Photography Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer
I’ve long regarded travelling as a means to an end—a way of getting to a destination quickly, not something meant to be enjoyable in its own right. So my trip on the Rocky Mountaineer is a shock to the system.
At the train station in Lake Louise, passengers gaze down the tracks, cameras at the ready, eagerly waiting for the blue and gold locomotive to arrive. Once it cruises into the station (right on time), guests stroll toward the two-tiered coaches via a red carpet. Inside, the staff greet us with beaming smiles. Then we head off for the two-day trip to Vancouver. Right away, the gentle hum of the engine and the steady stream of gorgeous scenery lulls me into a happy place. I feel tiny surrounded by the jagged mountains and endless pine trees. I tune in and out as our tour guide imparts factoids ranging from the intricacies of salmon mating habits to the design characteristics of railway bridges.
As we approach Kamloops, the mountains begin to shrink, eventually falling into the “hill” category. We don’t see much animal life—just cows grazing. The landscape morphs from green forest to parched red and gold plains. I feel like we took a wrong turn and ended up in Arizona.
Abandoned farmhouses lean every which way, and ancient rusty vehicles dot the fields. It’s funny how your mind wanders when you have the time and opportunity—when you’re freed from your inbox and all your little handheld devices. (Cell service is sparse, and there’s no Internet on board.) I make up stories about what happened to the owners of all those houses and cars, and I marvel at the crazy, beautiful diversity of our country.
My daydreaming is interrupted by an announcement: The front half of the train is to head to the dining room for lunch. Mains like grilled BC salmon with maple glaze are paired with local wines. After three courses—one of the perks of the Rocky Mountaineer’s GoldLeaf Service—I’m ready to zone out in my little bubble of bliss. Soon we’ll arrive in Kamloops, where we’ll stay the night at a hotel.
The next morning, we’ll head straight to Vancouver for a mid-afternoon arrival. By trip’s end, I vow to make more time for slow travel in my future.