Today is Rocky Mountaineer day and we have an early start and breakfast before arriving at the station to board the train. The shiney train arrives and rolls out a short red carpet and a call to hop aboard – good start we are thinking! We board the upper level of the glass-topped carriage and get the drill – there are two breakfast sittings and we are in the second one. What? But we have had breakfast! Because we are in the second sitting we get served tea and scones to keep us from starvation. Oh my goodness – this is a two-day trip and now we get the feeling the clothes are going to shrink even further so, after a 5-second discussion, we decide we will flag a second breakfast because, strangely enough, we have only ever been used to having one breakfast each day! It just gets better (or worse actually depending on your habits) because at 10 am the blimmin bar opens up. Well, I guess it is 5 o’clock somewhere!
The Rocky Mountaineer rolls on quietly surrounded by beautiful scenery on both sides and the conversation in the cabin gets a little chirpier as the morning progresses and, here it is 10.30 am and I am sipping champagne. Heaven forbid! Can you belieeeeeve it? The boss is doing a sudoku puzzle – can you belieeeeeve it? By the way, we had to put the clocks back one hour so it is kind of 11.30 am! Of course, we are also in the second lunch sitting so to “get us through” we are served a little bowl of cheese, fruits and crackers and wine. Oh no!!
This amazing train slows right down for all the important scenic points like high Mt Robson (highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3954 m) and Triangle Falls. We pass Blue River which gets 10 m of snow in winter – this seems incredible but it is true. In fact they shoot cannons in some places to create avalanches. It is starting to look like this train is all about the food so we make our way to the second sitting of lunch which is three courses with more wine, tea, coffee etc. Then back upstairs to recommence the bear watch and blow me down it is happy hour. Now really, you must be kidding! Then someone yells out “Bear – left” and everyone dashes around like mad people trying to see this jolly elusive bear. Then it all gets ridiculous as people are yelling out “chooks left, horse right, pigs left, donkey right”. Well you know the hilarity just got worse and worse as they afternoon wore on – I wonder why?
Tonight our stay is in Kamloops and magically our bags are there before us – and no – it wasn’t because they were in the front carriage of this long train but actually they went from Jasper by truck. The coaches are waiting at the station to transport us to our hotel in Kamloops for the night and the driver, like all the drivers here, is on form. He points out the sage plants because Kamloops is considered a desert area. He says he knows three types of sage – the spready outy kind, the sticky leafy kind and the roundy bushy kind!!
I told you about the lady with the teddy bear. Well, today the teddy has got married. Yep – he with the glasses etc has married a good old-fashioned Canadian teddy who got dressed up in black satin and lace for the event!
Here we are now on Day 2 of the Rocky Mountaineer on a warm Canadian day, the food is still being served, the blue rivers are still flowing and the Rocky Mountains are bathed in sunshine today. The landscape has changed now as we head out of Kamloops and towards Vancouver as this is considered desert country so we are back to the sage plants and a few pines scattered around. We have seen bald eagles and osprey this morning but we are out of bear country now (thank heavens our eyes don’t all need to be searching for these cuddly creatures) and we have apparently entered a rattlesnake breeding ground so we are thinking we are pleased we are not on a walking track today.
The teddy bears who married yesterday have had a baby – can you belieeeeve it? There are now three bears looking at the scenery as we travel along and I am wondering how big this family will be by the time we finish in Alaska. I am so pleased I only have to look after the one teddy bear sitting next to me reading the news.
We pass Frog Rock in the Jaws of Death Gorge, Black Canyon and the horseshoe turn. We go through Thompson Canyon and enter Fraser Canyon and at the confluence the river turns brown – we have not seen too many brown waters here. Well, wouldn’t you know it – we are called for the three-course lunch and, of course, we are starving because it is only 3 hours since breakfast! This beautiful Rocky Mounaineer train trip is like a fine restaurant travelling along the rails with some spectacular scenery thrown in for good measure!
We prepare to farewell this beautiful country and head for Alaska tomorrow on the ship. We think that Canada is New Zealand on steroids – beautiful clear blue rivers and lakes, pine forests (although many different types of pines here), huge granite mountains, a love of outdoor activities like rafting, mountain biking, skiing, cycling, fishing, lovely friendly people and nice clean cities. However, there are still plenty of homeless people in every city, beggars on the streets, house prices rocketing and low interest rates. We certainly have loved our time in both the eastern and western side of Canada. We will remember the eastern side for the French influence and the western side for the amazing scenery. So we roll on quietly on this train towards Vancouver and prepare for icebergs and huskies.