I promised you something special for the last leg of Movember, and so I’ve taken my moustache to the tracks. My moustache and I have decided to enjoy the Trans Canada train from Toronto to Vancouver.
This adventure will combine my two secret passions in life, moustaches and trains. This trip will also deprive me of what has become a necessity in my life, the internet. On average I spend all day on the internet at work. When I come home I write on Google Documents, a completely web based writing service. In fact this is the first time in a while that I have written on a program that isn’t somehow connected to the internet. I feel like I’m cheating on Google, I hope she doesn’t find out.
Giving the internet up cold turkey for four days will, in all likelihood, be a lot like kicking a nasty heroin habit. I will want it all the time, but never have my thirst for blogs or youtube quenched. I won’t be able to sleep, I’ll sweat a lot, and when no one is looking I’ll huddle in the corner and shiver. I don’t have a problem, I can quit whenever I want…I just never have.
Three things ran through my head when I first realized that I wouldn’t be connected to the internet
1. What will happen to my Klout score?
According to Klout I’m an expert in guitar. I may not play the guitar, but I would hate to lose that online credibility.
2. Will my reader abandon me?
There might only be one person who reads my blog, but my god he/she is loyal. I would hate to disappoint someone who has such great taste.
3. Will anyone even notice I’m gone?
This one is the hardest pill to swallow, because the answer to this question is probably not.
So, how did the trip start?
Our sexy train, 'The Canadian'
Surprisingly well actually. When Jo and I got to the train station our gate looked a lot like the greyhound station I slept in in Phoenix. American Greyhound stations are not very nice. I have felt safer sleeping on the side of the road.
We went to check in at the desk and were asked, “Sleeper or seater?” When we informed them that we were in the sleeper section of the train, they smiled at us. This was confusing for me. We were travelling first class, and apparently first class passengers do not get treated like cattle.
I have never travelled by any form other than the lowest possible class. In the past, if there was an option to stay with the livestock I probably would have taken it. Now I was being told that I would be ‘taken care of’? No one has ever taken care of me, and the only time I hear someone say they’ll take care of someone is usually in a gangster film. This is not the nice kind of ‘taken care of’ either where you get chilled beverages. In fact the only time that I’ve been taken care of is when I got kicked out of a truck stop while I was hitch hiking from Flagstaff, Arizona to Windsor, Ontario. It was not friendly and it did not come with a drink.
The Via Rail station was like cheers, except no one knew my name, although they were really excited to learn it. The chipper gentleman that I was dealing with was ironically named Sunny. Which made me wonder if anyone has ever been named overcast, drizzle, or thunderstorm. I would like to meet a happy person named overcast, that would be a real life struggle. Being named Sunny means you are basically born into happiness. In my mind this is cheating.
Under the umbrella of being ‘taken care of’ we didn’t have to wait in the gate with the rest of the peasants; we had our own lounge. I usually stare at these things with envy because they’re filled with nice snacks, beverages, and they do not smell like despair.
Stepping inside we were greeted and informed that there was a fridge full of complimentary beverages. Finally I know, this is how the other half lives. The chairs were padded, not torn and they didn’t have any gum stuck to them (that I could see). Best of all the floors were carpet, the last garnish of sophistication.
Drinking my crispy ginger ale I could not help but notice one very obvious thing, everyone was old. The average age was high enough that almost every male had a moustache. This was disappointing. Worse yet, none of the people in the lounge looked like they would be good euker partners.
I eaves dropped on the conversations around me, and you know what they discussed? Their preferred dining hour, where the train stops, the weather in Ohio, and just about anything else that you can imagine that does not matter. There was a pretty intense debate over whether we could board at 9 or 9:30. I’d like to say it got heated, but I think someone fell asleep.
Are people born this boring or do they grow into it the same way a baby does with its big head?
Then I realized it, this is what it’s like to be retired. The stage of life where the two biggest problems in the day are deciding when to eat and how not to fall asleep in the soup. I’d always wanted to vacation in a retirement home, and now I was getting my chance. The food would be soft, people would remind me when to eat, and there aren’t a lot of stairs. Welcome to the good life.
At this point I also realized my bag has a whistle. This might seem like a strange thing to notice at this moment, but stay with me for a second. My bag is meant for outdoor adventures and the whistle is meant for survival situations, but seniors get in lots of survival situations. For instance if their water is too cold and it hurts their teeth. As you can tell I’m really starting to get into the right head space.
The train boarded and we got the grand tour from our cars attendant Cal. He ran through the ins and outs of train life, including a safety demonstration on how to escape the train through a window. This seemed substantially more light hearted than any in flight safety demonstrations I’ve had to sit through.
To conclude his performance, Cal informed us of the long list of situations that we could call upon him for using or ‘summon’ button. He did not call it the summon button, that is a Nik ‘ism’.
The last scenario he mentioned was falling out of bed in the night, which I suppose is a real issue if you are on your second hip. As an additional reason I suggested, “bad dreams.” I think it might have taken Cal a moment to realize that I was not serious. That being said, I’m half tempted to call him after a night terror to see his reaction.
Walking...and looking good
Having been thoroughly briefed by Cal, Jo and I journeyed to the back of the beast to the highly touted dome car. Before the dome car there was of course the bar, which will no doubt become a popular spot once people spend a few days cooped up in this sardine can. I hope the bar is well stocked with Tom Collins mix.
Then there it was, the dome car. I personally would not call it the dome car, more like skylight car or car with the most windows. That type of advertising does not put asses in seats.
The Dome Car (during the day)
With a view from the top of the train I felt like I was in a James Bond fight scene. In that scene I know that I would probably be one of the nameless extras who falls off or gets hit by a low bridge. I wish my imagination was not so realistic.
The steal snake slithered its way through Toronto. In case you have never taken a train, the experience on board a departing train is much less thrilling than a plane taking off. Ironically, with a view from the dome the train felt more like a space shuttle launch than a plane does though. A really slow spaceship that does not have much of a chance of making orbit unfortunately.
I always fantasize about being an astronaut. Unfortunately, the second thing that comes to mind after space travel is my talent for getting violently motion sick. I went for a stunt flight once, and let’s just say it did not go well. I have first hand experience confirming that this fantasy would become my worst nightmare.
While perched atop the train in the dome car, the conductor or captain made his opening remarks. He informed us that there is a railway tradition that includes no smoking on the train. Which got me to thinking, if train ticket sales are struggling, why wouldn’t they market the Trans Canada train as a retreat for smokers to quit cold turkey?
On second thought, this might not be such a good idea. There could be disastrous results if you stuff a handful of irritable smokers in a train. Once they sucked all the nicotine from under their finger nails someone would surely be murder. At which point the train would turn into a life size version of Clue.
In the last few minutes of being pensive in the dome car I was given hor d’oeuvres in the dark. I was given four different kinds and they all tasted the same. The waiter said the ham and cheese was the best. I could not even tell you which one had ham on it.
I’m done for the day, but the train and my moustache are still going strong. It’s deflating to see almost every man on the train with a moustache, but I suppose I fit in well. I might even have the greyest moustache on the train.
Some of you might be saying, “Hh this doesn’t sound awesome, hanging out on a steel torpedo with handful of geriatrics!” I beg to differ. I want to relax and read, better yet I want to be reminded when to eat.
I can’t wait to see what the Trans Canada train (ie, being temporarily retired) has in store for me next.