Day 685: Rocky Mountaineer 1

Laetitia and her group stood on the platform Banff Via Rail station waiting to board the train. They were about to embark on a two-day excursion by train through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Uncle Ralph and Aunt Margaret traveled this route from Banff to Vancouver about 30 years ago on an overnight train, but Laetitia’s group would make the entire run during the day so as to take advantage of the splendid scenery. This day’s journey would take them as far as Kamloops, where they would spend the night in a hotel. They would continue on to Vancouver tomorrow.

The Rocky Mountaineer was soon underway, rumbling through the scenic Bow River valley, surrounded by peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The train crossed the Continental Divide, and as it approached the Spiral Tunnels a trainman told the story of the tunnels’ construction. Completed in 1909, the tunnels provided a unique engineering solution, reducing the 4 percent grade of “Big Hill” to 2.2 percent, dramatically improving the safety of a section of track plagued by runaway trains. They continued on descending through Kicking Horse Canyon, passing through tunnels and snow sheds and flanked by the turbulent waters of the Kicking Horse River. After a day of splendid mountain scenery, they went through high plains ranch country before arriving at Kamloops, where they were spending the night.

There are two stories about how this British Columbia community’s name came to be. One is that it is the corruption of a First Nations Shuswap word, “Tk’amlúps;” the other is derived from French-speaking fur traders who called the area “Camp des Loups” or Camp of Wolves. Originally this community of 85,000 was active in the fur trade. Today it is a transportation hub. Its industries include manufacture of wood and wood pulp products, copper mining, and a company that manages lotteries. There are also a multitude of ranches and organic farms in the region.

When Laetitia found a bar for her pre-dinner sojourn, she arrived before the happy hour crowd and found it empty except for a table of young women who invited her to join them. She sipped her Canadian blended whiskey and water and mostly listened. The conversation drifted to similes used to describe the female anatomy. A woman named Emily recounted an anecdote about an organic peach farmer she once dated. He blew his chance of success in an attempt to compliment her by comparing her breasts to the succulent fruit he raised on his farm. But instead of “peaches,” he used the word “drupes,” the generic term for fleshy fruits with pits. Laetitia transformed the anecdote into the limerick of the day.

When a farmer who lived near Kamloops
Sought amore, he made a big oops
With a lady named Emily
For he used the wrong simile
When he likened her bosoms to drupes.