Having spent five long but very pleasurable days in the company of the ancient & wise journeying through the Rocky Mountains, it was a relief to finally arrive in Vancouver. I say relief as we were fed so well on the train that I gave up wearing my zip-off North Face trousers. The waistband began to dig in cruelly reminding me to watch it, so I decided to wear my forgiving ‘eat as much as you like’ stretchy leggings instead. One of the aims of this big trip is to lose weight, not gain it, the Rocky Mountaineer experience has not helped in this department. Our train carriage was very comfortable, with huge, high windows so we could see the towering mountains as we went by. When we weren’t distracted by food, and the arrival of the cocktail trolley at 10:30am (I know, very early but it was popular, many oldies fell asleep as a result, maybe that was the idea) the views were immense. As we travelled west from Banff the steep, undulating mountain sides were cloaked in great, tall Douglas firs in every shade of green possible, like a widespread and well-built army of grand Victorian dames in their best velvet and taffeta swag dresses. Suffice to say The Rocky Mountains were everything I thought they would be and I’m thrilled to have seen them in all their pre-Autumn glory.
The tour finished in Vancouver and I found myself last Saturday morning waiting in the warm sunshine outside my hotel to be collected by my old school friend, Lindsey. It was very busy. Then the world shifted a little bit, metaphorically speaking. Heads started to turn everywhere, from the hotel valet boys and bored looking guests standing waiting for taxis to the sullen customers sitting in the adjoining coffee shop, as Lindsey slowly glided up the hotel drive in her bright orange, vintage two-seater open top MG. The engine made that luxurious, deep, low ticking sound unique to old-fashioned race cars and which always sounds powerfully glamorous. Beside the MG, all the other cars in the driveway looked really dull and boring in their range of muted metallic colours; if cars had personalities, they would have been downright jealous. Everyone stopped and stared. Lindsey leapt out the car looking effortlessly hot and Bond girl-ish in her long suede boots and jeans, with her wild mane of copper red curls. I was so excited to see her, and so dazzled, I think I squawked all the way over to her, dragging my rucksack behind. After a not so glamorous attempt at squeezing my rucksack into the boot of her car, which involved lots of heaving and pushing from Lindsey and me, and which was ultimately unsuccessful, we left my rucksack at the hotel for the day and set off to explore Vancouver, like a 21st Century version of Thelma and Louise. Chinese tourists stood about taking our photographs. I have never felt so famous in my life!
Lindsey and her husband John were wonderful hosts and made me feel so welcome. With a lot of laughter and a little nostalgia we reminisced about our old school days in a way I haven’t done for a very long time, as well as catching up on the last twelve years of our lives. It was sad saying goodbye yesterday, as I set off to catch the ferry to stay over to Vancouver Island.