Travels With My Brother – A Second Full Day On The Train in Canada

The train was pulling into a station when I awoke the next morning. Through the window I saw a somewhat dramatic building in the distance with the sun rising behind it.  I had the momentary thought that I should raise myself out of bed and take a picture or two.  Perhaps we were in Winnipeg.  But the spirit proved to be weak.  I flopped back into bed.  When I next opened my eyes, the sun had risen completely, and the train was beginning to move once again.

It was only much later that I realized that I had made a mistake not making the extra effort to wake up at the station to do some exploring.  We had indeed stopped at Winnipeg, the half way point of the entire train ride.  This was where the train was supposed to stop for almost two hours, and the entire crew for the train changed over for the rest of the journey.  The building I had seen earlier was the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  And the train had actually stopped well within the city limits as opposed to the outskirts of the city, as it had done in Edmonton and Saskatoon. And Union Station was actually a National Historic Site. Oh well.

It is worth noting that the train was now over 9 hours late.  We should have actually passed through Winnipeg late last night.

We missed breakfast once again.   When I went looking for food, I found muffins in the activity/lounge car instead of the the crackers and biscuits of the previous morning.IMG_20170804_094454299.jpgThe muffins were too sweet for me.  Somehow, I did not think Tom would enjoy them.  Based on the success of the previous day’s “breakfast” delivery, I asked the attendant for the car (who had just boarded in Winnipeg) if she had any of yesterday’s items.   When I told her that this was for my brother who was experiencing motion sickness, in addition to finding what I was looking for, she added ginger ale to my supplies.  She also said that she would also notify our carriage attendant.  Sure enough, the attendant appeared at our door some time later to give us another bag full of stuff for Tom to consume, including a second can of ginger ale!  The staff on this train were on top of their game!

We crossed over from Manitoba into Ontario shortly after we left Winnipeg.  The landscape was beginning to change.  There were lakes all around us.IMG_20170804_094555942Some time after crossing into Ontario, the train drew to a stop at what looked like a little village on a lake.   The sign on the building said Malachi.  There were actually people waiting to board the train at Malachi.  We learned that in some parts of Canada the train was the only lifeline available, and that you could call ahead of time to have it stop to pick you up.  (Looking at a schedule, I saw 14 such possible stops between Winnipeg and the next big station, Sioux Lookout.)IMG_20170804_100550090Tom was actually feeling better that morning, well enough to sit up and take videos.IMG_20170804_110636502Here is some more of the scenery.IMG_20170804_131347516But I was once again on my own for lunch since Tom was still not feeling completely up to it.  I mentioned Tom’s travel troubles to the maître d’ (who I had met for the first time earlier that morning) in the dining room.   She offered her sympathy and from then onward always inquired about Tom whenever I showed up at the dining room on my own.  I also happened to mention Tom’s motion sickness to my lunch companions that afternoon, an older retired couple from Vancouver, originally from Scotland.  The missus looked very concerned, and immediately began suggesting a bunch of remedies, including some medicine for motion sickness (it was not Dramamine), and things like ginger to chew on, and even ginger ale. She immediately stopped the waitress to ask if they had any of what she was suggesting.  Unfortunately, they only had ginger ale.

In addition to the usual talk at the dining table about my physical condition, I had a delightful conversation with the folks from Vancouver about their hometown. I also mentioned that we had visited Scotland, and that moved the conversation in a different direction.  When the conversation at some point veered towards politics, the gentleman noted that he was not a great fan of their current Prime Minister (he is not a politician, it seems).  But both of them still declined my generous offer to exchange our leader for theirs.

I found myself walking in front of the lady who had been my lunch companion on my way back to our carriage.  Seeing the manner in which I was opening the doors between the carriages (using only my good hand!), she, a much older person than myself, stepped in front of me and opened the rest of the doors (she was quite strong!) until we got to her carriage.  That was very nice of her.

The hope had been to complete the rest of the rescue plan to get me home that day.  If the gentle reader remembers this topic from an earlier blog,  there was the last minute realization that Christina could not cross the border and return back to the US because her passport had expired.  Somebody else had to be roped into the mission.  To add additional uncertainty to the situation, this was the day when our network connectivity began to fall apart.   We could not communicate effectively with folks involved in the planning to get messages across because the mobile network became unreliable.  But we worked at it, waiting to get to stations where there was a better likelihood of there being a communications tower to establish temporary connectivity.  We made progress.

Enter Jesse, Christina’s fiance.  He volunteered to postpone a trip he was making to the West Coast to visit his family by a few days so that he could make the drive to Toronto to rescue me.  That seemed to be the only realistic option at that point.

In the end Jesse actually came all the way home to Gaithersburg after picking us up from Toronto. He flew to the West Coast a couple of days later than originally planned out of an airport in the Washington DC area.  That was very considerate of him. Thanks, Jesse!

We also began to realize that in spite of the massive difference in time between our scheduled arrival time in Toronto in the morning and Tom’s scheduled flight to Dallas from Toronto in the late evening, there was a good chance that he was not going to make the flight. He was already beginning to think about alternatives to get home.  He was thinking about riding with us in the car from Toronto, and being dropped off on the way in Buffalo, NY, from where he could catch a flight home.  This particular issue would not get resolved until the next day, the last day on the train.  The biggest problem was that we did not know when we would get to Toronto.

Dinner that night was with the same couple that we had our first meal on the train with.  It was nice evening.  Being from Toronto, they even tried to help us by figuring out the fastest way to get from the Toronto train station to the airport if that option was still realistic.  The only way that was going to happen was if the train made up some of the time it had lost that night.

We went to bed with things still up in the air.

Here are some random pictures taken from the train that day.  The scene below was repeated many times as we stopped to let the freight trains by.IMG_20170804_182347086Before dinner we decided to take a walk to the dome car at the back of the train. The sun was beginning to set.IMG_20170804_200312131The people who had bought the most expensive tickets on the train had first dibs at these seats.IMG_20170804_200734381_HDRFeel the motion of the train!IMG_20170804_200829654More sunset shots.IMG_20170804_200836144_HDRIMG_20170804_200852200IMG_20170804_201638183_HDR

The next day’s adventures here.

Published by

K. Joseph

I am an engineer by training. I am exploring new horizons after having spent many years in the Industry. My interests are varied and I tend to write about what is on my mind at any particular moment in time.

6 thoughts on “Travels With My Brother – A Second Full Day On The Train in Canada”

  1. As depicted by your photos of lakes and forests, the area you traveled through is very picturesque – the map of Ontario in that region shows it is amazingly full of lakes. Never thought about it. The photo of Malachi stands out.

    The upper tier of the double stacked freight train appears to have no gap between the freight cars. Is that just an artifact of the angle the photo was taken or did you notice any mechanism to allow for turns? It says 53 ft – that is pretty long.

    The dome car and the photos taken from it are nice! Makes me want to take a vacation there.

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    1. Koushik, I think the impression you are getting about the spacing of the containers is deceiving. There must have been a gap. It appears to me that there is something between the two containers on top, perhaps to keep them apart. By the way, this was not the way all the double stacked cars were stacked. I saw all combinations of long and short containers. Anyway, you got me curious about double stacked cars. Look up “Well Car” on Wikipedia. It looks like 53 feet is a standard. Perhaps the well car itself in this pictures is shorter than that.

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  2. In Tom’s version of the story I don’t recall hearing anything about him being the sicker of the two in that train journey! Need to have a word with him.

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