My last morning in Jasper, and I spent it being exceptionally lazy, doing my washing and doing little meanders around town. The train is supposed to leave at 2:30, so I head out about 1:45 towards the train station.
Turns out, the train is late. It’s supposed to arrive at 1pm, and doesn’t show up until 2:15. This means we get delayed as the train has to go through a clean and maintenance check for its last leg, so we don’t leave until 3.
This time I’ll be sleeping on the train since it’s an overnight trip, but I couldn’t afford a sleeper car and took my chances with the sleeper seats. Sadly, this train is full. Finding a seat is a borderline impossibility. I end up finding one, but it’s next to a gentleman whose been on the train for 5 days since Halifax, and smells like it. However, he’s getting off at the stop at 11 along with several other people, so stake my claim on the seat with my bag and head up to the observation cart for the foreseeable future.
This is by far everyone’s favourite place on the train. We have fantastic weather, so the skies are clear and the mountains are bright. This is a great time to travel – plenty of greenery, but highlighted by the snow still capping the lakes and mountains. We even get a clear view of Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, which is so high it has its own weather system and is usually hidden by fog. Getting to see it is something of a rare treat.
I only peel myself away from the top floor at 5:25, as my reservation for the dining car is at 5:30 (unlike breakfast, dinner is so popular you have to reserve a slot, and economy have limited options consisting of either very early, or very late), and decide I’ll leave my camera charging while I eat since it’s pretty low after such a heavy photo trip in Jasper and through the Rockies.
However, when I get to my charger back, I can’t find it. I have a sinking feeling I left it in Edmonton as that’s the last time I saw it. And of course, it’s a very specific attachment, not a micro-USB so I have nothing else that will work. All I can do is turn it off and hope it lasts until Vancouver where I’ll try to hunt down a spare.
The dining car is much the same in this train, only with water instead of mimosas being offered for drinks (although you can also order from the drink menu if you so desire). Again I have to pay, unlike the sleeper cars who get it included. It’s not cheap, but consists of a choice of lamb shanks, chicken breast, some kind of fish and tofu stir fry. The first three are $30, but the stir fry is only $24, so I pick that. To be honest it’s been too long since I’ve had good tofu.
As it turns out, it’s better value for money than I thought, because it’s a set price for a three course meal, not just one. You start out with a small soup or salad (I had the salad, and it consisted of a spoonful of chopped veg, lettuce and a healthy heaping of parmesan), before the main. I was so happy with this. Rice was soft and sweet, veg were cooked to perfection and the tofu – although chopped bigger than I normally like – were exactly what I look for taste wise in tofu. Then you get a choice of deserts, either a chocolate caramel torte or a raspberry vanilla cheesecake (talk about options!) which comes in the form of a pretty decent sized slice. I had the torte, and was very happy with paying $24 – I left feeling almost bloated.
I navigated back up to the viewing deck until the sun died and it was no longer possible to see anything, and once I’d set my watch back on hour (to get into BC time since we’d crossed the state lines a few hours before), I started figuring out where I’d go to sleep. I did technically have a chair, but the guy next to me was spread out quite a bit and the smell was a lot to deal with, so I grabbed my jacket and fleece, and went a hunting for a spot. Tried my luck in the observation car (no luck, the arm dividers on the end make it just too tight) and then down on its bottom floor where there were comfortable seats left alone. One of them curved and had three seats in between dividers which ended up being my salvation, although still pretty awkward. I would have given so much for the divider between the three I was on and the ONE seat in front of me to be gone.
At 11, the train empties, and I get up to try my luck on the sleeper seats. I’ve got two to myself, and have the leg support and backs pulled back as much as I can. However, they are some of the most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever attempted to sleep in. Not as bad as The Ghan, but there is nothing provided to try and improve the quality of sleep. They’re hard, the arm guards are stiff, and the leg rests bend out at an awkward angle. I’m very tempted to go back to my original sleeping spot, but somebody else has taken it. Instead, I dig out a towel and a shirt that’s also in my hand luggage and try to soften some of the harder edges.
It must work, because although I wake up a few times during the night, when I wake to full coherency, there’s light coming through the windows, and I’m not nearly as stiff as I expected, so I’ll take it as a victory. So glad I didn’t try to do the whole trip in this seat though.