Jun 24, 2008

Day 25 - Flagstaff to Vancouver (Part 3)

How tired were we after all the hassle we had gone through yesterday!

Although I could see a beautiful sunrise through the train window, my Japanese tourist photographer spirit was almost dead and I really struggled to get up today. I only managed to get up finally because of the "clear" announcement from the train staff. I was glad that I managed to wake up in the end, though, because the train ride through the Oregon state was stunning as we could still see mountains with snow on top. It was almost like we got back to where we started our trip in Canada.

Today, the great sense of achievements in completing our plans as planned and sadness in realising that our trip is almost over started creeping in. Teruko and I even had a chat about whether we might want to include another city or two. We initially wanted to include Seattle since Teruko has never visited the city. In the end, because of our fatigue, we decided to head straight back to Vancouver.

When we were planning this trip, I wasn't sure if I would be able to cope with lengthy train ride. By now, I am so used to it and it feels like a train is our home. Familiarity is a scary thing.

Although our train arrived at Sacramento something like 40mins earlier than expected last night, we ended up losing time along the way today for some bizarre reason. This meant that some of the stops were shorter than expected. But we were able to enjoy the every minute of our last train ride of this trip.

We decided to have the last supper of our North American trip on the train. We ended up sitting with a couple from near Santa Barbara, California and has been married for almost 30 years. It turned out that they experienced some similar hassle along the way as Amtrak managed to mess up their train tickets at the last minute while they had made a reservation three months ago. After sharing each other's frustration, we had some fun chat about places, traveling, marriage, and all that. They told us to never say 'it was your decision' in a marriage. They also told us it is all about 'team work'. We will definitely remember that!

In the end, we arrived in Seattle 15mins late. In fact, we were expecting that we would surely be delayed for a few hours and would miss our connection bus to Vancouver. Instead, we were able to got on a bus with 15mins to relax for a bit before departure. We wish we had stayed in Seattle, but I am sure that we will come back here together one day. After visiting the city on several occasions for work and fun in recent years, I quite like this city and want Teruko to see it for at least once.

The bus ride was very comfortable as we experienced no traffic jam. Teruko, whose nickname now is 'Princess Sleep', was well asleep on the bus. So I ended up watching a video of Liverpool FC to waste some time.

It was so straightforward to go through the immigration at the border. I am not sure if this is to do with the fact that I now have a Permanent Resident Card, but we were only asked if we traveled to the US together and how long Teruko is going to stay in Canada.

Our bus driver seemed generous in making stops at places that Amtrak is not supposed to stop. It was nice to see someone being flexible in accommodating people's needs, but we really wanted to get back in Vancouver as soon as possible. In the end, the detour didn't seem to affect our arrival much as we arrived back at the Central station in Vancouver after 0:15AM. Yes, we completed our trip with huge success! It's so strange to be back in Vancouver, quite honestly. Time really went so quickly. As they say, fun times go so quick.

Yes, we did it! We really felt a sense of excitement in finishing such an amazing and exciting trip across North America. Honestly, neither Teruko nor myself can believe that, other than some of the detours we had to take with trains and buses, we completed our trip exactly as planned without missing a single city or town. I was saved by Teruko on various occasions, and it really was a great team effort between the two of us. Although we had some serious discussions and small quarrels, we never had an argument or bust-up during the 25 days of our trip while we were together for every minute pretty much. Hopefully, we will stay this way for a long long time.

We had such a mixture of excitement from nature and animals to architecture, sports, music, food, and culture. Each city and town really represented themselves differently from others. Every one of them was unique, and gave us tremendous excitement and fun in there.

We met so many people from all over the world throughout this trip, and I am delighted to have met them. I am also grateful to those people who helped us along the way from those we met on train to the ones we bumped into while in a city or town.

Life is really all about people in the end. It's so nice to see that there are so many nice people out there!

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