Written by By Elizabeth Lane, CNN
Lillooet, British Columbia
Life was pretty straightforward when Highway 99 from Pemberton in the west to Lillooet in the east was closed to both passenger and commercial vehicles on July 28 because of a double tanker truck fire.
What’s now becoming an inconvenient ordeal for travel across this scenic and beautiful valley may seem that way to those who haven’t paid close attention to this remarkable bit of geography over the past decade: Its northern terminus sits at the grandiose overlook where the Americas meet the Asia Pacific.
Now, with Route 99 reopened after much (though not all) of the work required to reopen this Highway North corridor has been completed, the 250-mile corridor between Pemberton and Lillooet is also open to residents and businesses only.
Dale Bird, owner of D’s Restaurant in Pemberton, tells CNN he has not seen a replacement for “lane after lane after lane going south from Pemberton.” People had an idea that Route 99 would be shut down for the better part of the year.
“No one was prepared for this to affect a large chunk of the tourist season that we had going on here, so we are all pretty frustrated,” he said.
And to say the timing could not have been worse would be an understatement. For a long time, this stretch of main street north has hosted the casual and relaxed Pemberton Tacky Brewery , a staple of the local culture.
Back when Route 99 opened in 1997, it played host to skaterboarding kids who honed their skills on the streets on the course and it was featured in several skateboarding videos. There’s even a patch of asphalt designated with the “Pemberton Tacky Park” name:
“I went out to talk to the owner of Pemberton Tacky recently and he told me this might be the longest time he has ever been shut down,” Bird tells CNN, “so we are struggling to come up with ideas to keep the brewpub going.”
One option is that they may alter the name to be better reflective of their products and customer base, he says. While the tasting room and distribution is still operational, the brewpub is filled with limited merchandise and away from the normal tourist traffic and activities.