Tuesday 12 May 2015

Around Winnipeg the scenery changes and becomes very flat and is major grain and potato producing countryside; the line is pretty straight compared with earlier and we no longer seem to always have the lineside telegraph poles – they come and go.

Come morning the scenery has changed again, pleasantly undulating and a mixture of small lakes, forestry, farming and even some nodding donkeys as we are in oil country apparently.  There are even some curves to try and get some pictures of the locomotives at the head of our consist.

Again the photos can be found here.

The meal arrangements change again with a “continental” breakfast followed by “brunch” at an early lunchtime.  Early because we are due to arrive in Jasper before three normal sittings could be achieved.  However we are still running around five hours late and apparently management has now become aware that we are late.

So we watch the world going by and reach Edmonton about the time we should have been in Jasper having consumed a very nice lobster ravioli for my brunch.  At Edmonton an extra observation car is cut in about half way along the train and now we are due to start climbing through the run to Jasper.  Anyway in the dining car over lunch we are allocated to the second sitting for dinner (at 7pm) if we are running late and have not reached Jasper.  It seems likely however that we will reach our destination about 18:00.

Actually in general terms the food on the train has been pretty good.  The menu has contained a couple of vegetable soups – in four meals why repeat anything? – a good chicken soup and some excellent huge veal chops at dinner.  Good generally well prepared food has been a welcome comfort in the light of the other aspects of the operation.

The same cannot be said of the choice of wines.  All Canadian, three white, three red.  I am advised by my resident advisor that only one of the reds is consumable – a pity as evidence in Toronto was that local wines are not that bad.  Perhaps whoever chooses for VIA Rail has a different set of taste buds.  A reasonable selection of local beers for me; but no cider and the local ice wine is on the menu but not in stock.
Disappointment – no cheeses provided in the dessert selection; the chocolate cake and others are highly recommended but the diabetic is offered a fruit cup which eventually and reluctantly is admitted not to be entirely fresh but to contain an element of canned and therefore contained in syrup fruits.  This seems to be mixed as certainly a couple of the fruit cups were not drowned in syrup.  It seems the diabetes problem does not exist in Canada.

As we run in towards Jasper the Canadian Rockies initially appear as snow capped distant hills but develop steadily as we close on our destination, still nearly 6 hours late.  On the outskirts we traverse a tunnel and as we emerge there are two black bears on the hillside above the train as if they were looking for a can opener!  We arrive and board a coach for a trip around the town and into our hotel.  We have wifi and communication with the rest of the world and we can stop counting how long the freight trains are as the ground is now stable under our feet.