Stranded

VIA Rail, VIA Rail, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Hmm, You are always late. You have been a total of 19 hours late resulting in: my being escorted to my hotel late at night in Prince George by a nice Scotsman, one missed flight, one extra night in Vancouver. Take your pick of potential reasons from previous post. Oh, yesterdays delay was caused by ‘an event in the United States resulting in a back log.’

You do not compensate. No, this is unfair. If I fly back to Canada in the next 6 months I can travel one way between Prince Rupert and Prince George for half price, and today you gave me a Kit Kat and dinner. But not a blanket when I pathetically wheedled and the air con was on at 4am (yes, they do carry blankets – but not free for economy class on a 12 hour delay.)

You prefer us to determine arrival times for ourselves as a little fun game.

You do not really carry vegetarian food (though you say you do). On one 14 hour journey I had a tub of instant porridge oats, a small pot of Pringles and a box of white wine for dinner – don’t get me wrong, I’ve had worse.

You do not help stranded passengers change flights or find hotel rooms. Although the nice people of Jasper do.

You have a top speed of 60km an hour.

But you know what? I do love you, and I’d do it all again. You’ve laid tracks across the most beautiful wild places, you toot at bears, you have great staff, you have some even greater passengers and I am totally seduced by a gently rocking carriage and a train driver radioing to us ‘look to the north for a Cinnamon Bear.’

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How big #2

Hey, so that didn’t work. Blame the internet, not me. Will try and recall what I wrote, though my general update has since been superseded by the news that my trains not coming and I’m stranded in Jasper.

So, I had written about the two – long (and delayed) – days I already spent on the train. A list of general impressions are: British Columbia is vast, vast, vast; wide, overflowing rivers with eddies and flurries carrying trees and logs; snowy mountain ranges; tiny, remote communities; wildflowers galore like dandelions, wild rose, columbines, thimble berry, orchid; acres of willowy marsh with ribbony twists of black water full of lilys and beaver dams. And bears! Black bears chewing grass, walking past, waving. One honey brown Cinnamon Bear. A coyote frozen and watching ( though I swear it was a wolf). And a huge area of blackened forest devastated by pine beetle with a solitary black bear standing up tall.

Things that generally might delay a Canadian passenger train:
Freight trains 150+ carriages long. They rule the rail.
A bear warming its butt on the tracks.
Creeping over ridiculously skinny single track  bridges.
Moose.
Train drivers chatting to people in remote one shack outposts called Doreen. The outpost, not the person.
A gentle incline.

So, I am here longer than I thought and off to change my flight, book a room in Vancouver and buy a clean T-shirt.

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