It's a little weird, getting on the train at 11:30pm as we did in Winnipeg heading for Toronto. Everyone is tired and just wants to settle in as quickly as possible. But consider for a minute that traveling by coach in a train is a lot like camping (without the bugs and elements, I say thankfully). Imagine arriving to your tent at 11:30 at night and having to get your nest for the night established, especially when you find yourself, as a few of our fellow passengers did, stuck up beside a stranger. All things considered, it's surprising how quickly everything becomes quiet.
On Friday morning, we woke to a slightly grey day in northern Ontario. It was nice to see a more familiar territory. I brought out my rug hooking stuff and my fanny pack with essentials and valuables, and headed for the dome car to watch the scenery go by.
About twice an hour the train would stop along the tracks. We never knew exactly why: sometimes it would be to bring on supplies, sometimes for passengers, sometimes to let a freight train go by. About 5 minutes after one such stop that morning around 7:30am, the club car below the dome where I was sitting was invaded by a gang of very loud and playful guys. We could hear the card decks being fanned, backs being slapped, guffaws all around. Those of us who could hear it all yet couldn't see anything were amazed that anyone who had slept on this train could possibly have so much energy at this hour of the morning.
Then a couple of 20-something guys who joined us in the dome car explained what was going on. This group of 18 men from Madison, Wisconsin had been coming to the Allenwater River for a week of fishing at the end of May for decades. They had driven up and parked their cars in Savant Lake, boarded the train which would bring them to their fishing camp (accessible only by float plain or Via Rail which crosses the wilderness of Northern Ontario) 40 km down the tracks.
20 minutes later, the train stopped again, the gang got off and from where I was sitting I could watch them unload their gear from the baggage car: a mountain of beer cases, two dozen coolers of every size, lots of sleeping bags and a few small knapsacks. I'd say they guys had their priorities well defined. In my amazement I took a picture of the gang of them as we passed their cabins. When we crossed the Allenwater bridge, pictured here, someone pointed out that all the wives had probably gone to New York City.
This, unfortunately, is not the picture that I took. I borrowed this picture of the Allenwater Bridge from flickr and hope that it's owner understands my need: I put my camera on my small pack at my feet and continued my rug hooking for a bit then returned to take a nap. When I woke up I realized that I'd forgotten my fanny pack in the dome car...needless to say it wasn't there. It actually was a bit of a surprise as people left their bags everwhere as they went to get a coffee or pick up something back at their seat. But truly, this was my own fault...I might as well have put a sign that said: Take Me, as leave the camera on top of the bag.
All that to say I had no credit/debit cards, cash ($20), phone nor camera. But I did have my ticket from Toronto to Kingston and enough food to get me through the next 24 hours and was hoping to connect with daughter #2 in Toronto.
As it turned out, the train was reaaallllyyy late, and we barely made the connection to the cramped oversold commuter train from Toronto to Montreal. I was tired and hungry for the last leg of this journey, but I did have internet access so I was at least able to email my daughter's blackberry to let her know why I didn't show at the station.
It occured to me that the entire trip was an almost euphoric experience. So many chance occurences, insights, lessons, fun times, reconnections. How could I possibly complain about losing a couple of things and the inconvenience of waiting for a new credit card? My experience on the train, up until that point, was so perfect, that I might have been tempted to run away from home and become a railway bum.
Anyway, I arrived back home to a perfect Victoria Day weekend with the neighbour's traditional camp fire and some down time before tackling that which awaits me at home and at work. Life is Good!