A work trip

Early morning breakfast in cabin 11.317 before Carmella’s work training starts. Then it’s up to the Windjammer restaurant for crispier bacon and really great miso soup!

Then it’s down to the On-Air Club on the Royal Promenade for the travel agent training.


During a break we take a picture with a vertical art featuring world dress done in bells and beads, so when the ship moves…


As I write this we’ve come 622 miles… Nice to see position completely offline.


I’m studying some new tech; my brain is swimming with new information.

Vancouver, out of the rain, playing the travel game

First thing this morning we got an email saying or Amtrak train had a change in schedule, and we needed to call the main office.

Carmella, with statue entitled “Woman in a Wetsuit”. Seriously.

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Several hang-ups and three-quarters of an hour later we’re told that an avalanche has blocked the train tracks, and that we’ll be bussed the last leg of the journey, from Everett, WA, to Seattle.

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Then an email confirmation for an upcoming flight shows the wrong month, and that’s a half-dozen hang-ups and a couple of hours later, and several customer service reps and one manager, and Carmella navigating the airline website faster than the agent, and that’s re-booked.

And the rain.

So it was a day indoors until the evening, when we went with friends to C Restaurant for a 9-course seafood tasting menu. Most interesting, and well worth the wait. The view from our table:

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A very pretty place, full of mist and bridges.

The Rockies, the morning after, into Vancouver

This is the view that greets me this morning.

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The view from the other side of our train car isn’t too shabby either.

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The clouds hide the peaks, and it’s long stretches in-between glimpses of anything other than very raw nature.

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We cross over another train, this one ferrying freight, both of us on bridges.

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These guys are working in the very cold, in the snow, in a space perhaps 10 meters wide, between cliffs dropping down to the river and our train tracks. And they’re all looking very happy with their choice of office space.

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A battered police car drives slowly by, passengers in the rear seat. A good morning to all of you.

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A dog guards the family mobile homes and this interesting quonset hut. The only word that comes to mind is “insulation”.

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Carmella remarks about “our little shack by the river” 🙂

I’m wondering from where this train car tumbled from, but I’m not surprised that it’s abondoned.

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Abandoned also are lines of phone poles. I imagine that fighting against the winter must have been a hard battle. Perhaps there’s fiber optic now dug along the train tracks.

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The snow is piled so high, seems so fluffy, I want to take a break and play in the woods.

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Carmella notices a waterfall, something seemingly impossible in a place so cold for so many months of the year. But there it is.

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More craggy peaks, shrouded from view by the clouds. Thoughts of snow camping come to mind.

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The cloud cover keeps me thinking that it’s early morning, but I notice that we’re almost at noon-time. From time to time the sun pops out, illuminating the peaks. Horizontal streaks of clouds, like frosting on an especially wonderful cake.

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About two hours out of Vancouver it’s obvious that we’ve left high-snow country. No more snow measured in meters. The hail has turned into rain, as seen from the observation car.

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About two hours out of Vancouver it’s obvious that we’ve left high-snow country. No more snow measured in meters. These fields are waiting for springtime, or something.

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By the time we hit Abbottsford the snow is almost all gone, swans are strolling the fields, and the crops are neatly lined up in rows.

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Rows of grapes are making wine as we pass by, with protective sheeting rolled up, ready for frost or snow or whatever grapes need protecting from. This sounds like a summer trip in the making…

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We descend further, into population (versus “civilization”). Logging is happening along the waterway. For the first time since we left Edmonton there are two parallel sets of train tracks. No longer must one train wait for another to pass on by.

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Carmella recognizes this bridge as the one between Surrey, North Delta, New Westminster. It’s humid here, really humid, like we’ve driven into a shower. Puddles on the ground everywhere. (Edmonton is very dry, in comparison.)

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After Janet comes into our train car with good news for Kevin (wearing hat, long story) Carmella awards Janet for her awesomeness.

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Janet announces that we’re coming to her favorite spot, the crossing of the Frasier River. We’re almost in Vancouver.

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It’s been about 26 hours, as expected, but running about four hours late. We’re ready to make up the lost time in seeing Vancouver, as we leave here the day after tomorrow in the morning. Go, go, go!

On The Canadian, Edmonton to Vancouver

Our family business in Edmonton having been accomplished, after a months’ work, we’re ready to move on, southward. The weather has been incredible, from an unseasonably warm 15 C when we arrived to a chilly -25 C today (with wind chill that’s in the neighborhood of -40 C). I took an hours walk on our last night here, just to say I did. Packing done, apartment-cleaning done, our next voyage is one sleep away…

This morning, at 06:30, we’re arrive at the VIA Rial Edmonton station, awaiting the imminent arrival of Train #1 — The Canadian — for a 26-hour trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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As soon as we approach the counter we’re told the train is a few hours late because of a broken rail in Manitoba; ETA 09:35. A while later we’re told that the train has been running at half-speed because the air temperature has dropped to below -25 C; ETA 11:35. The next update: it’s been sitting on a siding in Wainwright for 3 1/2 hours, waiting for a CN freight train to pass on by; ETA 12:35. At 13:15 the station crew announce the train is fifteen minutes out, and we ought to get ready. A cheer goes up.

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The train arrives, the staff graciously help us aboard, and we’re off into the great white. The snow stopped a bit ago, but everything is bright white, dusted with promise. We find seats in our economy-class car, leave our bags, and explore. Our first stop is the dome car, which hints to be very worthwhile as we go through the Rockies.

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From the public address system we hear last call for brunch, so our very next stop is the dining car, where we’re placed next to Nancy and David, train-loving traveling attorneys from Nova Scotia with many good stories. (I like this style of seating as it guarantees interesting conversations with friends you’ve not yet met.)

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Brunch for us is lobster-filled ravioli and duck confit eggs Benedict, both of which are fabulous. The dining room staff are gracious and the mealtime flies by far too quickly.

We come to a stunning view of a railroad trestle bridge, and as I fumble with my iPhone camera to get a panorama going the right side of the ravine comes up, making this strange scene:

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Carmella figures out that Google Maps works from GPS, and so here’s our location, just outside of Medicine Hat. I don’t know why the direction arrow is pointing the wrong way.

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Finally the last few days of pre-trip catch up to Carmella, and a cat-nap happens:

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The Canadian sports two dome cars. This is the view from ours; the upper-class car is the rear-most part of our train. We gather here just before we traverse a tunnel and Service Manager Janet Fletcher’s voice comes over the PA: “Welcome to Jasper National Park”.

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Apologies to those who don’t have an interest in mountain scenery, a few panoramas follow before we hit our next urban oasis.

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Janet giving an impromptu chat in the observation dome as an oncoming train sneaks up behind her.

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Heading west, into the setting sun.

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The art-deco style of the observation car makes me very, very happy.

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The train slows, as we approach another town, and all of a sudden we see bighorn sheep!

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Yes, we’ve arrived in the town of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. As the sign says, it’s another 534.9 miles to Vancouver, and 2408.8 miles from Montreal. (The rails stayed with imperial measure when Canada switched to metric, says Janet.)

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Quick photo in Jasper. It’s not warm outside 🙂

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The town of Jasper, at sunset, from the main street, with our train waiting for us.

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Because the train is so late we continue through the mountains in the dark; eh, next time 🙂 But it gives us a chance to get some writing done in the office.

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Good night!

The HUB Mall displays an unusual rainbow pattern tonight

Unlike the HUB Mall’s usual late-night color single-color state:

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Tonight it’s displaying an unusual rainbow pattern. It’s beautiful to see, and the photo doesn’t capture it. I wonder whether it’s a late-in-the-event bit of solidarity with the repressed gay and lesbian communities of Russia, as tomorrow marks the end of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (and the Canadian hockey team going for the gold).

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Whatever the reason, the colors are pretty.

Winners all around today

You know you’re with a Canadian when (1) there’s maple syrup in the sugar bowl, (2) she accessories with earmuffs, and (3) she wakes you up at 05:00 on a Sunday to watch her country beat IKEA at her country’s national sport). I’m not complaining. 🙂

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Tim Horton’s — Canada’s beloved coffee chain — is having a Roll Up the Rim to Win contest. I went with Carmella’s dad, and won a free coffee! I brought that free coffee home to Carmella, and she won a free donut!

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Winners all around today!