My restless night on the Greyhound is broken around 4:30 a.m. as dawn lifts the veil of darkness over the flat lands stretching infinitely beyond Lethbridge. The two talkative young people sitting directly in front of me have disembarked. Maybe now I can catch a few winks over the next couple of hours as we head north to Calgary.

27 June Calgary departureAfter a long catch-up nap, a refreshing shower, a change of clothes, a suitcase repack and a barbecue lunch at my Calgary friends’, they drive me downtown to catch the last Red Arrow bus to Edmonton.

There are only five of us heading north through the flat prairies. We pass a horrendous accident blocking the southbound lanes. A car has rolled over and is smashed beyond recognition. If I were a nervous traveller, I’d be quite disturbed after a series of “bad” signs, from the wasp or hornet sting I got yesterday as I was boarding the bus, to the avalanche conversation on the Greyhound as we barrelled over one of Canada’s highest mountain passes and this latest accident. But, having travelled so extensively, I know that such incidents and delays are simply an inescapable reality of travel.

Speaking of which, my bus arrives in Edmonton more than 45 minutes late because of a long traffic delay south of the city. It means a fairly tight window of time to reach the train station and check my baggage.

27 June Calgary to Edmonton on Red Arrow

Sun sets over a prairie puddle

The city’s downtown is magically pretty at 11 p.m. this hot summer night and the late evening air is still and stifling. As I used to live here in the late 1980s and bore all three of my children here, it feels a little disorienting.

Edmonton’s Via Rail station is crowded with people, families, children. The rise and fall of conversation fills every space. One man tells me a friend who promised him a ride to the station didn’t show and he had to cab at the last minute, which cost him $100. He says he’s never seen the station this full. Another older gentleman cradles his carry-on banjo – it’s too valuable to travel in the baggage car, he tells me.

My day closes when I board the eastbound midnight train, The Canadian No. 2.