25 – 27 June 2010
Trip to Toronto and First Day on the Train
We left very early on Friday morning on the first of two flights from LAX and arrived in Chicago in the early afternoon. After just enough time to have a quick lunch at the airport, we boarded our plane for a one hour flight to Toronto. We had the rest of the night and all day Saturday to see the city before our train trip began. With the G-20 summit taking place at the same time we were there, we had some challenges with sightseeing, but made the best of the situation.
The train left Toronto at 10:00pm on Saturday night. When we woke up on Sunday morning we had already covered over 500 km and were near Gogama, Ontario. The scenery was a series of seemingly endless forests, streams, meadows and lakes. It was just beautiful. All meals are included on the train and breakfast was served each morning from 6:30am to 9:30am. Choices included omelets, pancakes and eggs / bacon. Since there were two of us we were paired at the four person table with different twosomes. During our meals we met Brits, Germans, a Norwegian, an ex-pat Brit couple living in Spain, a few Americans and several Canadians.
After breakfast, there was plenty of time to sit in one of the two observation cars, complete with half car 360 degree dome sections, to look outside, take pictures or read. We almost immediately saw a moose out the window and later in the day we both saw a bald eagle.
Lunch and dinner on the train are served by reservation in three different sittings. One waited for a dining car employee to walk up and down the eight cars that comprised the sleeper class to announce that commencement of that sitting. Lunch was a choice of salad, hamburger, sandwich or wrap. The food was very good and it is always fun to sit in a dining car and watch the scenery go by as you eat.
The afternoon was more relaxation, reading, listening to music and napping as the train continued to make its way through the forests of Ontario. This area is known as the Canadian Shield, which is characterized by bare rock and coniferous boreal forest of spruce, larch, pine, poplar and aspen trees. A stop in Hornepayne, Ontario, in the middle of the afternoon allowed us to get some fresh air and take a short walk, even though it was raining.
For dinner there was there was a choice of prime rib, chicken, fish or a veggie option, complete with Canadian wine. As the sun set at about 10:15pm in Western Ontario, we were treated to some great picture taking opportunities with a beautiful orange glow in the sky over a series of lakes. After that bit was time to get some sleep as we needed to be up early in the morning for our arrival into Winnipeg.
Crossing into Manitoba and Arrival in Winnipeg
We were sure to be up early on Monday morning and at the dining car a little before opening at 6:30am as we wanted to eat before the train arrived in Winnipeg for a four hour stop at 8am. We both enjoyed pancakes and then were ready to leave the train when we arrived about 20 minutes late, at 8:20am. Winnipeg, located just a few kilometers from the longitudinal center of Canada. We were 33 hours into our journey from Toronto, with about 46 hours to go to Vancouver. Founded as a fur trade center at the intersection of two rivers, it now has a population of about 650,000 and is one of the ten biggest cities in Canada.
The train station is located right in the center of the city, making it convenient to explore the river and downtown areas. We arrived back about a half hour before departure at lobby of Union Station, which was designed by the same architects who were responsible for Grand Central Station. It felt good to stretch our legs and we were ready to get on the train for the journey westward.
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