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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Friday, August 01, 2008

This is one of those "glad you weren't here"

kind of events. Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, and especially those of you who live in British Columbia, will know all about the Sea to Sky Highway, one of the most dangerous stretches of roads in North America.

It runs from just north of Vancouver to Whistler on a very narrow strip of road between the deep blue sea a long way down on one side and the rocky Coast Mountains on the other. It's really the only route north out of Vancouver to the coastal communities - Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, Britannia Beach, and others. (The alternative is an 8 hour - as opposed to a 2-3 hour - drive and that road is even worse.) It's the ultimate long and winding road. And it's not safe - not at any time.

It's not safe for a bunch of reasons. First, it's narrow and it's full of curves. Second, it's jam-packed with tourists who don't know how to handle the mountains or where the road is going next. Third, it's also jam-packed with skiiers who live in Vancouver but spend as much time in possible in Whistler who DO know the road and drive it like Mario Andretti. Fourth, the weather can be brutal at any time of year - snow storms in the winter, rainstorms the rest of the year. Fifth, the rock above the road isn't all that stable, there are rock slides and mud slides fairly regularly. And sixth, right now the government - in order to make the road acceptable to the Olympic Committee - is doing ongoing $160 million worth of upgrades, including blasting, to the road.

The road is often closed for a few hours or a day or part of one due to any of the above reasons. Accidents, acts of nature, construction.

This week, though, it's going to be closed for at least five days. And this is why -

See that tiny man wearing the yellow vest in the middle? That gives you some idea of the size of those rocks. Some of the boulders are the size of semi-trailers. The debris pile is as much as 90 feet deep in places. They have to blast the weakened part of the cliff above it before they do anything.

Luckily, no one was hurt. It happened at midnight or close to it but at any other time of the day? Who knows how many people would be buried under those rocks? Pretty scary, huh?

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