Rail Travelogue To Churchill - Canada
Hudson Bay, VIA Rail's Most Northern Station
By Ray Burns Of TrainWeb.com
Part 1 - Fullerton, California to Seattle, Washington
on the Amtrak Coast Starlight
Friday, January 5, 2001
Friday morning in Fullerton, California, was around 72 degrees. The last week
or so shed hot summer temperatures. Here I was, leaving the hot Southern
California temperatures, going to the cold Canadian North, where the wind chill
factor can get to 50 degrees below zero. Why? Well, why not?! I've always
wanted to see the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis. Robert Burns, the
famous poet, my brother, is also going with me to assist me with the camera
equipment and write a travelogue as well. I will be meeting Robert in Ottawa,
Ontario, Canada, the area where he lives, and we will both leave from there
going west to Toronto, then northwest to Winnipeg, and then north, up to
Churchill, at Hudson Bay. There are no roads up to Churchill. Weather
permitting, ships and airplanes can get in, but the train, the infallible
carrier of man and beast in all kinds of weather, the iron horse that stretches
from one seashore to another, the instrument that binds nations together, was
the only mode of transport in and out of the far off North. This is the place
where one can still flag down a train to get on, or let the conductor know that
you want to get off in the middle of "no man's land." If you want to "rough
it" like in Jack London's "Call Of The Wild," then this is the place for you.
Of course you could do what I am going to do: Stay on the train and enjoy the
Steve Grande and myself were at our office around 7 AM this morning and
our preparation procedures. Our office is upstairs at the historical Fullerton
Amtrak station where we were going to start our adventure from. Eureka! I
found my passport. I was going bonkers searching for it previously. To my
understanding, Canadian customs will accept your passport or birth
Shivam Surve, the senior programmer at TrainWeb, grabbed two of my bags and
hauled them downstairs and out to trackside for me. Steve and I carried the
rest and followed. After being at trackside for a few minutes, a southbound
Metrolink commuter train arrived and Matt Melzer, another one of our programmers,
showed up. He got in just in time to see Steve and me off. Within five
minutes, our northbound Amtrak train, Pacific Surfliner 769, showed up. Steve and
I jumped on, left our
heavy baggage downstairs in the appropriate place, went upstairs, and found some
seats. The train seemed fairly full. The next stop would be at Los Angeles
Union Station. I waved adieu to our faithful friends as they waved to me in
recognition. It was 8:15 and we were off!!
Ron Harris, Amtrak Sleeping Car Attendant
Steve and I had a lot of business to talk about on our way to Los Angeles, so
that kept us pretty busy. Once in LA, we just crossed over and boarded the
Coast Starlight that was alongside the Surfliner, the train that we had just gotten
off. Ron Harris was our room attendant and he did his job well. Remember, good
PR is part of a room attendant's function. We were in car 1431, room #3, the
second car from the Parlour car and third from the Dining car.
We put our luggage away in the luggage rack downstairs and hung our jackets in
our room. We immediately went into the Parlour car and had a light breakfast
snack of cereal and some Danish pastry. It is always enjoyable to look at the
scenery between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Going through the rocky hills
and tunnels between Chatsworth and Simi Valley, as well as alongside the beaches
farther north (the Santa Barbara coast is the prettiest).
For lunch I had Amtrak's famous Coast Starlight Chicken Pot Pie, the old reliable.
flatbread, which he liked. Dee served us for lunch as she did for breakfast.
Everything looked good as we worked our way up the coast to San Luis Obispo,
which is another one of the many pleasant communities that we go through. We
then took out our camera that takes 360x360 Virtual Reality pictures and took a few
practice shots and then put them in the computer to make sure that they came out
okay. We wanted to make sure that everything worked fine when I got onboard VIA Rail
once in Canada. Everything worked fine!
Left: Larry Chaleff, Pacific Parlour Car Attendant
Right: Gerard J. (Gerry) Griffo, Chief of Onboard Services
Of course we attended the famous wine tasting that the Coast Starlight is
so famous for. They not only serve wine from the different wineries of
California, but also from other states such as Oregon and Washington, as well as
from countries such as France, Australia, some of South America, and others. Larry
Chaleff was the Pacific Parlour Car Attendant. This position needs a very
special person to cater to everyone's whim. Larry is certainly up to snuff in
his duties. This position needs someone who is informative, full of wit,
jovial, entertaining, and gracious. Gerard J. Griffo is the Chief of Onboard
Services for this run of the Coast Starlight. He makes sure everything is
running smoothly. A strong PR person, Gerard was always assisting Larry to make
sure that everyone received their wine in appropriate time. This is Steve's
We had lunch early so we could have dinner early. Salad and a bread roll started
things off. I had the Coastal Classic - Grilled Pork Chops. I try to limit how
much meat I eat, especially pork, but this time I'll make an exception. I had
garlic potatoes and red potatoes. I chose that rather than some other
vegetables. I enjoy potatoes done any which way. Caramelized apples were
served with the chops. I had two Pepsis as I was pretty thirsty. That's it; I
was stuffed!! Steve had lasagna and that filled him as well.
After pleasant talk with a passenger from the Seattle, Washington, area and the
other person was from the Los Angeles region, Steve and I waddled down to the
Parlour car for a little while. Steve went to his room to rest and I went
downstairs in the Parlour car to the threatre room to watch "The Perfect Storm."
After watching that movie, I definitely wanted to go to bed, as the movie is so
realistic that you are tired when it is over from the stress of watching it.
So, it was 10 PM and I called it a day. The heat was on so I wasn't going to
Saturday, January 6, 2001
Sunrise on Saturday morning.
I woke up around 6 AM today and took care of the necessities. Both Steve and I had
sleep. The heat was a little much, though. However, better a little too
warm than too cool, especially with snow outside. Steve and I went into the
Dining car for breakfast and I had two eggs over easy with potatoes and biscuits
with no gravy (they didn't have any). Steve had cereal. When finished we went
back to our room and recharged our batteries for equipment use.
Left: Ray Burns writing this travelogue on his computer in the Pacific Parlour Car
Right: Snow-capped mountain in Oregon
Steve and I brought our laptop computers to the Parlour Car and we then started
our travelogue as we were going though beautiful Oregon. A few nice pictures
were taken that morning and the pretty snow was there to greet us. At about
9:51AM the train ran over something. We suspect an elk. The crew needed to
change one or two air hoses, as they were damaged in the incident. We were
stopped for an hour in the middle of nowhere. Pretty outside, but pretty cold
too! Steve took out his scanner and listened in to the conversations of the
crew. This took place at milepost 486, just north of Klamath Falls. The
freight train behind us looked to see what we ran over but could see nothing.
They also offered their help but the Amtrak crew had the tools to change the air
hoses. No one ever did find out what it was, but we did hit something. Maybe
it was the ghost of the mountains? The view is always spectacular, especially
in the snow. The wheels are really squealing now since we are making many
turns. Well, lunch is coming up now, so I'll talk to you later.
Steve had the Gardenburger and I had the Poached Salmon Nicoise. We each
split 50/50, including our dessert, caramel apple granny. A great meal with
great company. It seems that the couple at the table with us (or us with them,
however you want to look at it), Richard Emlaw and his wife, are also avid train
enthusiasts who enjoy traveling by train. In fact, Richard has quite an
extensive history relating to trains. The relaxation brought on by the train
can bring on great conversation between just about anyone.
Left: Cheese, crackers, & fruit served at the Wine Tasting in the Pacific Parlour Car
Right: Calistoga Wagon historical buildings
Steve and I went for our wine tasting this afternoon, and it's
always a fun time for the wine aficionados. I enjoy digging into the cheese and
crackers. We also took down the numbers on the different cars on this trainset.
- 115..... P42DC Genesis engine
- 90...... P42DC Genesis engine
- 1231.... Baggage car
- 39023... Superliner Transition Sleeper
- 32115... Superliner II Sleeper (Washington - 1431)
- 32110... Superliner II Sleeper (Tennessee - 1430)
- 39974... Pacific Parlour Car
- 38057... Dining Car
- 33028... Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car
- 34072... Superliner I Coach Car (1411)
- 34512... Superliner II Kiddie Coach Car (1412)
- 34081... Superliner I Coach Car (1413)
- 34101... Superliner I Coach Car (1414)
- 71064... AMTK Roadrailer (Silver)
- 410155.. AMTZ Roadrailer (Red/White/Blue)
- 465076.. SWFZ Swift Roadrailer
- 465087.. SWFZ Swift Roadrailer
- 465092.. SWFZ Swift Roadrailer
- 465022.. SWFZ Swift Roadrailer
Left: One of Amtrak's new Genesis locomotives
in new corporate brand identity color scheme at Portland, Oregon
Right: SWFZ "Swift Company" roadrailer trucks at the end of our train
Left: F59PHI (461) in Amtrak West colors and
F40 (90250) converted to "cabbage" car (no engine) in Amtrak Cascades colors
Right: Baggage being unloaded from Amtrak Cascades Talgo that had just arrived
Newlyweds Tim Rector and Marian Nella
This afternoon, I met a young couple from Seattle, Washington who were on their
way home after being on their honeymoon in Reno, Nevada. You'll find Tim Rector
and his new bride Marian Nella among the pictures taken on this trip. If you
can't make out who they are, you need another pair of glasses. I wish them
well, as I'm sure you all do.
Left: Sheila Albanese, Dining Car Attendant
Right: James Roush, Dining Car Steward
Dinner was great, of course. Sheila Albanese served me my Red Snapper.
James Roush has been the dining car steward on this trip. Eugene Wilder was the
chef of this voyage, as well. No dessert tonight; the meal was enough. We came
directly back to our rooms after dinner so we could finish our work up to this
point. Glad to get the homework off of my back.
Click here to return to the main index page of this rail travelogue.
Click here for the next segment of this rail travelogue.
Visit related pages from this and other web sites:
|Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sites:|