Mo & Terry Smedley
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Vancouver Island by Rail
February 22-25, 2003

We made another quick trip to Vancouver Island in February, 2003.   We've done this rail/ferry trip twice before, and find it to be a great three or four day escape from the office.   We've hit perfect weather each time - clear, sunny skies, with lots of opportunities for some good walks along the Parksville beaches, or along the Victoria waterfront.

Last year, we dubbed our trip "The Last Train to Parksville", as the Budd car passenger service from Victoria to Courtenay had received several stays of execution, and was scheduled for shutdown by summer, 2002.   By whatever means, this route has been saved at least for a while longer.  VIA's web site indicates the service has been "extended indefinitely".  Since the Budd cars (and all other regularly scheduled passenger rail service) are now gone permanently from the BC mainland, VIA's Malahat service is just about the only place you can still "ride a Budd".  Our single-car Budd "train" was quite full in both directions, mostly by locals (or so I guessed from their conversation).

Our itinerary took us via the MV Coho ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria on Saturday morning.  We took in dinner theatre ("I Do, I Do") at Victoria's Oak Bay Beach Resort Saturday evening.   Sunday morning, we hopped the Budd car from Victoria up-island to Parksville, returning to Victoria Monday evening.  We then returned to Port Angeles by ferry on Tuesday afternoon.

You can see pictures of last year's trip here.  Not so many pictures this time around - we just enjoyed the weather, walks, and good food.

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We leave sunny Port Angeles and the Olympics behind us as the MV Coho departs for Victoria on Saturday morning. Arriving in Victoria's inner harbor, we pass the Ocean Pointe resort.   The distinctive blue Johnson Street bridge marks the location of the train station. Dinner theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel was very homey.  We had this table right in front of the fireplace!  Our hosts took (no-charge) pictures and e-mailed them to any guests who so desired - when we returned home this one was in my e-mail box.  After a leisurely morning ride to Parksville on the train, Sunday afternoon provided yet another magnificent sunny  day to explore the beach at low tide.  The mountains on the BC mainland are snow-capped today.
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The Bayside Inn in Parksville has a great setting on the bluff above the beach. Long legs as the sun sets in Parksville.
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Dogs are out for exercise everywhere we go.  Once our work schedules get under control and I can spend more time at home..... My attempt at artsy-craftsy. Monday morning, we found an excellent walk through the woods surrounding the estuary. Looking across the estuary to the BC mainland.
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This is looking East of Parksville, to the interior of Vancouver Island. Parksville Station.  It's now a pottery shop. The Budd car stops in Nanaimo both directions for a snack at the catering truck.
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Descending Malahat summit heading into Victoria, overlooking the tip of Saanich Inlet. Pictures through train windows rarely turn out well, and this is no exception.  You can get an idea of how tall the Arbutus trestle is, though.   Back in Victoria, we walked out along the sea wall Tuesday morning. I had no trouble walking out along the wall, but on our return my acrophobia really kicked in.  I hope nobody was watching as I struggled unsteadily down the middle of the wall.
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The sea wall takes you quite a ways out into the harbor! Looking towards the Olympics from Holland Point. As the Coho leaves Victoria harbor, a sea plane takes to the skies beside us. One last look at the sea wall from the Coho.