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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A rather special train journey

(Before I actually go ahead with the next leg of my journey on the blog, I have to tell you that I am now back home, having had a wonderful trip.   This time it was hard to keep the blogging going aCIMG4323s I was staying far more with friends and relations, and we were on the go a great deal of the time.  However, I WILL finish it, so stick with me!   By the way, this was tonight’s sunset, photographed from my window!)

Onwards! 

So, an early morning taxi took me to the Rocky Mountaineer Station in Vancouver where I would catch the train – to Kamloops  the first day, and Banff the second.  The train was a bit of a disappointment as all the ads I had seen showed carriages with clear domed roofs for better viewing of the mountains, and with viewing carriages open to the air, for photo opportunities, but ours was a regular train carriage, albeit very comfortable and with lots of legroom, with only the normal vestibule area windows to take photos from.  It seems the second class – red-leaf - passengers don’t have this luxury !  That’s reserved for the gold-leaf passengers, but they don’t tell you that in the ads! 

rm lisa There weren’t so many people travelling so I had a double seat to myself.  Our hostess was Lisa who was very knowledgeable about the journey, and looked after us all very well serving snacks and meals throughout the day and giving us a running commentary about the journey itself.  That’s what she’s doing here!

At first we were not travelling through the actual Rocky Mountains, but through two or three other ranges of mountains, much lower than the Rockies,rm1  cd b sctlnd 2 and it was much like looking out on the scenery of Scotland some of the time – too bad about the powerlines - 

 

 

 

rm1 riverbed  except for the “braided” rivers flowing over wide stony riverbeds.  When winter snows melt I expect the rivers soon fill up and rush along the river beds that look so calm and peaceful just now. 

rm1 gorge We trundled along at a leisurely pace watching the scenery change somewhat as we finally neared Kamloops.

 

 

ottawa etc and nr kamloops 139 There it is semi arid, not a patch of green grass to be seen, just scrub and dried up grass with trees that looked very poor indeed.  However Kamloops was a big surprise.  Expecting only a small one-horse town we found it was a large city that stretched into the nearby low hills!  ottawa etc and nr kamloops 141

Coaches took us to our motels for the night – we were to miss none of the scenery on route – and we were left to our own devices for the evening.  I have to say I wasn’t expecting much from the city so I remained in the motel and tried to catch up  with some of the blog!  Next morning I heard others saying they were quite impressed with downtown Kamloops so I regretted not having been that little bit adventurous.

rm day 2Off again early the next morning in another slick operation, getting coachloads of passengers from the various hotels to their correct carriages for the second leg of the trip.     It wasn’t really until the afternoon of that second day that the view started to look like I had expected the whole journey to be! 

We rose above the snowline having climbed a couple of thousand feet by way of two long spiralling tunnels, rocky mountaineer 151and looked out on fir trees dusted with fresh snow, and high mountain tops quite white.  

 

 

 

rm2glacial river The river water below us was almost turquoise from the glacial deposits in the water, and cameras were clicking all through the carriage.  No bears to be seen but plenty of dead fish lined the edges of the rivers, poor salmon that just hadn't had the energy to continue up river  to their spawning grounds.   We did see an elk  though - well I saw its back-end only, as my seat was on the other side of the train and I had to scramble to see out the windows on that side!

rm1 hells gate By now I was really enjoying the journey, as up till then I had felt a bit disappointed.  We saw impressive rushing waterfalls forcing their way through the narrows of Hell’s Gate -  and take note that this is low in comparison with springtime after the snows - and followed the lines of high peaks, until we finally pulled into Banff.  brewsters mntn lodge I had three nights booked in the Brewsters  Mountain Lodge, which was reminiscent of a Swiss chalet inside. A log fire burned in the fireplace in the foyer or lobby, with comfortable sofas dotted round it.  There were wooden stairways to the next landing which served as a gallery from where you could look down on the lobby, or descend to a small lounge with computer desk, at mezzanine level.  My room was very comfortable with two large beds, and some rather nice rustic furniture.   I found a Chinese restaurant  in the main street, Banff Avenue, for tea that night then headed back to fall into bed.  I had plans for the next day!

Talk again soon.

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