Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another long day in VIA Village

It’s 7:40 Thursday morning and I am guessing we’re in Saskatchewan. I know we went through Edmonton last night and the land is now vast and flat. The Canadian prairie. I have decided to skip breakfast in the dining car. Supper last night was delicious baked halibut with wasabi slaw and baby potatoes fried in butter with red peppers. Then there was a fabulous slice of raspberry covered cheesecake. The Aussie gang bought me a beer and then I enjoyed a nice warm whiskey.

As I write this, (Thursday Morning) I am in the dome section of the Park Car at the very tail end of this train. As we round a curve I can see the loco, wayyyy in the distance. It’s so far ahead that I can’t hear the horn sound as the train approaches road crossings.

I haven’t skipped breakfast entirely. This is a great place to enjoy a cranberry muffin and hot coffee, watching the scenery roll by.

We’re going slowly right now, which means another freight train is approaching. We often pull off to a rail siding to make way for the freight trains heading west. Some Europeans travelers I met last night are a bit miffed by this. They said the passenger trains in Europe have dedicated rail corridors for passenger traffic only and that it is much more efficient. I explained to them that aside from the St. Lawrence seaway ports, Canada has two major seaports, Vancouver and Halifax and all the cargo has to be hauled to those ports, and from those ports, by train or truck. Because Canada is so huge, trains are vital. One European woman was from Holland. I asked her how big Holland is compared to Canada. She said it’s about the size of Vancouver Island.

I slept a bit better last night. The occasional slowing down and speeding up the train didn’t seem to bother me. I do remember waking sometime around 4:00 a.m. and noticing that the mountains were gone. I could see lights of farm houses in the distance and the land was flat, flat, flat in all directions.

The sky is overcast this morning, but I can see the clouds slowly moving south. There are clear skies and sunlight in the northwest, over my left shoulder.

I am thinking today will be an interesting day. This is the third day all of us have been couped up on this rolling village. I find that more and more people are getting up to walk around and explore the full train. I think I will try to visit the front of the train today and then come back and count all the cars. All the faces one sees now are becoming familiar. Everyone knows the train staff by their first names and they’re all pleasant people.

It is amazing how comfortable train travel can be if you book a cabin. Each cabin has its own toilet facility and I have learned that certain things are so much easier to do sitting down. There are individual shower and change rooms down the hall. The shower is good and hot, but not very high up. I am not a tall fellow, but I had to crouch a bit to wash my hair.

Later today, there is a crew change in Winnipeg. That means we will have three hours of free time to enjoy off the train. … away from the rolling “VIA village”. I met new people at lunch. Gary, Carrie and Steve are all from Seattle and they're traveling across Canada to Halifax. Very nice people and I sure hope they have a good time. I told them they will likely love Halifax. It's a port city, much like Seattle, and the people there are welcoming and friendly.

Now in Winnipeg 8:40 p.m. local time. I could not post anything until now because we were crossing Alberta, Saskatchewan and halfway through Manitoba. Not only was there no wireless Internet, but there was very little cell phone service anywhere near the VIA Rail line. I was in Portage la Prairie before I could send a text out to Jennifer and Neil. Portage is where Debra was born XX years ago! I got off the train about 20 minutes ago and found a nice pub close to the station here in downtown Winnipeg. It’s called Earl’s Restaurant… kinda like Caseys and Boston Pizza together, but much bigger. There is a huge Thursday night crowd here so Winnipeggers are like everyone else, - - - they like to enjoy themselves. And thank goodness, Earl’s has free Internet access in the restaurant. I am sitting at the bar with beer and pizza instead of pounding on my laptop in the main dining room.

The pizza is a nice change from the very exclusive menu aboard the train. I have enjoyed some fabulous meals and wine, but right now my taste leans to the brew and pizza!

By the way, for Neil's sake I am learning to enjoy local beers. Tonight it is Fort Garry India Pale Ale. I will get some extra photos up here soon. It's just that right now it is difficult to edit and post a lot of photos so that will likely happen next week.

No comments: