Alta states 

The Sea To Sky Highway: Saying goodbye to a legend

It’s not like I’m going to really miss the old Sea To Sky Highway. Like all long-time users who have had to suffer its slings and arrows over the years, I don’t know how many times I wished the highway was twinned, or straightened — or even updated a little. I made deals with God (hard to do when you’re an agnostic). Damned the engineers who designed it — and the bureaucrats who didn’t give them enough money to do the job properly. I vowed I’d never drive fast again. Even promised I’d never drive again, period. Whatever it took — just as long as I was delivered from the hell that Highway 99 had flung me into...

But that’s all in the past. Now that it’s happening, now that we’re finally getting our new four-lane ribbon of asphalt, I can’t help but wax nostalgic for that old cantankerous winding road that made the trip to Whistler such an exciting adventure.

It was our very own magic looking glass. And like Alice, every time we got to Wonderland, we marvelled at the impossibility of it all. The highway was like a guardian — anybody who dared challenge its off-camber curves and blind corners would be pushed to the limit of their driving skills. And if it happened to snow or rain — lookout! Only the worthy would succeed. OK, so maybe I’m getting just a little too romantic about its demise. Still, it’s one of the most dependable story topics to broach with old-time Whistlerites. No matter who, no matter when they came to Whistler — everybody, it seems, has a Sea To Sky Highway story to tell.

I remember my very first trip to Whistler in the early 1970s. Being from Quebec, I came to Canada’s westernmost province with a certain tolerance for high-speed driving. But I wasn’t driving that morning. My buddy, who was also a Quebecois, was at the wheel of a power-challenged VW bug whose best days were long-passed. Yet the frailty of our ageing chariot didn’t faze him one bit. He kept the accelerator pedal pressed to the floor from Horseshoe Bay to the Cheakamus Canyon. That’s when we met our first “Slow to 15 Miles Per Hour” sign. Or at least, that was the first time we noticed one…

Remember that sign? Remember the hairpin curve in the road it warned about? Well, being from the relative flatlands of Eastern Canada, we’d never seen a “Slow to 15 mph” sign before. And having recently learned how slow B.C. drivers were, we really didn’t take its warning too seriously. Besides, we were in a hurry to get to Whistler and sample its legendary powder snow. We didn’t have time to slow down to 15. Bad decision.

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