Bob Burns Summer 2002 Rail Travelogue - Part 2
Arranged for a 5:00 a.m. wake up call. This proved to be a little bit earlier than we needed so we
watched the end of the World Cup soccer game between Turkey and Brazil.
At 7:00 we went down to the front desk, checked out, and waited with one of the passengers from the
Whistler Northwind train. Our bus picked us up at the hotel and we arrived at the train station a
short time later. My first view of the train left me with a very positive impression. The colors are
very attractive and the cars were very clean.
After receiving our tickets at the station, we boarded the train around 8:15. The car interiors are
luxurious with large windows that extend to the ceiling along with classical music playing in the
background. The dining car is first class with nice table cloths and fine china.
Shortly after our departure at 8:30, a brunch was served which consisted of pastry, frittata,
Canadian bacon, and fresh fruit. For lunch I chose the north arm farm salad mix with
chicken pot pie and for dessert I had a double chocolate truffle cake.
After dinner, the gentle ride and the soft background music had a soothing effect on the
At approximately 4:00 p.m. the train stopped at Exeter, where we disembarked to ride a tour
bus to the hotel. There were different motels for different passengers depending on which type
of tour they were on. Passengers could sign up for golfing, wagon rides etc., for the next morning
if they wished.
We arrived at the 108 Motel around 6:00 p.m. and we relaxed for an hour before joining the
others for supper. Due to the size of the group, the meal plan was changed from a BBQ to a sit-down
dinner. We were served a combination of salmon, 4 oz. Steak with a baked potato and a
cob of corn. This was followed by a piece of apple pie for dessert.
Since the temperature was pleasant at dusk, I decided to take a walk down to the nearby lake
before retiring for the evening.
Received a wake up call at 6:15 and went for breakfast at 8:00. We were the last of the group as
the rest of our traveling companions had finished. Breakfast was a buffet of bacon, sausages,
potatoes, eggs, and pancakes. We were impressed by the size of the coffee cups, as they were larger
than coffee mugs.
The bus picked us up at 11:00 a.m. and brought us to the train. After our departure, lunch was
served on board. The train stopped at Pemberton where our bus took us to Whistler. Since
Whistler does not have a siding, the train cannot stay overnight there.
The bus dropped different groups to their various hotels and my group was dropped off at the
Westin Hotel. Ray and I had two rooms that shared a door between them. The rooms were very
large and luxurious. Each room had a kitchenette and my room had a living room with a gas
fireplace. A platter of fresh fruit and cheese was placed on the table for us by the hotel. Due to
the proximity of the hotel to the forest, the hotel management take very seriously the possibility
of guests accidentally meeting wildlife, such as bears, so they provide each guest with a small
bear bell. While I had every intention of staying within the village, I arranged to get an additional
bear bell for my daughters.
We spent the evening in front of the gas fireplace before retiring.
Since we wouldn't be leaving before noon, we didn't make an effort to get up early. At our
leisure, we went down to the dining room for breakfast, which was a buffet. Ray and I
were very impressed by the size and variety of what was presented to us. We had never seen a
buffet this large before. We were later joined by Bob, the Project Manager for the Whistler
After breakfast, we strolled around the village taking photos and purchasing souvenirs for home.
At noon we traveled to the train station ahead of the other passengers to allow Ray to take some
virtual photos of the train interiors. While we were waiting for the arrival of the train, Ray found a
couple of large snails that BC is known for. They are black and about 5 inches long.
Shortly after the arrival of the train, the other passengers came on board and we were on our way.
Lunch was served shortly and I sat with a charming young couple from Ohio. The wife purchased
the train ride as a birthday gift for her husband who is a rail enthusiast.
The train followed the Fraser River where the water has cut a deep channel for the fast flowing
river. The closer we approached Vancouver, the more overcast the weather became until finally it
Our train finally rolled into the station around 5:00 p.m. We also noticed passengers arriving at the
station in formal attire for the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train.
After Ray and I checked into our hotel in downtown Vancouver, I called an old friend of mine,
Joe Kearney. I told Joe where we were staying and he came down and we went out to a restaurant
to talk about my trip.
In our original plans, Ray and I were to take the Pacific Starlight dinner train on the next evening, but
when we discovered that the train on Vancouver Island was slated to stop running in the next two
weeks, it was decided that Ray would go by himself on the dinner train and Joe and I would take the
Vancouver Island train that weekend.
Next morning Joe came to the hotel to pick up Ray and I to go on the Skytrain which took us
across Vancouver and all the way down to Surrey. On the return trip from Surrey, we got off at
the VIA train station where we purchased our train tickets for the Vancouver Island return trip
from Victoria to Courtney, and also for Ray and I to go to Seattle on Tuesday.
After this we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch on behalf of Ray, it had been a couple of days
since his last Indian meal. After the meal, we returned to the hotel to pick up the camera
equipment, and Joe drove Ray to the North Vancouver train station to board the Pacific Starlight.
After this, Joe and I went to his office where we loaded some boxes into his van and then
went to the ferry to cross over to Victoria.
The plan was to stay overnight at Joe's place and then take the 8:00 a.m. train next morning.
We took the last ferry at 9:00 p.m., with a crossing time of about 1.5 hours, arriving at his place
We got up at 6:00 a.m. to be ready for the 8:00 a.m. departure. Joe's partner Vicky was kind
enough to drive us to the station. When we arrived, the bridge was being raised to allow a tug
boat and barge to pass through.
At 8:00 exactly the two car train left Victoria. This train is unique in that there is no separate
engine car, in fact the engine is located underneath the middle of each car. Except when
accelerating, you can't hear the engines running. [VIA's Malahat utilizes self-propelled 1950s-era
Budd Rail Diesel Cars. -Ed.]
Leaving Victoria, the trip is convoluted and it goes around several communities such as
Esquimalt. In a short time the train was in the forest where one could see huge trees. During the
four-hour trip to Courtney, the train made a 10 minute stop at Nanaimo, where passengers got
off and a canteen truck provided refreshments.
From the train, it is possible to see the Vancouver Island mountain ranges as well as the
mountain ranges on the mainland. We passed several impressive gorges and beautiful lakes and
rivers, as well as attractive ocean bays. Along the way, Joe provided interesting commentary
about the various locations and the places he had hiked in.
Around noon we arrived at Courtney, however, since we were late in arriving we only had about
20 minutes for lunch before departing once again.
On the return trip the train stopped on a bridge where beside us was a trestle bridge where people
were bungee jumping. I took photos of a reluctant girl taking the plunge.
Along the way we saw two small steam engines on display that were used in the logging industry,
and there was even a water tower still standing that was used by these engines. Arriving in
Victoria, I saw an old rail car with "Ohio Central" on it. I later returned to take photos of it.
Upon our return Joe and Vicky took me on a tour of downtown Victoria on the eve of Canada
Day. The waterfront was crowded with boats and the streets with people. They took me to a
lovely park near the government buildings which have extremely large trees. In one corner of
the park large Herons had built nests near the tops of these trees. These birds are very noisy
when close together. The park also contains ponds with ducks and an outdoor stage where a
musical group was performing.
All this fresh air generated a hearty appetite so after this tour we went to a Chinese restaurant for
supper. After the meal, Joe decided to take me for a drive along the coast where there is always a
cool breeze blowing. Along this route are many large expensive homes including the one that
was once owned by the actor, Raymond Burr.
When we returned to his place, Joe showed me his backyard where he had toiled for several years
to transform it from a plain grass yard into a wonderful retreat. A Shangri-La within the city
limits of Victoria with flowers, shrubs, bamboo, water fountain and a Buddha. With a seating
area sheltered from the sun, this tranquil area isolates you from the outside world.
July 1/02 (Canada Day)
Next morning we prepared for the 10:00 a.m. ferry crossing. We started by going to a restaurant
to enjoy a hearty breakfast and then said our good-byes to Vicky before Joe and I left to take the
ferry at Schwartz Bay.
At the ferry terminal, there is a restaurant and hand made crafts are sold in booths outside. I
purchased a handsome print of a totem pole as well as two necklaces for my daughters.
Once on board the ferry, we bought our coffees and then went out on the deck to enjoy the cruise.
Joe provided a dialogue about each of the islands we passed. Joe was also kind enough to warn me
about how loud the ship's horn is before they blasted a warning. It is one of the loudest noises I have
ever heard, not a pleasant experience. Along the passage we saw seals and bald eagles as well as
dozens of small craft.
Once we docked on the Vancouver side, we went to get Ray so that he could get his daily
sustenance of Indian cuisine. After this we went for a stroll along the same street to window shop
to admire the jewelry and goods from the Indian subcontinent.
From here Joe took us to Stanley Park, where on this national holiday, there were many people
enjoying the park. The park has a mixture of beaches, playgrounds for children, picnic areas, and
of course the great variety of mature trees. Walking a short distance in the park makes you
believe that you have stepped into a rainforest. These are the largest trees I have ever seen and
the canopy it creates above develops and holds a high humidity level. There are many examples
of young trees growing on top of fallen trees which provide the nutrients for the young trees to
The park has several paths with a sufficient number of posted maps to guide you and prevent you
from getting lost in this immense park.
Ray left early this morning for a meeting he had with a company that manufactures a unique type
of rail engine, while I used this time to catch up on my paper work and clothes.
When Ray returned, we went to another Indian restaurant we had not been to before for lunch.
On our return I purchased additional diskettes (used as film for the digtal camera) for my trip,
in case I ran out of them.
Later we proceeded to the train station and waited until 4:30 p.m. when Amtrak started the boarding
process for the Cascades. I quickly cleared U.S. Immigration, had the luggage x-rayed and then proceeded to
our rail car.
The train to Seattle is a Talgo train with has a very modern appearance. The doors open with a
slight pull and the cars have televisions installed overhead which played the movie "The Rookie"
starring Dennis Quaid. This helped pass the time of the three hour trip.
As soon as we passed the American border at Blaine, WA, U.S. Customs agents came by for our declaration
cards. The train arrived into Seattle around 9:30 p.m. and we took a taxi to the Holiday Inn
at Pioneer Square.
Click to view each set of photos below:
- Set #20: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #21: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #22: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #23: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #24: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #25: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #26: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #27: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #28: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #29: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #30: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #31: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #32: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #33: Jun 27, 2002
- Set #34: Jun 28, 2002
- Set #35: Jun 28, 2002
- Set #36: Jun 28, 2002
- Set #37: Jun 28, 2002
- Set #38: Jun 30, 2002
- Set #39: Jun 30, 2002
- Set #40: Jun 30, 2002
- Set #41: Jun 30, 2002
- Set #42: Jul 01, 2002
- Set #43: Jul 01, 2002
- Set #44: Jul 02, 2002
Click Here for a 360x360 Immersion Photos Virtual Tour
of the BC Rail Whistler Northwind and the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train
This is Part 2 of a 3-part travelogue.
Thank you for reading.
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