Heaven on Fire
Staying in Cranbrook, BC as my last waypoint before getting into Vancouver meant that taking the Trans-Canada Highway (BC-1) which heads through Calgary (to the North) wasn’t ideal. BC-3, which spends most of its time West of Cranbrook in the mountains grazing the Canada-U.S. border, was the most direct route, and checking google maps revealed what looked to be an engaging drive as I don’t think that highway knows what a straight line even is.
Background: I like driving. I like engaging drives. They are one of my preferred pastimes. I had hopes this would be awesome.
Drive-time predictions placed me behind the wheel for at least nine-and-a-half hours. And as I would come to find out, they were the easiest ten hours of driving I would put in for the entirety of the trip.
Earlier on, when driving through Arizona and into New Mexico, some of the best moments on the road were the sorts of Surprise! and Ah! that would occur as the highway would come around some foothills and reveal a scene of valleys, plateaus, mountain ranges, and roadways all bathed in pastellic sand hues that gave a sense of perpetual autumn. It felt orchestrated, as if the natural beauty of it all was far too wonderful to be natural. And it is in this way that the trip from Cranbrook to Vancouver was ten hours of visual orchestra. And some fire.
That isn’t a cloud causing the Jesus rays that can be seen in the lead photo; that’s smoke. This was the summer of 2018 where British Columbia (and Northern California) would experience some of the worst and most destructive wildfire outbreaks in their recorded history. For example, here’s a shot a week or so later in Vancouver:
The wildfire I came across while on BC-3 was just South of Cawston and Keremeos, still about four hours East of Vancouver, and it was small relative to the other BC wildfires whose smoke the wind would bring into Vancouver.
Besides that moment of being dystopically awestruck, the trip along BC-3 was otherwise one of the best. I’ve recommended it to other people; it was the first thing I talked about with my parents after letting them know I had arrived in Vancouver; I’ve made this post specifically to address it. The only downside was some of the passing lanes. For stretches, it’s a one-lane highway with the intermittent passing lane for slower traffic to allow cars to get by. But they wouldn’t forfeit their position and move over to the slow lane, so I attempted passing on the right [for shame!] and quickly found out why: the slow lane was like a gravel trap. My hypothesis is that any wintertime road clearing focused solely on the singular, primary lane of travel. This then turned the occasional slow lane into just a snowbank, including whatever all sediment went with it. The snow melts; the sediment remains. Thus, no one takes the slow lane.
Ten hours of bliss later, I would arrive in Vancouver; in East Vancouver; along The Drive; and would welcomingly find a street parking spot just around the corner from my airbnb. And it really only got better from there…