How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Rocky Mountaineer: On the Rails Again

The alarm on Mary’s cell woke us. After a long and restless night, I peeled myself off the sheets. Thank goodness, I had woken in the night and turned on the air conditioner. The room had cooled to a comfortable temperature. A couple minutes later, around 5:30 a.m., the hotel phone bleeped. We had not requested a wakeup, but I suppose due to the previous night’s blackout, staff did not want us to miss our bus.

We rushed through dressing and were out the door, our bags left for pickup inside our room as we had found them the day before. Complimentary coffee service waiting in the hotel lobby cheered disgruntled bleary-eyed early risers. The time: 6:00 a.m.

Our bus arrived. The tour split into two groups: one to Lake Louise, the other to Banff.

At Rocky the Mountaineer station, our driver backed in, parallel parking next to another bus already there. Within minutes, another bus arrived and did likewise beside us, and another and another. What syncopation. What timing. Such grace like a well-practiced ballet. A radio operator called out drivers one-by-one to line up beside the train. The buses followed one another in a Congo line, pulling up as close as they could to the adjoining railway car assigned to each tour group. The same staff from the previous day greeted our party with cheery smiles and enthusiastic voices as we ascended the steps inside. The atmosphere created was of old friends meeting again.

As promised, our gift voucher purchases from the previous day awaited on each passenger’s seat. My one-size-fits-all black silky sweater pleased me. With tax added, it cost 35 cents more than the voucher allowed. Being less than a dollar, this amount was waived.

The breakfast cart arrived with cranberry and apple juice cocktails. The cranberry juice gave the apple juice a rosé hue; the apple flavour reigned. Parfaits were also available instead. Next came fruit salad and a decadent croissant, jam, and butter. Following this, the chef served a combination of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns with a smattering of corn for colour, and three roasted button mushrooms from his cart. Divine. No toast in sight, but I did not miss it.

After breakfast, an attendant collected money for purchases and any returns.

Due to the blackout at the hotel the night before, the train manager announced each passenger would be gifted a trip journal for the inconvenience. I expected a gratuitous knockoff notebook. Wrong. The padded navy cover might be moleskin. Made in Italy, on the back, there is a large B with Pierre Belvedere’s name. The front shows off Rocky Mountaineer brand insignia and their name. I guesstimate about 240 or so lovely pages.

Quick Facts:

  • Salmon Arm: foodie groups would be interested in the organic farming
  • Modern buildings
  • Have invasive Mountain Pine Beetles
  • Shuswap Lake: looks like letter H from the air
  • Cannot buy cabins/houses here—never go on sale
  • Rent houseboats instead
  • Houseboats have all the amenities, including large screen TVs
  • One Rule: must bring houseboats ashore at night in case a storm blows in
  • Sicamous: Houseboat capital of Canada
  • Sicamous means squeezed in between, a First Nation’s word
  • Houseboats are self-sufficient, the lap of luxury, even Jacuzzis

~ * ~

Why such a fuss over the journal? I l.o.v.e. notebooks. You wouldn’t believe my stash. That’s a whole other post.

~ * ~

Next on September 21 – Rocky Mountaineer: Freights Trains and Mountains

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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Rocky Mountaineer: Kamloop Scoops

My first photo clicks at the beginning of our walk about town are the following. Is there anything more Canadian than CBC Radio?

Most cars on the street were parked; pedestrians few. The traffic was slow and the roads not busy, but we did bump into other travellers from our tour group with the same thoughts of exploration until the lights came back on at our end of town. Our dinner vouchers for The Noble Pig Brewhouse next door to our hotel were useless until someone figured out the electricity situation.

I’m not sure why I was surprised at not seeing any jewelry stores. Kamloops appeared chock-full of restaurants, though. One drew our attention like a magnet. A messy line-up of waiting patrons mobbed the entrance and sidewalk in an enthusiastic party atmosphere. We managed to wedge our way inside through the crowd since we had time to kill. The predicted wait time for seating did not appeal but the celebratory atmosphere did. Not especially ready to eat, we fought our way outside again.

We walked and walked peering inside restaurants till my feet complained and moseyed back to our hotel. The Nobel Pig was still dark. Dim emergency lights flickered in the hotel lobby and somehow the registration desk computer worked. Frustrated by the inconvenience, Mary and I decided to hit the sidewalk again with the hope some restaurant with electricity would have room for us two. I needed to sit to rest my aching feet.

What appeared a tiny restaurant with no lineup turned out to be much larger once inside. The menu to our liking, we settled on the Dorian Greek House and almost immediately, a server seated us. I ordered Greek Salad, as had Mary but hers with the addition of Spanakopita. The orders were so generous, we should have ordered one and shared. How my tummy swelled.

Emergency lights only were on at the hotel. I ached for a relaxing foot massage and a good book. A gentleman of 80+ insisted on talking to the tour company to complain about having to pay for dinner. He made a point of making it known he was Doctor so-and-so, yadda-yadda-yadda. He would not be mollified no matter what the staff tried. Cut off from the first call they put through, a staff member redialed for him again and someone brought him a chair.

Too much drama. We headed up the stairs to our semi-dark room at 8:00 p.m. Without thinking, Mary flicked on the bathroom light switch on our way inside and surprise, surprise, we had light. Huh. I tried a lamp and the TV. Our world sank back into darkness again.

Daylight still shone outside but with not enough to read. I’d had it. I changed for bed but tossed and turned for ages. The room temperature had risen, the air heavy and muggy. Mary soon threw in the towel, too. I woke several times due to the humidity. Short of 11:00, a bleep announced power’s return but noting the time I drifted back to sleep. The next time I woke, the bathroom light was on. I scrambled to turn on the air conditioner.

~*~

Next on September 14 – Rocky Mountaineer: On the Rails Again

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Rocky Mountaineer: Views, News, and Sightings

Miles and miles of big bumps and little ones, trees, dirt and streams of water. We spotted an osprey nest on top of an electrical pole. Colorful red and blue wool were a dead giveaway since eagles are’t such particular decorators; they use sticks and whatever they fine on the forest floor.

Did you know?

  • Eagles have a 6-foot wing span
  • Ospreys have 3-foot wing spans
  • Eagles will eat anything from rodents to puppies
  • Ospreys go after fish only
  • Eagles use dead wood, branches and sticks to build a nest
  • Ospreys use things like colored string, plastic, branches.
  • Ospreys will come back year after year
  • Ospreys, eagles, turkey vultures and bears head into the mountains when the weather heats up

For miles it felt we were the only train on earth and the only living people in the middle of nowhere.

Prior to booking this trip, about two years or less before, Jacqui and I discussed what fun it might be to take a train across the country. I had even checked into the possibilities of travelling from coast to coast in Canada, something she had a hankering for. After seven hours on the train  this day, all we’d seen were hills and valleys, rushing water, and rock faces, not even snow-capped mountains. Yet. I thought our too short Rocky Mountain Adventure would be a rip-off. I’ll be in a better position to judge in a few days whether a coast-to-coast ride is worth it. I’ll keep you posted.

Everyone in our car roared when someone spotted a ram. What a treat—my first sighting. Neither Mary nor I had seen even one whale or any water creature during our cruise in Alaska.

Did You Know?

  • Big Horned Sheep are brown with white rumps
  • Females stick together
  • Males also stick together unless it’s rutting season
  • Females: short spikey horns
  • Males: more circular horns

By 4:30 pm another beverage service was offered, the third one on our first day out. Is this why the Rocky Mountaineer is pricey?

Finally, we’re getting someplace: industrial buildings, a church, cars, and people.

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Greetings from Kamloops! I wondered what lay ahead after such a welcome.

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Next on August 31st – Rocky Mountaineer: Kamloops

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles