How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


6 Comments

Rocky Mountaineer: Gobsmacking Spaces

We called it a day after the late dinner around 9:00 pm. Ugh. I don’t like eating this late.

As always, I expected Mary’s suitcase to explode on mere eye contact. I had valuable space in mine; Mary negotiated I help her downsize her bulging case. How could I refuse? Five or ten pounds ended up in my luggage. What are sisters for?

What is it about travelling that I can’t wait to hit the breakfast buffet? I always overeat when on vacation. You’d think I’d be stuffed to the gills and push back. Maybe I was, but I figured might as well enjoy being served as opposed to serving, while the opportunity presented itself.

After breakfast, refreshed and fed, we explored what we could of Lake Louise and the Fairmont. This would be our only chance as our stay was only for one night. The proximity of the magnificent mountains so close to the hotel had me gobsmacked. How else can I explain my experience? I’ve seen pictures over time, but being there was another matter. Imagine a half-frozen lake, snow on the ground, mountains as a backdrop and dressed in jeans and tees, minus a jacket. The date: May 20, 2017. It boggles the mind. The day provided warm sunshine and balmy weather.

I have too many pictures to present here. These few might give you a taste of my giddy experience. First the famous Fairmont:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Breathtaking surroundings and heavenly backdrop to the Fairmont:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We enjoyed a last lunch after checking out. Nervous the luggage might be forgotten in the room and miss the bus, we first wandered to the registration desk and were directed to the area for the bus and luggage wicket. I relaxed when I saw our bags had indeed been transferred from our room. The fellow tagging our luggage laughed out loud when he saw me watch him eagle-eyed.

Just a few plagues telling visitors interesting facts:

With time to kill, I grabbed a comfy chair in the lobby and proceeded to finish my book. Can I share a secret? I’d borrowed a book from the cruise ship library but hadn’t finished it. No way can I leave a book without knowing the ending. My plan—a good one, I thought—was to leave it in the Fairmont Hotel lobby with a note to please return to the ship. With so many tours parading back and forth, I felt confident some good soul proceeding to the Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska Cruise tour would find the book, smile, and do the good deed. I wish I knew about the book’s journey.

An arm’s length from where I finished reading, I noticed a group mill around with garment bags slung over their shoulders. They disappeared and returned dressed in traditional costumes (I assume) for picture taking. I wanted to ask questions but did not wish to intrude. It wasn’t clear whether they were English conversant and I didn’t want to put anyone on the spot. Of course, Mary and I took advantage of this colourful photo opportunity. Curious, I looked around but could not discern a specific photographer for them.

Next on October 19th – Rocky Mountaineer: An Unexpected Bonanza

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Advertisements


7 Comments

Rocky Mountaineer: Mind-boggling Views

Someone left a disgusting yellow mess on the floor in the facilities. No bump on the tracks came to mind. Someone missed the bowl or had been in an awful hurry. I did not see the woman cleaner with her basket of supplies so I threw a handful of paper towels on the floor.

In our car, a ten-year-old boy travelled with his grandmother. He should have been in school this fine May day, but he proved to be a smart kid. His gran didn’t stop explaining things to him and he asked fantastic questions and gave well thought out answers. Amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he holidayed with her often, far and wide. Lucky fellow.

Cheese and wine service arrived. The chef arranged a ¼-inch thick slice of white cheddar on a 2-1/2-inch cracker, a piece of dried apple and a piece of dried apricot. The cart came through only once; the booze cart came by twice, before and after the cheese treats.

Many breathtaking mountains, too many views. Where does not stop taking pictures? Looking over the photos on my iPad, I wondered how I’d pick and choose which ones (of the clear ones) to keep. Trees, not towns surrounded us so I had no idea in what locations I took most of them. The majestic views both overwhelmed and oversaturated my brain. The mind-boggling mountains soon left me numb to their magnificence. I wonder if people living in the midst of these mountains begin to dismiss them over time. Do they ever lose their magic?

Pretty buildings announced our arrival at Lake Louise Station: quiet but exciting. Another bus emptied before ours. Two days on the train had been enough. Little had I known miles and miles of trees, mountains, other trains, and rivers could leave me cross-eyed and wonder-blind.

I’d seen pictures of the famous Lake Louise Fairmont, but seeing it in person was still an experience, especially the looming snow-capped mountains flanking the hotel. Wow. I could not breathe.

Once again, I was reassured to find our luggage had been removed from the previous hotel and like magic reappeared in our new one. It is worrisome and nerve-wracking wondering whether someone forgot bags somehow. So far, so good.

Next on October 5th: Rocky Mountaineer: Winding Up and Winding Down

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


3 Comments

Rocky Mountaineer: Freight Trains and Mountains

A cute story:

 We passed through a small town called Canoe. A Mrs. Diane Lund lives there in a lemon-colored house along the Rocky Mountaineer route. Each time a train passed, she stood outside on her front step to wave the train on.

 The train people wondered how she knew when the Mountaineer came through because many freight trains also pass through daily. Turns out, her dog Cedar knew and barked its arrival. The lady joined her dog outside her front door. 

~ * ~

We pulled over for a freight train. Minutes tick-tocked. Twenty minutes later (or less), it finally passed on a track I guesstimate around six feet away.

As the attendant handed out Rocky Mountaineer journals, we dared inquire about having to pay for dinner sans voucher the night before. Prepared, the young lady gave us a card with a number to call. I’m sure we paid a lot less (out of pocket) than what the voucher was worth. We’ll see.

Around 9:15 a.m., we passed through Sicamous (means squeezed in between, a First Nation’s word). By 9:30, the bar opened—an hour earlier than the previous morning. What? It’s not Sunday brunch (too early) nor is it Saturday; it’s vacation time! What the heck. I decided on a Caesar.

As we whooshed from Revelstoke to Field, the altitude rose 2500 feet. Trains travel year round here with plows out front, snow at times 40 to 50 feet deep.

Trains pass through a lot of forests and outside of towns. Some time ago, I had considered taking a train across Canada. I no longer believe I will. I hate being closed in and not free to roam. I’m bored. The narratives are too few by our rail car attendant. YouTube or National Geographic can give me a similar experience. I need to walk, touch, feel, and smell. Passing by is not good enough for me anymore.

Finally lunch: Spinach salad with a mustard dressing, cranberries, and julienned apples. Delicious. For the main, I chose pork (it came in two generous pieces) with roasted cauliflower, risotto and a log of squash. I could have licked my plate.

So many Kodak moments—too many to choose. After a while, I became overwhelmed and bug-eyed and their beauty knocked my breath away. How many pictures do I want or need? At times the train travelled too fast. Some of my best efforts produced flashes of unrecognizable digital smears instead of identifiable images of trees etc. Already, I was pictured out. Running from one side of the train to the other, begging ‘excuse me’s’, and avoiding bumping or stepping on other passengers knocked me for a loop.

The scenery changes from dense trees or sparse and thin ones; to charcoal mountains capped in glistening snow; to brown running lakes; to water rushing with ice crystals.

Someone hollered there was a swimming bear but I missed it due to the train’s speed.

Next on September 28 – Rocky Mountaineer: Mindboggling Views

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


8 Comments

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

~ * ~

Next on August 31st – Rocky Mountaineer: Kamloops

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles