The Canada Trip pt. 1
It started on an innocuous September afternoon, one that was sunnier than it should have been. I met my parents at the train station in Vancouver. It’s situated by a park that’s been overrun by Canadian geese and homelessness. However, it’s still one of my favourite buildings in the city. (It’s up there with the downtown library and the Hotel Vancouver.) I was excited to take a train. How classic! How very different and new.
I arrived at the station and quickly spotted my parents, my dad’s six-foot-six-high head looking over everyone else as I assume he looked for me. They were waiting in line to check in and told me where to take my bag to check it during our travels. I took it over to a nice woman who helped me get organized.
Once the rigamarole was completed, we were told to wait in the lounge, which was just a small room with some cheap furniture and one of those communal coffee pots that presses out coffee like it’s piss. They also offered a couple packs of cookies, including an elusive two-pack of Oreos. The Oreos would be put down and immediately snatched up. Meanwhile, the second half of the tray, containing digestives, was left untouched. Why not go all Oreos? Why act like people don’t want Oreos? I got myself a couple packs of Oreos, but it took time. The first time I went for them, they were already gone and I had to settle for the sub-standard digestives.
We sat in the outside portion of the waiting area, which wasn’t half bad. It had a nice view of the trains in the station and it was good people watching. I noticed that I was well below the dominant age demographic here. This is a phenomenon I’ve come to expect when travelling with my parents. The crowd was largely retirees, including couples, adult kids travelling with their parents, assumed widowers and some groups of old friends.
There was a French family, including two older parents and two grown-up sons. One son looked like a hippie while the other looked well-to-do. There was a black girl; she was closer to my age. From what I could tell, she travelled alone. There was also a younger Asian man. I could not tell who he travelled with. There were two gay couples: one of men and one of women. There was a woman from Australia and another woman from Florida. But I hadn’t met all these people yet. I was still people watching, drinking piss coffee and eating Oreos with a fleet of trains at my back.
Our travel plans were simple enough. It was to be a three-week trip. The first week would be my parents and I. We would travel from Vancouver to Edmonton by train. We’d spend the night in Edmonton and then take a plane to Montreal. We would rent a car in Montreal and take it to Quebec City, Rimouski, Caraquet and Halifax. In Halifax, we would meet up with my two brothers, their girlfriends and wives, and the newborn baby, Millie. We would spend time, as a family, in Halifax and Cape Breton. Then, one of my brothers and his girlfriend would go home, while my parents, my brother, his wife and Millie, and myself would travel to Prince Edward Island. After PEI, Mom, Dad and I would head back to Montreal, drop off the rented car and take a flight back to YVR. Simple enough, right?
The train ride was to be overnight. We were taking off in the afternoon and would arrive in Edmonton the next day around lunchtime.
Already feeling bored at the train station, I looked forward to when the rest of the gang would join us. The announcement was made that we were boarding. We walked the longer-then-expected walk of the platform to our cabin car. I was ready to begin our adventure.