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Canadian Rockies Adventure - Day Two

Holiday Inn Express Day One - Vancouver
1550 Versatile Drive Day Two - Kamloops
Kamloops, BC, Canada Day Three - Jasper
1-800-996-3993 Day Four - Jasper
Day Five - Lake Louise
Holiday Inn Kamloops Home Page Day Six - Banff
Day Seven - Calgary

Sunday, June 25, 2000

The sun was up at 4 a.m., which was a good thing, since we had to check out by 5:45 to catch the bus to our train. The train station itself was a bit of a letdown. We were expecting the same sort of treatment with Gold Leaf service as we are accustomed when flying First Class, but were disappointed in the extremely long lines that were somewhat disorganized. We are in our 30s and had no problem standing and then walking quite a distance to our rail car, but there were many elderly and/or disabled people for whom the long lines and long walk posed some difficulty. We also noted that we were fortunate, as we had a beautiful morning. The walkway to the rail cars is not covered, so we would recommend having umbrellas accessible for inclement weather.

We were very pleased when we climbed aboard our Rocky Mountaineer rail car, and were immediately glad we had upgraded to the Gold Leaf service (which enabled us to travel in the dome coach). The seats are very roomy and are assigned to passengers. There are tray tables on the seats (similar to airplanes). The windows are large and the top of the coach is glass as well (although coated slightly to filter out some of the light on very bright days). The cars were air conditioned and were kept very cool. We are both usually very warm people, but both found ourselves grateful we had brought jackets along inside the rail car (and we would recommend the same). Blankets are also available.

The train trip began that morning with Mimosas. The dome coach cars are 2 levels, with the seats above and the dining car and kitchen (and restrooms) below. The car accommodates 72 people, but the dining car only accommodates 36, so there are two seatings for meals. On our first day, we were assigned to the 2nd seating (and on the 2nd day, the order reversed, and we were in the 1st seating). Since we had to get up very early, we were quite hungry. The stewards moved about the car and served drinks and croissants/danishes/muffins. It was helpful, but by the time we got to eat breakfast (at nearly 10 a.m.), we were very hungry. Keith ordered Eggs Benedict, and Lori had the Rocky Mountaineer (eggs, sausage, and pancakes). We shared a table with George and Audrey, a couple from San Antonio, Texas. The food was good and the service was exemplary.

Highlights of the morning included Hellís Gate, an expansion bridge across the "muddy" Fraser River. We were told as much water goes through this narrowest part of the Fraser River in one hour as goes over Niagara Falls in one day. The depth can vary by as much as 80 feet. The water in the river is extremely muddy. This is because there are no lakes in which the river can dump its silt. The river is at its highest in June (when we were there).

We were also in the 2nd seating for lunch. The stewards served us some cheese (and we ordered some wine) to hold us over, but we did not go downstairs for lunch until 1:30. This time, we sat in a private banquette and ordered a bottle of wine and a most tasty meal. For those of you who donít smoke (we donít), you will enjoy the fact that the train is non-smoking, including the outdoor vestibule at the rear of the rail car. For those of you who do smoke, you will want to know that it is approximately a nine-hour time span between cigarettes, so plan ahead.

We arrived in Kamloops, British Columbia, around 5 p.m. We were very surprised to learn that there was a dessert in western Canada, and Kamloops was part of it. It was 31 degrees Celsius when we arrived in Kamloops (in the 90s, Fahrenheit). Two of the members of the service "team" on our rail car were from Kamloops and took great pride in that fact, telling us about the city. Although surrounded by hills, it was very dry, and in many ways, reminded us of Arizona. We had been forewarned that there wasnít very much in Kamloops for the discerning travelers, and we actually did not know what hotel we were staying in until we received our hotel and room assignments on the train (yes, we were provided keys to our rooms and actually "check in" aboard the train prior to our arrival in Kamloops). We were staying in the Holiday Inn Express. It was high above the valley. It was a simple Holiday Inn, and looked fairly new. We had a clean hotel room with a king-size bed. Because it was warm, we donned our bathing suits and headed down the to indoor pool and spa (with doors that opened to outdoors terraces) for a refreshing dip, much appreciated after a day on the train.

Kamloops was larger than we expected. Its population is 80,000, and it is spread out over an area larger than Manhattan. They have many extremes in weather; although it is very hot in the summer, it is also very cold in the winter.

We were ready around 7:30 for our bus to the Two River Junction Show. (The other option would have been dinner at Legends Restaurant, right across the parking lot from the Holiday Inn.) Here is the story behind the dinner theater: the train stops in Kamloops overnight, and there was nothing much to appeal to travelers in Kamloops, so the owners of the Rocky Mountaineer railroad tour built the theater. After viewing the literature, Keith was jokingly comparing it to the Country Bear Jamboree in Walt Disney World. We expected something a bit tacky, and we werenít disappointed in that regard. It was a buffet dinner (nothing spectacular, but adequate). There were many round tables of 10 in the large, banquet room. Alcohol could be ordered from the beverage server (and we ordered a couple drinks each). We sat next to a couple from Hartford, Connecticut who were on their first vacation (beyond long weekends) in 20 years. The show was entertaining, and the main players sang and played their own instruments. The show ended shortly after 10 p.m. We fell into bed close to 11 and slept very soundly (it had been a long day).

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