Fall Foliage Through Domes
Fall Foliage Through Domes
Friday, September 30, 2011
Just Half of Day 2 on the Rainforest to Gold Rush (Fraser Discovery) Route

Across Two High Trestles, through Golden Leaf Trees and Scrapyards of Prince George Until the Train Broke Down in Shelley
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The day is another early start as we leave the Sandman at 6:30am on the first bus (3 trips were required for all the GoldLeaf passengers) and I get some pictures, walk the platform as dawn slowly rises, and don't board until shortly before we leave.
/quesnel7 /quesnel16 /quesnel25

At 7:25 we slowly leave Quesnel, the bus drivers waving us off. Leah, one of the attendants begins our safety announcements (the same as the day before, totally unnecessary, Amtrak never says anything) and we immediately see three deer, our first mammalian wildlife, interrupting the safety announcement and we start following the Fraser River. The safety announcement was repeated and then warranted a clap from the car and Leah, our attendant reading the announcement, commenting it was the first time in 6 years for clapping.

7:38 — We have left the town of Quesnel, the attendant reading a scripted top 10, best for the city and catch a glimpse of its gold pan.

We are in the first seating for breakfast (after having the second yesterday) and sit with probably the second youngest traveler in our car, a late 20s or early 30s solo traveler who works for the Aussie tax department and gets 4 weeks vacation a year and can accumulate overtime for more, and a Belgian florist whos English is not great. I enjoy the Gold Leaf Breakfast complete with a little bit of caviar. During breakfast we cross two very tall trestles, the Cottonwood River Bridge and Abhau Creek, where the PGE Railway was finally completed in 1952. We continued through the trees. Almost laughed at another traveler who said where is Alberta?
breakfast1 breakfast2 breakfast3

I return upstairs to our first drink service and my grandmother orders a Bloody Mary. The attendant teases me for not ordering something alcoholic, they're all included so I indulge and change my order, as we keep following the Fraser. At 11:30 we're on the siding for Shelley again waiting for clearance, stopped between two farm houses. At 11:45 our first doublestack intermodal of train of the entire trip passes as my battery dies in my camera, so no photos of it. I run upstairs and grab my spare.

We pull out of the siding, move about 20 feet and the lights of a train behind us are visible and at 12:10 we start moving again and are called for lunch, and we start running backwards back to the siding because something apparently is wrong with the locomotive. We sit with the same two travelers traveling separately as at breakfast and I enjoy some Stockeye Salmon and another fabulous desert. The fallowing is the drama that played out as were stuck at Shelley:

The train slowly jerks forward in frequent unpleasant motions as they unload from front to back. At 5:00pm I notice a CN rescue locomotive coming up from behind us. We got the last two seats on the last bus at 6:00pm, after even more delays when an obese passenger in the coach ahead of us causes the ADA lift to malfunction.
/shelley7 /shelley10 /shelley20 /shelley21 /shelley27

My grandmother and I are forced to separate, she sitting next to the large obese women that the British couple (both were seated in the other Gold Leaf dome) informs me spent the entire trip complaining. I am quite uncomfortable, sitting with my legs only fitting in the aisle next to a large, aphasic man luckily in the very first row of seats on the bus.

We speed off down to the Yellowhead Highway as I enjoy conversation with the bus driver, Bob, who seems quite excited to help in this unique assignment for him, and Sue, one of the attendants from the other GoldLeaf Car. The bus is so crowded that she doesn't get a seat and sits on the front steps the driver calling her his conductor as she does some attendant duties like handing out bottles of water for the trip. This is the only food taken off the train for us.

In McBride, population 200, at the train station that VIA's Skeena (now just called the Jasper to Prince Rupert train) stops at three times a week, we get a bathroom break and simple Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches (their only contents) and a tiny fun- sized candy bar. From a caviar breakfast to this tiny dinner, what a day! I got to get the bonus of a photo essay of a charming rural station at nighttime, one more to add to my list, now used as a coffee shop and visitor center. I also chat with the Rocky Mountaineer employees who tell me that this is the first time they had to use buses all season. The last time they had to a few years ago, passengers did not get in until 3 in the morning because the train was stuck in the spiral tunnels of the mountain passes with little road access. I will be riding back to Vancouver that route on Wednesday. Everyone in the tiny town of McBride was quite excited to see us since usually the Rocky Mountaineer just passes through with perhaps only a crew change.
/mcbride7 /mcbride16

At 10:00pm PDT We lose an hour crossing the continental divide and enter Alberta. At 11:30pm MDT we say our goodbyes and immediately pass out in our room at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Center.

Our Full Grey, Rainy Day in Jasper: A Boring Morning Bus Tour and an Afternoon of Rail Fanning

Home<TripLogs<Fall Foliage Through Domes<Half of Fraser Discovery Route Day 2: Until the Train Broke Down in Shelley
Fall Foilage Through Domes

Last Updated: 28 November, 2011
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