On the second day of this Trans Canada train adventure I woke up to snow, the last call for breakfast and day 25 of Movember. ‘Wake up’ implies that I was asleep, regretfully this was not the case. To be more accurate, I got out of bed. Over the course of the night I got maybe thirty minutes of sleep, and ALL of those minutes came when I the train stopped occasionally to let another train pass by.
I have never spent a whole night so exhausted in a comfortable bed and been completely unable to sleep one bit. Our porter, Cal, had warned us that the vibration of the train can ‘mess’ with you, which creates a very unique restless feeling. He recommended using the complimentary ear plugs. I had lost mine before I even went to bed. I tried music, but louder noise covering a loud noise isn’t really conducive to a great nights sleep.
No sleep meant that my first full day on the train wasn’t starting well. I was tired and late for breakfast; things could only get better. Breakfast was good, and with two helpings of bacon I was able to muster the strength to write a review of the mornings meal, which I will post later.
My moustache is still well-defined at this point by I fear the worst in a few days. I don’t think I will be able to shave in a train that shakes so violently. Any attempt to do so would probably look like I tried to shave with a cheese grater in a bumper car. With this in mind my moustache will likely lose integrity and definition by the end of this trip. For this I apologies, but I’m not sorry about the two servings of bacon I had at breakfast. That’s what men with moustaches eat.
At breakfast no one looked well rested, and as it would turn out everyone confirmed that they were having a rough time
sleeping. I imagine that I will eventually become so tired that no train or herd of elephants could keep me away from a late night date with my face and a pillow.
Aside from being unable to sleep, the sights and sounds of the trip were limited pretty exclusively to trees and water. Fortunately for me, I happen to be a big fan of both of these pieces of nature’s furniture.
I did learn one fun fact on my first full day on the train. Via Rail will let you off and pick you up anywhere it has tracks. This includes in the middle of absolute nowhere, which I tested with one of the porters asking, “What about right here?” while being in the absolute middle of nowhere. I like this idea, and look forward to exploring the wilderness in the near future by piggy backing on the train.
With our train about to enter Manitoba, there was a presentation made in the dome car about the history of the province and its capital city, Winnipeg. And you know what I learned Manitoba has a tradition in? Floods. In fact it floods so often and so violently that the natives didn’t even want to settle in the area.
Every senior citizen on the train, and there are a lot of them, chimed in their two cents about the last flood that they remembered. I think I might have even heard someone say that they used to buy Moon Pies for a nickel.
I am now something of an expert on floods. With the power of this expert knowledge, I have decided that I will always live on some sort of hill or high ground, and more specifically, never in Winnipeg.
Our Manitoba information session was flawless, save for one interruption from a radio request for a tooth-brush. Our presenter responded “Get it yourself.” The staff on board the Via Rail are a pretty entertaining bunch, and if I get tired of watching the trees they aren’t a bad secondary source of entertainment. In contrast to flight attendants, it seems like Via Rail staff are allowed to have their own personality.
I’ve learned a few other locomotive facts as well. On the first night of the trip they announced that there would be no smoking on the train, and I thought, “What a great way to quit smoking cold turkey, take a four-day train!” Well scratch that, the train stops for smoke breaks.
For our second ‘smoke break’ we stopped into Hornepayne. I have never heard of or seen on this place on a map. Jo and I thought it best to stride into town and breathe in the local culture. Oddly enough, for a town with no sidewalks they sure had a lot of souvenir shops, two to be exact. They also had the biggest LCBO that I have ever seen. I guess the only thing you can count on to keep you warm in the north is hard liquor and souvenirs.
What I’ve written about today does not eat up an entire day, so you’re probably wondering how I kept busy on a train. Let me break down my day.
My Day in Detail:
walk around HornePayne
played scrabble (and lost)
watch a movie
With the exception of sleeping, all of these things were done with a view out a window.
As you can tell it was an action packed day, but in all seriousness I had a great day. That being said, if you’re not big on writing, reading, napping, sitting quietly, or staring out windows, I would strongly advise against taking the train across Canada.