Lucy and I woke up in Cranbrook, BC, in our first-floor room at the Lazy Bear Lodge. We'd driven 850kms the day before, and the dog wanted no part in another day in the truck.
I took her out into the parking lot behind the motel for a jog and a pee, and I tried to convince her to eat some breakfast, or at the very least take the anti-anxiety medication I'd brought along to help her with the car ride. It was bitterly cold, and early. Lucy wore her brand-new winter coat, a present from our friend Alexis. I wore long johns.
As we milled about in the parking lot, a train rumbled out of the CPR yard just beyond the motel property. It was a train of empty grain cars, headed east, and it was just what I'd been looking for: a train to chase from Cranbrook over the Crowsnest Pass, where foamer photo locations are plentiful and easily accessible, and into Alberta.
I bundled Lucy into the truck and convinced her to take her meds. Then we set off out of Cranbrook in pursuit of the freight.
Newsflash: trains travel slow. We had ample time to shoot our freight and the coal empty behind it all the way to the mining town of Sparwood, at the edge of the continental divide. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty gloomy and overcast, but that's never stopped me from taking pictures before.
We beat the freight by a good margin to Sparwood and explored the town a little bit, though we mostly just ate cookies and sat in the truck on a bridge. Eventually, the freight caught up, and we snapped a few more shots of it struggling up the loop at Corbin and the heavy grade into the yard at Crowsnest, where it met an westbound.
The freight kept moving. We followed, and as we crossed into Alberta at the crest of the Rockies, the skies cleared miraculously and the day was suddenly beautiful. This is the most scenic part of the Crowsnest highway, and the opportunities for train shots abound.
We got stuck behind an obstinate driver headed toward the massive Frank slide and nearly missed our shot there, then had a long wait and a nice snowy frolic on the prairie at Lundbreck Falls as our eastbound stopped to meet another westbound.
By this time, it was late afternoon, and the sun was starting to sink behind the mountains to our west. We were out of the mountains now and full into the prairie; the light was beautiful and our train came just in time for a couple more decent shots before we called it quits for the day and made tracks for Medicine Hat, still 220kms distant.
It was dark when we arrived in Medicine Hat, and we were tired and hungry. Fortunately, my friend Alexis had been running some intel and had booked a room in our name at the Home Inn just off the highway, and at a bargain rate, to boot. The place was about half the cost of a Holiday Inn and very comparable or better in terms of quality.
Unfortunately, I was at the stage of hunger where you can't make decisions, and I drove around for a good twenty minutes before finally settling on a fast food burrito and a local beer.
Thus far on the trip, the foaming had been good. Spirits were reasonable, both man and dog. Accommodations were okay.
My meal decisions, though, were seriously lacking.