By Christalee Froese
As the train glided smoothly along the rails and we made our way to the posh dining car on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury passenger train.
We thought our experience would be about the mountainous and rivered landscape we were careening through, but this particular lunch turned out differently.
We oohed and awed over the spectacularly lush scenery and the unbelievably delicious poached salmon until Daryl and Linda sat down in our cozy nook for four.
They introduced themselves and the magic unfolded as we learned the couple was celebrating their 50th anniversary.
While this fact alone made for miles of conversation, the heart of their story poured out while we drank B.C. wines and ate our fudge-slathered brownies about the amazing Rocky Mountaineer.
You see, Daryl served in the Vietnam war with the U.S. Army. And furthermore, he flew the fuel aircraft for bombers who depended on his supply to complete their dangerous missions. He filled fighter planes mid-air with his tanker airplane and away they went. Daryl loved to fly. But even more than that, he loves trains. Linda loves trains too.
So it is that Daryl and Linda find themselves on trains many times every year – or as they say, “every chance they get.”
They say that if they are feeling particularly bored, they will just hop on a train. They might get on in a nearby post in Saskatchewan or Alberta and then they will travel to the end of the line, let’s say to Canada’s east or west coast.
And then, they will just get right back on the train and travel right back along the same route from which they just came – all for the sake of riding the rails. They get a sleeper car and they are not so much concerned about getting off during their trips, but rather they stay on the train the whole time.
They banter back and forth, as couples of 50 years do; they visit with other passengers and they watch the world go by. And of course, they look at the passing trains.
As we spy a cargo train traveling by in the opposite direction across the Fraser River, Daryl spontaneously says, “it’s carrying grain.” He knows this stuff.
And then he tells us how many cars long the train is likely to be based on the engine. When he sees that it’s longer than he expected, he tells us to watch for a second and third engine to be placed in the middle of the 200 or so cars. Sure enough, there it is. He talks about speeds, weights and configurations of the train as if he is its engineer.
Then we pass another train, and the litany of information continues to roll out. Linda knows a lot too. She hates to fly, so she happily accompanies Daryl on any and every train he wishes to ride.
And while the lakes, the towering pines, the wildlife and the domed train car that allows us to see them all in a spectacularly unparalleled fashion, are truly amazing. It is really all about the people – Daryl and Linda being two of them.
As Stuart, a fellow journalist from London, England, and I get up from our breakfast, we wink at each other and agree that Daryl and Linda just might have been the highlight of our day.
Stuart is pretty fantastic too, regaling me with stories of his many travels, his media trip to Saskatchewan a few years ago and his Abu Dhabi adventures. Again, it’s all about the people.
Email comments to Lcfroese@sasktel.net and follow Christalee Froese’s 21days2joy Blog at 21days2joy.wordpress.com.