We arrived in Vancouver after 10 hours on the train and the first thing that I noticed was a homeless person sleeping on the pavement outside our hotel, which was a surprise.
Thirty minutes later, after checking in, we walked down the street to the crosswalk and another homeless person was asleep complete with placard and sleeping bag.
Across the road on the street corner a colourful character, who advertised that he was homeless and broke, sat beside his bike and stroked his dog. He had just come out of Subway with a paper cup full of ice, which he poured into a bowl for his dog.
As I looked around the area there seemed to be a homeless person on every street corner either asleep or sitting begging with placards. I was surprised as it wasn’t something that I had expected and I felt disappointed that this was the first impression that I had had of the city.
I wondered what first impression a Vancouverite would have of Manchester, if they visited and then I realised that they would have felt quite at home!
On the coach journey into the city, the Rocky Mountaineer assistant told us some interesting facts about the city and one of them really surprised me.
Apparently, the language spoken by 60% of the population was Chinese. Next was Punjabi, then Spanish with English fourth; again something that I had not expected.
However, it did make me wonder how many of these people who spoke these as their first language could also speak English as their second language. If they did then to my mind English speaking people would come out on top! LOL
We continued to walk around the area closest to the hotel and came across a sunken area, which turned out to be part of the University. This sublevel square was used as an ice skating rink in winter. We could see a crowd of people in the square and when we investigated we discovered that they were ballroom dancing.
There must have been about 100 participants of all different ages and ethnic groups dancing. As the music finished the compere announced that a world champion Latin American dancer had arrived and she proceeded to teach the crowd the tango!
Somehow I couldn’t see the same response happening in Manchester! Could you?
It looked fun and I would have liked to have joined in but my lovely husband has many fantastic qualities but rhythm isn’t one of them! However he did spot a partner for me; a gigolo! He even offered to come back for me later.
You can imagine, my response; one look at the tight black shirt and even tighter white trousers, slicked black hair and pencil thin moustache, I gracefully declined!
Excitement and laughter fill the air
AS Philip sights the first wild bears.
Two cubs; one black, one brown,
Scurry up a tree branch lying on the ground.
With Mama Bear, bringing up the rear
The carriage erupts with applause; full of good cheer.
This was an exciting special moment when nature impacted on our fellow passengers. The feel good factor lasted quite a while as the train now travelled through Frazer Valley; farming plains where ginseng, blue berries and all varieties of vegetables are grown. The Frazer River brings down silt, full of minerals, which makes for fertile soil so the Canadians reclaimed the land adjoining the river for farming.
Scott steps to the fore with interesting facts, which help us to appreciate this flatter landscape.
First fact: Along the Thompson River Canada produces ginseng. It exports all of its produce to China, as it is of the highest quality, as the Chinese uses copious amounts of it. Then Canada imports Chinese ginseng for their consumption. It seems a weird way of doing business but according to Scott, extremely profitable.
Fact two: He continues with details of the blueberry harvest which yields 65.000 tonnes each year. It is one of Canada’s biggest exports to countries in Europe.
This area is not as spectacular as previous landscape but it is still pretty with sunbeams radiating a warm golden glow across the vast acreage. We can see in the distance Mount Baker, which is in the USA. It is a snow covered mountain very popular with snow boarders and skiers. Scott tells us that he and Becky often travel there to ski in winter.
The Frazer River reveals a sight that I’ve been waiting for. With so many trees already passed we finally see log rafts floating slowly down the river. Many of them are tied up awaiting collection to be loaded onto the huge goods trains for dispersal all over the country. Just a pity I didn’t get to see a lumberjack!
Fact three: We are told that by keeping the wood in the water it helps to prevent bugs destroying it (they eat it). It is easier to transport large quantities to the collecting points and also the dampness reduces the risk of fire damage.
As it is snack time and the passengers are having a rest from looking out of the window, Scott and Becky continue to keep the facts coming.
Fact Four: Fort Langley is an old town, which had to be moved so that it and the River Frazer, which runs by, was on the Canada side of the 49th parallel and not in the USA.
Fact Five: No corporations or food franchises such MacDonald’s, Subway, KFC etc., are allowed in the town; only local shops and cafes run by local residents.
As we start to enter the outskirts of Vancouver, the only problem that I have encountered on this part of the trip, is the air conditioning. It was so cold by the window that I had to be given a blanket to wrap around me, which was in fact quite surreal as the temperature outside, was in the 80’s!
We had the poetry competition and I’m disappointed to say that I chickened out of reading out mine. Oh well I’m making up for it now by including them in my blogs.
Vancouver arrived and we were greeted by the Rocky Mountaineer staff who lined the tracks as we rolled in. A delightful and interesting experience all round and one that I would recommend to anyone thinking of visiting the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Train Passing By.
Snaking along the track
A mechanical millipede
Slides and slithers.
Roll and rumble
Along the railroad tracks.
Miles and miles
Carrying in its segmented body
Substance and comfort.
Leaving the lake the river begins to flow. Its swirling current creates movement as it winds its way through the valley. Oil slick puddles pop up leaving a white spotted trail behind. Marble marks cover the surface of the deep turquoise blue. It ripples and rolls, curving under bridges; hugging the mountainside of undulating hills.
Mirrored glass reflections sparkle in the sunlight; so clear and cool. Transparent water flows alongside the track. The train increases speed, passing by stranded tree islands. Fallen dead tree sticks litter the steep inclines; nature’s own culling system due to spontaneous forest fires.
Untidy patches of nature’s debris clump together; floating and increasing in size as more greenery joins the landscape.
Moving faster now the river begins to tumble. Its flow is faster with swirls of white water froth bubbling on the surface. The canyon that it is travelling through isn’t pretty at times with slag heap piles of grey shingle rock; piles high like a dyke. The river twists and turns from left to right of the train. The canyon pass is becoming wider now with pockets of green grass and vegetation appearing on the much flatter ground. It meanders slowly; a recognisable geographical feature as we descend into the verdant valley floor.
As we left Kamloops, our overnight stop, we travelled alongside an awesome lake, which was a staggering 20 miles long! We ate our breakfast as a dry landscape of brown, beige and gold passed us by. The lake was a glorious mirror reflecting the pale blue sky.
A slow, steady pace through countryside covered with sparse vegetation and hot like a desert. Surreal!
Hug the lakeside
Tower over the
Ripples from beneath
Pockmark the surface.
Add a slice of colour.
An aquamarine blue
So soft and subtle
Iit was hardly there at all.
Dry cracked branches
Pointed like signposts
Discarded like trash
Bathe by the cool water.
Warm air soothes the scenery
A tranquil atmosphere
Created an ambiance
Of muted colours and light.