Dinner Train

A coworker of mine found out about an upper class dinner train in Squamish. It was for one night only. They offered an 8 course meal and a short ride. I agreed to the idea, because hey- I’m a railroader. So she booked a table for the four of us in the open air car.

As you can see, it was a fancy dinner. So my wife and I dressed a bit more than just casual for this dinner date with our friends. I was nominated to be the designated driver which was a good thing in the end.

We left early in the afternoon to make our way up to Squamish. It was about an hour and a half drive and you never know how the Sea To Sky Highway will be. We arrived early enough that we found a local brew house called A Frame and the ladies each had a flight of beers. Then it was off to the Heritage Park Railway Museum.

We walked in and checked out the old steam engines and enjoyed some hors d’ouvres. Side note: I was one of the last conductors to take the 2860 Steam Train from Squamish to North Vancouver a few years back. Still a great memory.

We met up with some of our other friends and shared a few glasses of sparkling wine and appetizers. The weather had gotten a better, but was still a bit cooler than expected.

Once we boarded, we proceeded to have lots of fun at our table. We were in an open air car, so a nice breeze was coming through. It also gave us a bit more freedom to wander around. We were probably the loudest table because of all the laughs we were having.

Once we stopped for the main courses, a chilly breeze swept over us. You could see the darkness in the sky of a possible storm on the way. Some blankets were supplied to give us some warmth. We enjoyed the views and continued through our eight course meal.

Because we worked at the railway, we knew the conductors and a few other people on the train. Our table ended up being pretty popular- with many people stopping by. A couple of young ladies in their early twenties seated next to us joined us for some more laughs. They kept telling us that we were “cute couples” and could tell that we loved each other very much.

The train arrived back a bit later than planned, but we were still laughing and talking with our new friends. Once we disembarked, the rowdiness of our group began to subside. Since most of the energy was burned off during our dinner train ride- the drive home was fairly peaceful. For probably the last hour or so of the drive, my passengers slept.

It was a great evening and we will probably do it again next year.

Steam Train

The best trip I ever took on the railroad was being the conductor moving a steam train from Squamish to North Vancouver. This was on December 7th/2010 in the early morning. I briefly mentioned my adventure in Proud of Where I Work. The Royal Hudson was a majestic machine.

Being canvased to take this train in the wee hours of the morning didn’t bother me at all. When the crew caller told me it was as for a steam train- I bolted out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning and accepted the call. I arrived at the yard office an hour early waiting to get on board.

My engineer and I were taken in a taxi to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park where the engine was housed. We were called more as “pilots” to help the crew as they travelled on CN’s tracks. In the coach cars behind us were media and some higher management types. Once we got going, the trip south was smooth. Mostly I was in charge of lining switches and talking on the radio.

We stopped once on the side of the highway. This was to perform a quick inspection to make sure the wheels weren’t running hot. This allowed for a ton of photos as well. My boss had given me permission to use my camera while on duty- otherwise we generally aren’t supposed to. The public also stopped alongside us numerous times to get a quick photo of the famed Royal Hudson locomotive and coach cars.

When we arrived at our destination- we parked next to a diesel locomotive getting fuel in order for our engine to get filled with more water. Even though my journey as conductor ended here only three hours after it began, I stayed longer to ask questions of the volunteers who take care of the engine.

Yes, volunteerstake care of this engine. There is not a lot of money allocated from any railroad in order to preserve these machines. The museum brings in a bit, but it’s the train buffs who volunteer time and effort to keep these things running.

Alas, two days later, the engine returned to Squamish and has not been brought out on the main line since then. When I retire from CN Rail, I think I may put forth some of my time towards keeping these beauties around for future generations.