The blog has been off the air for a little while due to computer problems. Allthego’s trusty old PC breathed its last in Victoria and a replacement needed to be arranged. It’s loaded with Windows 10 and so some new tricks have had to be learned, also a bit short on storage so blog production has been frustrated, until now. We are back on air!
A note of warning now, Allthego is going to scatter pictures through this post that may not relate to the surrounding text. This is because there were a lot of pictures taken. Unfortunately a lot turned out unusable, because the train was moving and rocking along and we were shooting through glass windows with lots of reflection at times. Had opportunities from time to time to go to an open air area to snap away, so the outcome of those ones was better.
We returned from Vancouver the same way we went over, BC Ferries. A pleasant trip across the strait, weaving between the islands. Highlight was the sighting of 2 small whales flapping their tails. The sailing was delayed about an hour and we got back rather late to the hotel. This was a pity because it was the Fairmount Vancouver, a rather flash place (all part of the Rocky Mountaineer booking). Various famous types have stayed here over the years. The location was also somewhat superior to our previous digs in Granville Street. We didn’t see much of the room, back from a late dinner at around 11pm and then up the next morning at 5 am to join the tour group heading off to the train station.
Now this early morning process was an interesting study in human behaviour. Basically there were two groups of people involved. Those that had registered the night before and a smaller group like us who hadn’t. Registered people had got their special bag tags, we had to get ours. Allthego had this all under control and we got our tags, attached to the bags and then onto the bus. A few souls didn’t worry about getting tags and just got on the bus, no tags and no bags. Americans. A few grumbles here and there about having to get off and do it properly. Finally, we were off.
The train boarded at 8 am and we were bag piped off. All 785 of us plus staff, 22 carriages with two diesel locomotives to drag us along (on the second day this was to become 3 as we climbed the Rockies). A highlight of the morning was viewing the eclipse (through some special glasses of course) through the top of our glass dome carriage. Some friendly Americans shared these around. The train tracked the Fraser River Valley out of Vancouver up into the coastal mountains and then along its rugged canyon.
After lunch we left the Fraser River and followed the Thompson River into Kamloops. This was our overnight stop. All 785 decamped the train and were bussed off to various hotels for the night. We had a little wander around the town and along the river bank as the sun set. After eating and drinking for much of the way dinner was not required.
Off to bed early, as it was another 5 am start. The second day saw us beginning the climb up into the Rockies following a network of 7 rivers. The agricultural landscape soon gave way to the forests and towering peaks. This was an amazing part of the journey.
The original construction of this railway in the late 1800s and early 1900s was quite a task, monumental human and engineering effort. Some breathtaking cliff line runs and bridges to traverse. Two lengthy spiral tunnels in opposing mountains were quite impressive engineering feats to get the train tracks up a steep grade.
After this it was the run into Lake Louise and then a short time later Banff, arriving at around 7.30 pm. It had been an enthralling long two days on the tracks and in the mountains, bed was very welcome.