Eurgh! Who is not jealous of Valerie from Valerie and Valise getting to ride that stunningly scenic Rockies route by train? Not everyone apparently… Here is our fifth edition of the light – hearted travel series – Overheard Whilst Travelling.
The folks marketing the Rocky Mountains in Canada have been doing a bang-up job of it: there’s hardly a traveler I’ve spoken to recently that isn’t fresh off a trip or dreaming of the chance to breath deeply of alpine air and dip fingers in crystalline glacial lakes. We’re all itching to visit, right?
I was, from the moment I stepped aboard the Rocky Mountaineer in Vancouver to the moment I boarded the motorcoach that would deposit me at the Calgary airport for my flight home. Most of my travel companions seemed equally enamored by indulgent meals, luxury hotels, and breathtaking scenery for 12 hours per day…. All but one.
Often lulled to sleep by the gentle sway of the train, I took up a nearly constant post in the vestibule between carriages on the two-day journey northeast through the Rockies (aside from the times when I too indulged in the dining car). I enjoyed the fresh air in my hair, the noise of the train clattering down the tracks, the smells and sounds and feelings – it was one of those dream trips I would take again in a heartbeat.
Apparently not everyone felt the same way.
I’ve encountered a fair number of travellers in different life stages – saying that as politely as possible, of course – during my journeys. I’m not afraid to do something that might be classified as appropriate for the retired generation; isn’t running a travel blog a bit like trying to find a way to jump-start an early retirement filled with world travel? Most of these travellers speak of the wonders of the world, and I never get tired of being told I should travel more. Yes, please. More travel. Who wants to pay for me to keep traveling? Anybody?
The carriage door slid open, and a gentleman stepped into my small corner of sacred, and mostly solo, travel space. On his phone, he raised his voice to chat with some family member, and spoke words of blasphemy:
“I wish we had driven instead of taking the train. I feel like you could go so much faster if you took the highway.”
The Slow Boat For One
Record screech. Excuse me? As part of a generation often bemoaned for our increasing speed: we need faster internet, faster tech, faster travel, more photos, more hashtags, more likes… Here I was, eavesdropping on a conversation of someone encouraging faster travel. Encouraging the quickest route from A to B, sights along the way be damned. I was aghast.
Luckily, a combination of the background noise, poor hearing due to advanced age (I was feeling far less kindly by this point), and the signal cutting out, I was soon left alone in peace. His words still ring in my ears whenever I’m about to complain about the journey; maybe though they were spoken for someone else, they were meant for me.
Can we call it some strange form of dementia that makes anyone say the journey is taking too long? The journeys are all we have, and I’m going to savor them just a little bit more, thanks to a grumpy old man who’d rather be stuffed in a car, eating rest stop food, and missing the solitude of the train route.
Valerie Stimac is a travel writer and the eponymous blogger behind Valerie & Valise. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram, @valerie_valise.
What funny stories have you overheard whilst travelling? Email us twoscotsabroad (at) gmail (dot) com