The first two stops on our Canadian adventure, Victoria and Vancouver, were wonderful, but each deserves a longer stay to soak in the atmosphere. But there's no time to waste, because it's time for the backbone of our "holiday", as the Canadians and British say. We departed our hotel in Vancouver at 6:45 and boarded the Rocky Mountaineer at about 7:30.
The first two hours of the trip took us through lush farmland as we headed toward the mountains from the coast. The Fraser River Valley is very fertile, and this is the peak of the growing season. We saw fields with crops ranging from "Peaches and Cream" corn to blueberries and raspberries. In the river itself was evidence of Canada's rich timber industry, large booms confining hundreds of logs.
As we venture into the foothills and then the mountains, the river valley becomes a canyon, and then a gorge, with places named Hell's Gate and the Jaws of Death. On one side of the train, the river grows wilder with more whitewater. On the other side of the train, evergreen forests stretch up the mountainside. The spectacular sights are not only natural ones, but also man-made ones, like the bridges that span the gorges. So far, our wildlife sightings include bald eagles, osprey, and bighorn sheep.
By mid-afternoon, the landscape changes from Alpine forests and mountains to parched desert earth and rugged, landslide-marred mountainsides. We are entering the eastern part of British Columbia, the hottest and driest part of Canada. There is a smokey haze over the distant peaks from wildfires not too far away.
We roll into Kamloops, the mid-point of our journey, around 5:00. Some in our group head for a special dinner and musical called "Rhythm of the Rails", while the rest of us just relax at our motel overlooking the Thompson River, which the train will now follow eastward toward Banff. That's our route tomorrow, and it's said to be some of the most beautiful scenery on the face of the planet.
But first, some rest...