Wednesday August 6, 2014 (First morning on train – The Canadian)
Today is the birthday of my late friend Tom. He was a dear friend who, in 1971, helped me to “come out” at the age of 26.
In Room 4, on Car 110, on The Canadian, I awoke at 6 a.m. from a good first night’s sleep in my bedroom and quickly wobbled my way to the dining car for breakfast.
Later, by walking the full length of the car and then double checking from the observation section on the last car of the train (Park Car), I discovered that this train has a total of 21 cars: 2 engines, 1 baggage car, 2 coach cars, 3 observation cars, 2 dining cars, 10 sleeper cars and one park car. As a result the train is about 1/5 of a mile long.
I spent the morning finishing my reading of “The Four Agreements”, lunched on a salmon cake, napped for two hours, hand wrote in my travel journal (snippets of which are found in these blog posts) and walked outside (two round-trip lengths of the train) for the first time since we left Toronto.
I spoke at length several times with the owner of Collins Tour and one of his staff, Margaret. Both were delightful company. They were taking a group of nearly 30 folks from Toronto to Jasper (and to Banff, Lake Louise and Vancouver; some were going further on to Alaska.)
I dined on a wonderful medium rare Veal Chop, showered and then listened retired to my cabin to listen to a few readings from Walden on my smart phone. I fell asleep around 8 p.m. while listening to songs from Evita.
Thursday August 7, 2014 (Arrived in Winnipeg for 4 hours off train)
Awoke and headed to breakfast only to realize that overnight there was a time change and it would be another hour before the dining car opened.
Susan, a fellow passenger, dropped by my room and gave me an article by Kevin Baker from Harper’s, titled “21st Century Limited: The Lost Glory of America’s Railroads.” Excellent read.
With a four-hour layover in Winnipeg Manitoba, I walked a bit and went online to check email, words-with-friends, text messages, Facebook and my blog. Several passengers took a 3 hour tour of Winnipeg.
Lunch was a Cobb salad shared with a lovely couple from LA, Dorothy and Mike. They have traveled the world: Some places I remember them talking about included: New Zealand, Australia, the Panama Canal, Churchill Canada (Polar Bear Territory) and all 50 states. They are now heading to Alaska.
Again a long afternoon nap began with listening to music while stretched out in my bed next to a window movie of the rolling prairies.
Before dinner I entered into my laptop each of 14 insights about life that I think I became a bit clearer to me during this extended, multi-stop and rather busy 28 day trip.
My evening meal (rack of lamb) was shared with two graduating high school students from Germany. They shared their views of politics in the US and Germany, their visit to Detroit, University education funding in Germany, the European Union, Angela Merkel, The Ukraine and Russia. We also talked about same-sex marriage in Germany.
I spent a few hours watching the sunset with John and Susan from Toronto in the nearby observation car.
Friday August 8, 2014 (Last full day and night on train)
I awoke at 7:30 a.m. and wrote a bit in my journal and soon realized we were running three hours late and had not yet arrived in Edmonton Alberta.
I sat in observation car which was full of hearty conversation.
In Edmonton a brief stop to update my smart phone via a wireless connection. Within minutes my email was current, apps updated, photos uploaded, news updated, text messages received and Facebook checked.
Via Rail added two more cars to the train (now 23 cars long) and dozens of new passengers.
As soon as the train pulled out of the station, I was dining with Susan and John once again. I ordered and loved the lobster ravioli.
Back to my room for a two-hour nap, before heading forward to the observation car for the much-anticipated 1.5 hour ride into Jasper, perhaps the most wildlife rich stretch of the entire trip.
As we headed into Jasper, we spotted three bears, an elk, a mountain goat, an eagle and several magpie.
Pulling out of Jasper we entered the high Canadian Rockies (clearly the most scenic stretch of the trip.) Fairly shortly all in the observation car were in quiet awe of the majestic and mighty Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Camera’s were clicking wildly.
I dined on prime rib and decided to stay up late (til 10 p.m.) since this was last night on the train. I wanted to spend several hours viewing the sights offered in our ride through the spectacular mountains of western Canada.
Pyramid Falls (photo taken by fellow passenger) – only view-able by passengers on the train
Mt Robson, highest point in Canadian Rockies, 12,972 feet
Mt Robson from rear of an observation car on The Canadian Train
Saturday August 9, 2014 (Arrived only minutes late into Vancouver BC Canada)
We arrived into Vancouver ViaRail station only about 15 minutes late after four days on the rails. What a pleasant surprise I had when I reached the baggage claim area.
My friend Rick, whom I met at a FrontRunner’s event a few years ago in Vancouver BC, was waiting for me.
He drove in from his home in White Rock, nearly an hour away, to drive me to the YWCA and to have lunch together. His being there made me feel like I had come “home.”
He also offered to drive the Susan and John, with whom I spent a good amount of time on the trip, to their son’s home.
During lunch he invited me to join two of his friends the following day (Sunday) for an afternoon by his pool in White Rock.
When I checked into the YWCA, I was surprised to find out that Pat, the hotel front desk person whom I had known for the dozen or more years, had retired. She always made a special effort to make my visits to the YWCA and Vancouver BC a real pleasure.
It was finally nice to return to my “green drinks” after all the rich food on the train.
Thanks for reading the blog posts about my trip from Oregon to New England on Amtrak and my return west on ViaRail.