Lofty's Visit to Canada & Alaska >
Having returned to Vancouver we had a couple of days to spare, before joining the Rocky Mountaineer Train. There is no doubt that the city is interesting with modern and old building, the transport system of boats and sky train as well as old style trolley buses and taxis made it very easy to get around and fares were modest
The large modern glass buildings with the reflection of their neighbours along with Chinatown, the cruise ships in the harbour and sky train made Vancouver an attractive City. However not being a City lover I was pleased to visit the large nearby Stanley park with it's gardens and other people friendly activities. Its collection of totem poles were worth visiting and even if the flower boarders were being replanted the roses did not disappoint.
One of the main attractions in the city appeared to be the steam clock located in Gas Town which caused crowds to stop to hear it's steam activated whistles which indicated the time of day.
The following morning we were to join the the Rocky Mountaineer Train which would take through from Vancouver to Calgary, a two day trip within overnight stay at a ranch at kamloops.
An early start was called for and the taxi arrived on time. As we were not likely to undertake this trip again we had booked "gold leaf" thereby ensuring that we would be well looked after and have a good view, being seated in the double decker coaches. We were escorted to our railway coach by staff complete with umbrella, and boy did we need it! After what seemed only minutes of boarding we were underway, making our way out of Vancouver in the industrial and rural areas away from the bustle of the city. The weather had closed in and the view was poor, but there were more important things to do first, make out way to the lower level of our coach and have our breakfast, served of course by our very own waiters.
A very wet start, passing other trains which in most cases gave way to the Rocky Mountaineer, there were a number of double decker coaches which were mainly scattered throughout the length of the train. It was also interesting to note that as we went up one side of the river other train companies were going down the other side
"Hells Gate", the narrowest part of the "Fraser River", with railways running on both sides. To ride in the gondola which can be seen just left/centre of the picture would I feel would have been quite an experience! The turbulence and speed of the river at this point was quite unbelievable, how salmon navigate through such waters is beyond belief.
Similarly it is difficult to comprehend how the railway was cut through the mountainous terrain as well as rising to great heights via the spiral tunnels cut into the mountains, done the reduce the gradient of the track.
The upper tunnel travels through Cathedral Mountain is 3255 feet long and spirals at 230 degrees leaving the tunnel 50 feet higher than where it entered. In the case of some trains the front leaves the top of the tunnel before the rear has entered.
The Rocky Mountaineer train was pulled by two massive diesels not unlike the one passing us en-rout but of course painted in their own livery. The steam engine on display in the Town of Jasper was no doubt used in days gone by.
We were disappointed at the lack of wild life seen while on the train, apart from a few deer, and Osprey (Fish Eagles) nesting on the tops of the telegraph poles only one family of black bears was seen, never the less the scenery was fantastic and shouldn't be missed.
One little bear got frightened and ran away !
One little bear remained and continued filling his stomach while his mother remained calm and ignored us, she had seen the Rocky Mountaineer before?
A celebrated point along the track where the last spike was driven in thereby completeing the line.
These folk below were getting ready to white water raft down river, I suspect they hadn't seen the river way down stream at "Hells Gate"
By the time we reached the mountains the weather had cleared, and the views were truly magnificent, photography was very difficult if not impossible. Moving train, masses of trees, telegraph poles at more than regular intervals along with the redundant telegraph wires made it impossible to get good pictures as the next two photo's clearly demonstrate.
However there is more to life than photographs and the views, food and excellent service provided by the trains staff made the whole journey very worthwhile, One could easily claim the train journey of a lifetime.
Having arrived in Calgary by train we took a taxi to our hotel out of town, not being City people we felt it was best seen from a distance!
And after a good nights rest were going to pick up our RV (recreational vehicle )for a further two weeks holiday.
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