The Skeptical Transport Philosopher
I had often heard my friends talking about the adventurous cross-country train ride from Toronto to Vancouver. However, as a car enthusiast, I was always disinterested and I even pitied anyone who would pay to be transported like cargo across the country via rail. I always joked about how train travel was outdated and I usually associated its popularity to the similarly absurd but highly acclaimed air-balloon travel.
When dismissing train travel and all other alleged exotic adventures, I always referred the outdated enthusiasts to my definition of travel and transport. In my personal dictionary, travel meant control and choice like in driving. When you drive a car, I would say, you are the one in control and you have the choice to race, cruise or even stop unlike in train and airplane travel. These ideological transport philosophies would change soon.
A Romantic Influence
Just like in any other adventure story, my first train adventure features a beautiful woman. I started dating Susan in College and being an avid train traveler she was surprised and even dismayed that I had never taken a long train journey in my life and at that age!
I countered by indicating that I took the subway. In a typical display of how love can tame even the most avid skeptics, I never introduced my travel/transport arguments to Susan. I was love struck and did not want to ruin this with weird transport ideologies.
Predictably, Susan was also a lady who liked surprises. So, at the start of the summer break, Susan surprised me with two tickets on the Canadian Pacific from Toronto to Vancouver. I must say that I was both surprised and curious but I was not angry. Nothing Susan did could ever make me angry, never. So, I meekly accepted the tickets although I had been planning to surprise her with a road trip.
My fellow motor enthusiasts and I had planned to take a long road trip from Toronto to Winnipeg. With Susan’s smile, all those plans were discarded and I had to lie to my friends about a home-related emergency to avoid severe mockery.
The Epic Journey
The train adventure started immediately after we left Toronto. Susan had booked a two-people private bedroom which means that we had both the upper and lower berths to ourselves. The lower berth had a window that ran the length of the sleeping area.
I must admit that I spent almost my entire awakening time at this window. Just after leaving Toronto, the countryside sights were engulfing and as the prairie heartlands raced away, I felt as if I was never coming back. When the train started the long climb into the Rockies, I must have been asleep because I awoke the following morning to a breathtaking site with various wild animals grazing by the rails.
As I watched the glaciers in the Pyramid Falls with Susan, I realized that I had concocted all that stuff about choice and control because of ignorance rather than insight. After four nights and three days travel, the train slithered beside the ranging banks of the Fraser River in Vancouver and the adventure came to an end. As I looked at Susan, I had tears in my eyes and appreciation in my heart for the lady who had opened a whole new world to me. The world of train adventures.