It's Saturday afternoon in Edmonton, and it's raining. But I've got a train to catch, so hopefully it'll be sunny by the time I reach Winnipeg, Manitoba, tomorrow lunchtime. Tonight marks the beginning of what is, to me, the most exciting part of the trip. What follows over the next couple of days is the part of the journey for which I've said "why not?"
I'm going to Churchill, in the far north of Manitoba on the shore of the Hudson Bay. I don't have any real reason to go to Churchill - I'm going because I can and because I'll never have a reason to go there again.
Come to think of it, I don't have much reason to go there now... but the journey will be a once in a lifetime experience. Over thirty-six hours each way, the 'Hudson Bay' train will carry me north across some of the most beautiful and most remote parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, over almost 3,400km of track. I've been warned to expect a very slow and bouncy ride: the seasonal freeze and thaw of the land in the north of Manitoba leaves the track in pretty rough shape. And after Thompson, Manitoba, we'll be travelling to communities that have no other land connections with the rest of the province: Churchill itself can only be reached by train or by plane. But this mystical sounding town with the most English of names isn't just the end of dead end railway line: it could well be one of Canada's most important ports in years to come: I'll tell you why when I come back.
I'm stocking up on food and reading material for the trip, and will be writing my journal by hand over the next week for updating here when I return to Montréal next weekend. So no updates are expected for a while, but I'll be back online by Sunday 14 May with news and photographs of Canada's north.
So, that's all for now folks. I've got a train to catch...