Crid's 1999 Grand Tour of Canada
3 weeks travelling by train from Toronto to VancouverToronto - Winnipeg - Edmonton - Jasper - Kamloops - Vancouver
Day 16 (Sunday) - Jasper (Angels on Aspen B&B) + Rocky Mountaineer + Kamloops6am start. ARGH!!!
Woke at 6am and got up pretty much straight away. Breakfast arrived at 6.15 and I ate the croissant and yogurt and drank the fruit juice. The Nutrigrain bar and banana went in my pocket for later.
The one of the owners of the B&B, called Luigi, ran me to the station in his car at 6.30. I was the second person there. Rocky Mountaineer staff arrived at 6.45 and I checked in my rucksack. (I always get a bit nervous that my checked baggage won't be there at the other end. So far it's always been there).
The Rocky Mountaineer coach is fairly similar to the Economy coach on the VIA train. The decor is different and there is slightly more legroom, but the coach itself is otherwise pretty similar. One interesting feature is that the seat blocks (two seats) can be rotated so that they face the set behind.
The train from Jasper to Kamloops had 8 passenger coaches, a baggage car and a smoking car. The front 4 passenger cars were empty on this trip, but we were told that the train was full on the trip up from Vancouver.
We put our watches back an hour pretty much as soon as we left Jasper and then had breakfast. The meal was airline-style, but I was left nourished after my two breakfasts. Lunch was also airline-style, although not as good as the cooked meals on the Silver and Blue.
The trip from Jasper to Kamloops took us through some lovely scenery. At several points the train slowed down at points of interest so that passengers could take photographs.
Unlike the VIA train, we have an attendant who gives talks at various points of interest and answers any questions we have. (I am reminded of the man at Fort Edmonton Park who said "or will make something up that sounds convincing"). While I was on the Silver & Blue I had thought that some sort of commentary would be a good thing to do. It really makes the journey more interesting.
Ordered some Rocky Mountaineer merchandise. A T-shirt (sadly they don't sell a T-shirt with a big version of their logo on it), a baseball cap, a video and a sew-on patch for my rucksack.
The terrain has changed quite a bit from Jasper to Kamloops. In Jasper it's quite cool, as you'd expect in the mountains. At night it was getting down below zero. Jasper has lots of trees. Nearer Kamloops it's semi-arid desert. There are lots of farms, but the soil has to be irrigated. There are nowhere as many trees here.
We arrived in Kamloops about half an hour early. Buses were waiting to take us to the hotel. Like Edmonton and Jasper, the train backs into the station. In Kamloops the station is quite a way from the main line, so it took about 20 minutes to back in.
The hotel is excellent. The name "Stay 'n' Save Motor Inn" sounded a little worrying, but the room is great. Two double beds, TV, microwave, small cooking hob. Very impressive. The hotel itself is in a small trading park at the top of a very long steep hill. The bus ride gave some nice views of the city below. There were some fast food outlets nearby, but I decided to try Earl's - a chain of restaurants that Vance had recommended.
I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat, but in the end I went for the half rack of ribs and cajun chicken. A brilliant combination which was absolutely delicious. Having eaten that, I realised I was more hungry than I had first thought, so I then had an appetiser (chicken fingers) and a dessert (strawberry sundae).
Watched an excellent documentary on TV about the history of American talkshows (which I had seen plugged on TV while I was in Jasper).
Second casualty of the holiday. My "I think I'm allergic to mornings" T-Shirt has a hole in it and I've had to throw it away. (The T-shirt, not the hole).