“Moose On The Right!”

SEATTLE–OK, here are a few photos taken yesterday, the third of four days aboard VIA Rail’s Train #1, The Canadian.

 Around one o’cock, we left the rolling plains and entered the Rocky Mountains. Geologically speaking, these mountains are relatively new. They’re imposing . . . jagged, steep, almost forbidding. Lots of snow still up there.

 The main features of this train–in fact, of all VIA’s long-distance trains–are the viewing domes on the lounge cars in the middle of the consist and the Park Cars at the rear. There are almost always more passengers wanting to check out the views from up in the dome than there are available seats, but I am no longer surprised to see that a few people occupy those seats for many hours without thinking of others who are waiting for a seat to become vacant. In fact, there are always a few people in the dome reading, writing notes to neighbors back home, or even riding along mile after mile sound asleep.
 An hour or so after departing Jasper, the train slowed to a crawl, permitting passengers to get close-up photos of spectacular waterfall. About a half-hour later, the two-way radio of one of the lounge car attendants crackled with the voice of one of the engineers. The attendant listened for a few seconds, then called out, “Moose on the right! Moose on the right!” Sure enough, a female moose was eating plants growing around the edges of a small pond.

 The Park Car and the sleeper just forward of it have both been refurbished in the Prestige Class colors–a thick honey-colored fabric with more of a faux-leather feel to it. There is some quiet grumbling among the regular sleeping car passengers about the prospect of being denied access to the signature Park Car on future trips. And I can say for absolute certain that the regular VIA employees don’t want anything to do with having to police who sits where.
Finally, after four days of really excellent food served on pressed white tablecloths and real china, there I was having a microwaved macaroni and cheese plate en route to Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascades. It was a dose of reality. Somehow, some way, Amtrak has to do a better job with the food service . . . even if they have to tell Congressman John Mica to shove it!
Thank you. I feel a lot better.