Archive for January, 2008

Annum Novus. (ew-Nay ear-Yay.)

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Telegraph Pole from train window, Dec 26 2007
Telegraph Pole from train window, Dec 26 2007

My Latin is a bit rusty, but my Pig Latin is a little more honed.

It’s a new year, and I’ve spent the past month visiting friends family and other folks across the western-more part of Southern Canada.

  • Thunder Bay, ON
  • Winnipeg, MB
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Chilliwack, BC
  • Victoria, BC
  • Toronto, ON (East End)
  • Stratford, ON
  • Parry Sound, ON
  • Toronto, ON

There has been much train travel. (Rest assured that I continued the tradition of photographing myself in bathroom mirrors both on- and off-train.) There has been snowshoeing, skiing, skating, saunaing, cycling, swimming, and sandwiches. There has been visiting with family. There has been visiting with friends. There has been breaking-a-hole-in-the-ice-on-Georgian-Bay and jumping into the lake.

Throughout it all, there have been pictures; rail-borne and snowshoe-shod, Manitoban and British Columbian, of prairie and of Cambrian Shield. Please find in the three previous posts a brief collection thereof.

Happy New Year

Speed limit
Alberta, Christmas Eve.

The People

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Pea-Ball in Winnipeg
In some Winnipeg railyard, of course: Peaball.

If the train was great and the snow was the bonus, it was certainly the people who made the trip such a great visit.

It was great to see family, good friends and meet some new folks along the way.

Yeah for people.

Scrabble on the Train
Playing Scrabble on the train with (left to right) Thomas, Alex, Jocelan (absent: Brie).

Family
In Chilliwack on a pre-Christmas Christmas morning: The Whole Family.
Back Row: Thomas Dickau, Kathleen Parsons, Nancy Howden, Alex Howden, John Presseau (crouching), Devon Presseau, Bob Raffle Middle Row: Bob Parsons, Emily Parsons, Cougar (Dan) Leavens, LinLi holding Thaydn Presseau, Shirley Raffle, David Parsons (standing) Front Row: Doug Presseau, Zachary Presseau, Jesse Howden, Reece Howden, Barb Presseau Absent: Jenn Mino

Jesse, Alex and Zach
In Chilliwack: swordsman Jesse Howden duels Alex Howden while Zachary Presseau goes corps à corps.

Johan Genberg on guitar
In Vancouver: Johan Genberg on guitar.

Ryan Newell with the Arctic Char
On the shores of Georgian Bay: Ryan Newell cooking Arctic Char.

Fennel over water (Melanie Willson)
Hiking in to Kim’s cottage over water, sled in tow: Fennel (Melanie) Willson.

The Snow

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

David Parsons Skiing
Yours Truly, Skiing on Georgian Bay (wearing skiing sweater) with Dan. Photo: Dan Guay.

If the train was great, the snow was an added bonus.

I love the snow, I love the cold, and I love talking about the temperature when it is cold.

For instance:
-15ºC
-8ºC
-20ºC

and (not as exciting):
2ºC

Right now in Toronto we have had a few days of the not-as-exciting-to-talk-about-but-still-talked-about temperatures of 12ºC, 13ºC and now (at least it’s dropping) 4ºC. I like it when it’s cold in the winter time, because it’s supposed to be cold in the winter time.

Packing up after New Year’s on Georgian Bay
Packing up after New Year’s on Georgian Bay; Jen Preston, Ryan Newell (walking). Jan 2, 2008.

I like the snow. Makes things happy and exciting.

Travelling west, the country was snowy everywhere between Toronto and sunrise on the train in British Columbia after the Rockies. There it was just wet.

The consolation to this being that, in Vancouver, you can reach the snow by increasing your altitude, as my Dad and I did with friends Johan and Rochelle.

Snowshoeing With Rochelle, Johan, and Bob
Snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour in Vancouver; (front to rear:) Rochelle Gause, Johan Genberg, Bob Parsons.

The New Year’s Wake-Up Call:

I went swimming with Kim and Dan in Georgian Bay on New Year’s Day. This required a certain amount of preparation.

Dan and I started breaking ice for “the hot tub” on New Year’s Eve, in the dark, and we were clear by 2pm on the 1st. (We did have some help and take some breaks.)

Clearing the Ice
Jen Preston, Yours Truly and Dan Guay excavating a hole in the ice on Georgian Bay. Jan 1, 2008

Clearing the ice
Dan and I clearing the last bits of floating ice.

We were few who actually dipped, but we were not unwitnessed; there were three or four photographers documenting events (myself included) as well as eight other humans observing and three dogs who watched somewhat incomprehendingly.

David Parsons, Polar Dip
My special polar dip outfit with accidental toque. Thank you Wade Lifton.

Dan Guay, Polar Dip
Dan’s Cannonball. (Dan wins full marks from this judge for diving form. An iconic cannonball.)

Kim Hedges, Polar Dip
Kim’s scream.

It was breathtakingly wonderful.

The Train

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Sunset; Rocky Mountains.
Sunset; Rocky Mountains.

Between Toronto, Ontario (43º 38′ 38″N latitude; my southernmost point of travel), Victoria, British Columbia (123º 20′ 60″ W longitude; my westernmost point), some undetermined northernmost point on that section of track betwixt Bickerdike/Edson, Alberta (around 53º 34′ N latitude) and Edmonton, Alberta (at 53º 35′ latitude) and MacTier, Ontario (79º 46′ W; my eastern-most point of travel), I travelled by all modes of vehicle.

Frozen Lakes and empty rail car near Jasper, Alberta; Christmas Eve.
Frozen Lakes near Jasper, Alberta; Christmas Eve.

By Foot; Subway; City Bus (TTC); Airplane; Automobile; Coach Bus (Greyhound); Passenger Train; Ferry; Commuter Train (GO Transit); and Ski.
(Not included in the above list are: Streetcar, Snow Shoe, Toboggan and Bicycle, because they were only used for recreational and/or within-municipality trips during that period. All other modes (skiing included) were used as an essential and/or primary mode of transport between significant destinations — i.e. between towns.)

The one mode of travel which far surpassed the others in terms of actual hours spent en route, was the train.

Tunnel
Tunnel; Alberta.

I have taken many East to West by-land journeys on Highway 1, but this was my first experience doing the same by rail. I am sure it seems clear to the reader, but it was a real shock to me: The train is not the bus.

Taking pictures in the Dome Car near Jasper, Alberta.
Taking photos in the Dome Car near Jasper, Alberta.

By this I mean that while my experience of travelling by coach has generally been a quiet, retreat-like experience, with scarcely a word said either to quiet compeers or to prarie postcard purveyor, my trip by train was shared and social. Scrabble with sojourning strangers and sing-alongs to acoustic guitar in the dome car — the time was characterized by extroversion and not introspection (though there was certainly some quiet time for that, particularly on the return trip).

Sudbury, Ontario
Sudbury, Ontario.

I was thrilled to see hawks and bald eagles, a fox, many deer, herds of elk, mountain sheep and kilometre upon kilometre of not-the-side-of-a-highway. There are places where the tracks do follow the highway (or rather, the highway follows the tracks) but there are more occasions where the tracks follow the river, or the canyon, bringing one’s eyes to places otherwise unseen. Contrary to travel by air, travel by rail is a chance to embrace the journey rather than anticipate its completion.

Nightfall; Christmas Eve. (A view of one dome car from another.)
Nightfall; Christmas Eve. (A view of one dome car from another.)

I commend the train to you as the alternative to air travel.
More expensive than the bus, but –to me shockingly– different than the bus.