Up at the crack of dawn to board the Rocky Mountaineer, the fabulous luxury train that will take us from Vancouver to Jasper. Xingxing's first train ride! Our baggage was whisked away, we were settled in big, soft seats surrounded by picture windows -- and the adventure began.
Actually, it didn't. There was some sort of delay, so we just sat there. Never mind. They served breakfast in the dining car, and what a breakfast! Eggs Benedict with all the trimmings, and there are few things (other than oysters and caviar) that I like better than Eggs Benedict! Xingxing licked hollandaise sauce off my fingers, and it didn't really matter that the train wasn't actually moving.
When we did finally get rolling, we soon left Vancouver behind. Then it was all rushing rivers (higher this year than they'd been for 10 years, according to our guide) and tall, virgin forests. No people. Mile after mile after mile, and no people. That was amazing. There is an awful lot of Canada, and most of it is uninhabited.
Xingxing slept all morning and woke up for lunch, which was another culinary extravaganza, accompanied by excellent Canadian wines. We saw lots of eagles, but no elk or bear. That didn't really surprise me. Why would any elk or bear want to hang out next to the railroad tracks in the middle of all this beautiful wilderness?
As the afternoon mellowed (assisted by more of that Canadian pinot) it became clear that we were going to be on the train for several more hours than planned, because the early delay had made us miss our "meets" which meant all the other trains had right of way over us. The staff -- bless their hearts! -- were worried about Xingxing needing to do what a dog needs to do. They thought he might be uncomfortable, so they stopped the whole train in the middle of nowhere and one of the guys took Xingxing out to lift a leg. I mean, how nice is that?
We finally reached Kamloops, where we were greeted quite ceremoniously by half a dozen real, live Canadian Mounted Police. It was like being in a movie. At Kamloops we spent the night in a sweet little hotel which we really didn't get to appreciate because we had to get back on the train first thing in the morning. However, I did manage to squeeze in a nice, long walk for Xingxing before we boarded. He was becoming very proficient at bounding up the steep steps, and was obviously enjoying the train.
Another fabulous breakfast in the dining car, and more great scenery. And then wine, and a gourmet lunch, and more wine. As we traveled east the scenery just kept getting better and better, and there was something quite mesmerizing about simply sitting there and watching the rivers and
forests go by. Just before we reached Jasper, the train passed so close to a gigantic waterfall that you could have reached out and touched it. And our arrival in Jasper -- surrounded with snow-capped mountains -- was beyond perfect. Xingxing and I took a little walk while everyone else checked in, and by the time we got to our room, we were both ready for dinner, and bed.