Duncan’s Grace Fox is about to go on a trip of a lifetime, having secured one of Via Rail’s Canada 150 youth passes.
The Via Rail pass cost just $150 and entitles the holder to unlimited train access for the entire month of July, provided they are under 25 at the time of travel.
“Yeah you’re paying for it, but let’s be honest, it’s practically free,” said the former Lake Cowichan Secondary student.
“I was really surprised that I even got it. So many people wanted that pass,” she explained. “They only gave away 1,867 for the whole country.”
Fox said she applied for the pass at 2 a.m. several months ago after working the late shift.
“By the time I get home from work and stuff it’s pretty late at night,” she said, but she tried anyway.
She had heard and read that the Via Rail website had crashed and people weren’t able to get passes.
“I got off work and I got on the site and it wasn’t working at first so I had to wait another hour and then it started working,” she said.
But it was so slow.
“I was so scared it was going to shut down in the middle of my application,” Fox recalled. “Every page took 10 minutes to load. It took me a long time to sign up for it but surprisingly I managed to get the pass.”
Just 10 minutes later when she refreshed the page, the passes were sold out.
But Fox had her ticket.
She spent the next few months planning and will visit Banff, Jasper, West Edmonton Mall, Winnipeg, Montreal, Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, Halifax, Eden Mills/Toronto, Niagara Falls and Ottawa.
“The thing is that I’ve never been anywhere. I’ve never travelled. I went to ask for three days when I was 17,” said the now 23-year-old. “That is the full extent of my life’s travel experience. Just the very fact that I’m going to be from way over here on the west side to way over there on the east side, that’s huge. I’ve never been anywhere east.”
Fox will spend Canada Day in Ottawa.
“The 150th in the capital city, I can’t even imagine what its going to be like,” she predicted. “It’s going to be the hugest party. I bet they have the best fireworks.”
Fox is also looking to zipline over Niagara Falls and take in the scenic beauty that reaches far and wide across the country, particularly on the east coast and in Banff.
“I’m super stoked for that,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. It’s all just so beautiful.”
She is also looking forward to meeting up with her cousin in Winnipeg, somebody she hasn’t seen since she was five.
Fox has had several months to plan the trip since securing the pass.
“It’s a totally different feeling when instead of being like, OK, I’m going to figure out a trip and I’m going to book from here to there and blah blah blah; instead you’re given one month, now how are you going to spend one month? This is your time limit, how much can you possibly fit in it?”
It’s weird, she said. Going from having absolutely no plans for the summer to suddenly planning a big adventure across the country.
Look for updates on Fox’s travels in upcoming editions of the Cowichan Valley Citizen come July.
“I’ve never really travelled before so I’ve never really done any travel writing but I just thought that since it’s the 150th and not a lot of people managed to get this pass, it would be cool to document,” she said.