As I was putting the finishing touches on a long-planned trip to British
Columbia (see Main Article, Sampling British Coulmbia's Cornucopia), my
friend Bill suggested a train ride across the Rockies as an alternative to a
transcontinental flight to Vancouver. Great idea, I thought, savoring the
notion of a leisurely break between work in the office and work in the field.
Also, I liked the idea of taking in a thousand or more miles of Canada's
spectacular scenery without getting behind the wheel of a car.
Via Rail Canada, our northern neighbor's passenger rail service, runs
its historic Canadian on four-day journeys from Toronto to
Vancouver three times a week. Pressed for time, we caught the train mid-way, in
Winnipeg, which still gave us two evenings on board and an appreciation of the
stark contrast between the flattest prairies and the grandest mountains to be
seen . . . if only we could have seen them more clearly!
Overall, the Canadian is a wonderful way to slow down while you're
moving across the country, to glimpse some pretty dramatic vistas, and to dally
with your traveling companions, both old and new. But the train windows and
glass dome of our observation car needed a heavy dose of Windex! Given that
most passengers take this train to view and photograph the scenery, it's hard
to believe that Via Rail is not more industrious about keeping the windows
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