At times it might have been a little wet. You might argue that day three was even “a lot wet”! But, there seems to be consensus that this might have been one of the best Classic Car Adventures events yet. We set out this year with two goals in mind. First, we wanted to give the Fall Freeze it’s own identity. An event with a different feel than the Hagerty Spring Thaw, but without losing that “Classic Car Adventures” touch. Second, we wanted to surprise everyone, including the die-hards who have joined us for every single event since 2009. Did we succeed?
With this, the second running of the Fall Freeze, we had to ask ourselves, “What is the Fall Freeze?” Was it simply a second “Spring Thaw” held at the other end of the season, or could it be something unique and have a flavour of it’s own? After a few brainstorm and white board sessions, we came up with what we felt would be an evolution of the formula: Great roads, plus include more time to hang out as a group and, where possible, add a premium experience. We aimed to stay true to the Classic Car Adventures formula, but this one would aim to be slightly more relaxed and upscale.
We started on Friday morning in Nanaimo, and headed North towards Campbell River. It was a touch grey, but for the first little bit all the tops were down! Warwick’s route took us on a combination of Oyster Bay views, quaint farmlands, and town bypasses until we turned West for Gold River. Almost instantly we found ourselves on a twisty gem of road, winding our way past lakes, rivers and incredible views. At the end of the road, we joined together as a group for a catered lunch in the local pub. Shorter-than-usual mileage meant a casual post-lunch drive to our finish in Courtenay, arriving relaxed and ready for dinner.
On day two, the skies parted and we started to see sunshine with plenty of time for stops along the way. We shopped as a group at the Coombs Country Market, complete with goats on the roof, and then took over most of the parking lot at Cathedral Grove. But ,our ultimate goal was Tofino, and soon enough we were touring the twisties out to the west coast of the island. In the morning session alone, Trevor and I found ourselves at the back of the pack, the front of the pack, and then mid-group for the arrival in Tofino. Once there, we picked up a picnic lunch from Breaker’s Cafe, and enjoyed the parks and scenery of Tofino. Andrew Snucins, CCA photographer, was on hand with his fiancee Samantha to shoot photos and group shots in the sunshine. Post-lunch it was back along the incredible Hwy 4 to Port Alberni where we would stay the night.
In 2012 we took the Fall Freeze group to an Okanagan winery for dinner, loading them up on a school bus for the transport to and from the venue. So, it was little surprise (although a few raised eyebrows) when our group assembled for dinner within view of a clapped out old school bus parked outside the hotel. It was a little run-down, complete with primer patches and bondo. We could hear the gears turning, “Surely they wouldn’t transport us in that?!” After a brief sound-off to ensure all our cars were present, we walked back behind the hotel, away from the bus to everyone’s relief. Up a grassy hill and onto a rough wooden ‘deck’ by the train tracks. Again, the wheels were turning, “Just what is going on here?” As if on cue, the echo of a steam whistle was heard in the distance. Looks of confusion morphed into smiles of anticipation. With a chuff of steam and a clank of pistons, our dinner transport had arrived!
A fifteen minute steam train ride aboard the Alberni Pacific brought us to Chase and Warren Estate Winery. Here Vaughan Chase had prepared an Italian feast, multiple wine tastings, and a sneak preview of a Dave Koszegi’s CCA project car “Valdi”. An evening of great weather, incredible friends, fantastic food, amazing wine and an outdoor bonfire was capped by a return trip aboard the train.
Sunday was once again damp, but with the skies parting for the best road (between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew) and the memories of the evening before, it was impossible to dampen our spirits. Warwick’s road selection continued to impress, even finding a road which was claimed to be “tight” and “small” by the Mini crowd. One thing is for sure, I’m glad I wasn’t driving American muscle through there! At the finish each car was presented with a thank you gift for participing: a Classic Car Adventures wine box complete with an assortment of wine tools, and a bottle of Chase and Warren Estate wine.
With that, the 2013 Fall Freeze came to an end – ferries to be caught, and memories to savour as winter approaches. Several people have asked us, “How are you going to top that?” And the truth is, we don’t know! But we’ve got a few months to dig into the roadbooks and maps to find something for the Spring Thaw and Fall Freeze 2014. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the event with their participation, and to Jellybean Autocrafters and Dave Koszegi for their sponsorship of this event.
Upcoming event: Monday, October 14th – Thanksgiving Day Sea-to-Sky Run – Vancouver to Britannia Beach.
More images from Andrew Snucins Photography…