to Port and from Port to Ucluelet. It turns out I only need to spend an hour and a half charging in Port. Not too bad, so the journey between Nanaimo and Ucluelet that normally takes 3 hours in a regular car will take me about 5 or 6.

If only … if only it had 20% more range, then I could do the whole thing from Nanaimo to Ucluelet in one shot… Makes me lust after a Tesla Model S.

Now onto the real reason for my visit out to the west coast.

The old Ucluelet Mini Aquarium on the left, an unheated shack we have been running for the last 7 summers. The new permanent (and heated) building is the blue one on the right. Interestingly, we use a heat pump to heat the building. The sea water pumped from the dock up to the exhibits and back out is diverted through some concrete tanks you can see under the bottom left of the building overhang. This contains heat exchange plates which take the heat out of the 10 to 17 degree C sea water and heat the building with it.

We had our official grand opening June 1st and I’ve been coming out to work on unfinished business with pipes, pumps and tanks since then, and of course fish too.

A couple months before opening.

Just before opening.

Even the sea lions out in the harbour in front of the aquarium were excited on opening day.

Last minute plumbing 1/2 hour before the grand opening.

Philip with his opening speech.

The Great Tidepool

Philip the founder, and Kumiko

Melanie gets credit for this shot…

This one too.

I got some interesting video with my underwater GoPro housing of the spotted ratfish in The Great Tidepool.

No visit to Ucluelet would be complete without a scramble down at the rocks by the ocean. In June the flash of cinquefoil contrasts vividly with the black rocks.

3 responses

  1. Jen

    Mark, so cool that you have a Leaf. Hope this is the future of driving! Nice flower shots too.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm

  2. Mark N

    Glad the Leaf gets a passing grade; I think you will be very glad you have it in the coming years. Now if Toyota will make me a hybrid Tacoma 4×4 I would be set…

    August 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    • Yeah it will be nice when they make off road EV’s. And with a genset trailer I could go all the way to Mexico with it.

      August 19, 2012 at 5:44 am

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