Opinion

Hodge: Appreciate the engineering of B.C.’s Interior highways

Some things do seem to improve with age, and for this scribe one of them is my deep admiration and thanks for living in such a fabulous part of the world.

I constantly brag to others how fortunate I (we) are to live in not only the Okanagan Valley but the marvellous province of British Columbia.

However, there is truly no better way of fully appreciating the beauty of this massive province until you actually step out of the house and take an adventure.

I had the distinct pleasure of two such treks in the past two months, one journey to Nelson last month, and a quick jaunt to the coast on the Easter weekend.

In both scenarios, I had the pleasure of driving—providing me the opportunity to stop and stretch both my legs and my sightseeing anytime I chose.

Driving our province’s roads certainly holds its challenges at the best of times due to the topographical challenges and unpredictable weather, especially in early spring.

However, those challenging factors only serve to enhance part of the wonderment that overwhelms me.

I am consistently awestruck at the nearly unfathomable and almost magical engineering skills displayed by those who constructed the highways that connect the Okanagan to both the Kootenays and the Wet Coast.

Neither route is wisely travelled in great haste; however, certainly the Coquihalla is designed for faster speeds.

As Teresa and I meandered through the towering peaks and valleys between here and Vancouver, I constantly found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the astounding effort and skill it must have demanded of construction crews to create the route.

As we putted along on our journey, I could not help but marvel yet again at the intestinal fortitude and perseverance that was needed by our pioneers and early settlers in B.C. who somehow traversed the staggering and deadly mountain ranges that separate the prairies from the Pacific.

The journey is long and challenging enough on today’s modern pathways, I can’t begin to comprehend the arduous effort it must have taken 150 years ago.

•••

The marvellous flora and fauna, and also the skills of engineering work crews, are not the only treasures of B.C. Some of our Western Canadian musicians are pretty amazing as well.

It’s been a busy and successful couple of months in the local music scene especially for a couple of characters who are no strangers to HodgePodge columns or readers.

Jim LeGuilloux, Barry Mathers, and Keith Papa Thom have been turning lots of heads latelely. For LeGuilloux and Mathers some of their recent glory has been due to online success.

Earlier this week, Mathers had the pleasure of watching a CD he has produced for the B.C. dual Twin Peaks climb into the top 24 songs vying for a Canadian music talent top prize, the CBC Searchlight National Finals.

The Twin Peaks latest CD qualified as one of the B.C. Regional winners last week. Mathers is hoping music fans will vote it into the top 10 by Monday. More than 4,000 CDs were originally entered in the CBC hosted event so to even make the top 24 is tremendous.

Mathers hopes the interest and support will continue. “They are talented singers and wonderful people so I hope for their sake that they get the full attention they deserve,” Mathers said Thursday morning.

You can help Barry and the girls by going online and voting once a day for the record. Go to http://m.music.cbc.ca/artists/Twin-Peaks  and vote. Voting ends Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, local rock icon Jimmy LeGuilloux, whose song Kaisha garnered a lot of attention in a recent online contest, is playing host to another new musical event. He is leading off the first evening of a regular Sunday night jam of Okanagan musicians at the Blue Gator downtown, 441 Lawrence Ave.

Starting May 4, the Gator will feature various musical acts from around the valley in an evening of original and cover tunes.

Headlining the first night is talented keyboardist Vytas Sinkevicius, who will be joining the Jimmy LeGuilloux Band on stage.

And long overdue is a double tip of the hat for a superb evening of entertainment and food.

A few weeks back Tez and I finally dragged our sorry selves out of self-proclaimed hibernation (we hate cold weather) and ventured into the world of people and activity.

The motivation for our sudden social outing was much more than just spring’s arrival. The irresistible temptation was enjoying a fabulous meal at the superb Minstrel Cafe while listening to talented Canadian troubadour Keith Papa Thom.

What a great decision on our part.

Thom put on a superb one-man show for the enthusiastic audience, charming the patrons with wonderful singing and guitar work as well as his enjoyable commentaries.

His original songs and comfy folk style of song writing was a perfect blend for the equally cozy Minstrel Cafe.

Full points to Minstrel owner Clare, who not only provides a top notch venue to enjoy quality music, but also provides a tremendous menu selection. A wonderful night all round.

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