Canadian Rail Tour
(Note: Clicking on any image in this travelogue will bring up an enlarged version of the image.)
Quesnel to Whistler
We're starting to be old hands at this by now. Lining up for the bus, boarding the train, renewing our acquaintances from the previous day. Today we get first seating for meals, and chow down for breakfast before we find ourselves gnawing at the upholstery of the seats. About an hour and a half into this leg we came to Deep Creek Bridge. The crew gave us plenty of advance notice, and the train slowed to about 10 MPH to give us plenty of photo opportunity. We really couldn't see much of the bridge itself. It's a single-track trestle with no guard rails, and there's not much that shows from the upper level of the observation car. But it leaps a quarter mile over a spectacular waterway 312 feet below the tracks which is fed by an equally spectacular waterfall that starts higher than the tracks. I had enough warning to take the video below with my crusty iPhone.
78, Deep Creek Bridge
Click for video
OK. This is one instance where the word"awesome" is more than appropriate. Dare I say it's "Perfect!"?
Side note: the iPhone has a lot of nice things going for it. It's pretty good at doing a lot of things, and it's always at hand. But there's a learning curve that disappears into infinity. I limited my use of it while in Canada, because I have a rather limited plan with my phone company, which has big charges for phone and data usage out of the country. I made only a couple of necessary phone calls, no texts or emails, and only 2 or 3 Internet inquiries from the phone over the entire trip. Nonetheless, towards the end of the trip, I started getting texts from AT&T that I was way over the limit for Internet usage, and eventually my Internet access was shut off. When I got home, I found I had somehow racked up over $600 in Internet overages because the phone periodically does some Internet queries on its own for whatever internal purposes unless I change a setting to prevent it. At my request AT&T was happy to put me on their International Access Plan for the month of my trip and waive the overcharges.
The route abandoned the Fraser in Lilooet where the river turned south towards Lytton, and thence west to Vancouver. We would again be following the Fraser upstream several days later on our eastbound leg from Vancouver to Kamloops. We rolled along towards Whistler, arriving around 8:00PM
En Route to Whistler
Around evening we pulled into Whistler, and the Nita Lake Lodge. This was also a pretty classy joint, but not a Fairmont Hotel. And unlike the Fairmonts it was convenient to decent local eateries, as well as being only a block or so from the train station.
We had the day in Whistler. The town itself was maybe a mile and a half from the train station, and was the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's primarily a ski town, but they have certainly tricked it out with enough to do during the summer. The town center is all pedestrian, and a modern tourist magnet. Lots of shops, and restaurants, and shops, and picturesque places to walk, and shops and a First Nations Museum, and shops. The central attraction is the base of the ski area which, during the summer is turned over to lunatics on mountain bicycles. It was pretty scary watching them hurtle down the narrow trails. But most of them seemed to do it with ease and aplomb, God bless 'em.
The Nita Lake Lodge provided us with a free shuttle into town, and we wandered about being unabashed tourists. There was a large imaginative play area for kids, including a bungee bounce facility. In this, the kids were strapped into harnesses attached to two bungee cords which stretched from attachment points at their hips to a couple of widely spaced anchor points perhaps 20 feet high. The bungees' length was adjusted so that when they stood on the ground, the bungees supported all but a couple of pounds of their weight. Consequently, when they jumped, they were able to propel themselves almost as high as the bungees' upper attachment points. They were able to jump and do somersaults in the air, and still come down gently. It looked like fun.
We decided to take gondola cars first to the top of the mountain, and then, in an enormous single span between two mountain peaks a couple of miles apart. At the top of the far peak there was a lovely nature walk through an alpine trail studded with flowers.
Up the Mountains of Whistler
The temperature at the top of the mountain was probably something like 50°F, but it was calm, bright, and sunny, so I was comfortable in just a sweater. A good thing, because I had packed nothing warmer. It was one of those walks where you don't talk much. Just wander along the trail, sometimes one or the other person stopping to peer at a view or some rock formation or a flower, yet never wandering too far apart. There was one rocky area where nuthatches, apparently well acclimated to human presence, would alight on an open hand in the hopes it would contain some food. Very peaceful. The altitude was getting to me, however. And after a while I decided to go back to the gondola terminus while Jenny continued onward. We settled on a meeting point, and I headed back. As the afternoon wore on, it started to get chilly, so I bummed a piece of paper from one of the gondola attendants and wrote a big note, "Jenny, I got cold. Meet you in the Restaurant." and posted it at our assigned rendezvous. That worked, and we hooked up about 45 minutes later. We took the gondola back to the other peak, and then the chair lift down to Whistler.
It was warmer down at the bottom. We bummed around the town for a bit, grabbed a pizza for dinner, watched a little bit of a New Orleans jazz band do their sound check for an evening concert at an outdoor stage, checked out the First Nations Museum, only to find that it had closed at 5:00, and then called the hotel to pick us up and take us home.