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Logic? I don’t have it.

[talking to Tim on the phone]

Me: I can’t figure out how to take the VIA Rail train out of Dauphin when I go home. There’s no platform on the other side.
Tim: [explains how they probably run both sides from the one track that has the platform]
Me: okay. But I’m confused. The timetable says the train only runs on Friday and Sunday, but the website says I can take it on Monday.
[Cue different ways of trying to figure out what’s going on]
Tim: Where is the train coming from?
Me: Thompson.
Tim: look at the train times and go backwards from Dauphin
Me: [reciting times]…0117…..0012….2327….oh.
Tim: Daft woman.
Me: *facepalm*

….The train leaves Thompson on Friday and Sunday, but gets to Dauphin on Saturday and Monday.

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Leg Two: VIA Rail Winnipeg -> Dauphin

I had such a great time on my VIA Rail trip yesterday, really. My train was set to leave at 9AM, but I got to the station around 7:30. VIA has checked baggage services (WOOT!) so I was able to check my large suitcase and that gave me time to wander around Winnipeg with just my backpack. Turns out, the VIA Rail station is in a bad part of town. Oops. As soon as I started seeing boarded up windows and smelled stale urine, I hightailed it back to the station. All I really had wanted to do was find some breakfast, but apparently there wasn’t even a Tim Horton’s on that end of town!

Back at the station, I sat with about a dozen or so people, all headed to points farther north (Churchill) and most booked into the sleeper cars. I met a man from Texas who was taking his annual vacation up to Churchill. We had fun comparing the weather with being farther North. I also met a German family who booked comfort class with me, and we spent part of the trip chatting.

The train was running on a slight delay, so we didn’t board until 9:15. But the train….oh, it’s lovely. So much leg room and head room and Amtrak *really* needs to take some notes from their sister organization! The seats had a footrest like a recliner would, and there was still room leftover that I had my large backpack at my feet and had plenty of room!


Check out that legroom!

Each train has a dining car and even that was pretty. I had a cheese sandwich (well, it was a ham and cheese I picked the ham off of) and some apple juice. Reasonably priced, too.


The dining car

Everyone I interacted with, from the counter person at Winnipeg, to the station master at Dauphin was incredibly nice and polite. The conductor even remembered I told him I had a checked bag so he went and got it off for me!

The only “thorn” perhaps, was a family with three small children under the age of 12. The kids were being rowdy and at one point bouncing on the seats and throwing shoes at each other with the parent either sleeping, or not paying attention. A quick trip to talk to the conductor though and the situation was solved.

The scenery was absolutely lovely, too, and I have TONS of photos to share! I’ve never seen the praries before, not even in the US, and the sheer vastness of flat was just breathtaking. Looking out either side of the train there was nothing but land as far as the eye could see…no skyscrapers, not even a mountain for a long while….just field after field of farming, flowers, and weeds.


Praries of Manitoba, with the Manitoba Escarpment in the background

Here’s a video I took of some of the scenery, including a CN train passing us:

For my photos I took in Winnipeg while walking around, you can check the gallery here:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/winnipeg-manitoba-august-2008/winnipeg/

For photos of the train and the scenery, you can check my VIA gallery here:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/winnipeg-manitoba-august-2008/via-rail/

And, if you want to see pictures of my charges for the next eight weeks, I have some photos of them here:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/winnipeg-manitoba-august-2008/quincy-hobbes-and-casper/

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All Aboard VIA

I’m actually quite excited! On Sunday, I get to take VIA Rail from Winnipeg to Dauphin! I’ve never ridden on Via before. Sadly, when Dave and I took the train to Toronto from Wilmington in 1997, the VIA staff boarded onto the Amtrak train to take us into Toronto. I’ve always wanted to experience it…I love trains. Check back for lots of photos on Monday!

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All Aboard Amtrak

All Aboard Amtrak! With gas prices rising, I’ve barely driven anywhere recently. Instead, I’ve been taking the train. Specifically Amtrak’s Keystone Service, which offers service between Harrisburg, PA and New York City. For just $30 round trip I can travel between my homebase of Lancaster, PA and one of my favourite cities to visit, Philadelphia, PA.

Just like with traveling by car or plane, you might want to build some extra time in for delays, as you never know what might happen on a train. Engine trouble or downed lines, or even a problem with a train farther up the line could cause problems and delays in your travel.

Recently, I was taking the train between Lancaster and Paoli, PA to visit a friend who was in town for a few weeks. My plans were to arrive at her hotel around 10AM, giving us plenty of time before we were going to meet her husband for Lunch at 11:30. I was going to take the 8:32AM express train from Lancaster and connect to the SEPTA Rt. 206 bus at 9:35 in Paoli, giving me a 20 minute layover in Paoli. 8:32 arrives, and no train. The train was running 10 minutes behind schedule due to engine trouble. This left me with a 10 minute layover in Paoli, but still enough time to make it across the parking lot to the bus stop. We boarded the train around 8:45, and 20 minutes later we started to slow down to a crawl and pulled into the Thorndale station. A power line was down on the Eastbound tracks farther up the line. We sat and waited for about 20 more minutes before finding out we were waiting on permission to run on the Westbound side of the tracks. We finally got our approval, but with a caveat, we had to run as though we were a SEPTA regional rail R5 line and had to make every single station stop between Lancaster and Paoli. I arrived in Paoli just minutes before the next bus and I was afraid I missed it. Fortunately, the buses adjusted their schedule to run on a delay for the trains, so I only had a short wait at Paoli. I finally arrived at my friend’s hotel at nearly 11AM…with just enough time to put my things down and for us to head out into the lobby to wait for a ride to Lunch.

My trip home was just as eventful, with the train I intended to take being canceled. Fortunately, I was able to take the very last train out of Paoli, and I arrived back in Lancaster a few minutes before midnight.

Despite these problems, I still would recommend taking the train over driving. It’s just a whole lot less stressful even when you’re stuck on the tracks over being stuck in a traffic jam on a highway!

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