It isn’t all pretty flowers. I know there must be a song in there. Fortunately most of my walks have been quite pleasant over the last month. Cherry blossoms flourished, Canada geese pairs honking up a storm, birds twittering in the bushes, lilacs peeking out. May was around the corner. One interesting theme has been all the painted rocks I discover.
May first, cyclists in spandex shorts; families on their way to one of the numerous parks stop for a treat; everyone sits in the sun soaking up the rays. Me, I seek the nearest shade.
In an effort to remain somewhat balanced I try to seek out anything interesting when I have appointments, tasks or even simply going for a walk. The last two weeks I made some more little, and not so little discoveries. Spring being the most important! I wonder what April will bring other than showers.
Spring is taking her time to arrive. Everything seems to be shivering under a blanket of last fall’s leaves.
Despite being on the west coast tip of Canada, where daily walks even in the rain are not unusual, I have not been very motivated. However, I finally put in my first 6+ km walk and even discovered budding skunk cabbage! (Too far away to get a photo)
Grab a coffee, or even some lunch. Catch the rare early rays. More will soon be here.
Spring is now mere days away. More to discover, or merely revisit. It’s all about how life is approached these days.
**As I slowly return to writing my travel blog this draft nearly had me rolling on the floor in laughter and agony. The final sentence could not have been farther from reality for humanity. Yet, for me, beyond not travelling, life has not been too terrible.**
I started out saying I had not travelled this year. Then I cast my memory to prior to October, when I spent three months in Ontario, before everything seemed to go downhill. Thank goodness for that time! Even fitting in little at home adventures seemed to be lacking. Or I did not find them very exciting/illuminating/educational or any special nugget to hold onto. Can it be I am becoming jaded?
That question brings me to the tail end of October. I had minor surgery then. Nothing to really worry about beyond the anaesthetic and recovery. It did set me back a bit. Then I was hit with a dreadful stomach flu bug that held me down for ten days. I was so ill my daughter with whom I live considered calling her older sister, a nurse, to ask if I should go to the hospital. I only found this out when said nurse told me I should have gone to emergency. I survived. Lost about 12 pounds (necessary but not that way) plus another few when I ended up with a bad cold! I was a sad sack indeed.
Not to be held down I did manage to work a temporary retail job, first time in my whole working life I have done retail. It was fine. Would I do it again? I hope not. However, this was to help out with joint finances my daughter and I share after her hours were severely cut. ( **I did find another part time job. Little could I have known what a saving financial grace that would be, after the fact, after the world shut down) Little did we suspect the powers that be were massing together in an attempt to bring us to a complete halt.
Musa, our black cat (with a triangle patch on his chest) became deathly ill. We ended up with a massive vet bill – a piss poor ‘Cat Clinic’ (I had words with them and eventually the main vet) plus the animal emergency hospital – of over $3300.00! So much for me even thinking of perhaps a day trip up Vancouver Island. As we did not have the funds we borrowed heavily, and received some donations from family, friends and a GoFundMe. (Desperation means doing whatever one can) I think the latter only works if people already have a strong connection in social media or a strong work/community/friends source. This is not to say one should not try, rather it is important to have as many resources as possible.
The first ‘clinic’ had a locum vet. She and the staff working with Musa on his second visit chose to misconstrue what I told them as well as withhold drastically important medical factors from me. Musa was sent home, unbeknownst to me not a great prognosis. Fortunately I know the signs of a cat in urinary distress. Musa was taken to the hospital, immediately treated and carefully monitored. Two days later he came home. My daughter will be paying back the angel who loaned the funds with her student loan. Who cares if we will not be any further ahead – we have a healthy Musa!
I am ready for whatever 2020 may hurl or gently offer.
Of course I was not ready for a pandemic. It put a near instant halt to so many plans. My workplace shut down. Being at a college it will not open in January as originally hoped. A move to Ontario was not only put on hold, it was killed. (Not too dreadful, I hate the snow) Musa is great. He hates us. We got another cat – rescued from Texas!
For some reason it is taking much longer to write about my train ride than the actual trip took! However, the time has given my the opportunity to reflect on some of my notes, my very few photos and my hope to do it again!
After warming up from my chilly night in the dome car with an excellent cup of coffee – my own of course – and breakfast I spent a good part of my day staring out the window, reading my book and dividing my window time between my seat, the dome car and the gathering area where people chat, play games, eat and listen to the entertainment. Summer train travel is great for the entertainment side. Usually a small audience yet so appreciative. I am always happy when the powers that be have not allowed economy class to enjoy live music and a break from the eventual monotony or train travel.
I thought I had his name – nope! However, he is from Victoria so maybe I will see his picture somewhere he will be playing when not on-board.
By the time we reached Sioux Lookout time was approaching a standstill. We were not exactly behind, just going through Northern Ontario…..and going, and going. Getting outside was becoming a palpable need for all onboard.
My seat mate left sometime before Sioux Lookout, I would have the two seats to myself for the remainder of my trip. Small mercies! Soon enough we were in Winnipeg where I was joined one woman to explore the Forks, an area I am now quite familiar with after a few trips to -even staying at – Winnipeg in recent years. The Forks is a great place to stock up, I bought a giant chickpea roti and a vegetarian Somosa (I seemed to have been eating these lovely bundles a lot) to supplement my packed meals. There was so much I expected they would last a couple of days.
I met up with two writers I had talked with while in line in Toronto who were travelling in the sleepers after their attempt to visit me and a fellow passenger onboard had been thwarted. Thinking on our feet one handed me her only business card to take a photo of for me to look up.
Once the train left Winnipeg, with a new crew, there was a sense of truly going west. Many passengers left the train yet it still seemed quite full, enough that I was a little worried I might lose my double seat.
As I wound my way through the muskeg, rocks and mosquito laden land – firmly seated in the AC dome car – I was once again struck by how fortunate I am to be travel in our vast land even though on a cinched tight budget.
Shades of straw with goldenrod hues peeking through green fields and manmade blue ponds turning to mud – it was not yet drought conditions. Saskatchewan fields live up to the oft used patchwork quilt. Arrow straight, stitched side roads to forever. Lovely field of sunflowers appeared outside my window seat – a perfect, silent in memory of the death of my father nine years ago, born in Saskatchewan. Sadly I missed the Perseus Meteor Shower.
Stopped long enough in Saskatoon to walk to front of train!
Then suddenly, we were in Alberta. Red hills, undulating, rolling, held in stasis until we pass. It was a strange sensation. We crossed over what was once (still?) the longest train trestle in Canada.
Many of us were train weary by the time we finally made it to Edmonton. I was in dire need of a shower. Upon discovering we had only three hours at a relatively new side station with the closest places 3 kilometres away walking in the oncoming mosquito infested dusk. (A few of us considered taking one of the taxis buzzing around much like the mosquitoes) settled to wash my hair in one of the Ladies Room sinks. I discovered I was not the only one!
Hurray, I was still at two seats when we pulled out about 45 minutes late, way past my bedtime in any province. The doldrums of day 3 were dissipating. We were headed to Jasper with visions of mountains to greet us in the morning.
Jasper! Mountains, fresh air, pine trees, rivers,, small town feel with so much to see and do. One passenger said he was equipped to camp for two days in the mountains before hopping back on the train. Winter vs. summer – the mountains appear tame with no sign of the bone chilling snow and ice. Do not be fooled. There are bears in them hills. The fellow said he had camped in Africa where the lions roam. (I have not heard anything about a missing hiker in the area so he must have survived) My closest encounter, soup and a small loaf of day old bread at The Other Bear Claw, now a favourite stop when in Jasper. It was time to sit back to enjoy the views.
Back on the rails, expectations from nature – best quotes far. Upon seeing Thunder Falls on the far side of Moose Lake one passenger quietly exclaimed to her seat mate, “That’s it? We came all this way to see a trickle?” Much later Pyramid Falls silenced them. Except they wanted the train to stop!
We passed a tiny place called Blue River, except it’s green – ribbon of molten moss. Passengers come and go – moving vignettes into the lives of travellers. Boredom was interspersed with the glories of canyons and mountains and eavesdropping. A call for a nurse or a doctor also meant we stopped along the way. Some sort of medical emergency. A nurse practitioner from economy class stepped up and it seems a doctor from the sleeper cars was also available. One of the crew members had her radio with her that crackled the ‘patient’ was conscious. It seemed they would be sent to a hospital in Kamloops.
I finally had to order a meal. Not always easy with dietary needs! The chef went out of her way to determine if there was anything I should not eat in some of the choices before suggesting a chef’s salad with an extra egg in place of the ham. Lots of fresh vegetables, and great garlic bread.
We arrived in Kamloops as the sun was setting before I was lulled to sleep with dreams of home.
Expenses: The Other Bear Claw – lunch $9.00; onboard dinner – $11.00 (I had reluctantly thrown out the other half of my roti bought in Winnipeg. It was delicious, just too much potato and chickpeas that seemed to upset my stomach. Just as well I did not have a seat mate!