Trans-Canada railway trip: A grand adventure
By Marc O'Brien
On Friday, April 16th, 2010, twelve FICers met at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. We enjoyed a well-appointed dinner as we get acquainted and re-acquainted with our fellow travelers.
After a free day in Toronto, we walked across the street from the hotel to board the Canadian for a 10 PM departure. Our cabins, 1st class sleeper touring were all ready for us. After a night-cap in the Park Car Lounge, we slept while our train swerved along.
For three nights we enjoyed delicious meals as we saw miles of pine & aspen trees, then miles of prairie. We came toward Jasper, Alberta in wonderment as the train wiggled its way through glorious mountains on all sides.
We stayed overnight at the Sawridge Inn and after a hearty breakfast, went by bus to the Athabasca Falls via Hwy. 93, the Icefields Parkway, the same route that goes south to Arizona! Enroute we saw fox, elk, sheep and a beaver dam, right from the road. We had good views of the compressed Athabasca River going thru a narrow gorge and causing the Falls. A fantastic bus ride brought us the Columbia Icefields where we rode on the Ice Explorer to the Athabasca Glacier. Walking on the glacier was exciting as was being at the hydrographic apex of North America. Continuing on, we stopped for lunch, then drove on to the Lake Louise Chateau and our very fine accommodations. After a buffet breakfast, a small group of us walked along Lake Louise where we saw six glaciers, a frozen waterfall and a colorful rock formation. We turned back to avoid causing an avalanche! One person observed one occurring. After a stroll with a ranger, we boarded our bus traveling along the Bow Valley Highway to Banff, staying at the Caribou Lodge. We took a “free bus” into town, enjoying the energy of the many young people there. Next day, we were up early and off on a Gondola ride to see gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. On leaving, it began to snow as we toured the Banff Springs Hotel, a real show piece and a National Historic Site. We stopped for a hearty lunch at the “Wildflower” and the bus returned to the Lodge. I stayed in town enjoying the Canada Gallery and the Wyte museum before hopping on a bus back.
We were up early to catch the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train to Vancouver. We had assigned seats in the dome car viewing magnificent scenery with an informative travelog given by our waiter guide. We stopped at Kamloops and on to the Hotel Thompson. We quickly got our room and back on the bus to the Conference Center for a delicious buffet dinner and show. Next day, we boarded the train for the last time and a ride to Vancouver.
We had delicious meals and at one toasted 50 years of the founding of FIC. Arriving in Vancouver some took early flights the next day. Others took a hop-on, hop-off bus for a guided tour, stopping at CanadaPlace to walk along the Waterfront then back on to Stanley Park. The next day, we caught flights home with wonderful pictures in our heads as well as in our cameras.
Thank you Ed & Mary!! And all the delightful travelers; and for the video from Peter Park; what amazing views!