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Riding the rails – buck naked

It’s late sometime near midnight and I thought I should take a shower.   I gathered up my stuff and headed down the hall.   There is a shower on one end of each sleeping car.  I opened the door carefully  and looked in  to make sure no one else was in there.  The way my luck goes I didn’t want any surprises.   All was clear no naked people in there so in I went.

I took off my clothes and since they were dirty I threw them on top of my slippers which were on the floor. I took my towel, long johns and t-shirt and put them on the hook.   I grabbed one of my special oil scented soaps and shampoos from my plastic Safeway bag.   And then I climbed through the sliding glass doors and into the shower.

It felt super good showering  in that molded yellow semi-detached unit.   But it also felt very weird.   It’s a strange sensation  to be standing buck naked, washing yourself and making soap lathes when you’re being hauled along by some big locomotive driven by strange men.

I was totally enjoying my shower and didn’t want to get out. The hot steamy water and the warm lighting was having a sauna effect on me. But  then I got to thinking I better not be greedy and use up all the hot water. Or for all I know maybe all the water.   Who knows how much the train tank will hold or when they pick up water along the route.   Come to think of it so far  I have never seen them stop for water. “Hpmf  they must have super big holding tanks”.

After my lengthy scrub down I happily turned off the taps and slid open the foggy glass doors. ” Oh for crying out loud!  What the frig!” all this came out of me  in one big breath.  Then another “what the frig!” ( That should do it I am sure you get the message).

My clothes, slippers and towels were floating  about a foot off the floor  in dirty water .   The frigging  drain was plugged in the outside part of the plastic unit and it hadn’t drained one once of my shower water.  Not to mention the dirt and grim from the previous how-many-I-don’t-know shower people.   My stuff had been shaken off the hooks by the rumblings of the train and was now bobbing about in-between bits of hair, toilet paper (not from me and don’t ask), gobs of leftover shampoo, bits of dental floss (again don’t ask) not mine and all sorts of strange bits.  I am sure you get the picture.

“Well this is a bitch”  I cursed.  Just like life – one moment your having a good time and the next moment you’re not.    Because now  I have to lose that squeaky clean and cosy feeling I just had a moment ago.   I  have  to step out of this clean separated unit  into that icky water to pick up my soggy clothes.

How do I get myself into these situations?  Now I am stuck in the shower stall which is at the other end of the car from my little room.  I have no clean or dry towels or clothes.  I don’t even have slippers.  Everything is wringing wet and filthy dirty.  No way I am wrapping any of that stuff around my scrubbed body.  What the hell I am I going to do with all this wet stuff?   “Ok don’t panic” I says to myself.

At least I am not locked in the shower.  That’s a plus.   I grabbed the floating Safeway bag and stuffed my things into it.  Then I opened the door a crack and had a look with one eye from behind the door.   The coast looked clear.   I couldn’t see or hear anyone.  I made a run for it.  Stark naked, white as the snow outside, with my dripping  hair, wobbling belly fat, streaking down the skinny hallway with my Safeway bag leaking water like a spray hose.    I left a  guilty trail all the way back to my room.

Once I got myself sorted out back at the room I listened for the Via attendant from my room.  Just in case he came by I would tell him about the plugged drain and big mess I left behind.   He never showed up as it was well past midnight now.  I wasn’t liking the idea of having wet slippers and no fresh clothes for the next day.  Remember  my space was tiny so finding a way to hang all this drenched  stuff was a huge challenge.  I  didn’t want anyone to see my soggy mess or they would know it was me who flooded the shower

For some crazy reason I thought I  plugged the drain somehow.   I spent the whole night fretting about it.  Like it was all my fault. Then first thing in the morning an arm popped through my curtain ( I didn’t slide my door but pulled my curtain shut  instead, you can do either or) with two fresh towels attached to it.  A deep kind voice said with a giggle “thought you might like a couple of dry towels.”  He further said  “a sensual soapy scent wafted through my curtain last night.  I thought I was dreaming about  women running  bare boned down train corridors but lo and behold it was no dream.”    “Oh Shit!”

Riding the Rails towards Toronto

Oh Lord it feels good to be back  on the train again.     Now I understand what David meant when he turned toward me from across the aisle and said “I am so happy to be back on the train.”  He told me this with a mega grin on his face.    That was way back in Jasper just after we climbed back on the train after a two-day layover.   I am thinking about David now that I am back on board the train  after two days in Winnipeg.   I must agree with him it does feel  good to be back on the move again.

It’s late, sometime after midnight and  I am up in the cool dome car all curled up with my alpaca shawl .    It’s minus 37 outside and I am sipping a cup of ginger tea under the canopy of windows in the dome car.    I’ve already met a new train friend, another handsome fellow,  and we’re sitting in the dark by ourselves watching the night sky and watching the wintry prairie landscape zip by. The full moon is still following me lighting the rural farm scenes as we pass in the night.   The farmhouses are dressed for Xmas with twinkling multicolored reindeers and stars, reflecting holiday cheer up into the still dome car.   Making me feel warm  and relaxed.

Since I have two nights to spend on board between Winnipeg and Toronto I ‘ve decided to upgrade and get the full meal deal.  Which means I get a cabin for one and all my meals included for the price of a hotel room.  I feel bad baling on my coach ticket as  I actually like it better in coach.  The windows and seats are more comfortable for gawking at the landscape. I also find it is less lonely.   When you have a cabin your all by yourself it feels a bit claustrophobic in there.   Not like coach where you have lots of faces around you.  I actually didn’t mind sleeping in coach all curled up in the fetal position with the drool running out of my mouth for all to see.  But I am not sure if my fellow travel mates liked seeing  me in my pj’s.   I prefer to sleep with my long john’s and t-shirt which didn’t make for a pretty sight.   The other problem is I hate sharing a bathroom with 3o or so other people.     So I thought what the heck, I’ll treat myself to a cabin with my own bathroom.  Now, I will be able to brush my teeth to my heart’s content and no one can see me in my finest.

I have my own private self-contained cabin.   It’s as cosy as a button with a tiny stainless steel corner sink, a  wee bowl toilet under a lift-up day seat  and a super-duper comfy bed , fluffy duvet and all, that flops down out of the wall.  All you have to do is twist the handle and it all falls down to create an intimate sleeping space.   My favorite part is lying in the bed with the lights out and  staring out the window at the passing night scenery.   It’s pretty neat laying there rattling and shaking along memorized by the  shadowy  moving shapes  in the dark.

I learned two important lessons the first night in my little room.  First, lock all hooks on the bed when you get up in the night.   The toilet is under the bed so when you have to go you-know-what in the middle of the night,  you need to squish yourself  between the bed and the door.  Then you  lift up the bed and stick it back in its cubby hole.  Next you should make sure it hooks back into its latch and LOCKS before you use the toilet.   Yep, I forgot a step and the bed bounced off my head a couple of times while I tried to do my business. “Yowser that hurt!” I moaned  out loud to no one.

Next came the lock on the door.  Make sure that before you lower the crooked hook into the steel latch that you are strong enough to pry it up again.   Those blasted doors are made so solid it’s hard for anyone to hear you screeching for help when you’re locked in.    Since no one was around to rescue me I tried lifting the hooky thing again.  This time  the latch seemed to pop right out on its own with one good panic twist.

I have a massage bed that’s something else.   It feels like someone is under my bed and is kicking, kneeing and elbowing me.   My feet are literally bouncing off the bed.   It’s like there’s a herd of stow-away children under my bed.   The whole bed is vibrating and bouncing with the train motion.   Gee, they could probably make extra money on this bed.  Remember those old massage beds that use to be in hotel rooms and you put in a quarter  and they wiggled.   Well this bed beats those all to hell.   Certain folks might like this but not me.   It’s keeping me awake all this thumping and grinding.  My butt and feet are doing the hokey pokey and not by choice.  

You get three solid squares a day in the dinning car.   I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or just plain damn good cooking but the food  and drink tastes way better than I’ve ever had in any restaurant.  I fell completely off my gluten and dairy free diet.

My diet and me went down fast and hard just like the first time I tried skating.  The first night I gobbled down Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding .  For dessert  I wolfed down chocolate caramel cake with whip cream.  Then I happily washed it all down with a couple of glasses of wine.  Oh man it can’t get much better than that and that was only the first meal I still have seven more to get through before Toronto.   Yummy!

I blame it all on the crew.  They’re the ones cooking, serving and seating everyone.  Treating us like family feeding us like it’s our last meal. Then to top it off  they sit you wherever you fit in so you never know who you are going to share your meal with. I know sitting with strangers usually gives people the hebee geebees but trust me it’s the best.  Believe it or not I normally wouldn’t like it but it feels right on the train.  Being pampered by the staff who all are interesting characters themselves.  Sharing with strangers eating, relaxing, talking, laughing is how life should be lived.  Yep, it’s definitely Via’s fault that I am chowing down things I shouldn’t , drinking, definitely yapping too much and giggling too loud.  Damn them.

I am not dead yet but close!

Sorry about the lack of Blogs.   I haven’t been buried in a snowstorm but I have had a few unpleasent experiences  that have set me back on writing.  Which I will explain in my next blog or two. 

I am back at it and hope to have a post up in the next day or two.  So please bear with me.

I have so much to tell so it will be worth checking back.

Thanks for being patient,

Janet

“ALL ABOARD” Jasper to Winnipeg

I’ll be boarding the train in a couple of hours moving towards Winnipeg. I can’t wait to be going.  Jasper was nice and all with it’s decorated Xmas lights and frosty weather outside but it’s time to hit the road.  

I was having my lunch  at the Petro Can truck stop and I was watching these truck driving fellows changing a tire at -30.    Odd spot to plant a chair. 

I stayed in the basement of this house.  It was across the streets from the train yard.    At all hours of the day and night  the trains rumbled and shook the house as they lumbered by.   There’s something about being close to a train yard that makes me feel as if all is well in the world.

Jasper’s warm and inviting historic station.

My meal ticket guy.  Gotta be nice to him.

I asked this french lumberjack if I could take his picture.     He was outside enjoying a cigar before we boarded.

I am lugging my bags down towards my waiting silver bullet.

After I pryed the ice out of my eyelashes I stopped for  a moment to watch these hard-working fellows hook up the connections between cars

The boys colours matched the hardware on the connection do- hickeys.

When I was walking around in the cold I’d hear this loud intermittint  hissing sound coming from the a parked locomotive engine.   The noise travelled out across the crisp dry air.

Our Engineer and  once again the” best service” fellow ever.

The boys seemed to be having some trouble loading the frieght. 

Paul along with many new travellers  became my buddies on this part of the journey.   Plus, David and I are still travelling together.   He is now calling me “muffin”.  

The coolest thing in Jasper is the train guy actually calls out “ALL ABOARD” in the deepest sexist voice.   He shouted out and then swings himself in agraceful  bow and opened the doors for us.  So far this is the first time this has happened.  

more stunning sundogs

Stuck on the tracks in Edmonton waiting to back into the station where my poor daughter and granddaughter were waiting and waiting to see me.   They had brought me homemade soup.  We finally made it in 2 hours late.   I spent 5 minutes with them and boarded back on with cold soup but excellent soup.

Went to bed in coach in  Edmonton in a curled fetal position and woke up 6 hours later – still in Edmonton!  There was some kind of mix up with another train and we had to wait for the track to open up.

It’s OK were only 8 hours late.  The engineers are gum booting it across the prairies trying to make up time. No waits in any of the pick-up towns and we are slowly catching up to our schedule.  I don’t want the ride to be over as I will be parting way’s in Winnipeg  with David and my travelling family.

My buddies out having a smoke in Sasatoon. -40.

The prarie crossing stories will have to wait until my energy returns.   There is so much to tell and so little time.  The full moon followed as we crossed Alberta, Saskatchwen, and into Manitoba.   I won’t ever forget the evening before landing in Winnipeg when the sun was setting and the moon was rising at the same time.   The dome car was quiet as we all stared in awe at the transition.   Brillant colour from two glowing balls lighting the landscape.  It warms my soul  thinking about  the whispers I heardcoming   from fellow passengers saying “how blessed they were.”   It truly was a spiritual experince.  

Cross-country skier in the Winnipeg.   He was a hearty fellow with bowed legs and ski poles in hand.

Down by the Forks where the two River rivers meet.   The Red River and Assiniboine.  A Vitimin D day.     First time I’ve had a change to take out the sunglassess.

Did I miss something?   What harbour?

I’d quit and find a differnt job.

Winnipeg’s architecture.

If Winnipeg can have a Blue Bridge why can’t Victoria!

Entertaining me with Blues at the Forks.  See everyone is smiling.

How can you not get on or off the train happy.   Just look at the Winnipeg crew.  

Quote from an email Tim sent me.   What can I say!

Dear Janet:

First off, I want to say how much you made my day–and my evening tonight at work!!!
What a pleasure it was to meet a lovely and VERY talented lady!  It is not often that a lady not only takes my picture, but gives me a hug and kiss in the bargain!!  I truly enjoyed meeting you–for an all too brief time.

I am still  smiling at midnight.  Leaving Winnipeg for Toronto. 

A Via greeter!!  I can tell I like this fellow. Oh Boy here I go again.  

Goodbye Winnipeg – Hello Toronto

I have a whole new family of train people to get to know.

“ALL BOARD”   …   I had to say it as no one  else did.

Away I Go!

Sorry the Blogs aren’t quite in order. This one’s a catch-you-up with the early part of my trip.

A page from my sketchbook from when the idea first struck.

The start…….

The beginning…beside myself with anticipation….late for the train……missed a window seat…..

When I told the elderly lady beside me I was headed to Newfoundland she insisted on switching seats with me……she whispered softly in my ear “you sit here dear as you must take pictures along the route”.  

My colourful send off committee Rebecca and my husband Philip.

As I boarded the train Philip was grinning ear to ear.   I wonder what that meant? I’d like to think he was just happy for me or was he thrilled to be getting rid of me. “Humf!” now I wonder?

Welcome to Courtney

Courtney’s  funky Train Station. Inside was an old fashioned lunch counter and an eccentric fellow.  The food looked good.

The Via train up Island is pretty unique and fun.   It’s aYellow Budcar that the engineers can drive from both ends.   I am not 100% sure but I think the car was built around 1950’s.  The old gal told me the track was about 100 – 125 years old.

She also began telling me to listen”can you hear the wheels slipping”she says to me.   We were going slow.  She said” we will speed up later on but for now there is to many leaves on the tracks”.  I said “leaves, What does leaves have to do with how fast we go”.   She replied “the fall leaves are greasy and make the wheels slip and slide.”  I thought, who would have thought that I could end upside down  in the drink by greasy leaves.

I also got a kick out of how all the farm dogs thrive on chasing the train.   They come bombing out from under fences at a hundred miles an hour to run along the tracks.  Yapping and having a gay old time.     My brother Ray huffing and puffing hauling in the firewood.   Smokers take notice you may look like this one day!  Only an Etter would dress with a green and yellow stripped touge with matching yellow work gloves.  And who in there right mind would haul wood in the rain with their bedroom slippers on. Too lazy to put his boots on.

Waiting for the Greyhound in Campbell River.  It’s running about 40 minutes late.  It will be dark soon so I won’t get to see much of the trip north.

The bus driver is unhappy.  He’s huffing, puffing and scowling.   He looks like a cartoon character, Almer Fudd or someone like that.   He has narrow circle rimmed glasses, pudsy and short,  balding head with fizzy long hair sticking out of his Greyhound cap. I even looked down to see if he had white ankle socks tucked into his socks.   A great painting if I ever saw one.

The Greyhound is disappointing.   It is worn and dirty.   The seats don’t work and my seat is heavily soiled.  I am trying not to think about what it is.   I wonder why Greyhound would run a bus in this rough shape.  Shame on them.   I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with their main clientel.

Clark, Precious and Maggie. My beautiful travelling companions for the next two day. They are from a remote reserve by Prince Rupert. Somewhere up an Inlet somwhere. We met at the bus  and parted after the ferry ride.

5  Stars from me.   James and Susan.

Susan was out and James cooked for me.   We shared smoked salmon and zuchinni scramble eggs, hashbrowns with grated onions and spice, bacon crispy just the way I like it.   We chatted together for an hour and half.  As an ex- commerical fisherman he filled me in on the sad situation of the fisheries.  He also told me all about the history of Port Hardy and what ‘s new for the future.   There are solar windmills planned to be installed not far from town.  Hopefully a new industry for a depressed area.

He told me straight up ” He was lucky to get out of Commercial fishing.  He saw the writing on the wall and was able to sell his boat before things got to tough to bail out.  He bought an historic piece of property and reinvented himself as a B & B owner.  I am glad he did.   Thanks James.

The Northern Adventurer arriving in the morning. I took it  from across the water in Port Hardy.

Port Hardy and it’s raining. What a surprise to find I was staying only a minute from the beach. The rocks reminded me of the sandstone rock formations on Gabriola Island.

The landscape is bare, rugged and desolate.  Remote Mountains and Islands in the distance, abandoned buildings in forground.   Most building look worn and forlorn.   There is a Coast Guard building on the pier.   Its the only bit of colour around, Red my favorite.

Local colour

I found one tug … mostly fishboats

Here I thought only my boys in Victoria were special with our yellow boats but now I see that the Pilotage’s are all yellow.

Everywhere I walked along the water I could hear birds and marine life of all kinds.   The eagles screeched, the sea loins corked and croaked.  Birds squeeeked and fluttered, harbour seals sprouted and strolled the shorelines and docks.

Nothing fenced off.   I walked on the docks, thru shipyards, canneries, out on wharfs and not a “KEEP OUT” anywhere.   The air smelt fresh. damp and mixed with cedar and musky folliage.   I will return to Port Hardy in the Red Mtn.

A shuttle bus to the ferry just for me. 

The happiest Bus driver award goes too…….

I grinned ear to ear when I saw that yellow school bus stopping for me. 

My fellow ferry companions.   Mostly going home to Bella Colla

Also, when David (in the nice bright orange) and I first realized we were travelling the same route together.   He was on the shabby Greyhound too.

Ferry catch up Photo’s

My all time most special companions, Maggie and Precious

Maggie dancing in the wind and rain

Finally I can put away the gravol.

Out of the mist in the wee hours of the morning.   The god’s are blessing me….

Not far out of Port Hardy the ferry lady came on the loud speaker”Attention parents! Please control your children and can you please keep them close by and under control due to saftey reasons, blah, blah.”  The little devils were running from starboad to port, back and forth, up and down, screaming and giggling.  I am sure they were chock full of pop, chocolates and chips.

Now the little darlings are finally sleeping.   When I woke up in the morning they were all gone.   The Indians all jumped ship in Bella Colla during the night.  I missed the energy and entertain of the kids.

Arriving Prince Rupert.  There everwhere….

BYE……..

Oh, By Jesus, I am having a good time. Prince Rupert here I am and what a trip indeed.  I just got dropped off at my B& B by two handsome young men.  The boys gave me a lift from the ferry in a big fancy pickup.   

Now I bet your all wondering how I ended up in a pickup with two good-looking  mechcanics  from Terrace.

I had met Cory on the outside deck of the ferry.   We both were hanging around in the wind and rain enjoying the scenery.   It was pretty hard not to talk to each other since we were the only ones brave enough to be outdoors taking in the glaciers, waterfalls,marine life and rugged landscape.

Cory offered me a ride into town after the ferry docked.  I eagerly said” sounds great and thank you”.   It wasn’t until I was down in the deserted bowls of the ship that Cory informed me he had a travelling companion – another fellow travelling with him.   As we drove off the boat with me sandwiched between two hunky strangers I waved at everyone that caught my eye in hopes that  someone would remembder me if I dissappeared never to be seen again.

To be truthful I wasn’t worried my intuition told me these boys were good men.   I have always had strong gut feelings about things and this was one of those times.   We drove out to the Industrial areas  and along the waterfront looking for tugs.   The boys gave me a supurb grand tour of Rupert and I will always remember them for making an old gal feel like a spring chicken again.  My heart flutters light just thinking about those boys.

BC weather, one minute pissing rain and blowing a gale the next moment the sun beams us a rainbow.

I could write a book on each segment of the trip so far.   Heart-beating cross counrty train stories to come……can a person die from having to much fun??????

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.

My Itinerery

Coast to Coast – by Ferry, Train, Plane and bus

Victoria BC – St. John’s Newfoundland

Departing – November 11, 2010 

Nov.  11 Via rail Victoria – Courtney     0800-12:45Overnight Ray’s in Campbell River
Nov. 12 Bus Campbell River- Port Hardy 2:pm -5:25 pmovernight hotel – 1 night
Nov.13 Ferry Port Hardy – Prince Rupert 6 pm Nov.13 – 4 pm Nov.14Overnight Prince Rupert Nov. 14, 15, 16 – 3 nights
Nov. 17 Via rail Prince Rupert – Jasper   depart 08:00Overnight – 1 night Prince George,

Jasper Nov.18     arrives 18:30

Nov. 18 – 19   Overnight Jasper         2 nights
Nov.20 Via rail Jasper – Winnipeg departs 17:30 overnight on train

Arrives Winnipeg  Nov 21- 20:30

Overnight Nov. 21 & 22

Nov. 23 Via rail Winnipeg – Toronto   depart 23:30Nov 23 – 24 overnight on train

Arrive Toronto Nov. 25 09:30 am

Nov. 25 Via rail Toronto   Overnight
Nov. 26 Via rail Toronto – Ottawa 09:30 -14:08Nov.27 & 28th Montreal with Penny

Nov. 29 & 30 Ottawa  Penny’s

Dec. 1 Via rail Ottawa – Montreal 13:10 – 15:10Montreal – Halifax  18:30 – 17:10 

 Arrive : Dec 2

Dec. 2 & 3   Overnight in Halifax I might go down to Chester NS for a night to check out the family tree.  My dad’s family line started in Chester in the 1700.
Dec. 4 Bus Halifax – North Sydney NSOvernight North Sydney
Dec. 5 Ferry North Sydney NS – Port aux Basques, NL  11:30 – ?Overnight Port aux Basques
Dec.6 Bus Port aux Basques 0800 -21:40 St.John’s
Dec.7 Bus Gander – St.John’s    arrives  21-40Dec. 7, 8,9,10
Dec. 11 Westjet St. Johns – Toronto                  06:10 – Toronto 08:19Toronto – Edmonton               10 am – 12:07

Overnight 11, 12,13,14,15

Dec. 16 Westjet Edmonton – Victoria               04:45 – 05:24pm

 HOME SWEET HOME!

 

Hanging out in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert is my kind of city.   The place is chock full of character and flavor. When I went up the street for a coffee  I walked behind little crooked Indian grandmothers with floppy handbags heading into the dollar store.  Crumpled old Indian men smile at me as they pass me  on the sidewalks.  The chubby  native women are either pushing or packing the kids around. 

 There are  at least 5 freighters bobbing and dotting along  the waterfront in front of my window.   Water taxi’s, fishboat, tugboats and boats of every make and size are here.     Emily Carr’s painted trees and E.J. Huges Industial landscapes surround me.

So much has happened so far I have no clue how to bring you guys up to speed. 

Ok here’s a start.   Yesterday, was a off day.   I was still suffering from my gravol hangover.   I needed to take 4 gravol to stop myself from puking on the ferry.   It was a rough crossing out of Port Hardy and then again around Bella Bella.  One of the passengers said he got up in the night to go to the bathroom and the ferry people told him he had to get back to his seat.   We were rolling like a rolling-pin on bread dough.   All the rattling and groaning woke me up feeling sick and I took gravol number 5 and fell back to sleep. I woke up with all my art supplies all over the floor.   Everything had fallen off the table in the gale.  

Thank goodness for Scotty’s flashlight as I needed it to find my paint brushes .  They had rolled from one end of the room to the other under bunks and furniture to end up lodged in gaps in the old carpet.   It took the beam of the flashlight to  fish them out.

PS.   When I got upstairs to have breakfast all the Indians were gone.  They had jumped ship in Bella Bella in the middle of the night.   There was no more wild children running and playing around the boat.   The kids were high on sugar the night before so much so that the ferry people had to go on the loud speaker telling the parents to please control the running herd of little ones.   Personally, I was relaxing listening to the giggling sounds of kids having fun.

My first night in Rupert I dined with David at a local waterfront diner down here in Cow Town.  I met David at the ferry terminal in Port Hardy.   We were on the bus together from Campbell River to Port Hardy and then we met again at the ferry.    As it turns out he’s doing the same trip as me only he is now on his way back  home  in Ontario.  We will be travelling buddies all the way until I get off the train in Winnipeg. 

David the outdoorsman from Ontario.

Best Salmon burger.  Not bad wine either.

Everything around the B&B is painted like cows.   I walked over to the fuel dock to check things out and even the fuel tanks are painted in black and white polka dots.

Woke up to a damp day with low grey clouds – typical Prince Rupert weather.   One minute the sky’s pours, the water churns, the colours change and then the sun would  spin itself though the low mist.  I have multicolored green hills and mountains on the Islands in front of me. When the fog lifts down the channel for a moment I can see mountains freshly dusted with new snow.

 Outside my waterfront room the seagulls screech and float about in the ever-changing water. The seals appear larger than Victoria harbour seals – their heads appear bigger.  Someone said there are sea lions around but I haven’t seen them yet.   I saw spray from either whales or porpoises.   I am not sure which.  Again one person says whales and another says porpoises.   Who know?     This morning two Blue Herons flapped up from below my room and I thought they were going to come through the window and smack me in the head.  Against the blackness of the water the colours of the fishboats flourescent pinky red floats are winking at me as they squish against the dock.

 

My B&B is like Emily Carr’s “house of all sorts”.   There are a group of young geologists rooming for a few weeks.  A few native boys that are working in town and a couple of Irish musicians who are on tour.   Not only did we have a hearty get together at breakfast yesterday but we all got together for a fresh  off the boat halibut dinner last night. 

When I tried to blog yesterday in the wettest part of the day the Irish couple were rehearsing in the room beside me.   It’s hard to focus with the penny whistle blowing in your ear.   I gave up and tried a sketch from my window instead.  That didn’t go so well either so then I went for a damp soggy walk around the town. 

Once I started walking the skies cleared into a dramatic sunset.   The dark green greys of the water contrasted with the sun-kissed snows on the mountains.   I like Prince Rupert.   The buildings are drab, worn and feel like they have seen better days but I don’t seem to mind.  I get a sense of the famous BC glory days of logging, fishing , mining as I stroll along.   I  am surprised by the architecture and older buildings.   Again I am sorry I don’t have more time to explore.

I saw two rustic churches.   This one had an amazing view with the freighters in the background. Actually everyone has amazing views around here.

I am going out sketching now.   The ground fog has rolled along to somewhere else and the skies are clear.   I can see the sunlight reflecting off the sailboats on my right.   I am heading out to Tugboat paradise down in the industrial part of town.

This is an exceptional B& B, with my waterfront room and  7 ‘clawfoot tub, I am glad I was smart enough to bring the oil scented bath salts.  I need to soak these old bone in this wet climate .   

Tomorrow is train to Prince George Day and then Jasper the next.    My lip is low at the tought of leaving in the morning.

Owners and hosts of Eagle Bluff B&B, Prince Rupert.   I know I’ve gained weight by staying here.  I felt so much at home I wanted to help clean up the dishes or even cook.  You don’t have to leave your room to be entertained the marine life, workboats, guests and local visitors provide all the flavor a person needs.   Absolutely perfect!!!!

Oh Man I can’t believe it! Here comes the Nordic Spirit.   Bob’s fishboat from Point Hope in Victoria.  He’s chugging full stream into the dock below me.   He’s hitting it hard because the tide is running against him.   

I know those boys, I’ve fueled that boat.   Got to go I have to run down and say Hi to the guys.

The Bank is dry

Gee! Things aren’t starting off too good.   I just stopped in at the bank and the account looks mighty grim.   I’ve been hitting the credit card heavy the past two weeks getting ready.   Now I am wondering what the hell have I’ve done.   I’ve spent far more than I am comfortable with and I haven’t got out the door yet.    

It’s not all money spent on things I need for the trip. Since I’ve lost so much weight over the summer I was in desperate need of new clothes.  I couldn’t put it off any longer since my underwear was literally falling off me as I walked.   I hate shopping.  To me there is not much worse to do with my time

So here I am starting my trip in the morning feeling jittering about my cash supply.   At first I thought it all seemed reasonable but now I feel I am already out of my comfort zone.   My younger more free spirit self says” has faith it will all work out in the end” and my more mature practical self “is saying “what the fuck are you doing old gal”.

PS  My bags weigh a ton.   I walked downtown to check out my bank account with my pack on.  Good thing I did as I nearly had a stroke crossing the street by the bank.   I guess the VIA lady was right I am lacking horsepower in my old age.   I have sketchbook, paints, pens, computer, camera,  adapters, chargers and winter clothes.   I am starting to think to hell with technology. 

Bonus points of the day so far.

I ran into Scotty (Seaspan Captain) by Point Hope on my trudge downtown.   He gave me a sweet gift for my trip – a hard pocket flashlight.   I can use it to punch the eye out of anyone who gives me a bad time along the way.   How thoughtful.  I love my boys. I will miss them

Buying my Ticket

I headed down to the train station this morning to buy my ticket.

The lady here at the Via office thinks I am a senior.   She is giving me the senior rate.   Do I really look that old?  I know I am having a bad hair day and my home-dyed hair isn’t that wonderful but do I really look like sixty?  Sixty, I can’t believe she thinks I am sixty.    I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or make her feel embarrassed so I said “yep, just about, but not quite.”   Then to make an awkward situation worse she continues in a pushy voice ” Well you must be close, when do you turn 60?”  I gulped and stammered out (forgive me Budda) a white lie to spare her feelings.  I sheepishly said “ I have two years to go” which is a lie but then she stared right at me and said”Really?”  She seemed visibly surprised at that statement.  Well the truth be told I have four more years to go before I hit that magic discount number. Next thing I know she is asking me ” will that be credit card or cash”?  for the full amount.   When will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut.

This trip is coming just at the right time if I am looking that rusty.   Like a friend of mine told me the other night ” You’re a long time dead” so I might as well do it now. I think he’s right. It is time to hit the road maybe it will put the spring back into my step.

At least I got good and cheered up on my way back home over the Blue bridge.   The whistle blew and the gate flung down in front of me stopping me dead in my tracks.  Then the bridge began to lift.   Here was the Tug “Storm Wave” coming though with the cement barge in tow.   Watching him motoring through the uplifted bridge made me forget all about that whole senior business.

There’s nothing like catching a passing tug by surprise that lifts the spirit.  It just makes my day.