Subject: Re: Memorable Train Trips

In 1980, I was preparing to go to graduate school in the Los Angeles area. Since I'd done my undergraduate work close to home in Toronto, I'd never had to go away to school. I wanted my trip to California to FEEL like the long trip it was, so I decided against flying and took the train across Canada and down the West Coast, spending a few days with family in Calgary and friends in Vancouver.

There are a couple of things that really stand out in my memory (besides the spectacular scenery).

First, that summer had been a very bad one for forest fires in Northern Ontario. When we travelled through that region, I was taking dinner in the dining car. I'll never forget the eery sight of the devastation -- mile upon mile of burned bush -- and of the early evening moon reflecting on the still lakes. I've never seen anything else like it.

Later, as we travelled through the northwest states, I noticed an area where we passed a lot of very muddy fields. They were fenced, but seemed to be quite untended. Then I noticed a field in the middle of which was a car standing on its nose, half buried in the mud. I was completely stymied until I realized this had to be the effect of the Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption some months earlier. Such a sight gave that natural disaster much more reality for this easterner.

Counting the days until May in Paris, Janice Toronto, ON