Monday, 15 September 2014

On a day in the woods

I slept oddly on Saturday night having several odd dreams involving the Train, Northern Ontario, tour groups and anthropomorphic animal webcomics in varying degrees of realism and coherence.  The Train would be more comfortable if it moved at steady rate rather than the fits and starts along with semi inexplicable long waits in the middle of nowhere.

As expected, today was a day of "trees and rocks and rocks and trees and trees and rocks...." à la the Arrogant Worms with a particular emphasis on the trees.  The lack of vistas feels a bit claustrophobic.  I did see a couple of trumpeter swans, but no moose.

I find the Train very sociable and have been doing a lot of chatting. I was able to give a layman's explanation of the geology of the Canadian Shield to a batch of the British tour group including their guide.  It pays to be a Canadian geologist's son. ;-)

Cellphone reception has been extremely limited, so please don't hold it against me if I didn't respond to anything on Sunday.  This includes in some hamlets that looked large enough to have a cellphone tower.
In the afternoon, there was a talk about the Canadian followed by a 1955 promotional movie about it. Watching the movie, I noticed that the layout of the Skyline dome cars had been reversed in the years following. In the movie, access to the dome areas is from the rear whereas now it is front the front. Actually, the stairs are in the same place but the car has be reconfigured (dome chairs switched around) so as to do its job going the "other way".  The Park car (named "Tremblant") with its bullet shaped tail still brings up the rear of the Train in the way the Budd Company and CPR intended. After the presentation, I asked if the locomotive hauling us was the same one as the one in the new $10 bill. He checked his notes and was surprised to see it was despite it having been renumbered from 6403 to 6459.
The Train passed several work trains that included housing for workers. These looked like construction trailers (e.g. Dickie Moores) installed on flatcars.
The presence of these crews came up twice later. Once was when the train stopped to let off a member of the work crew who was joining the work train!  The other marked a coup for me.
After supper, there was a beer tasting in one of the lounges. The Train was stopped at a nowhere siding to let another train go by. As the presenter got the beer ready, I glanced out the window only see a large pile of beer cans beside the track.  So I asked the guy if he always did his beer tasting at this spot, pointing at the "evidence" out the window. He blamed it on the track maintenance crews. Like everyone else, he was amused.  The beers were Steam Whistle Pilsener, Granville Island's English Bay Pale Ale and Fort Garry Dark Ale.  Only the latter was particularly interesting.
The weather had been cloudy so I thought there would be no chance to catch the northern lights which are likely this week. As I lay in bed, I gazed out at "the green dark forest too silent to be real" to borrow a phrase from Gordon Lightfoot. Before I fell asleep, the Train came to yet another stop. I pulled the blind to see where we were. We were nowhere it seems. However, I noticed we were under the stars. Consequently, I pulled on my pants and took a stroll to a dome car to do some stargazing. Unfortunately, the tinted glass of the dome's windows put the kibosh on that idea.

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