The gallbladder saga continues as I try to plan my trip to the city for yet another investigation but I thought I would tell you all about my trip down to the hospital two weeks ago. As you know, we live far enough away from the hospital for it to be a really big pain if anything goes wrong. We have had our share of ups and downs on that highway and for the longest time, I could barely handle North Vancouver because all I ever associated with it was pain and suffering. Between my medical issues and my husband’s many fractures it seemed that sleeping in our car in the hospital parking lot (both dogs painting in your ear) or random benches within the hospital; was the norm.
This last trip was interesting though.
No matter how we sliced it and diced it, there was just to no easy way for me to get to the OR for a 6 am check in, two hours away! Not when you have baby boys. The nanny only comes at 8 am so how on earth do you orchestrate this with only two people? I should also say that although my husband and I have many kind and caring friends, this is really the kind of thing you can only ask family to do at 4 am.
After researching buses and ferries and everything in between, we finally settled on taking a cab. Yes taking a cab from Whistler to North Vancouver which is a good 2 hour trip! It did cost a small fortune but only marginally more than a sleazebag motel and allowed me to sleep in my own bed only to rise at an ungodly hour. I was planning on snoozing on the way down anyway.
That didn’t happen. In fact, what did happen was a chatty Punjab and a conversation that has just stuck in my head ever since. Does that ever happen to you? You randomly meet someone who you would never really talk to in your normal day to day and they share something with you that just sticks? It was a dark rainy morning and this unlikely resort cab driver shared with me over two decades of driving stories from Hwy 99. He drove primarily at night and his recollections were complete with horrific crashes, possible ghosts and lackluster cops. There weren’t a lot of people driving the highway at night in those days. The cops had to come from Squamish or Whistler and there weren’t very many of them or ambulances. It was more the ‘middle of nowhere’ than it is now and even I can attest that in the 12 or so years I’ve been flying up and down that stretch of road, it has definitely changed. I remember one night coming home from Van and seeing a wolf. That was magical. Eerie but magical.
So my talkative Indian friend relayed this one story about driving home to Squamish one night and seeing a man on foot weaving his way down the road flagging him down. He slowed against all good instinct and the man weirdly asked for clothing and water. My driver got instantly spooked, so he slowly drove on. It wasn’t long before he came upon some eerie lighting in the woods just off the highway where he could hear a blasting horn. He bravely ventured in to find 6 men in a vehicle, literally suspended high up in some branches. Only three of the 6 men appeared to be clinging to a shred of life but they needed some immediate help and this driver was alone! Hearing the story, even after decades had passed; you could just tell how much of an impact it had on the teller. Over two hours of first aid, super human rescue strength and numerous calls to the police, help finally arrived. It didn’t come fast in those days. He described two agonizing and surreal hours where his heart was literally pounding out of his chest and in his head as he tried to keep those three that he dragged to the road side alive. Only to have the cops finally show up and throw a tarp over them, declaring them dead! What a scene he painted for me. I swear I’m still thinking about it.
Forget the gall bladder surgery!
I suppose I wouldn’t have written about this had I not come upon a horrific crash on my way home from a meaningless errand run to Squamish this past weekend. The crash and resulting 4 hour road closure robbed me of the only sunny day this Victoria Day holiday, making me miss a much anticipated bike ride, suffer through a hot standstill on the highway with two unhappy babies (and as it would turn out force me to discover I had no working AC – ARGH!) but I guarantee you the luckless event robbed the passengers of those vehicles of a lot more than that. It was sad, sobering and a real reminder of why NOT to travel on long weekends. I think we tend to forget that the highway is still dangerous after all the Olympic upgrades gave it the illusion of safety.
I don’t know what really happened or the outcome but I do want to send my condolences out to the wider universe and hope that all involved recover. It really freaked me out because, holy shitte! – me and the babes squeaked through there only one hour before! Drive Safe.