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  • Writer's pictureLucas Friesen

The Canada Trip pt. 2

We boarded the train at our assigned car. Tickets aren’t cheap when you travel like it’s the 1870s and my parents had opted to purchase seats that were in an aisle rather than in a private room, which was the other option. It wasn’t an issue, as foot traffic through our space was sparse.

There were only three of us and I wondered who would take the fourth seat. It ended up being a middle-aged woman who was travelling by herself. She told us that she had taken the train many times to Toronto and that she enjoyed it as a means of travel. However, that was the totality of our conversation, as she curled up on her chair and shut her eyes.

The train began to leave the station. We moved slowly and methodically through the Fraser Valley. The scenery getting out of the city was not very spectacular. I saw a lot of backsides of buildings and that came along with employees who were smoking cigarettes or on their phone during a break. It was near five o’clock and, passing through Burnaby, I saw the traffic beginning to thicken on Grandview Highway.

My father is an impatient man and the slowness of the train began to get to him. I was also starting to feel restless. We went to the communal car and sat at a table there. We watched the world pass in silence and only talked when we wondered why we were moving so slow. When this dullness became too much, I grabbed my deck of cards to pass the time with a round of rummy and a drink.

It took a few hours to get out of the city’s sprawl and into the more rural parts of the Fraser Valley. Once we were out there, we began to pick up speed. This happened around dinner time. Mom had joined us by this point, and we took our drinks and walked to the dining car that neighboured the communal car.

As most things on a train are designed for sets of four, we often found ourselves with a stranger. At dinner, our extra person was an older woman, probably in her sixties, who had travelled to Vancouver from Australia. She had touched down that morning and had come straight to the train station from the airport. She was taking the train to Toronto, a five-day trip, to visit her son. She was a nice woman with a good sense of humour. My dad especially liked to talk to her, as he had travelled extensively in Australia when he was a young man.

The sun went down while we ate and the scenery outside was replaced with stark blackness. It was early in the night when dinner was over and we decided to walk down to the far end of the train where we had heard there was a larger, nicer lounge area. When we got to where this promised area began, we were greeted by a lone train attendant who was watching a black-and-white movie. He informed us that this luxury lounge wouldn’t be open to the public until the next day’s afternoon. For now, it was reserved for the first-class patrons who paid the real big bucks to have the exclusive treatment.

After that mini adventure and a game of Five Crowns, it was closing in on a more reasonable bed hour. We went back to our train car where Phoenix, our train car’s attendant, a blonde-haired girl in her twenties who lived in Manitoba, had transformed our chairs into beds while we were away. I was on the top bunk, above the stranger who was still sleeping. I climbed up and checked out my quarters.

I stand at about six feet and two inches. Lying down in my assigned bed, my feet touched the one end and my head just grazed the other. There was a small, mesh hammock that was used to hold your belongings. There was a light, a leather holder attached to the wall that could fit your book and cell phone, and a circular mirror if you wanted to give yourself a once over. It was certainly snug, but it was also reasonably comfortable. There was no electrical outlet, so my phone would just have to go without a charge. The train rocked slowly in the night as I began to fall asleep.

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