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Canada: On track to Kamloops, where people are as warm as the weather

July 02, 2013|By Chris Erskine

We are somewhere in Canada, but I’m not sure where. Photographer Al Seib and I left Vancouver, British Columbia, at 8 a.m. Monday and traveled 300 miles east on the Rocky Mountaineer.
Think it’s hot in L.A.? Come to southern British Columbia. These Canadians, truly the most wonderful people in the world, keep insisting it’s only 40 degrees here in the heart of the province. Turns out that’s Celsius. Forty degrees Celsius converts to -- let’s see -- about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly the boiling point of blood. (OK, more like 104 but hot.)
“Is it fun?” you ask.
Well, Monday was Canada Day, a celebration equivalent to the start of Lent. Here in a town by the name of Kamloops, they’re having fireworks along the river, barbecues, swimming. Kamloops has a population of about 85,000 spread out over a vast area.

Locals say that, in terms of city limits, it’s bigger than Vancouver. But make no mistake, this is rural Canada. And I mean that in the nicest way. Imagine the North Country’s Hannibal, Mo.
Getting here is the thing. Now, the Rocky Mountaineer is a splendid means of transit, a 20-car train, with bubble tops that let you see clear to heaven. The food is first-rate, and as it is on a cruise ship, it seems the friendly staff is feeding you constantly.

On Monday, the first of our three-day journey to Banff, then eventually Calgary, started well. Along the way we saw bighorn sheep and bald eagles, all stretched along the thrashy and magnificent Fraser River.
But it really is hot in Canada’s interior, and the train’s AC gave out about noon, when things started to get warm and T-shirts turned funky.

Western Canada mimics the States. The coast starts lush, then turns dry and rocky, before transitioning to the Continental Divide near Lake Louise.

That’s Tuesday, and it’s this journey’s sweet spot. Stay tuned.

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