Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Rocky Mountaineer

Our Rocky Mountaineer adventure began very early as we were instructed to have our bags ready in our room for pickup at 6.15am which meant we had to be ready then too as there was to be minimum hand luggage taken on board. The best thing was that once our luggage was taken we wouldn't have to worry about it at all as it would be delivered to our room when we stopped for the night in Kamloops.
We were late getting away on the train which didn't leave until 9.15 but the send off from the station was great fun, complete with a Royal Canadian Mounted policeman in full dress uniform waiting to greet us. We were invited to have photos taken with him and flat Norah was very pleased with hers! Also waiting to greet us smiling and waving were the staff from the train, waving flags and seeming to be very pleased that we had arrived. After enjoying juice, tea and coffee one of the staff proceeded down the platform playing her bagpipes. Truly a great introduction to the day ahead.
We boarded our train walking along red carpet if you don't mind and settled into our domed carriage which gave us a fantastic view of the countryside. When Ian was organising this part of the trip we decided it was a once in a lifetime bucket list thing so we went for gold - literally - Gold Leaf class and it was well worth it.
Once we had gone through all the usual safety instructions, including to please take note of
the step down from you seat - it will always be there, please don't forget, some people do after a few, or many wines and it is not a good look to fall down or up for that matter. Our great crew were full of good fun and made us laugh many times with their subtle and not so subtle comments.
Breakfast was the first order of business, and like each meal was served downstairs in the beautiful dining room and was three courses. Oh dear, there is going to be some serious changing of habits next week, but anyway that's for next week. In the meantime, we decided to do as everyone else did and enjoy!
We started off in Banff and made our way not too swiftly through the mountains and tried to take in the spectacular country that is the Rocky Mountains and I so wish I didn't know John Denver's song Rocky Mountain High because it played over in my head all day so I told Ian so he had to put up with it too! The dome enabled us to see the huge mountains in all their glory and enjoy the Bow River beside and below us. The water is so blue and moves gracefully along. You really need a swivel head to take it all in and Ian was taking photos both from within the dome and out on the vestibule which was a totally different view from our elevated seating.
Unlike our previous experience, we didn't have to take to  the siding as much as there was not quite as many goods trains in the morning, although in the afternoon it increased and as some of the goods trains are nearly 2km long and can't fit in the sidings our stops were more frequent, but it gave us more time to enjoy the scenery, always a bonus.
There were so many stories of the privations experienced by the early settlers but one we can remember is how Kicking Horse River was given its name. The early expedition comprised one doctor and a dozen or so men. The doctor's horse was startled and ended up in the river. Horses being so important to the survival of these early travellers, saw the doctor jump into the river to guide the horse back to safety.This accomplished, he soon found himself back in the river retrieving yet another horse which when back on terra firma proceeded to kick him so badly he was unconscious and to the rest of the party seemed dead. As they had no medical knowledge they decided to bury him and proceeded to dig a grave close to the rivers edge. Just about the time they had finished the grave and were about to commit the poor doctor to the grave, he awoke and told them he was fine! Hence Kicking Horse Creek was named!
As the day progressed, it was more beautiful scenery and awesome views everywhere, interrupted by more food including three course lunch, all refreshments we needed, or just wanted. 
When it seemed that we would be arriving late into Kamloops, it was decided to offer us dinner on the train which was not expected and we had a lovely meal whilst we watched the sun go down and the country took on another look in the late evening. As it turned out we arrived just over an hour late into Kamloops for our night in a very nice hotel, and straight to bed for another magnificent day on Monday!

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