Off the Grid


(Written yesterday): It seems unlikely that I’ll be able to post this blog today. As stated, there’s no wi-fi on VIA’s transcontinental trains and, once we slipped past Capreol, we lost cellphone service altogether. Reception came back sporadically, at best, around noon, and has been largely gone ever since.

It’s strange to be effectively cut off from the world. It shows that we are dependent on our devices more than we’d probably like, but this hasn’t marred our trip. Far from it.

This section of the Canadian struck me as potentially the most difficult to get through: a full day on the train, with few rest stops (fifteen minutes in Hornepayne), and nothing but rocks and trees, trees and rocks, rocks and trees and water.

But it has been a very beautiful ride through the wilderness. It gives you a sense of scope, not of Canada, but of Ontario — a province bigger than Texas, with so much land that has been left to itself. It’s a part of the province most southerners don’t realize we have, I suspect.

And, more awe-inspiring still is the realization that we still have prairies and mountains and the ocean still to go. That’s Canada.

The food in the diner car has been excellent. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all memorable experiences, and I also had a chance to explore the train. The Park car, at the very end, was quite a trek to get to (about fifteen cars from our cabin), but well worth it. The lounge space at the very end has comfortable chairs and large windows that allow you to watch the world breeze by, and I would bet that its observation dome is the best of the three on the train, because it offers a view of the train up ahead as it snakes through the scenery. Erin and I parked ourselves here after supper and watched the northwestern Ontario sun set (really late compared to Toronto: I’m typing this at 11:30, and there’s still some light in the sky).

Tomorrow we shall be in Winnipeg, hopefully with some time to tour the city. Then it’s off to Saskatchewan.

(Added just now): And boom, I wake up, and we’re pulling into Winnipeg station. On time! A bit startling to go from rocks and trees to glass and concrete, but definitely part of the romance of train travel.

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