11 August 2011
We were off to the train station at 7:20 am and quickly boarded the train for an early morning departure. By 8:30 am we were on our way to enjoying the new scenery of the Southern Interior of the province of British Columbia. Almost the entire trip from Kamloops to Vancouver follows two rivers. First the North side of the Thompson River (for Westbound trains) and then the East side of the Fraser River (also for Westbound trains). The best viewing on the first quarter of the day’s trip was on the left (South) side of the train while the best viewing on the middle half of the trip was on the right (West) side of the train.
The meals in the Gold Leaf service of the train were almost too frequent and absolutely delicious. Great care went into each meal and I had to pace myself as the free flow of meals, snacks and drinks just kept on coming. Breakfasts from the menu of 6 items were filling, although taking the late seating had us waiting until almost 11am on the first day (second day we rotated and had first seating at mealtimes).
The rails along the North Side of the Thompson were unique as they curved along the almost barren landscape. To follow the river we wove along the shoreline that tunnelled through frequent outcroppings of stone that reached to the river shore. Remote farms and ranches were occasionally seen as we continued towards the Fraser Canyon. After reaching the merging Thompson and Fraser rivers, we experienced the Fraser Canyon region of the ride. This changed the scenery to tall mountain walls along the cliffs of lush mountains covered in trees, green shrubs and spectacular views. Small short tunnels were common on this cliff-side route as we snaked along the river with a few high bridge crossings that towered over the river. We passed along the East side of Hells Gate, the narrowest and historically most deadly gorge of the Fraser River.
It was again a unique landscape as we entered into the Lower Mainland plains near Vancouver. The flat farmlands with small hills in the distance were green with hundreds of different fresh crops. If I had not eaten so much I would have been tempted to stop for some fresh produce. The flatlands pulled us into Vancouver on time as we enjoyed our last moments on-board the train. The Rocky Mountaineer was truly an unforgettable and worthwhile experience. Having travelled a similar route before by car, the Rocky Mountaineer made an otherwise tiring and gruelling drive a truly enjoyable experience free from traffic and stress. I look forward to trying out the three other routes they offer to other areas of BC and Alberta.