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.

Train Garden


Back in the summer of 2008, a year after we had moved into our home, we decided (mostly with my influence) to build a trainset in our garden instead of a pond. We cut down some trees and built up the ground to lay the tracks. It was a lot of time and a lot of fun.  The kids were happy to help out in building it and watching it run.  Plus at ages 2,4 & 6 playing in dirt is always the best.


Over the years, many changes have occurred to the train garden.  Some of it was just trial and error as I figured out how to make it look good and continue to run. Some were just for fun.  I’ve reconfigured the loops twice, built new bridges, placed bricks under the tracks to keep it level and even added in a small tunnel.  We have had issues with moles, birds and even a snake trying to make a home out of the garden. 


But the biggest hurdle is that I haven’t figured out how to keep the engines running smoothly. The tracks are outside all year and the electrical connection drops in various parts.  This has caused excessive wear on the motors on both of my engines.  I’ve had to replace the motors a few times now.  My next option is to buy a battery pack- like the type used for RC cars. And of course a remote control to help run them. A remote that can eventually be used to control every aspect of the railroad.  From lights to sounds to even lining switches. That way I can use the power source that I currently have to add some lighting to buildings or other structures. I love scale models of scenery shots. They’re so much fun to set up.

Our next biggest hurdle is money for my project.  It would seem that whenever a bit of extra fun is wanted, something more serious rears its ugly head.  Unfortunately this time it appears that our washing machine has decided to leak from who-knows-where.  I’ve tried to take it apart to find the source of the leak, but to no avail.  Looks like a new washer is about to be purchased in a couple of days.  


Or we can just enjoy stinky, dirty clothes and have a cool trainset for the summer.  I’ll let my wife decide.  I know my choice. 

Woo-woo!

All The Bells and Whistles

The term “All of the bells and whistles” often refers to a product or purchase that has more to it than just the base model.  Usually related to houses, cars and electronics.  A few weeks ago, I bought a new car.  It had all the bells and whistles. Especially when it comes to the safety aspect.


My car has regular safety car features.  Brakes, seatbelts, horn…  But it also has extra safety features such as ABS brakes, airbags, daytime running lights- all of which are pretty much standard on cars these days.  It also comes with a back up camera (which Canadian Law wants to be mandatory by May 2018 on all new cars), side cameras, a front camera, blind spot warnings, and proximity warnings.  Things I never thought necessary before in a car.  But it has all the bells and whistles of safety available in a vehicle of this price range.


After working at the railroad for nearly a decade, I think this statement “All the bells and whistles” definitely refers to safety.  On locomotives, the horn is called the whistle.  There is also a bell.  Both are often used when a train is approaching a crossing to give warnings to vehicle traffic.  The bells and whistles are a necessity to ensure safety.  To some, it may seem like overkill to hear a bell and a whistle on an oncoming train.  But to others, such as the locomotive engineer and conductor, these features are necessary to keep everyone safe.

If having “extra” safety features in a vehicle means it is no longer the base model, then what does that say about us as a society?