And I’m off! Day One of The Farewell Tour went really well and I couldn’t be more excited. There was some frantic rushing around in the morning, but I think I managed to get everything done. I said some final goodbyes (sorry to anyone I didn’t see – I’ll miss you) and turned in the keys to good old #139 before hopping the bus to the train station. My friend Nick came to see me off, and we grabbed a quick breakfast while I waited for boarding to start.
I jumped on the train and found myself a seat near the middle of the first economy car. And not just one – two! I’ve set up quite the little camp here with some assistance of new friends I’ve made who have been on The Canadian (that’s the train’s name) since it left Toronto. And it’s a good thing I’m comfortable; I’m not getting off this train until Wednesday!
Nordy — always the faithful travel companion — has joined me on this trip. Of course, one of the first things anyone on the train (Sean the Scot) said to me was, “Is that your travel buddy?” to which I enthusiastically said yes. Hopefully he doesn’t think I’m a total freak, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Pillow Pets are the best travel pillows out there and I have zero shame about bringing mine along.
I think my favorite thing about train travel so far is the social aspect. Everyone started talking right away in our car, and they seat you with people at meals, which I really appreciate as someone traveling alone. Also the food is delicious. Everyone who’s heard about my trip has been really eager to tell me what I need to see and do in all my destinations. I’ve gotten some great tips about bars to see in Victoria, as well as some parks and museums to see in Ottawa and Québec!
Not only did the friends I’ve made teach me the ropes of train travel, they taught me poker. We spent most of the afternoon in the dome car playing Texas Hold ‘Em and stayed up late into the evening playing out until Mikey had taken all the chips. If only the dining car took poker chips as currency!
Due to a lack of TV, we have all worked on making our own entertainment, mostly out of some “rail-mances” that started to emerge over the course of the day yesterday. It’s like our own little reality TV show. We are so dedicated to staying caught up on the latest “hot goss” that if our entertainment moves out of view, we have a rotating recon mission in place. News from the “lovers’ front” is the most important kind onboard The Canadian.
We had a few delays on the tracks waiting for other trains to pass, but I don’t mind. As long as I make it to Victoria some time on Wednesday, I’m happy. There wasn’t much to talk about in terms of scenery so far; Manitoba and Saskatchewan mostly showcased lots of farms, the occasional prairie dog, and lots of dilapidated barns and derelict powerlines. We did pass through the Qu’Appelle Valley though, which was lovely. It was carved out by glaciers way back when. The conductor said that name comes from the French “Qui appelle?” meaning “Who calls?” because there’s an echo when you shout across the valley.