Monday, June 8, 2009

Nerves of Steel

This seems to be a prerequisite for travelling in BC - nerves of steel! On our way up to Whistler recently to have a nice relaxing little break, we were constantly reminded not to let our guard down. Looks like there is no time to enjoy feeling safer on the much improved Sea To Sky Highway, there are still too many reminders of pending doom. Every twist and turn gives you some new potential hazard to worry about, you have signs warning you of rocks falling, and we did have a nasty rock slide only last year on that stretch. Then each park stop comes with the gentle reminder, 'You are in bear country', followed by a list of what to do if you encounter one of these locals - top of the list, don't panic...yes, I'm sure everyone feels quite calm when standing close to a bear. Then of course, you've got your fire hazard postings listed everywhere telling you what level of danger we are currently experiencing. When we were in Pemberton, we did see a few puffs of smoke coming off one of the mountains, but no one seemed too worried about it....the current level was 'moderate', I think they start to pay attention once it reads 'high', or once the flames are shooting 20 feet in the air.
We also get a few variations in our warnings, depending on the weather.
Apparently, Jon Bon Jovi named his album, Slippery When Wet after he had travelled on the highway from Whistler, where there are many signs bearing the term "Slippery When Wet", and had taken a liking to the phrase. Not only does the rain bring us slippery roads it also brings us our famous mudslides know the ones that result in you being re-routed on some road that you've never heard of, that adds an additional 5 hours to your journey!
Then of course in the winter you get to take your chances with the seemingly increasing number of avalanches.
Yes, our province really is a beautiful place to just chill.
The photo above was taken on Saturday when we took the kids to Othello Tunnels, a nice little family outing providing the tunnels don't cave in or you don't lose your footing and plunge into the raging Coquihalla River below.
Only yesterday, I was looking at the Sun Peaks Resort website as we are thinking of heading up there for a couple of days. I'm checking out the activities and see canoeing, yes, that's what I'll do, I'll go on one of the canoe tours. The picture of this looks so relaxing, and besides, it's not like the Ogopogo lives in that lake, so obviously nothing to worry about. I shall paddle my way to Nirvana.
Then as I read about the tours, I come across this: The lakes are also home to moose, bear, and even cougars all of which are frequently spotted. Oh how nice, lining the shoreline will be a gang of animals wearing napkins tied around their necks (assuming they have good table manners) waiting to enjoy me as their picnic - the moose will play the part of maitre d' in this scenario.
Although, thinking about bears and picnics, it does remind me of that song. My mum would sing Teddy Bear's Picnic to me when I was sick as child. It always evoked nice visuals for me...the cute furry bears, with their basket full of cheese, bread, fresh strawberries and a flask of tea (not sure if they drink wine), all placed neatly on the gingham cloth that they've laid out. Somehow though, I'm not sure that's how it would play out in real life. Note to self, these animals, although adorable are WILD!! Besides, I've already had one close encounter of the cougar kind and that was plenty close enough for me!!

The funny thing though, is if you've grown up in BC these warnings are just part of the normal signage that we've become accustomed to seeing. I don't know that it stops any of us from going where we want to go, for us it's just part of the package.
It does make me wonder though, how this prevailing doom is viewed by people visiting us from other countries - maybe that's part of our 'wild west' appeal.
I've travelled to the UK several times and don't ever remember seeing any signs warning me of pending doom. I suppose they could post signs saying 'you are in sheep country'....this may delay your journey while you wait for them to cross the road....I have experienced that before. Or perhaps they could start labelling the sticks of rock that they sell at the seaside with, 'warning, tooth dislodging may occur during the consumption of this product' - that would be good to know before hand. Nope, I think the worst thing I had to worry about was 'minding the gap'...which seeing as I'm small, is a warning I do heed, I certainly don't want to fall onto the railway tracks - not good! No wonder I enjoy my time in the UK so much, it's a place that I can truly relax, far from the pending doom of holidays in my neck of the woods. The closest thing to danger was maybe when I walked some of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. My boyfriend at the time and I, walked about a 12 mile portion of the 186 mile beautiful cliff top path. The sheer drops weren't too much of a worry but we did cross a section that had signs reading, 'WARNING: SHOOTING RANGE' - 'please call such and such phone number to ensure safe passage', or you can take a detour that re-routes you into the village then meets up on the path further along. Hmm, what to do....remember this was before the days o'cell phones so we'd first have to find a phone to make that call - big time waster in my book, and I really wanted to continue along the actual trail. My boyfriend turns to me and says, 'what should we do?'. I ponder for a split second and say, I think we should make a run for it, just run straight on through and if we hear any shots being fired....just start to ZIG-ZAG!!! Seemed like the obvious choice to me, after all, it's not like bears were doing the shooting!! So that day, the man from Southampton had a little taste of what it was like to relax 'Canadian style'! Personally, I found the whole experience quite refreshing!

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