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A train tour of western Canada; Summer on a Texas ranch

A train tour of western CanadaA two-day excursion on a private railway offers the best possible way to see the “outlandishly scenic, hypnotically serene” Canadian Rockies, said Chris Erskine in the Los Angeles Times. Even in 2013, travel on the Rocky Mountaineer railway (rockymountaineer.com) feels like “a bit of indulgence”—complete with tablecloths and fresh orchids, and an attentive staff always ready to freshen the coffees. But during our 600-mile trip across British Columbia and up and over the Continental Divide, we mostly kept our eyes on the wilderness outside our glass-domed car. Once we reached the mountains, there were “almost too many thrashing waterfalls, too many forests, too many vistas that looked as though they’d never been hiked.” Grizzlies, elk, and moose roamed the land, but “the celebrities of the animal kingdom” were the dozen or so bald eagles we spotted. Those two days and 600 miles passed quickly; “the afterglow lasts for weeks.”

Summer on a Texas ranchThis summer, I finally cured myself of “Texas ranch–phobia,” said Christopher M. Kelly in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. For years after I moved to Texas from the Northeast, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to spend a summer vacation on a hot ranch in the middle of nowhere. But my attitude changed after my partner and I spent two nights at the Double S Ranch about 100 miles east of Dallas. My first impression of the community nearest the 800-acre working ranch was that it resembled a horror movie set—“remote, eerily quiet, strangely absent of people.” Passing through the ranch’s gates, though, we entered “a picture-postcard vision, with a placid blue lake surrounded by trees and rustic cabins.” We soon fell into a routine of walking in the woods, cycling, swimming, and playing the board games at our cabin. Before we arrived, we’d feared getting bored. By the end of the week, we were already plotting our return.

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