That’s been a long time since I broke my back trying to sleep in economy on the Muskeg Special. Actually, it was not that bad. Actually, yes it was.
But the train is great, lots of time to meet people, read, think about just what the hell happened to your life, stuff like that. The schedule’s is a little weird now, hitting Gillam by eight or nine at night instead of 1am. Kind of miss the groggy, get up and walk the dogs stop while the train refills with water and the shift changes. But what I miss more is the morning roll into Churchill. We arrived in Churchill early – its such a crazy concept to try and wrap my head around – the train arrived early… I guess that’s what happens when you add four hours to the schedule…
It was still dark around 7am and it felt suspiciously like sneaking into Churchill – so much for my sunrise from the train shot… A few tourists sat in the formerly lounge now breakfast car, some wondered whether we would see bears as soon as we got off the train, others wouldn’t believe me when I said Churchill is only seven or eight blocks long – I mean it does look bigger by night, kind of like Regina, Sask from 25 miles away except that you’re actually only one minute from downtown Churchill… Everyone’s excited about their bear adventure if not the hit on their wallet.
Weather is hovering around -3C but there’s a bit of ice on the lakes and even ice on the bay, bear season could end very quickly this year, all the little bits and bites of an early freeze are kind of in place. Other than that its the usual season, a chaotic scrum of buses and taxis at the train station, the VIA agent loudly announces that everyone should step back so she can unload the train, people randomly grab their luggage and wander about hoping to find their guide/bus/hotel.
You run into a few people you know, easily find someone to share a cab with, end up in a conversation about guns (there’s always a conversation about guns), talk to a guide who’s already at the end of his rope (‘this time its really the last season…’), a bit of bear talk and head into town. Just getting settled in, van won’t be here for a couple days so I have time to figure out how to launch a magazine today – probably should have thought of that one earlier – and then maybe go look for some bears this afternoon.