Jasper

It’s cold.   It’s colder than a whitche’s tit in Feurary here in Jasper.   The train got in yesterday around supper time after an adventous trip from Rupert. I tell ya there wasn’t a dull moment on that train all the way from Rupert to Prince George to Jasper.  Which is quite amazing since there was scarecly any passengers on board but us die-hards.

First off before leaving Rupert that night, in the middle of the night the wind began to blow.   I mean really blow.   The B& B  where I was trying to sleep  is up on stilts over the shoreline. With each gust of wind the building groaned and trembled.  Me and the other guest were up worrying the night away thinking we were going to go for a late night skinny dip.   I found out in the morning that it was blowing over a 100 km/hr.  

The storm  made for an exciting ride to the train station in the earlly morning.   I was the last of 6 passengers get there. Me and five men – just the way I like it.  Actually there was one older lady from Austrailia that boarded with us but she kept to herself knitting the whole trip up in the coachcar.  The cool ones stayed behind in the dome car.   ( I mean cool in not the hip way but cool in the freezing your ass off way. (  I will explain more on that later)  I am not sure what was going on but when I walked in everyone started laughing.   They all seemed to be sharing a personal joke about the number of passengers and for some reason I set them off giggling.   And that’s how it was for the rest of the trip  teasings and ribbings at every turn. 

Here’s a few highlights of the trip from Rupert to George  as my bones are achy and my eyes are hanging too low to give you the full meal deal tonight.   I still have another train to catch tomorrow.    

Early morning leaving the Pacific at Port Edward, next sea water, Newfoundland.     Also just left Ridley Island where PrinceRupert sits.

 Amazing Spindrifts, they looked like smoke signals, or  toronado’s on the  Skeena River.   The engineers were radioing back to us that they have never seen them this powerful. 

White frothing river water, obsurced skies filled with blue ice cystals, white cool grays mixed with blowing creampuffs.   Every once in awhile the clouds would spread with streaks of white light blessing the peaks and landscapes below

So then there was Sandy.   Heading to PG to write his test for the RCMP. He works as a longshormen in Rupert.  

Next came my travel buddy “David”.   Him and I are following each other to Winnipeg.

Then, add not only” the best” but the” most amazing” VIA Service guy, “Gilbert” in the mix

Mix the three of us together and you get a jammed packed voyage with hurting cheeks from belly gut laughter.  

Add in  serval small bottles of red wine, a Xmas tree, a movie and a moving train and  you get a  wobbly drunken sketch.  

 

Gilbert was telling us that several ladies decorated this tree on his last trip to Rupert.   It’s decked out in trimmings that were made from stuff found on the train.   It added a warm welcoming homey feel to the coach.   My toque off to those nice gals.

Back to the highlights:

Enginneers gave us warnings to look out for downed trees on the track or above it.  We were told we might have to get out and clear our way.    Gilbert filled us with wise advice and stories of his past 30 odd years of train travel and storm stories.   He lectured us in decking techiniques. I don’t pay attention at the best of times least when I am distracted by breathtaking landscape.  Bad mistake. One minute I was listening to the boys talking about movies and farming and then I hear David shiek”TREE” Gilbert”DUCK”.  ‘WHACK AND SMACK, Gilberts on the floor, David’s flat out under the table and poor me and Sandy frozen in our seats.   We failed Ducking 101 big time.

 Once Gilbert  pick himself off the floor, he flung himself around just like the shootem up scenes in the movies.   His overcoat swaying and his micky mouse eye flap strings moved quickly with his body. He pulled right into action to see if we were still alive. Once we all  realized David still had his head on we  all bonded as friends who had shared danger together.  

Next came a 2 inch miss with a high speeding quad with a hunched backed  teanager on it.  Heading full thottle towards the front of the train.  I saw the kid from the domecar come roaring down an icy hill is a puff of white snow straight for us.  Next thing I know  the kid  he was on the other side of the train.   He came out of a blizzard playing chicken with the train.   The engineers didn’t have a chance to responsed it happened so quickly.   Then the little bugger decided to tease the train by running along side of us at 60 km or more.   The engnieers hammered on the whistle at him what seemed like five minutes in a tune like “If I could choke you I would you little stupid  f..ker.”

 Excitement, more passengers….Were up to 9, we lost one guy at the first  whistle stop past Rupert.

These nice folks were from Smithers.   They tried to drive to Prince George for a craft show but the wind and snow was making driving to scary.   Little did they know the train is scary too.

Emily Carr’s Kitwanga.  I didn’t know this until we were right there and then Gilbert told us about the place and the totems.   My camera does click fast enough for train travel.

It felt remote and desolute.   I can’t imagine what it must have been like in Emilies day and travelling by her self to these places.  Dark friece totems stood in clusters throughout the village.  Extrodinary!

Since we had a 200 car freight train in front of us we were slow moving and late.   We were stuck waiting in heavy snowfall  on the tracks outside of Smithers . Gilbert had been promising us this great home-made soup stop for hours.  Now we were told by the engingeers that we would not be able to get off the train in Smithers .   After much grumbling from David and I, Gilbert came through for us.   He somehow managed to get the engneers from Smithers to pick us up fresh hot soup and drive it out to where we were stuck on the tracks.     It was the most delicous yam and carrot creamed soup I’ve ever tasted.  I am lactose intolerant.   Yep,  you got it, I had side effects!  Worse part there was no one to blame the conscqueses on.  

Waiting for our soup.

The dome car was breezier than the back of a dog team in January.   I felt like my head was being battered by a North Sea wind off the coast of the Shetland Islands.  The view was worth Pnemonia.

Desecrated Industries along the tracks.   Past Lives.

Saw rural farms and small acerages.   Horses and cows snow covered standing in ochre fields

Lonely forlorn houses along the tracks.   This is my kind of home.

 Penny – Smallest post office on tracks.   The old guy speaks for himself.

Penny – Population was 10 but the girl carring the packages just brouhgt it up to 11 by having a baby.   The old guy didn’t get up until we pulled up and then he haung on the rail of the PO hunched over with his smoke in his mouth and waved and waved at me.  

The dog didn’t chase the trrain like most of the farm dogs so.   They run full tilt at us.  

First sketch  I tried.   It is too distractiong to draw.   I want to spend the time soaking the experience.   I am finding it difficult.

I would not have wanted to miss this blessing” a circle of sundogs” by sketching

Photo of the Day!!!  Speaks for itself.

I am out of time.  

Along the route we saw plenty of moose, elk, and deer.  But what most stands out to me was the number of eagles and vultures along the tracks.   They were everwhere dining on train kill.  Sitting in frost covered trees. Or swooping along the river and creek beds. They swayed and glided overthe  top of the dome car in the gray light of winter.   The white of the eagles tail feathers brillant against the muddy colours of the landscape.  

Power is out in town.   Thank god for Scotty’s flashlight.  Second time it has rescued me but so far I haven’t had to use it as a weapon.   I am staying in the basement room.  It’s dark and cold, no heat with the lights out.  

 Jasper, Stinging, biting wind chill. Notice the wind sock.   Tells all.

My nose bleeds, when I walk my hiking boots are like a hard plank .   My skin is irraited and my clothes cling and  bite me.  

Sketched this from across the street at the coffeeshop.  Snoopy young lady beside started asking me questions about my art, etc.   I quickly told her what I was doing.She then looked at me staight in the face and said”What was the seniors rate for going across Canada.”   That’s it!   I’ve had it  with this senior thing.  Time to get my winkles done.”

Train to catch.   Cu in Wininipeg.   I still need to catch up on my Port Hardy to Rupert trip.  Oh boy!  I am leaving out all the fun.

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4 responses to “Jasper

  1. What an amazing trip account! Love your photos and sketches, and I’m looking forward to your next installment 🙂

    Vivian is Virtual
    VIA Rail’s tour guide

  2. Thanks Vivian,
    Everyone asks me “Why take the train in the winter and esp. such a long journey?” My reply ” It is absolutely the best time to go as the scenery is at it’s most beautiful. Plus, having heart thumping adventures at every turn makes for a fantastic time.What better way to experience the true heart of Canada.

  3. This such a wonderful blog i giggled and wanted to read more about the trip! What a great experience and photos! I wanna ride those rails for sure!!!

  4. I finally caught up with you on this blog!…Thank God for technology….I love your expressive sketches…so “fresh”, even though some were drawn under the influence ;)….and great photos! Your writing is humorous and tells it like it is…”colder than a witches tit” (have you ever felt one?) HA!

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