Travels With My Brother – Departure From Calgary

Tom walked into the hospital room around 3pm. He was pulling his lightly loaded carry-on suitcase behind him. It was great to see his smiling face.  The preparation for my departure from the hospital moved into higher gear.  By this time Tobi had started her evening shift, and she also moved into action to get me on my way.

As I mentioned before, the original goal was to see how I felt at the time of my discharge and plan what happened next accordingly.  Tom let me know that there was a train (The Canadian) leaving around midnight from Edmonton to Toronto, and that the next train was only on Saturday.  I decided that we should try to get on this train.  There still appeared to be seats available. We were going to try to get a private sleeper cabin for the three day trip.  This reservation would include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in the dining car. That was the tentative plan.

After Tom’s arrival, the first thing I did was to have my first real bath after the crash.   A nurse then arrived to put new dressings on my wounds.  As she was working on the wounds, she told me that there still appeared to be gravel in the crater behind my shoulder where flesh had been lost.  I gave her permission to use as much force as needed to try to get out the dirt.  It did not hurt. After the cleaning and bandaging, we gathered some of the left-over dressings as supplies for the journey.  I got fully dressed.

The doctors had a prescription ready for me for pain medication to take during the travels home, and we needed to get to the pharmacy before closing time to fill it.tempI walked through the hospital for the first time.  Having spent the last few days staring at other hospital buildings from my hospital bed, I had been oblivious to its nice location.  You could see the city out of its windows. It was a revelation. We went down the elevator a few floors, and then from out of the McCaig Tower into the main building. We walked past the cafeteria area, past the signs of people going about their “normal” lives, something that I had not seen for a few days, and finally found the pharmacy.  I submitted the prescription and we then returned to my room to complete the packing and other formalities.

Tobi had finally received the discharge documentation to take with me.  It included electronic copies of the X-rays and CT Scans. I wished my ex-roommate goodbye and good luck with his daughter’s wedding, wished Tobi well, and then walked out of the trauma center with Tom for the last time.

I was able to move along at a decent speed to get to places.  I was feeling good. Tom was helping with my luggage. We made it to the pharmacy before it closed with 3 minutes to spare.

We had a plan of action that required precise timing in its execution for us to be able to successfully catch the train from  Edmonton to Toronto that night.  Part on the plan depended on our ability to get automobile transportation promptly when needed.  Fortunately, Tom had the Uber application on his smartphone to summon car rides, and the system worked exactly the way it was supposed to.  Another element of the plan was the ability to take action to book reservations while traveling by bus.  The bus was supposed to have wi-fi.

Within a few minutes of picking up the prescription, we were out the front door of the hospital.  Our only chance of catching the train was to get on the 6:30pm Red Arrow bus to Edmonton and it was already past 6pm.  Would we make it?  Tom came up with the idea of intercepting the bus on its way north at Red Arrow’s Calgary North ticket office, where the bus was supposed to depart from at 6:45pm.  We made it there with 15 minutes to spare, and they did also have seats on the bus available for us.tempGreat – so far, so good!

They did also have snacks and water on the bus.  There was no time for a proper dinner.

Once on the bus, we connected to its wi-fi system and got on the Via Rail website in order to buy the tickets for our onward journey.  Fortunately there were tickets available. Our effort to buy the tickets online was however foiled by an irritating software bug that required that we enter some sort of discount code that did not exist!  Ughhhh, software!!! Tom had to call Via Rail directly, and after overcoming a credit card glitch, we managed to reserve places on the Canadian that night.  The boarding passes were issued electronically, and Tom had to send mine to me via email.tempWe were all set, and there was nothing more to do on the bus until we got to Edmonton, which would happen after 10pm.

I felt a little out-of-sorts without my camera, which I had asked Bob to take it home after the crash. I did not think that the camera on the smartphone was any good, but I had no choice but to start experimenting with it.  The sun was setting  as we rolled north.IMG_20170802_211721461We arrived in downtown Edmonton as scheduled, and immediately caught an Uber to the Via Rail train station.  The station was located further away from downtown and closer to the outskirts of the city than I expected.  We arrived at a building that had signs for both Via Rail train and Greyhound bus services.

The waiting room was packed with people in spite of the late hour.    There were all kinds of people waiting to travel, young and old, and families with kids, couples, and single people.  Children ran around in spite of the late hour.  A sort of dull chaos prevailed. Most folks were slumped in seats or wherever else they could find some space, trying to get some rest.   People were tired.  It felt a bit dreary.

At that point, we had been on the move for a long time. I was still feeling OK, even though the body was somewhat stiff. We found a place to park ourselves and our luggage. Our train was supposed to arrive at 11pm and depart at 11:55pm.  The only announcements we were hearing were for the departure of Greyhound buses,  There were vending machines in front of us with food and drinks, but it all looked unappetizing.  11pm came and went without any sign of the train.

The next episode of this saga here.

Jasper to Banff in the Canadian Rockies – Arrival and Day One

And so, another biking adventure begins…

Emboldened by the success of our bike ride last year, some of us have set off on another long distance bike ride, this time in the Canadian Rockies.  This ride through the mountains promises to be more challenging than our last one even though the distances we are covering are shorter. We are riding on roads rather than trails.  The first day has been fun.  I type this from the front office of the hotel in Sunwapta Falls where I can get a reasonable wi-fi signal.  There is no guarantee that that I will be able to continue to do this going forward. We are in the middle of a Canadian National Park, and somewhat far away from the crowds.  Lets begin the story regardless of the uncertainty of my being able to complete it in a timely manner.

We began to gather over the weekend. I arrived in Edmonton on a late evening flight.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was surprised to find that Edmonton was in the plains.   There was no distinctive feature to be seen in the surroundings.  The city is a center for the oil industry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo of us stayed at a hotel in Leduc, next to the airport.  Leduc appeared to essentially be a highway stop with a lot of motels near the airport.  The sun rises early in these parts at this time of year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe headed for Jasper, the start of the bike ride in the morning.  It took us about three hours to get to the park, where we began to see scenes like this from the vehicle as we were traveling.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture was taken in Jasper. This is the support vehicle.  We had stopped to pick up some of our other riders.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are just outside of Jasper where we are getting ready to get on our bikes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are getting instructions from Ben, our guide for the trip.  He runs an operation called the Mountain Madness tours.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd off we go! This picture was taken when we were crossing the Athabasca river.  The color of the water is due to the silt from the glaciers.  I cannot believe I am doing this!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of the riders in our group. We are riding along the shoulder of the road that goes from Jasper to Banff.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt a stop along the way to regroup and replenish.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Athabasca Falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABen had set up a snack stop for us at the parking lot.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd we kept riding upstream along the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the Goats and Glaciers viewpoint.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADinner at the restaurant at Sunwapta Falls. Great meal arranged by Ben!  This is where we stayed the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went for a walk (turned into a hike for some of us) after dinner. This is the upper Sunwapta Falls.  The sun is beginning to set and the mountains in the background are still lit up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the lower Sunwapta Falls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd now we are getting ready for the second day of the ride.  The first day was awesome, and quite an challenge for me.  The second day is going to bring more of the same as I ride through this awesomely beautiful land amidst the mountains and beside the river, ready for whatever challenge and adventure lies ahead.  I feel so fortunate to be in this place at this time.  It is indeed an otherworldly and out-of-body experience for me in many ways, and I am so humbled by it.

Before I leave, I have to note that there was a bear sighting by others in the group.  It was apparently just walking across the road while the others were approaching.  Some of us had already gone by and missed it!  Hopefully there will be other opportunities during the next few days to see bear, mountain goats, elk, and maybe even a moose!

This is a warning to those reading, and maybe hoping to read more as the the days go by, that there is no guarantee that I will be able to continue these blogs on a regular basis, but I intend to try.  At the least I will try to catch you up on our adventures as time permits at a later date, perhaps when there is a sufficient break from the activities and a good network connection.

And please excuse any mistakes I make in the blog because of the circumstances in which I am trying to post them.  I might return to fix obvious mistakes at a later date.

Cheers!