Rocky Mountaineer

July 22 – 23, 2010

On July 22, 2010, I flew to Vancouver, BC, to begin my main splurge trip for my retirement travels. I had been retired for a year and almost a month. I had booked the trip through Fresh Tracks, Canada, and they pretty much take care of everything and have things worked out like clockwork. This trip went so smoothly that I chose the same company to book my 2014 trip to the Ontario province. There were two main ways to book the trip: super deluxe and low end. I chose the latter, but then upgraded the train part to a dome car. I wound up staying in rather nice places, even so. The first night in Vancouver was in a high-rise hotel that had been built for the recent Winter Olympics. The site of the Olympic flame was a short walk from the hotel, I soon found out during my evening exploring. The first picture is a view from my 14th-story room.

The next morning I was to head to the hotel lobby early to check out and to catch my ride to the train terminal. I met a couple in the lobby who were there for the same reason. I was surprised that we were transported separately. A young French woman drove up in a black Cadillac SUV of some sort and took me to the station.

We boarded the train in time for an 8 am departure. That didn't seem so bad, since my body was still on Eastern time. The car had two levels. The upper was the main seating area with observation windows. The lower level had an open observation area, sort of a small veranda, an even smaller area near the stairs with exhibits and samples of things you might want to buy, a dining area, and the kitchen that serviced it. Breakfast and lunch were served on the train, so the first order of business was to get everybody situated in their regular seats and then to pick some for the first breakfast seating (since the dining area held about half of the passengers at a time). I wound up in the second seating, so after the others left, we were served pastries and coffee to hold us off until our breakfast seating. We also had mimosas to toast the trip. (It was five o'clock somewhere, we were told.) The next day we would swap meal seatings.

Our first day's journey was from Vancouver to Kamloops through lush agricultural areas, charming towns and then going through three mountain ranges before we would get to Jasper the next day.

The train route follows river valleys, first the Fraser, then then Thompson from where it empties into the Fraser. For some miles after their confluence you can see the whitish silt-laden water from the Fraser and the darker blue glacier water from the Thompson. As you see blue and greenish-blue water in my pictures, please note that I did nothing to enhance the color. If anything, I toned it down a bit on some pictures that as taken look too phony even to me. Also don't forget the difficulties of taking pictures from a moving train, even one designed for sightseeing. Besides movement and the presence of other people, many of whom also are taking pictures, window reflections at best make pictures look duller, and often just ruin the photo beyond repair. The train did stop or slow down when passing some particular attractions so we could take pictures.

Fraser named this narrow passage the Gates of Hell. It's been a popular place to fish for salmon for hundreds of years. Here you see the bridge and the gondola cars that you can use to cross it.

Kamloops is a Native word for "place where rivers and train tracks come together and Clint Eastwood makes westerns." The high desert terrain can look strange enough that they also make space movies in the area when shooting on location on a distant planet is considered too expensive. As the train arrives we are greeted by statues of cowboys waving at us. I didn't see them myself, but passengers on the right side of the train saw that the train was also greeted by live young men who mooned us.

Not a sign you are likely to see many places:

After settling into the hotel, I wandered around the little town a bit and had Mexican fast food for supper.


July 24, the train ride from Kamloops to Jasper ->

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