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”).