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Sunday 15 Jul
Prince George, Canada

My birthday and the train (day 1)

We ot up early to pack up our stuff so that we could leave for Jasper to return the car right after breakfast. The ride back to Jasper was nice. We saw some stupid people stopped at the side of the highway standing about 10 feet from a caribou (or elk, I'm not sure which one it is). Once we returned our car, we decided to waste some time getting milkshakes in a cafe near the train station, allowing ourselves plenty of time to get to the train on time. When we got the the train station we found out that there were freight trains coming through and therefore our train would be delayed at least an hour. We ended up leaving Jasper an hour and a half late, a fact that Richard and I didn't mind given that the point of this leg of our trip was the train itself and as a result there was no rush.

As we got onto our car of the glass topped train the attendants informed us that it didn't matter where we sat because our car was going to be mostly empty. Richard and I grabbed 4 seats facing each other enjoying the fact that we could spread out so much. We later found out that there were so few people because a travel agency that organises tours on the train cancelled due to some flooding a few weeks ago that closed down the train. Basically, they did not want to take the risk of having to reimburse people so they decided to cancel the trip altogether, causing our 60 person car to have a total of 8 people seated in it. This basically meant that not only did we have a ton of room in our care, but we also had the Park car to ourselves as well as the observation car (basically a glass topped area above the top of the train). We also had amazing attendants on the train, notably Miss Kitty who slapped Richard about 3 times during the trip for various misdeeds.

It seems that Richard is a bit of a sneak and leaked that it was my birthday. After supper I got his present of a train whistle and a chorus of "Happy Birthday to you" from the whole car.

On the train we met a couple named Ed and Kathy that we really got along with. Beyond getting along with them, there were many coincidences. We discovered that we were staying at the same hotels both nights of the trip (no one else that I know of on the train stayed at either with us) and if we would have been forced to sit in our reserved seats, we would have been in a set of four seats facing each other (they reserved the train about 3 months before us). We spend much of the time until we left to come home with them.

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Makes a great gift for anytime!