For me, the road less travelled is best

I should get out more often ... there’s a whole world out there that has been passing me by.

I should get out more often . . . there’s a whole world out there that has been passing me by.

Just last week I took, for the first time, the “new” Sea to Sky Highway . . . that upgraded for the Winter Olympics route from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler.

Time, however, restricted my adventure to just the “Sea” part, for my destination was Squamish which, while basking in lots of sky, is barely 20 feet or so above high tide.

The purpose of my visit was to assist the Squamish Public Library’s newspaper archives, and sign over the use of photographs and other historical bits that came from the newspaper I published some 20 years ago.

That newspaper, and a couple of others in Whistler, were along with me “retired” from active duty in 1993 and the accumulated boxes of donated photographs, negatives and other newspaper detritus languished until recently in a storeroom. However, the library could not technically use it until they acquired “copyright.” Thus, apparently, a search began for the last known purveyor of said newspapers … yours truly.

A couple of weeks ago an email popped into my inbox asking if I was the same Mark Rushton who was publisher of the Squamish Times when it succumbed to the throes of fiscal death.

I was, I replied, and agreed not only to sign over use of the archives but would do it in person.

So last Wednesday found me rolling up the coast expecting, from all that I had heard over the past couple of years about this spectacular “millionaires’ highway,” to be blown away by the grandeur, ease of travel and cost to create same.

While disappointment isn’t the word I’d use to describe it after travelling the old route so many times, I was surprised at how little things had actually changed. There were a few sections that had been widened, but still lots remain just two lanes, and in those sections I’d guess the route is still as dangerous to speeders as it has been for decades. Further north to Whistler, may reveal greater improvements, but that’s for another trip.

I managed to drive from Abbotsford to Squamish in about an hour and half, very close to what it took me 20 years ago. I knew coming home, however, would be a different story, and it was.

I left Squamish with hopes of hitting Highway 1 well before the eastbound rush began. Just my luck when I reached Horseshoe Bay, a ferry was disgorging vehicles. Then a couple of miles later, tree trimmers had one of the lanes blocked. Following that it was smooth sailing until the south end of the Second Narrows Bridge, where a ship was obviously, from all the container trucks entering the freeway, unloading its cargo. Traffic was again at a crawl.

Then I watched in disgust as car after single-occupant car passed me in the HOV lanes. My lane was stop and go, bumper to bumper, at a snail’s pace, while the flagrant abusers were sailing by. I’d guess at least 10 per cent of HOV users, perhaps closer to 15, were cheating.

As each one zipped by my sorely-tempted-to-disregard “lawabidedness,” I yelled out the open window a special epitaph of contempt.

I was almost hoarse, and close to running out of “bad words” from my rather extensive repertoire of invectives, when lo and behold, just where the SkyTrain guideway arches over the freeway, there were four cop cars in the median … and a whole whack of flagrant HOV abusers pulled over for pricey tickets.

That made my day, and with the few ‘words’ left over I muttered to myself about the idiots who slow to a crawl to “looky-loo” whenever a cop has someone pulled over because, as soon as I passed the pullout of perpetrators, all traffic flowed at (or above) posted speeds all the way home.

When I do get out again, it will be eastbound. In the time it took me from Horseshoe Bay to Abbotsford I could have driven all the way to Merritt, and be relaxing on a lake in my “new” boat!


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