2023 Trip Report - Road and Rails
Road and Rails
Trip report by Joeso
A train ride through the Canadian Rockies had been on our “bucket list” for a long time, so last July Sue and I splurged on a Goldleaf roundtrip train adventure aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Our round trip on the train started and ended in Vancouver, Canada and included a bus tour between Jasper and Lake Louise.
Driving seemed the best way for us to get to and from Vancouver as we could explore some backroads and avoid the “cattle call” of the airlines. This “road” part of our trip was truly rewarding. There were many, many highlights but I’ll mention just a few:
The Wagon Wheel Cafe in Alturas, California where we met “Vic”, a giant of a man who ordered a “lite” breakfast of steak and a half dozen eggs washed down with a “bucket” of milk. Oh yes, add biscuits and gravy!
Frenchglen, Oregon, a ranch and historic inn in a remote valley of Eastern Oregon. Our host was Dave, who in real life is the lead guitarist for the “Typhoons”, a popular indie rock band. Dave makes really good coffee and everyone enjoyed gathering in the hotel sunroom.
Smith Rock Resort, Oregon where the front deck of our room overlooked the awesome Crooked River Canyon.
The historic mining town of Winthrop, Washington and dinner at “Three Finger Jack’s”, the oldest operating pub in Washington. A stroll along the boardwalks of town was apropos before taking the footbridge back across the Methow River toour room.
The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in Washington follows the Columbia River from Grand Coulee to Northport at the Canadian border. There are river parks and fruit orchards all along this incredible 100 plus mile drive.
Vancouver, BC is a beautiful city where we actually felt very safe walking. The Yaletown section is especially interesting and loaded with young people.
Keremeos, in the Okanogan Valley of Canada, is in the middle of abundant fruit orchards. The lobby of our hotel had a refrigerator full of fresh fruit for the taking.
The beautifully restored Weinhart Hotel in Dayton Washington is a delight. Great Breakfast!
Republic, Washington, a small mountain town where we were able to meet local folks at the community yard sale. From Republic, our route took us over the Kettle Mountains where we found Camp Growden, a C.C.C. camp from the 1930’s.
Then there was the “rail” part of our summer journey. From Vancouver to Jasper we luxuriated in the Rocky Mountaineer scenic dome car. Our rail route followed the Thompson and Fraser River Valleys. The scenery was awesome and wildlife was abundant. The days on the train started early and ended late, but we were wined and excessively dined the whole way. Also, there was an open deck where we could enjoy the scenery more intimately.
During our “free” day in Jasper, we rented a car to explore all we could. We took the Sky Tram to the top of Mount Whistler, hiked trails around Athabasca Falls, visited the remote Pyramid Lake Resort and hiked across several foot bridges high over rugged Maligne Canyon and the rushing cascades below.
The next day found us on the tour bus to the Columbia Ice Fields where we boarded an “ice explorer vehicle” for a trip out onto the Athabasca Glacier. After lunch, we strolled on a “skywalk” over the ice ﬁelds. Then our tour bus continued on to Lake Louise, stopping a few times when bears (including a grizzly) were spotted.
Lake Louise is so beautiful that it almost doesn’t seem real. How lucky that our 9th ﬂoor room looked directly out over the lake! It was a wonderful 55th Anniversary for Sue and I. After two glorious nights at Lake Louise, our sad departure was ameliorated when we boarded the train for another very pampered trip back to Vancouver. Overall on the “rail” part of our journey we spent two nights in Vancouver, two nights in Kamloops (our half way stopover coming and going), two nights in Jasper and two very special nights at Lake Louise. ~Joeso