Monday, May 08, 2023

Day Four on VIA Rail's The Canadian: Onward to the Rockies

You will recall that in our last installment we were stuck for most of the day in a largely closed for the holiday Saskatoon. Thankfully, I was woken in the wee hours by the shaking of the train as we finally got the green light to pull out of Saskatoon, and I resumed my slumber glad for the resumption of progress Westward.

Day four was supposed to begin with an early morning arrival into Jasper, gateway to the most scenic part of the journey -- the Rocky Mountains. Instead of breakfast, the menu would be brunch a little latter in the morning following departure from Jasper.

Instead, we were about a half day behind, scheduled for Edmonton around midday and Jasper in the evening. The meal schedule stood though, so as we traded the prairie for oil fields I headed down to the dining car for brunch.

I enjoy a good meat pie with gravy, and while nothing fancy this did hit the spot. I would have gone with veg instead of hash browns though. While it's the bridge to breakfast, it made the whole meal a little carby. 

Meal done, it was back to my cabin to enjoy the Alberta scenery. And ponder which came first -- this company or The Handmaid's Tail?

But onward we chugged towards Edmonton, and a delayed connect with an old friend from Ontario, David Graham, who now works for CN as a train traffic controller -- great job for a lifelong rail fan like him. He shot some video of our train I've included in my video -- check out his site for tons of train content. Good to see you again, David!

After our Edmonton stop I grabbed a Diet Coke from Saskatoon, some pringles from the prestige bar, and snagged a set in the fancy dome car. West of Edmonton the landscape quickly changed from prairie to forest, and the flatness of the plains gave way to rolling foothills as we chugged ever closed to Jasper and the Rocky Mountains.

It was at dinner time that the scenery really started to get interesting. While I pondered between the lamb chops and the Cajun salmon (choose the former, should have done the latter) we were treated to striking mountains, and the eagle-eyed dining staff pointed out wildlife sightings. 

Love dinner with a view!

It was late evening when we finally pulled in to Jasper, with an hour and a half to explore before departure. The scenery around Jasper was spectacular. The town itself was a flatter Whistler -- a tourist town with the same stuff as other tourist towns. So I walked around, took some pictures, bought an orange at the grocery store and enjoyed it on a park bench. It was thoroughly enjoyable, an a welcome dose of vitamin C.

Oh, and I saw a bear.

As we reboarded the train to continue the journey to Vancouver, the sun was already going down. Sadly, this would be it for the Rockies for us. Because of our Saskatoon delay we would go through the most scenic part of the trip at night, and wake up in Kamloops in the wee hours.

This doesn't make me regret the trip, but the bit of the Rockies we did see coming into Jasper did only wet my appetite. I may want to try to do the Jasper to Vancouver portion again one day, to complete the experience.

Off to bed one last time. Tomorrow, my home province!

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