About a decade ago, at the end of my first stay in Canada as a college exchange student, I made a trans Canada bus trip with a friend. She was an exchange student from France, whom I had met and become friends with at the campus dining hall during our eight-month study period. We somehow shared an adventure spirit, and when I was recruiting a travel company for my planned trans Canada trip in spring, she came to me and said that she would join me since she had also been thinking of doing the exact same thing.
Our travel itinerary was to start the journey from Montreal westward, spend a week in Banff and Jasper exploring the Canadian Rockies, then finish the trip in Vancouver. We booked the Greyhound bus tickets from Montreal to Banff, Banff from Jasper, then Jasper to Vancouver.
Since we left Montreal, it took us three consecutive days on the bus to get to Banff. Each day, in addition to several small bathroom breaks, we would make three long stops at Greyhound stations to move our bodies and buy meals. There weren’t many options. I always bought a cake and coffee for breakfast and burgers and French fries for the other two meals. Fortunately, the bus wasn’t very crowded, and everybody could take a window seat. In the night, I would rest my head against the window to sleep.
This trip was by far the longest time I spent on buses, and I developed a special affection toward the atmosphere of the Canadian long distance bus trip. As we travelled from one province to another, stopping at Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary, the scenery changed dramatically, and the people on the bus and their dialects also changed (since most people were only travelling locally). These details made me realize that we had indeed travelled far away. And the longer we travelled, the more I felt home on bus.
Our time in the Canadian Rockies was truly unforgettable, but that would make a whole new story for another time. Let me close this story with a special moment I had on the Greyhound which really captures my sentiment toward this bus trip.
After a week of exciting days in the Canadian Rockies, our bus to Vancouver was scheduled to leave Jasper at 1 am. We didn’t think much of it until we finished supper that evening. My friend raised a very reasonable question.
“Where shall we wait until that late?”
Jasper was a small village. Everything closed in the night, even the train station, and it was freezing outside after the sunset. The Greyhound bus stop in Jasper didn’t have any building. It would be dangerous to stand and wait outside without a shelter.
Fortunately, we found a local pub adjacent to our bus stop opening until late at night. It was Friday, and the pub was packed with people. My friend and I crammed ourselves in the corner with beers and patiently waited for the arrival of our bus.
When our Greyhound bus finally arrived, we really let out a sigh of relief. I settled into a window seat, placed my head against the window and closed my eyes to sleep. Then just when the bus started to run on the road, I opened my eyes again. There was a complete darkness outside except for the headlights of our bus. As I listened to the steady sound of the tires rubbing the road, I suddenly felt protected. Tonight, as I slept, this bus would carry me along the road, through the mountains, toward Vancouver. A surge of warmth and gratitude filled my body as I finally fell asleep.