We passed through Edmonton at 6:30 in the morning. It was a brief stop and it was far too early for me to do anything but blink once, register the name of the city, and head back to sleep.
Sleep came pretty easily on the train, but I still wasn’t completely comfortable in my room. In fact, I opted to sleep fully clothed and with socks on – partly to ward off the cold, and partly because doing anything in my room aside from sleeping or leaving just didn’t seem appealing. Quite frankly, I would also have preferred not have a toilet right under my bed. Pillows and poo should never be that close together (unless you’re Christopher Robin).
Breakfast was served at 9 AM and I don’t recall what exactly I ate. I do, however, remember wondering about much weight I’d gained by gorging on three meals a day and making very little use of my legs. My weight can fluctuate wildly and it’s always surprising to see that I’ve gained five pounds in two days and then somehow lose it all in one.
After I had finished with breakfast I headed to the public bathroom to wash my hands. It occurred to me only then how strangely the faucets were designed. The separate hot and cold faucet triggers are pressure-sensitive, but in a totally binary way. There is either pressure on the trigger which results in flowing water, or no pressure and no water. The problem then was that you couldn’t actually place your hands on the triggers while washing them, so the best you could do was resort to having one hand awkwardly wash itself in a strange “alms for the poor” motion.
As noon approached, it was announced that we would soon be arriving in Jasper. The traveler inside of me told me to look out the window because only a fool would miss the view. The techie inside of me told me to take advantage of decent Wi-Fi and order an iPhone 4S, because real nerds never ignore a good signal.
The Jasper sky greeted us like a big blue hug. The town itself is wide and open and the drivers seemed very accustomed to people sloppily crossing the road on wobbly, barely-used legs. My dad and I spent our time stretching, inhaling (and exhaling) the crisp air, and chewing on very fresh sandwiches before re-embarking. It would have been interesting to see where the giant Jasper National Park started, but there really wasn’t any time.
We ended up spending the entire afternoon on the rearmost panoramic car. I read books on my iPad and chatted panoramically with Logan, who served up tea, little sandwiches, and big conversation. He apparently works six days on, and then gets three days off in his home town. It’s a very seasonal job for him, but he is constantly traveling, and he often gets chances to take on more shifts, if he wants to.
Every once in a while I would wonder if I was reading too much and enjoying the mountainscape too little — as if I was supposed to view more peaks between pages. But I eventually figured, “what the hell, I’m enjoying myself anyway”. It was just good to be on a trip with my dad.
The day ended with a dinner alongside Varic and Sasha, a couple of Russiantonians. It turned out that Sasha also studied at UofT and we compared notes on German professors, as well as favourite courses. She also mentioned she was from one of the northernmost ports in Russia where the wind chilled you to the bone and the forest doesn’t even reach your waist. I decided not to mention that I grew up in Manila, where the breeze cooled the near-perpetual sweat on your skin, and the people are always shorter than the trees.