THE CANADIAN ON TOUR – June 22

Hello from Calgary! I’m writing from the kitchen of Jon and Michaelea Calon, who have wonderfully and at the last minute invited me to stay with them in Calgary instead of at the planned hotel. More on that later…

If you are new to this blog, please click on the links above to read past entries. I assure you they aren’t stale and they should make you laugh as you follow the trials and tribulations of this crazy tour.

View from the domeMorning mists in Alberta

The Canadian was a very enjoyable ride – we were 90 minutes behind schedule as we crossed into Saskatchewan, but we somehow arrived in Saskatoon on time. Evidently the lead locomotive is equipped with space-time vortex manipulator, or quite possibly we travelled through a wormhole. Fellow model railroader Ray Reinhardt met the train at the station and got an unexpected tour of the Park Car. His modelling is simply amazing – Ray has been making gorgeous, accurate models of CN and CP locomotives for years. He’s already got his own versions of most of the great Canadian prototypes that Rapido is bringing out, but thankfully he’s open to the idea of expanding his collection!

CN locomotivesView from The Canadian in Edmonton

For fans of vintage motive power, there is a lot of it lying around here in the West. We passed through CN’s Walker Yard before backing into Edmonton Station and saw these beauties: an SW1200RS and GMD1 relaxing by the locomotive shops. There are lots of GMD1s out here (and in Ontario as well – I saw two working the yard in London). These faithful prairie dogs do seem to get around.

Adding a Panorama CarAdding a Panorama observation car to The Canadian

We backed into the station, and once the passengers and their stuffage had disembarked, one of VIA’s gorgeous Panorama cars was added to the consist. I look forward to riding in one of these when I continue on to Vancouver. It’s a bit like a smushed version of the old Sceneramic dome cars used between Edmonton and Vancouver until 1982. You could never see out of the front windows of the Sceneramic anyway (due to the distortion in the glass), so the Panorama cars are basically just as effective.

SceneramicInside a Sceneramic Dome. Photo by Brian Schuff.

I rented a car and headed south on Highway 2 to Red Deer, where I met a great bunch of guys at Fun Times Hobby & Cycle. Gord and Jason were very welcoming (Jason bought two pins!), and the presentation was well received, even if we did get some funny looks from the kids coming in to get their bikes repaired! David Kilborn wins the “Other Side of God’s Back” award for driving six hours to see The Canadian. Thanks for coming out, David!

David KilbornDavid Kilborn checks out some FP9A detail in Red Deer

The drive down to Calgary was absolutely stunning. The locals here think it’s a boring drive, but compared to the 401 between Toronto and Montreal, Highway 2 is a veritable tourist destination! I was truly awed by what I saw. And I haven’t even got to the mountains yet!

Alberta Highway 2Big Sky Country, Alberta

And then there was Calgary. Oh dear. I arrived at the Carriage House Inn (notice I am notlinking to their web site!) and was given the keys to 961. I loaded up the luggage cart and when my back was turned it started to roll off the (very uneven) sidewalk. I turned just in time to catch it as it hurled itself towards my rental car, but not before all my suitcases fell off. There was a guy standing right there who failed to say anything. I think he was waiting for it to crash so he could say “Dude.” and tell his friends on Twitter. Git.

I went up to the room and it smelled like a sewer. I am not kidding. Somebody had redirected the Calgary sewer system to this room. Or maybe the last guest was working on a “Build Your Own Water Filtration Plant” kit on the bed.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page