Snapshots 17: Our Magpie Honeymoon

I don’t remember where David and I got the idea of traveling to the Canadian Rockies for our honeymoon, but I do remember what a great decision it was. I will show photos of some of the sights we saw, though most were not taken by us. There are only a few of our photos that are worth posting, for they have faded so much over the years. For those not taken by David or me, I give links to the website or blog where I found them.

On our wedding day, we drove to Montreal and caught a plane to Calgary. Our destination was Banff in Alberta, Canada.I always thought fear of flying was something that happened to people before they got in the plane, not in the plane. I had never flown before our honeymoon. David so kindly let me have the window seat. I loved the fast ride down the runway, and then came the takeoff. As soon as the plane started rising into the sky, I got really scared. I grabbed David’s hand and said, “But we are so vulnerable up here!” The floor of the plane seemed like very inadequate protection from falling out of the sky. Before long I was in tears, and David had the job of talking me through it. We exchanged seats as soon as we were allowed. I don’t think I relaxed for the five hours we were in the air. David got me to smile (barely) for the camera. We landed in Calgary around sunset, which was around 11:30 ET. By the time we got to our hotel, we were pretty tired. It had been a long, but incredible day for us. We had gone to a whole new world in beginning our life journeys together, and we had done so physically by flying to Calgary.


Landing in Calgary at sunset looked like this. Photo from Alex Robinson


The next morning, David got up before me (the start of a life-long pattern) and went outside. He came back in and said, “Saloma, there is this really cool bird with this very long tail outside. You’ve got to come see it!” I did, and I wasn’t sorry. We soon found out it was a magpie…  that bird in folklore known for stealing shiny objects. In case you’ve never seen a magpie, this is what they look like.


Photo by author of Birding is Fun!


Magpie in flight. Photo by author of Birding is Fun!


David and I had breakfast, and then we took a bus to Banff. While we were at the local bus stop, we saw three young girls sitting on the curb, also waiting for the bus. David wanted me to ask them if we could take their picture. The littlest one squinted up at us and said, “If it’s not a water camera!” I assured them it was not, and here they are.


Waiting for the bus in Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Calgary is still in the prairie. You can see the Rockies silhouetted in the background in the sunset photo above. It was a seventy-mile bus ride from Calgary to Banff. I don’t recall how many miles away the mountains started, but what I do remember is that the mountains seemed to grow right out of the prairie without any foothills. Here is a photo to show what I mean:


Photo from World Travel Photos.

And then we arrived at our destination… town of Banff, Alberta, Canada that looked like something out of a fairy tale.

Photo from Wikimedia

For the next seven days we hiked, we biked, we canoed, we discovered so many new birds, we took the train to Lake Louise, and just had the time of our lives. We hiked up to Sulphur Mountain and took a gondola ride to the top of the mountain. I did not like the gondola much more than I liked the plane. But at the top, there was a breathtaking view, where we took some pictures.

On top of the world…


Lake Louise: Photo from author of World Top Journeys


When we were planning our honeymoon, we found out about Via Rail’s “Train Across Canada.” The descriptions of the 17-hour trip between Banff and Vancouver made me really want to book train tickets and take that trip. However, David felt we would be cramming too much into the 10-day trip with that, so I didn’t book it. Then, the very last day we could possibly do it and be back in Banff in time, David decided we should do it. I am SO happy we did. That was truly the most amazing part of our honeymoon.

The vistas were absolutely beyond words. It was sometimes too much to take in. Here are a few photos that begin to give you the idea, but you really have to be there to see and feel the beauty:

Photo from author of Love, Laughter, and Lollipops


Photo from Inside Vancouver

On the way out to Vancouver, we slept in our seats, rather than pay for a berth. We were short on funds by then. We were only in Vancouver for a few hours before we caught the train back, which was another night train. We found out that the berth was only eight dollars, even though at the Vancouver station they told us it was forty-something. It was eight dollars well spent! I slept like a baby, even though we could hear the brakes grinding through the night. We shared a berth, which was the width of  a single bed (oh, for those days!). We had a shade we could pull for privacy when we arrived at stations. In the morning, we opened up the shade to the most beautiful vistas we had ever seen. We got dressed, and went into the dining car and had breakfast. It was like riding through the land of the hobbits.

The “train across Canada” now goes up to Jasper National Park and then down to Vancouver, so it no longer takes the route it used to. That ended a few years after our adventure. There was a show on television that commemorated it called, “The Last Train Across Canada.” I remember there were Amish people on that train. Some of the highlights of the ride were the five-mile spiral tunnel through a mountain, the tall trestles — the kind that you look down on one side of the train and you say, “I hope we don’t tip over,” and then you look down on the other side and say the same thing, and a second story dome car, where you could go and see all the vistas. The other thing I remember is that freight trains had precedence over the passenger trains. We sometimes had to get off on a side track and wait for a freight train to go by. But when you are having the ride of your life, there is no reason to hurry.

Here is my advice: if you ever get a chance to take the train through Alberta and British Columbia, go for it. You will not be sorry. It is the experience of a lifetime.

What are some of your favorite travel memories? What was the occasion? Where did you go?

Have you taken the train through the U.S. Rockies? What was that like?

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6 thoughts on “Snapshots 17: Our Magpie Honeymoon”

  1. Saloma, What a wonderful honeymoon. The photo of you and David on top of the mountain is priceless. I can only imagine your excitement at all the beautiful sights after living such a shelterd life. Thanks for sharing your joy. Vicki

  2. OOOOh, western Canada is one of our favorite places – the scenery just gets better and better, as you certainly discovered! We like to take car trips, and have been to Calgary, Banff, Jasper and also viewed those amazing spiral tunnels west of there. B.C. & Alberta are full of wonderful sights!

    My husband & I spent our honeymoon (46 yrs. ago) in Glacier National Park in MT, but also ventured as far No. as Waterton Lakes in Alberta. My husband had recently taken his job, so We only had a couple of days, but the drive was not terribly long for us. It was magical!

    Because we have nearly always lived far from family, and never had more than 10 days or so off, we spent most of our vacation times during our working years traveling “back home” to visit family.In the process, however, we took some wonderful scenic routes & saw lots of fantastic country.

    Once we both retired, we’ve made the most of our travels, preferring to see the wild, scenic places in the westrn U.S. mostly. Favorite jaunts include trips to many of our Natl. Parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Crater LaKe, Redwoods, and of course Olympic (Which is very close to where we live.) Taking rte. 101 all the way down the west coast is quite an adventure – one we loved!

    When our son was little, he & I took the train back to MT twice. We had the berths once & slept on seats the other time. We loved the experience – except the 2nd time there was a derailment of another train which blocked the track, so we ended up being bused all night to another location where we could re-board. That was not the greatest trip, but they did give us a free breakfast on the train!

    I seriously want to take that train in Canada & may begin studying up on it this week!

    Sounds like a wonderful way to begin your marriage – THANKS for sharing!!

  3. Johanna, good luck with finding the right train ride. I LOVE trains. I don’t mind flying anymore, but I don’t get to SEE all that country, except from too far above.

    Vicki, I’m glad you enjoyed that photo. I hadn’t thought of our honeymoon from the point of view of where I came from, so thanks for reminding me of that. It was truly an amazing world to be discovered, and that brought me great joy!

    Ladybug, I love your sense of discovery in life. I am so glad I ventured over to your blog last week — I learned so much!

    Thanks for sharing of your own travels and that you share my love for the Canadian Rockies. I look forward to taking the train from the Midwest to Washington, Oregon, and California — David and I are hoping to do that either this year or next in our travels. I look forward to traveling on 101, now that I know about it.

    Thanks all, for sharing your comments. Sometimes there is joy and then more joy. Thanks for sharing yours!

    Have a wonderful week.


  4. Hi Saloma! I have ALWAYS wanted to ride a train through the Canadian Rockies! We may do it in conjunction with an inland passage cruise in Alaska … hopefully not just in my dreams!

    We love to travel and often find ourselves headed for the ocean. Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. We find the last vestiges of summer in late September or early October and the very earliest of spring in March. In between, we just like to soak in the sea breezes and splash in the surf.

    Our most unique trip was a short term mission trip to Venezuela, back when US citizens were still welcome to visit… We traveled in a group, my husband and other police officers training their officers and the rest of us put on a Vacation Bible School for kids in a nearby town. We had translators and a VERY good time! Lots of new experiences for me, from new foods to my first time in an airplane (not a good experience down but back was ok). I’ve also been to Guatemala and Costa Rica but that first mission trip will always be my favorite!

    I have another first experience in travel coming up this fall. Bill has decided to take 3 days and nights and pack the two of us on his motorcycle and head for Burlington, VT … this should be interesting! We haven’t been there in a few years and at that time we had to pass on visiting The Shelburne Museum so that is a must and so is wandering the Town Center.

  5. Awesome! At EPCOT, in the Canada pavilion, they show a movie about Canada (I’m sure you can find it on youtube – probably both versions since they’ve updated a couple years or so ago.) It makes me want to ride the train across Canada so bad!
    We got married in mid/late October and went to Quebec. And froze. LOL I had to buy a furry hat. Too bad it wasn’t an Indian summer spell.

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