At the end of the Rose Bowl post, 3 entries back, I believe, I hinted about another bucket list type adventure that was in the future for me. It’s still in the future, but the plans have been made for “Paul’s Big Adventure” or “Planes, Trains, Cruise Ships and Busses”. (Wasn’t it the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle show where the episodes always seem to have 2 titles like that?)
Here’s the story. For more than 20 years, I’ve been something of a Canada fan (Canadaphile??) I grew up in Michigan, and Ontario is just across the river from Detroit. I remember the first time I went to Canada as a young adult, and even though I could see Detroit, just a few hundred yards away, it felt different to me. I was aware that I was away from home, even though I hadn’t really gone anywhere. The local alternative rock station in Detroit back then was 89X from Windsor, Ontario. As they were a Canadian station, they were subject to Canadian content laws, and I was exposed to many great Canadian bands that I am a fan of to this day, like the Tragically Hip, The Pursuit of Happiness, Sloan, to name just three. For a number of years, Toronto was my favorite city, I guess it still is. I am by no means a world traveler, but I’ve always loved Toronto. My first trip to Toronto was on Via Rail, Canada’s train system, and it was special. Back then (20 years now) coach in Via was similar to business class in current domestic airlines. There’s a lot of information here, and I could write a few thousand words about the circumstances around and also of the trip, but I like Toronto. I was some media many years ago about the city of Banff, Alberta, and the elk that are free to wander the city. Banff is a city inside of a national park, and I’ve always wanted to see it.
Many years ago, I was looking for ways to make a trip like this happen, and while on Via rail’s web site, they were offering a trans-Canada rail journey. I was ready!! It was certainly beyond my ability to pay for it, but I put a trip together. Dreaming… I’ve reassembled that trip many times over the years, and always kept running into a stumbling block. No matter what upgrades I put together on the trip, the beds in the sleeper cards on the trip are 5’10” long. No matter what. That’s a bit of a problem for me as I’m 6’5” tall.
In the summer of 2013, I was looking at vacations again, and still, Via rail didn’t have an option for me. I was really close to just deciding to do it anyway. I thought that maybe there was another option, did some Google searching and came across the Rocky Mountaineer. This is a train that runs through the Canadian Rockies only (not Coast to coast), but you overnight in hotels every night, and spend the days on a train. Woo-Hoo!! This is the answer! I was committed to making this happen in the summer of 2014, I just didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, but it was going to happen.
So, if you’re paying attention, you’re asking yourself “I thought you said this trip is in the future, you said you committed to taking the trip in the summer of 2014??” You’re correct, and in this case both things can be true at the same time. Two significant events happened last year: Heart Attack and Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl took care of the vacation budget for this year. The heart attack steeled the resolve to make the trip happen. Fast forward to early this summer.
I have downloaded all of the brochures, I have visited all of the web sites, I’m ready to leave today (right now!) for the trip, but again, don’t really know how to pay for this. Here’s the thing, I really don’t want to take this trip on the “budget plan”. Every image I see from Alberta and British Columbia is more beautiful than the previous. Every time you see a picture of Lake Louise, it’s taken from the Fairmont Hotel on the shore of the Lake. I want that experience…that trip. That trip is brutally expensive. Dilemma. Champagne dreams; beer budget.
I inherited some money this summer. Not life changing money, but yeah, a nice sum. It is from my Aunt who while she was working always seems to take remarkable trips many summers (she was a teacher). It seemed so appropriate to me to use this windfall to honor her, and get to take this epic journey of my own. It’s On!
Now, the next dilemma, actually deciding on what trip to take. I’ll spare you all of the details, but I found a travel agent, and after a couple of conversations, she presented me with some options. I chose one of her options, then upsold myself to another experience. Here’s what the journey will encompass:
I fly to Vancouver, and then embark on a 7 day Alaska Cruise, returning to Vancouver. After a couple of days to see Vancouver (and do laundry!) I leave on my train adventure. I travel from Vancouver to Banff, and spend 2 nights in Banff. Then travel by bus to Lake Louise (1 night) and Jasper (1 night). I thin take another train trip that ends in Whistler, with a stop along the way in Quesnel. After an overnight in Whistler, and another train back to Vancouver, then home.
More details as this gets closer, I’m certain. And I expect the trip to be the source for many more posts.