All Aboard!

Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’m just going to admit this right up front: I simply don’t have enough adjectives to describe what Linda and I along with 44 other Kelolanders have experienced over the last several days on our Railroading In The Rockies Tour.
Sunday morning found us boarding the Rocky  Mountaineer Train for our two day journey from Vancouver to Banff. 
I’m guessing the experience wasn’t unlike a ride on the Orient Express..or the old Zephyrs in the United States that used to provide the ultimate in food, service and comfort while zipping along to their destination. But none of them provided the scenic wonders we’ve beheld. 
Some of our group chose to spend several hundred dollars more to ride in the Gold Leaf cars..which has glass domed ceilings and offers more amenities including gourmet dining and red carpet hotel accommodations. 
Most of us, though, rode the red leaf car and were still pretty pampered with a seemingly never ending supply of delicious food, beverages and expert commentary from our personal attendant, Gerri. 
I burned up a couple sets of camera batteries taking pictures on the first day out which led us through the high desert country of British Columbia overnighting in the city of Kamloops..population about 90 thousand.
All the Canadians we’ve encountered have been so doggone nice that you don’t even get mad when they charge three and a half dollars for a bottle of water or four fifty for gasoline..or seven dollars for a mixed drink.
The difference between our dollar and theirs isn’t much anymore but the prices our Canadian neighbors charge for just about everything is pretty nuts. 
I have so many pictures of our rail journey ready to astound anyone who views them..but then we arrived in Banff; the most beautiful town I’ve ever been in since we left Victoria and the scenery got even better. Banff is surrounded by mountains so majestic as to defy description.
I remember being here as a kid and even though my young mind was preoccupied with girls and rock and roll, I was taken aback by this Technicolor town with snow capped peaks in every direction.
One of those directions was toward Lake Louise..north of Banff about 30 miles.
I was anxious to see how much it had changed..if at all..since my parents and brothers were here 50 years ago. 
The views of the lake and surrounding mountains were just as I remembered; jaw droppingly beautiful.
You can still climb the same path my brothers and I did so long ago that takes you up to a little tea house at the 75 hundred foot level. I didn’t make that hike this time.
The Chateau Lake Louise has been added on to since my last visit. 
I remember my mom sort of wishing she could go inside to see what it was like..but, since we weren’t hotel guests, she wouldn’t of course.
I thought about that today as our group strolled passed the beautiful flowers and into the magnificent lodge where a lovely harpist greeted us with song and we dined on a four star buffet lunch.
From Lake Louise, we traveled up the ice field parkway past glacier-laden peaks that soar to dizzying heights until we reached the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia ice field where we boarded specially designed snow traversing people carriers that took us right out ON the glacier itself where we could actually get out and stroll around on ice that’s a thousand years old and a thousand feet thick. 
Again..I have no words to adequately describe this experience except to say that I have honestly gotten choked up many times up at the grandeur of it all. 
Perhaps in a later blog, I’ll add a few more photos and try to do a better job explaining the fantastic time we’ve had and the awesome things we’ve seen on this tour.
And there are still two days to go.

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