The Ocean.....My Last Ride!

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NS VIA Fan

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I came across some photos from a trip on VIA's Ocean last March that has turned out to be my last train ride. And now a year on.....it's nice to reminisce!

I had some Preference Points to use (VIA's 'Frequent Flyer' Program) so I booked a trip to Montreal and then some Quebec and Corridor rides.

I arrived at VIA's Station in downtown Halifax in plenty of time for the 1pm departure of the westbound Ocean. Lunch was being served as we headed out of the city and since I had a late breakfast I was just going to have the Seafood Chowder but when they offered dessert I couldn't resist that Maple Cake!!

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I spent a lazy afternoon in Revelstoke Park with complementary tea, coffee and snacks available in the Bullet Lounge. Up in the Dome some showers had changed to freezing rain that was now coating the front windows as we climbed up to the higher elevations above the Wentworth Valley......then on down to a meet with a CN Intermodal at Oxford Jct.....and along the tidal mud flats of the far upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy at the New Brunswick border (now closed to all but essential travel).

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NS VIA Fan

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Arrival in Moncton was a few minutes late but I still had plenty of time to get off to record the 15 car consist......a 'Hybrid' mixture of Budd and Renaissance equipment including 4 coaches and 5 sleepers led by 2 F40s.

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Second Call to Dinner was at 7:30pm and I had the Filet of Sole along with Soup and Chocolate Caramel Cake for dessert. Then it was up to the Dome for a coffee as the skies cleared to a moonlit night on fresh show. Before long it was time for bed. I had a Cabin for 2 with ensuite shower in one of the Renaissance Sleepers. The Ren Sleepers are not named but carry a theme throughout depicted on a photo-mural as you enter the car. Mine was Nova Scotia Vineyards. The tight-sealed vestibules between Ren cars permit a continuous passage without doors between cars through the Ren section of the consist.....and particularly nice in winter vs having to step outside between the Budd Sleepers. Overnight.....entering Quebec at Matapedia we went from Atlantic to Eastern Time and I got an extra hour of sleep.

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NS VIA Fan

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The next morning I headed to the Park Car Dome for the run across the St Lawrence River to the suburban Quebec City stop at Sainte-Foy.......and then a 3 1/2 mile backup move across le Pont de Quebec (Quebec Bridge) to return to CN's Halifax<>Montreal mainline at Joffre Yard on the south shore.

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Departing Ste-Foy I went for breakfast as we raced through the snowy Quebec landscape on a sunny, cold morning.

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NS VIA Fan

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Arrival into Montreal was a few minutes late....and a busy Gare Centrale certainly wouldn't look like that today!

I picked up a day-pass to ride the Metro (Montreal's rubber-tired subway) ....then an EXO commuter train ride out to St. Jerome and it's station built in a ski chalet style. Note the 'Quiet Car' is 'Tranquillite'....en francais!

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Early Friday morning I was back at Gare Centrale for a VIA weekend trip to Jonquiere and onto Quebec City......then Wining and Dining in Business (First) Class to Toronto. Here's the links to those Trip Reports:


 
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NS VIA Fan

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I arrived in Toronto late Sunday afternoon and planned to be back at Union Station the next morning to continue onto London and Windsor in VIA Business Class.

It was now March 9th and watching the news channels early that next morning.....things were starting to look pretty scary and I made a quick decision.....time to head for home! I got on my Air Canada App....booked a flight and headed for Union Station. But instead of a VIA Rail ride to Windsor.....I boarded a UP Express train out to Pearson Airport.

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Here's my ride home: An Air Canada Boeing '777..... 2 hours nonstop to Halifax.

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About half way to Halifax we passed over Sunday River, Maine giving me a different view of a ski hill I'm very familiar with (and the only view I'll get of it this year with the border restrictions!) Then it was on down over the Bay of Fundy and Halifax..... and into Gate 28 at YHZ.

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NS VIA Fan

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March Break was starting the next weekend and I was going to head over to the VIA Rail Station in Truro NS with a buddy while he dropped off his wife and their little fellow Austin to take the Ocean to Campbellton. Well that all changed Friday (the 13th!!) when VIA announced the suspension of the Ocean......and it still hasn't returned in nearly a year now! Austin was disappointed about missing his train ride to Campbellton but his March Break lasted 5 1/2 months as they didn't return to School until September.

And over the past year I've wondered about a couple I met on the train to Jonquiere (link to “Into the Wilds” above) They were heading into their cabin in the woods north of Riviere-a-Pierre. They are off-grid but have solar power and satellite internet.....and unloaded a pile of supplies from the baggage car that stopped right at the path to their door. I've wondered if they just decided to stay there after things got so bad in the outside world! What a perfect place to self isolate!

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Now one year on and no train rides in the past 12 months.......let's get those vaccines in the arms and hopefully the Ocean will be back before too long!
 
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NS VIA Fan

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NS VIA Fan, your trip reports just seem to get better and better each time....well done, and thanks so much for posting!
Thanks for the trip! :)
Thanks!!

Hard to believe It will be one year tomorrow since I started out on that trip! I still have plenty of VIA Preference Points to use...so let's get those shots in the arms and this thing over with so the Ocean will be back before too long! :)
 
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Dakota 400

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when they offered dessert I couldn't resist that Maple Cake!!
Looks delicious! Is it a yellow cake with maple flavoring and a bit of chocolate and whipped cream?

When I look at your photos of the menus offered, the food served, and the table settings, it makes the food service on Amtrak look even worse!

Thanks for your interesting report and photos!
 
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NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
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Location
Nova Scotia
Looks delicious! Is it a yellow cake with maple flavoring and a bit of chocolate and whipped cream?
Something like that...and some good :) Glad I got at least a bit of a walk in Moncton. 15 cars forward then 15 back.

When I look at your photos of the menus offered, the food served, and the table settings, it makes the food service on Amtrak look even worse!
Remember the meals on the Ocean are all pre-prepared.....chilled then reheated onboard in convection ovens. There is no chef or kitchen in the Ren Diners.
 
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