I have to admit. I didn't have a chance to write much at all for this blog on the train. Désormais je commence maintenant. What can I say? It was like a dream. The people I met and the stories they shared were sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious and almost always touching in some way. For some it was the last trip across the country before they go to a retirement home. For others it was a great view and friendly service. There were sharpshooters with their cameras cursing the pollen reflecting off the windows in the bright yellow sunlight as trees animals and colourful landscape posed under consistantly blue skies. We saw the country roll past like an ad for Candian wilderness on a really big screen tv. I am happy to say that we took tracks on a Northern route that afforded us views you simply cannot match with those of the more commonly travelled Trans Canada highway.
Playing on the train was a challenge. Virpi and I devised a system of perching on the side of chairs, or wrapping one of our legs around some fixed object. It was really funny to try and brace yourself at the top of the stairs with the train rocking and rolling beneath our feet. We had different groups to play to each day. There were a delightful bunch of American tourists who were happy to sing with us. There was even a tour group from Japan, I met this one couple from Tokyo, and the husband was crazy about trains. It was so cute, they told me every train they came across they took, including the skytrain in Vancouver. Touring the world by train, what a great idea!
The first couple V and I met were from Scotland and Canada, and we knew the moment we met them they were our pals. After both losing their life partners at an early age, they met in the 90's at a party. He lived in Scotland at the time but was visiting friends in Canada. She asked him to become her penpal, since she was based here in Canada and wanted to keep in touch. Years passed and they fell in love through their long distance correspondance. A real Griffin and Sabine.
Virpi and I played for the economy class as well, they had a bubble viewing car as well. We had to cross many cars to get there. It was quite the feat manouvering our instruments across the train. The hallways were narrow but well equipped with handles on the walls. V and I thanked our lucky stars we didn't have to move something as big as a double bass!
During the trip we learned how to play our new HAPI drums on a few songs, and they were a hit! It was fun to play such a soothing sound after rocking out on accordion and violin. The acoustics in the viewing cars were great for these drums. I noticed it made us sing in a different way was well, more like a lullaby than party time. Covering Leonard Cohen's 'Hey that's no way to say goodbye' and Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' we found a tonal quality that seemed almost magical. You'll see what we mean if you come see us play with Abigail Lapelle at the TRANZAC in Toronto this Saturday (Oct. 5th) at an early show starting at 7:30pm.
The landscape changed around Northern Ontario and soon sugar maples and Staghorn sumach painted the forests with red and bright orange. We arrived in Toronto exactly on time. This trip was so worthwhile. Take the train across Canada, you won't regret it. I hope we can go East next!
See you on the train sometime, Willow