Pulling into Vancouver I was wishing the trip had lasted longer. The night before, we had even talked about hijacking the train somehow so the whole experience could last longer.
Taking the train across Canada did not at all line up with my expectations. You would think it would be more like taking the bus or flying in that you would need books and movies just to kill time. I had my MacBook Pro with me thinking I would get a tonne of work done. I was wrong.
Trains are all about the people
Suppose you wanted to get from A to B, you wouldn't take the train, right? It's more expensive and takes 16 times longer than flying. Assuming you're not afraid of flying, or have some medical condition, choosing to take the train is all for the journey. It's a barrier to entry that filters for people who like to enjoy the ride, take in the view and chat with strangers. So you end up with a collection of interesting travellers of all ages and walks of life --each with a unique story and perspective to share.
On our journey, I shared time with foreign travellers, the artist on board, a landscape architect couple who designs parks, retired train engineers, an inspired Mormon from the USA who could sing all the Barenaked Ladies songs, and a mysterious math teacher dressed fully in tweed. There was an 80 year-old couple still madly in love, a music industry exec, a social worker, a physiotherapist, an East Coast jeep tour operator, a member of the Hells Angels, a 3D sewing professor on the way to present at a conference, a street musician and then us -- two cyclists, training across the country to then bike from Vancouver to Portland... in the rain.
Stopping to smell the roses
The train did stop from time to time to get new passengers and drop some off. The friendly crew was nice enough to let us hop on our bikes to explore the surrounding areas. In Winnipeg, we spent three hours in the wee hours of the morning and in Jasper we had almost an hour.
Time is relative
Although we could have flown from Toronto to Vancouver in three hours, spending five days training across the world's second-largest country seemed to go by far too quickly. With very little cellular connection and no wifi, the world seemed to go on pause.
Add it to your bucket list.
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