the road to somewhere

my ramblings on life, the universe and everything

Watching the country go by…

The train has been wonderful, and the activities are great, but it’s the people who have really made this trip memorable. Close quarters bring everyone together, and total strangers become friends. It’s an international crowd – there are lots of accents and different languages flying around! The staff are all bilingual as well and frequently switch between English and French when addressing a group. It’s a treat to hear it all.

I’ve walked the length of the train a few times the last few days, and it’s amazing how different each side is. I’m on A side – we have our own activity car, dining car and lounge. The back of the train is B, and they have their own versions of those areas. A is filled with rowdy Aussies and Texans, while B is a lot more reserved. I’m glad I ended up where I did!

And of course, the staff have been wonderful, the service on par with the cruises I have been on. They get to know their guests, and remember guest preferences, allergies etc. They have been cheerful and helpful, and are always wiling to accommodate. A porter volunteered to go two cars out of his way to make up my cabin, when I couldn’t find my own porter. Great service!

Train travel isn’t for everyone, but I would definitely do it again. If you don’t mind smaller spaces, and are ok with a few delays, then you should try out the Vancouver-Toronto VIA trip. Everything else makes up for it!

Hello Winnipeg!

We’ll be pulling into Winnipeg soon, and I’m hoping to post this then. (Yay for train station wifi!)

This trip has been fantastic. First, the train. I was greeted by my car porter when I boarded, and she explained all the various features of my cabin. It’s a great use of a small space; it includes a day bench, sink, toilet/ottoman, storage and a bed that folds out from the wall. It’s very comfortable. The rest of the train is designed with the same principles, and decked out in chrome and and retro coloured fabrics – I love it! There are dining cars, lounges with observation decks, games and movie cars and a gorgeous panoramic car. The panoramic car is by far my favourite, although we only got to enjoy it until Edmonton – it’s only used during the Rockies portion of the route.

The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking. We saw waterfalls, snow covered peaks and the tallest mountain in the range – Mt Robson. It’s almost 13,000 ft tall and the top 30% is rarely visible through the clouds. My Instagram is filled with pictures, but I’ll post a few here in another entry when I get home.

We also made a stop in Jasper, Alberta – which reminded me a lot of the Yukon! It was lovely and I only wish we had more time there; I barely managed to tour the main drag before having to board again. The shortened visit was due to all the freight trains on our route. The tracks are owned by the freight companies, so their trains take priority. If one gets close, we pull over to let them pass. It causes delays, but hey – it’s more time on the train!

Today has been the prairies – endless fields of yellow. It’s not very exciting, but I think it’s a lovely and peaceful view. I think the surroundings mellowed everyone out today – afternoon naps for all! The relaxing atmosphere also means that I haven’t written much, but instead have been knitting tonnes. Which is great too.

OMG, can we talk about the food?! It’s incredible, and the staff are great with handling allergies. I had duck for dinner yesterday and halibut today. Soooo tasty! Meals are an interesting experience. Each table seats 4, and none of the chairs are left empty. So, unless you are a party of 4, you end up sitting with strangers at each meal. It was a bit nerve wracking at first, but I’ve met some lovely people this way. I’ve befriended a retired couple from Perth, Australia and an American who has spent his retirement travelling the world.

There is also a duo who have been performing all over the train, called The Shrugs. I watched one performance in the front lounge car, where they announced that they have been full time musicians for a year now – pursuing their dream. I really admire them for that. Again, there are a couple clips on my Instagram if you want to take a listen.

I think that’s all I have time for!

The Great Canadian Cross-Country Train Trip!

So, I’m on vacation. And I’m doing something that I have dreamed about for a long time – taking a train across the country. I’m sitting in the business class lounge at the Pacific Central Station right now, and a lot of the people around me are doing the same thing – taking the train just for the joy of it.

4 days of relaxing, writing, knitting and taking in the scenery. I’m so excited! Some people have looked at me like I’m nuts when I talk about it, but everything I have read says it’s a really memorable trip.

Unfortunately, it’s a dog-free trip. Walter is being boarded at the vet, and dropping him off was really sad. They gave me a tour of the facilities, and really, you can only do so much to a kennel. It’s not home. I just hope he doesn’t hate me when I get back!

I flew into Vancouver this morning, and spent a good chunk of the day doing touristy things. First stop, the Vancouver Aquarium; I could have spent all day watching the belugas, jelly fish and sea otters. I killed my phone battery taking pictures and video, and spent the rest of the day loitering in places with accessible plugs. Totally worth it.

So now I’m waiting. We board the train soon and I can’t wait to check out my tiny cabin. Internet access will be nearly non existent, so my next post may be at the end of my journey. A post with actual pictures will probably have to wait until then as well.

Ciao!

The Long Pause.

The blog has been silent. And I’m going to avoid a lengthly explanation why, except that depression is a soul sucking, oppressive bitch. And depression lies – never forget that.

But this post is about happy things, and I’m excited to share. I’m writing again, and I’ve decided to publish my work on Widbook, a great site where users can publish, collaborate and read books – for free. A few weeks ago I received an email from Widbook, informing me that one of my stories had been chosen as the book of the week. I was thrilled, but the rest of the email totally made me lose it. They asked for an interview. Holy. Crap.

Widbook Homepage

It freaked me out. My first interview; validation that people I haven’t met actually enjoy my stories. I said yes, and prayed that my answers to their questions weren’t too lame. See for yourself.

So far I have uploaded three stories to the site. Feel free to check them out, but I believe you’ll need to sign up first. I hope you like them!

WishingWaitingWorld of Grey

Fortune Cookie Fiction.

Last night was my first creative writing class, and I loved it. It’s a community course – no grades, no credits, just learning and creating. The instructor is a former editor who brought lots of positive energy and encouragement to the class. I’m looking forward to next week.

We completed an in-class writing assignment last night as well. It was a neat activity. I believe he called it Fortune Cookie Fiction. Each person in the class wrote a couple of fortunes. Then we were each given someone else’s fortunes and told to write; fiction, stream of consciousness, whatever came to mind. We had ten minutes. The final result is a bit rough, but I want to share it anyway. I think I’ll be sharing my writing throughout the course!

Fortunes:

You are not what you appear to be.

Who would you find at the end of the rainbow?

 

George had been hiding in plain sight. Voice, personality, clothing, all a carefully applied veneer of the utmost shade of normal. He took silent pride in his ability to blend in, to disappear among the masses. To do otherwise would damn him.

Colour was forbidden, to even speak of it was taboo. Only monochromatic shades of grey had been accepted, regulated – given the stamp of Council approval. George hated it. Grey walls, grey sweaters, grey hats. For a month last year George had been convinced he was going blind, unable to discern where one person ended and another began. In a fit of panic he had crushed his fists against his eyes until sparks flew, then closed his lids to enjoy the brief show.

But there had been colour once. A time when chaos reined and love ran free. A time of rainbows. But the Council had even regulated that away, declaring that to see one was to betray the People.

So George dreamed – of rainbows, wide splashes of paint against plastered walls, the rosy red of the common apple. He explored colour in the only safe place left – the multi-hued reaches of his own mind. He needed to keep the colour alive. For her.

At the edge of the Known, beyond the Council, beyond the People – she was waiting. She had promised, a solemn vow whispered in the dark.

“Come for me. Find me. At the end of the rainbow.”

 

So yeah, a bit rough, but I’m pretty happy with what I came up with in ten minutes. I can’t wait for next week!

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