Westering (1)

Some­time before Christ­mas, my dar­ling wife went online, to the VIA Rail web­site. She punched in some dates, a start­ing point and a des­ti­na­tion, and said “Show me the mon­key!”* Then she said, “Holy crap, it’s cheap­er to take the train to Edmon­ton than it is to fly! Even on Westjet!”

So she ordered up a cou­ple round-trip tick­ets, and gave them to me for Christmas.

* * *

We got on the train at around 8:15 pm on Fri­day night. This was only about an hour after we were sup­posed to be on the train–apparently Via’s got­ten bet­ter at stick­ing to a sched­ule than they were back in the day when my Dad and my Gram­pa were sup­posed to pick up my aunt and uncle, and end­ed up going back into town** to buy some play­ing cards.

We were to trav­el overnight through Saskatchewan, miss­ing the prairie scenery while we slept, and arrive in Edmon­ton at 8:05 on Sat­ur­day morn­ing. We were trav­el­ing in Com­fort Class, because “Com­fort Class” sounds bet­ter than “Seats like a Bus, but with More Legroom and Lit­tle Footrests Class”. It was­n’t my most com­fort­able night’s sleep, and the less said about the cry­ing baby and the snoring/murmuring woman behind us, the better.

We were late get­ting into the Big E, but not as late as we could’ve been. K’s sis­ter S met us, with her hub­by C and their two-year-old Miss J. We went to the pool to see Miss J’s swim­ming lessons, then out to lunch (drop­ping off S at home, since she had to work). After lunch we head­ed to the satel­lite city of Leduc, where a rental car awaited.

Too bad the rental place had closed at noon.

And would­n’t be open on Sun­day, either.

This was the cause of some con­ster­na­tion, and no small amount of swear­ing. I called the 888 num­ber for the rental com­pa­ny’s head office, and was told that there were no rental out­lets open near me. I was polite to the operator–it was­n’t her fault–but I kind of hope that they were record­ing the call for train­ing pur­pos­es, so that my com­ment “I find it dif­fi­cult to believe that a rental com­pa­ny would have no offices open past noon on a Sat­ur­day.” The best part is that this par­tic­u­lar office is con­sid­ered the “air­port loca­tion”, since they’ll come pick you up at the air­port. What hap­pens if my flight comes in at 1:00 PM?

So C drove us back to the air­port, where I dis­cov­ered that rent­ing a car in advance costs about a third what rent­ing a car by walk­ing up to the counter does. Ouch.

At any rate, we were on our way to… Calgary.

Next time: Our adven­tures in Cal­gary and the mountains!

* This is pure spec­u­la­tion on my part.
** The Via train sta­tion for Bran­don is, iron­i­cal­ly, out­side of Bran­don. (And it’s not so much a “train sta­tion” as it is a “three-per­son shack, usu­al­ly locked”).

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