Tales from the highway 

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For over five years now, five days a week, I've been making the 53-kilometre mad dash up the Sea to Sky Highway from Squamish to Whistler and back again.

Lately, the highway has been a ride to remember.

As we all know, the weather has been bananas at times for driving (great for skiing). The colder-than-normal conditions didn't help, and now the resulting bumps are spreading and shifting almost daily, along with crumbling potholes that would be expected in a much colder climate, like my Prairie hometown of Winnipeg.

And doing the drive at night is treacherous because the highway lines have become difficult to see.

That's without the usual offerings of snow, ice, rain and fog.

Full props to the road crews who have been out in all sorts of weather and all sorts of times, setting up signs to warn us of the highway's buckling, and filling in the damned holes.

Eventually, my Pique colleagues will likely write something newsy on the work that is clearly needed, looking into the costs and traffic disruptions.

Since the resort brings in $1.37 million a day in tax revenue to the federal and provincial governments (combined) — generating 25 per cent of the entire annual tourism export revenue of British Columbia — fixing the highway quickly from Vancouver northward will be a no brainer, right?

I'm cautiously optimistic, but I still want to poke the Ministry of Highways beast. So how about it, guys? There is an election on, you know...

And all of us have driver stories. Last week I was behind a hardware truck heading north. It was piled ridiculously high, maybe 4.5 metres off the top of the flatbed.

It looked dodgy enough to me and, as if to provoke my worry, a large package of insulation fell off the top of it and into the slow lane at Power Line Hill, just north of the Callaghan Valley.

My distance behind the truck and the general lack of traffic were in my favour; I was able to swerve around the insulation with enough time to do it safely and sound off a nice long string of swearwords.

I don't think the driver even noticed he'd lost part of his load; he never stopped. We took the same turnoff at Function Junction and off he went to deliver what was left of his load.

And then there's the time last summer when I passed a car towing a camper going northbound in the southbound fast lane on the Sea to Sky Highway at BOB (The Big Orange Bridge). That was a special moment — the guy had stopped on the highway, trying to turn the whole rig around. I have no idea how he could have gotten there. There are concrete dividers.

In that case, I called police and hoped they got to the scene before an actual head-on crash happened, or before some kind of road-rage antic took over.

In both cases, no news reports followed, so it must've worked out in the end. Two Sea to Sky miracles.

When I need to reach a large group of fellow drivers quickly, I turn to Facebook and "The Sea to Sky Road Conditions" page. If you haven't joined it yet, you should — 12,530 had as of Wednesday.

Here is some etiquette for its use.

Use it sparingly. It is pretty irksome to see five messages in a row asking about road conditions between Squamish and Vancouver. Scroll up and down to see what is there first. Add to ongoing threads.

One policy on the page is don't post photos of accidents (that is someone's loved one), but do report them.

No trolling or attacks tolerated.

Do mention road and weather conditions, delays and things like packages of insulation in the road. Share videos and photos to make your point.

The area covered by "Sea to Sky Road Conditions" runs from Vancouver to Lillooet. People look out for each other. It's nice to see the general "stay safe out there" comments, as well as families making sure their loved one is home. It's online community in the best sense.

I have no doubt that lives have been saved since its inception, and many have avoided hours of traffic snarls when drivers have checked the the page before hitting the road.

Thanks to the admins. When I started thinking about all the problems on the highway, my thoughts went quickly to them.

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