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DAYS 57-58: FINAL DESTINATION: BIG BOY TAKIN’ ME HOME

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After a hectic morning following my spur-of-the-moment decision to high-tail it out of T.O., the train ride to Montreal was relaxing and, thankfully, uneventful. The short-haul commuter train was full, so there was no stretching out across multiple seats like on the long-haul Canadian, but the rain drops sliding down the window pane next to my head had a mesmerizing quality that soon had me nodding and snoozing as if I’d counted too many tiny wet sheep. I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. When I awoke, refreshed and invigorated, we were just a few kilometres outside of Montreal. That’s all I remember of that five-hour trip. Continue reading “DAYS 57-58: FINAL DESTINATION: BIG BOY TAKIN’ ME HOME”

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DAYS 56-57: ESCAPE FROM T.O. / THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

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There are some things you plan, and some things you don’t plan. Since late spring, I’d been planning this cross-country train trip, in some aspects down to the very hour and minute. For the most part, I held to the framework of my plans without deviating too much, at least at the beginning. But as the trip wore on and factors were introduced into the equation that I hadn’t anticipated (like, for instance, the icy blast of the trains’ hyper-enthusiastic air conditioners and my all-too-brief love affair with Vancouver’s Jericho Beach), the framework began to morph into something much more alive and unpredictable. Continue reading “DAYS 56-57: ESCAPE FROM T.O. / THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS”

AMTRAK: A REVIEW, OF SORTS

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For those of you who might not know, “Amtrak” is the VIA Rail of the United States. In fact, ever since 9/11, Amtrak has become the VIA Rail of Canada as well, at least on the runs from Toronto to New York, Montreal to New York, and Vancouver to Seattle. The Toronto-New York line, called the Maple Leaf, runs through Niagara Falls on its way to NYC, so when I booked my round-trip VIA Rail jaunt from Toronto to Niagara Falls, I ended up on an Amtrak train. Continue reading “AMTRAK: A REVIEW, OF SORTS”

THE COER WAR

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It started out simple enough. I was sitting on a log on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach one day, eating an apple. When I got down to the core, I wondered what I should do with it. I’m not one of those people who eats apple cores (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I couldn’t see a trash can anywhere within sight. So….

I noticed that my crunching had attracted the attention of a small flock of gulls. With my every bite, they grew increasingly bolder and hopped a few steps closer. By the time I had reached the core, they were arrayed expectantly around me about 10 feet away. Continue reading “THE COER WAR”

DAYS 53-56: WINNIPEG TO TORONTO

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I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to the train trip from Winnipeg to Toronto. Back in early August, the trip from Toronto to Winnipeg had been a nightmare and almost made me quit the cross-country journey altogether. In hindsight, I’m glad I kept going, but the subsequent three jaunts back and forth from Winnipeg to Vancouver on The Canadian were anything but comfortable.

I wasn’t looking forward to more of the same. Continue reading “DAYS 53-56: WINNIPEG TO TORONTO”

DAYS 1-60: LOOKS

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There’s a certain “look” that you want to achieve when you’re a woman traveling solo. If you want to arrive safe and sound and unharassed at your multiple destinations, it’s best not to look too attractive or too wealthy or too “touristy”. At the same time, you also don’t want to look so down-market that people think you’re a homeless bag lady and treat you accordingly. Continue reading “DAYS 1-60: LOOKS”

DAY 52: LAND FOG IN SANTALAND

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I always cry when I leave Phoenix because I feel like I’m saying good-bye to summer. Not that the Valley of the Sun had overwhelmed me with her graces this time around. Far from it. After being drenched and whipped by the pop-up land hurricane, I was enveloped a few days later by what I hoped at the time was the desert version of land fog. Continue reading “DAY 52: LAND FOG IN SANTALAND”

DAY 47: UNTITLED

I wasn’t going to mention anything about this. It’s kind of embarrassing, really. I mean, I’ve been trekking back and forth across Canada for the past few months trying to avoid rainy weather, even making a 2,500-kilometre ‘detour’ to the southwestern United States from Vancouver, only to be greeted – the very day after I arrive in Phoenix – by this: Continue reading “DAY 47: UNTITLED”

DAYS 46-53: A SLIGHT DETOUR

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Well, the good news is that I’m back on the trains.

The perhaps surprising news is that the trains aren’t VIA’s. Continue reading “DAYS 46-53: A SLIGHT DETOUR”

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