Bucket List

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Now that I’m retired, I have the opportunity to do something which has been on my bucket list for a very long time. Truthfully, I probably could have checked this item off the list a lot sooner, but I was so focused on my career I rarely took time off. There were many occasions where I lost weeks of accumulated vacation time simply because I wouldn’t schedule the time off.

I’m quite sure some of you are probably shaking your heads and thinking what a dumb thing to do. In hindsight, I agree with you.

So what is this bucket list item?

Specifically, it’s to travel the entire breadth of Canada aboard VIA Rail’s ‘Canadian’. — A four & half day, cross continent, train trip from Toronto to Vancouver.

Having been born in the early 50’s, I’m old enough to remember our family taking the train from St Louis to Los Angeles back in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. For the 7 year old boy I was, those trips left an indelible impression.

Traveling by train in those days, even in coach class, was an experience which in my opinion was superior to flying business class on the majority of airlines today.

Although I can’t tell you what traveling first class on the train would have been like in the 50’s, I do recall enough about our trips to compare them to the experiences I’ve had flying first class in the 21’st century.

While the coach seats on the stream-liners weren’t covered in leather, they were wide and comfortable, and they reclined more than the typical airline seat. They didn’t lay flat, but it was enough that you weren’t forced to sleep mostly upright.

When it was time to be served a meal… no airline today could hope to provide a comparable experience.

It didn’t matter that our family was traveling coach class, we were treated exactly the same way the first class passengers were treated. We were escorted to a table, covered with a white table cloth, by a waiter who wore a spotless white uniform and who referred to everyone as sir, or madam. Arriving at our table we were greeted with an artfully folded cloth napkin sitting atop china plates which were surrounded by gleaming silverware, sparking glasses, and coffee cups with saucers, all waiting to be filled with a delicious cooked to order meal.

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s quite a contrast to the meager snacks the airlines serve to economy class passengers, or the microwaved lumps of something in plastic containers first class passengers are told are gourmet meals.

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Later this month, I will get to relive the experience of my youth when my wife and I board the ‘Canadian’. We booked Sleeper Plus class tickets which gives us a room with two full length beds, our own private toilet and lavatory. Sleeper Plus also includes all meals and from the videos posted on YouTube by other Sleeper Plus class passengers, those meals will compare favorably to my memories.

I can hardly wait.