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Escapes: Elegance still reigns on trains. All aboard for Canada!

Elegant food — and views — on the Via Rail trip across Canada.
Elegant food — and views — on the Via Rail trip across Canada.
(VIA Rail Canada)

Before barefoot security lines at the airport, and before internet marketers tried to lure consumers with low-ball deals, travel had a sense of romance, almost an elegance that made an upcoming trip a pleasure from start to finish.

So it still is with long-distance trains. Like the typewriters of the travel world, they are our clickety-clack time machines to the past.

Patt Morrison and Rosemary McClure took separate trips through Canada, on itineraries that included the Rockies, linen tablecloths and an easygoing tour of the north woods wilderness.

What’s your pleasure? Moose? Bald eagles? A nice Canadian wine?

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“Canada is second in size only to Russia, and second to none when it came to the geniality and service of the team aboard the Canadian,” Patt told us this week. “If I had it to do again, I’d say, ‘More, please,’ and add the journey north through the Rockies to my itinerary.”

Meanwhile, are you off on a long trip yourself? This week’s “On the Spot” column looks at ways to ease the jet lag that dogs so many of us. Precautions can be as simple as a glass of water.

Speaking of classic trips, how about our weekend escape to Catalina — 26 miles out into the Pacific but a world away from the din of the city. Sometimes, the best trips are not only in our same time zone but right in our own sea-splashed backyard.

And if you’re looking to shock your dinner mates, tell them security waits are actually down at most big U.S. airports, including LAX. Seriously? Absolutely. That news comes courtesy of a Times data crunch.

TORONTO TO VANCOUVER. ALL ABOARD!

We can’t imagine a more engaging travel companion than noted Times columnist Patt Morrison. Jump aboard a train in Toronto, and glide with her in a $10,640 first-class journey across Canada. As she wryly notes: “Who’ll need a 401(k) anyway, with the Earth burning and melting?”

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VIA Rail Canada

PREFER VANCOUVER TO BANFF?

Rosemary McClure starts from out west in her eastbound train journey, on plush rail cars that include white tablecloths and three-course meals. “I’m happy that someone brought this kind of train travel back,” says one of her rail mates. ”It’s a great way to see this part of the country.”

Passengers aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train enjoy one of the dome cars, giving them spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies as they climb toward Banff in Alberta, Canada.
Passengers aboard the Rocky Mountaineer as they climb toward Banff.
(Jim Edwards)

HOW SIMPLE, HOW PERFECT: AVALON

Catalina manages one of the toughest tasks a tourist town can have: How to blend the old and new, remaining exciting while retaining its historic charm? Writer Sharon Boorstin discovers climbing walls and submarine rides for the grandkids and a succulent ahi sandwich for her husband, Paul. And $200 a night for a hillside hotel room is a bargain these days.

Avalon, Catalina Island’s main town, hugs the coast.
Avalon, Catalina Island’s main town, hugs the coast.
(Bob Chamberlin / LAT)

HOW TO AVOID JET LAG

Well, you may not be able to avoid it completely. But you can ease its trademark fog and grog with a few simple tips: Drink plenty of water, arrive in the afternoon and adopt local time as quickly as you can. Is a glass of Chardonnay OK? Find out in “On the Spot.”

THAT EMOJI HOUSE ISN’T ALONE

When travel staffer Christopher Reynolds heard about the brouhaha in Manhattan Beach over a house dotted with bright yellow emojis, he thought of his trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he once found a “spite house” with a past.

The pink house with emojis painted on it, in Manhattan Beach.
The pink house with emojis painted on it, in Manhattan Beach.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

LAST-MINUTE LABOR DAY DEALS

Summer doesn’t take the train; it flies. If you waited too long to make Labor Day plans, check out Terry Gardner’s suggestions. The destinations are close enough to drive.

RECORD CROWDS AT AIRPORTS

Why drive on Labor Day? Well, the trade group Airlines for America forecasts that 17.5 million passengers will fly on U.S. carriers between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3. That’s 2.5 million passengers a day and would set a record for the holiday.

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A TSA agent checks identifications at Terminal 1 at LAX, where waits have dropped.
A TSA agent checks identifications at Terminal 1 at LAX, where waits have dropped.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

YET TSA WAIT TIMES ARE DROPPING. WHAT?

Air travel is up but wait times have fallen. A study by The Times found that average wait times have fallen significantly at most of the 30 largest airports, including LAX. Hugo Martin and Ben Poston report that at some of those major airports, average wait times have dropped as much as 66%, with LAX achieving a decline of about 40%.

PACK YOUR BAG. BOND IS CALLING

Like you, James Bond travels well. The upcoming “No Time to Die,” the 25th movie in the series, boasts scenes in Jamaica, Norway, London and Italy. It comes out this spring.

James Bond, a.k.a. 007, is portrayed by actor Daniel Craig.
James Bond, a.k.a. 007, is portrayed by actor Daniel Craig.
(Francois Duhamel / Columbia Pictures)

HIT US WITH YOUR BEST SHOT

We’re seeking your summer vacation photos, for our upcoming photo galleries in mid-September, online and in print.

The photos must have been taken between May 25 and Sept. 2, from the beginning of Memorial Day weekend to the end of Labor Day. They must be submitted by 6 p.m. Sept. 6.

You may submit your photos using a form that can be found here.

We will need your contact information in case we have a question about your photo. It will not be used for marketing or any other purpose. Files must be at least 1 MB. You can submit up to 10 photographs. You may use a smartphone photo. We are seeking photos from amateurs, not professionals.

By sending us your photos, you are granting The Times permission to use your work in print and online. You also affirm that you do not make your living as a professional photographer.

From last year’s series, Waimea Canyon, Kauai.
From last year’s series, Waimea Canyon, Kauai.
(Josh Means )
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WHAT WE’RE READING

Visitors to beaches in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida might be surprised to be swimming in far more seaweed than they hoped for. Smarter Travel says this could be the new normal.

Speaking of unpleasant, USA Today reports that sharks have multiplied off Cape Cod beaches, devouring seals and putting tourists on edge.

WHAT YOU COULD ALSO BE READING

▶The Los Angeles Times. Please try a digital subscription, a print subscription or both. Find details at L.A. Times subscriptions.

▶This and other newsletters. Take a look at all we offer — for free.

▶Your letter in print or online. Tell us how we’re doing. Write to travel@latimes.com. Please include your name and city of residence if you’d like your tome to be used in our Letters column.

END PAPER

Planes, trains or surfboards. Does it matter how we travel? Of course it does, and our train package is a reminder of that.

For years, we’ve gritted our teeth as we line up at airports, thinking that such hassles are a necessary evil. So it’s good news that the Transportation Security Administration might be making progress, as our data study found.

But there will always be challenges. Just don’t let them keep you on the couch.

As the late Anthony Bourdain noted: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. okay. The journey changes you; it should change you.”


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