Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rocky Mountaineer: Day 2- Kamloops to Banff

Day two on the train trip dawned nice and early after an efficient bus pick up from the hotel to the train station we were off. Gold Leaf class was great, we had the red carpet out for us, and it was very patriotic with the Canadian flag out, I'm surprised we didn't get the Canadian National Anthem as we boarded :-)

Here's our last view of Kamloops as we left the station for quite a long day on the train (about 12 hours)...

Crazily enough as we left Kamloops the scenery changed again, now it was back to lush and green, whereas we had just been through the desert like plains of Canada just the afternoon before. Its amazing really. There is no shortage of photo opportunities and really you only have a small amount of them here. we took over 2500 in total on the trip and had to keep buying more storage space, but it was worth it. As I sit here now the photos remind me of the trip and they make me smile. We had such a great time and it was really worth the money.

By now we had gotten to know our fellow train mates a little more, there was the member of the British Triathlon team in our carriage so I talked to him a lot, his wife was great as well,she was a newly retired midwife and it was fascinating hearing all her stories about the GB health system. Thank goodness we live in NZ. Most people asked us where we were from in Australia! Which got annoying, but we got them back by asking where the Yanks were from in Canada or where the Canadians were from the the States... that soon got the Aussie/NZ mix sorted :-)
This photo reminded me a little of home:

Here's one of the many tunnels that we went through.

Craigellachie is the site of a tourist stop on the Trans Canada highway. It was named after the village in Scotland the ancestral home of Sir George Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific railway (CPR). The Canadian Craigellachie is most famous for being the site of the last spike of the CPR linking the east and the west of Canada. Here we are taking photos of tourists taking photos of us as we slowly head through Craigellachie.

This next photo is just really to show what it looked like from inside the carriage. I purposefully kept the reflection from the windows. we were incredibly lucky to have a polarised lens which can cut that reflection out. A lot of point and shoot cameras would make it really hard to get good photos I think.

Here is the first of the mountains... by the end of the day we were to see a LOT of mountains.

One of the many river crossings.

We were at lunch when we took this photo, these are the avalanche tunnels... apparently we were heading through a dangerous avalanche area.

The tour guides told us a hilarious story about an Australian tour guide here. There is a sign"DANGER: You are entering Avalanche area"
Anyway the Aussie tour guide asked if anyone had seen the Avalanche's before, after travelling through the area many times. Canadians found this very strange so he elaborated... you know the Indians. This confused them even more. As it happened he read the word as being pronounced as Ava-lan-cheese and thought that the Ava-lan-cheese were a native Canadian Indian tribe!!! hahahaha it was so funny.

After the avalanche tunnels, while having lunch, we went through a 6 mile tunnel which was good as it meant that we didn't miss too much while enjoying the awesome food and wine. Hmmm whoops I distinctly remember having a bit too much wine this lunch time. here are some more scenery shots:

And some rafters on the river... it would have been extremely cold on the river as these rivers are all glacier fed and there was still a lot of snow around!

WILDLIFE, WILDLIFE... our first Bear sighting on the train:

Apparently the Canadian Pacific railway is the largest killer of bears in Canada. That is because the grain trains travel along the railway and leave a trail of grin by the tracks. Over time the bears have recognised this as an easy food source and eat it... they especially like it when it gets a bit wet and starts to ferment... mmmmmm the beginnings of alcohol for the bears. Anyway, the bears eat this grain and the trains do not see them in time and plow into them. Gruesome I know, but the day before our trip 2 bear cubs were killed in this manner. So the Canadian Pacific Railway has invented a vacuum cleaner train that follows the grain train to clean up the mess.
More scenery whizzing by:

Our first sight on Banff...

After arriving in Banff and being transferred to our accommodation Jason and I headed up to the Banff Upper Hot springs, a natural fed hot springs. We had a free pass as part of our tour. IT was really lovely and relaxing to have a hot pool bathe in the mountains!!!!

By this time it was about 8pm at night and still light. When I was getting changed at the pool a girl noticed my bag from Kilt (a NZ shop) and said that she was from Palmerston North and loved Kilt (P Nth was where the shop was originally from).... As it happened she went to St Peter's college around the same time as my younger sister Tiffinee and remembered her...its a pretty small world sometimes!
After the hot pools we caught a bus into the main st of Banff and (at 9pm) bought a new memory card for the camera and tried to buy some nice chocolate... the chocolate was not good for the price. We walked back to our accommodation and had dinner (we were seated at 9.45pm... and they didn't find that weird at all... such different hours here, I couldn't imagine ever starting a meal service that late in NZ.
Here is the banff Caribou lodge:

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