Riding historic trains in Colorado isn't new to me. I grew up here, and enjoy the grit, smoke, and steam. The trans-Canadian train Rocky Mountaineer is something entirely different. I boarded on a sunny April morning in Vancouver for a four-day, three-night, eastbound excursion and felt a bit like a superstar from the beginning, uttering a “wow” or two as my friend and I wound our way up the spiral stairs to the second level of the glass-domed GoldLeaf car. It was a bright, airy space that offered more comfort than what 19th-century gold miners on Colorado's rails could have imagined.
I arrived in Vancouver the day before departure and wandered the nearby arts district, grabbed lunch at a sidewalk café reminiscent of Paris, and explored the nearby harbor with snow-capped mountains in the distance. It was my first visit to Vancouver and I fell in love with the city's welcoming generosity.