It will come as no surprise to those of you who’ve been reading Angie Away for years – I like to make lists for absolutely everything! So I decided to whip up this must-do list for all of you planning a Rocky Mountaineer adventure in the 2016 season. You don’t want to miss anything, right?
1. Pack your stretchy pants and just forget your diet. The Rocky Mountaineer journey is no place for moderation. Onboard the train, you’ll eat breakfast and lunch each day in the downstairs dining cars. The menu changes each day and offers local, seasonal items like prime Alberta beef, wild Pacific salmon and regional poultry. There are light & vegetarian options, too, all made to order fresh on the train by acclaimed chefs. (You can even buy the Rocky Mountaineer cookbook!)
2. Booze in the morning. I’m not much of a drinker, but I developed a bit of a habit (as much as you can in two days) of partaking in a little Bailey’s-on-ice before breakfast. Free, unlimited drinks all day will do that to you. I can’t recommend a little morning nip highly enough… at least not without sounding a Real Housewife of the Rocky Mountaineer. It sets the tone for a relaxing day of luxury.
3. Unplug for real. I’ve never really unplugged since Al Gore invented the Internet, but while on the Rocky Mountaineer, I was forced to put my phone down for 8-12 hours at a time. Out there in the wilderness, there was no signal at all. The first few hours were scary, and I was a little panicky because unlike booze, I do have a serious WiFi addiction. Fortunately, there was so much to see, and eat, that I quickly got used to the lack of connectivity and really started to embrace life without WiFi.
4. Sing “I’m so fancy” and mean it. I’ve written about how traveling on the Rocky Mountaineer has changed the way I like to travel. And by that I mean, I always want someone to magically deliver my bags to my room each night. I’ve never felt quite so cared for and effortless on a journey!
5. Make friends. After the first few awestruck hours on the train, where you acclimate to your seat, your Rocky Mountaineer hosts and the breathtaking views outside the dome, you will begin to notice the folks around you. They come from all over and everyone has an interesting story to tell. Take time to get to know people because when you have your first bear sighting, these are the folks you’ll be high-fiving and hugging like your team just won the Super Bowl.
6. Wear all those cute winter accessories you never get to use. This probably applies to Floridians more than anyone else. Having lived in NYC for 5 years, I have a closet full of cold weather gear that I get to wear for approximately 6.3 days every winter. As we choo-chooed from mild, seaside Vancouver up toward the chilly Rockies, I layered coats, scarves, cute hats and gloves one by one. The temperature dropped and I just kept adding accessories. It means nothing in the grand scheme of life, but sometimes a girl just wants to get some use out of her closet!
7. Finally learn your camera’s advanced settings. This one’s for you, Mom. Sitting on a train for 8-12 hours a few days in a row will give you the chance to experiment with your camera in a way maybe you haven’t tried before. Bring the instruction manual and learn about aperture & shutter speed. You might actually be surprised at the cool photos you can take when you stop using the Auto setting.
8. Move around the train. Despite long hours winding through the most beautiful scenery in Canada, you don’t have to sit down all day. I spent much of my time outside in the open air vestibule, absorbing all the fresh air I could and taking a million pictures. The only downside to being on the train? I wanted to explore every last inch of the wilderness we passed through. It’s just so beautiful, you can’t help but want to get out and hike!