Mo & Terry Smedley


Vancouver Island by Rail - 2004 Edition

For the fourth year running, we headed to Vancouver Island for a quick rail journey between Victoria and Parksville.   The Malahat Dayliner rail service runs one round trip daily between Victoria and Courtenay, using nicely refurbished Budd RDCs.  It runs over rails previously operated by the Esquimalt & Nanaimo, a RailAmerica unit.  Freight service has been perilously light - sometimes non-existent - on this route, and it would seem to be just a matter of time before the Malahat passenger route is discontinued.  In fact, VIA announced this service would be discontinued in 2002, but it was spared at the last minute, and by whatever means has been running continuously since that time.

Click on these links for pictures from a trip in 2002, or another in 2003

Once again this year, we had beautiful weather for extended walks on the beach in Parksville, or along the waterfront in Victoria.   This trip, we took the Clipper high-speed boat from Seattle to Victoria instead of our usual route via the mv Coho from Port Angeles.  See the pictures & captions from some musings about the fuel-efficiency of the high-speed service.

Mo and I heartily endorse this trip as a terrific three or four-day mini-vacation.  A photo album is below, and here are some links to sites with information about this trip:

VIA Rail Malahat Dayliner
Victoria Clipper
Carlton Plaza Inn (Victoria)
Bayside Inn (Parksville) (this site appears to be under renovation as of this writing)
City of Parksville


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Orca "outdoor art" seems to be taking over from the more traditional stuffed bears that used to greet tourists at each shop in Victoria. This is an "Egyptian" Orca found outside the Royal BC Museum.  That's the Empress Hotel across the street. You can tell it's an "Egyptian" Orca because of the hieroglyphics!   This sculpture is advertising an upcoming Egypt exhibit at the museum. Another sunny day on Parksville Bay.
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There's a nice forested walk through the Englishman River natural preserve area... The trail ends at this viewpoint that really shows off the magnificent estuary. Pam and Dad were showing off pictures of their travels to fancy golf course resorts recently.  Well, we had a delightful 18-hole course right next to our Parksville hotel, too! As the day draws to a close, the tide is all the way up.  This is from the balcony of our room at the Bayside Inn.
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  The interior of Vancouver Island has some respectable peaks, with considerable snow still seen.  This is looking West from the beach at the Bayside Inn. No vacation would be complete without a call or two from work.  Mo managed to capture me talking on the cell phone about yet another disaster in the Portland office. Crab on the shell.  Ha ha.  We saw lots of itsy-bitsy crabs and other tidepool life.
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Every year, the tracks get harder to find!  You have to wonder how long the track infrastructure can be sustained without freight service to pay the bills. The Parksville station houses a pottery shop and studio.  It's in pretty good shape. Back in Victoria, we decided to take a ride on the mini-shuttles that scurry all around the harbor.   
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The shuttles are modeled after log boom boats. On our way to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, we walked through the gardens at the Empress Hotel. I thought this was a pretty nifty way to provide tourists with good map information - these are printed on the backs of many of the street signal control boxes around town. Still cute after all these years.  On our Clipper trip back to Seattle.
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The bridge is visible from the upper deck.  The crew didn't look particularly busy on this day of perfect visibility and calm seas, but I imagine it's a different story when the fog rolls in and sea gets rough. My story on fuel consumption.  According to the seat-back magazine, the first-generation Clipper cruises at 30 knots, holds 293 passengers, and burns 200 gallons of fuel per hour.  The new Clipper IV cruises at 40 knots, holds 330 passengers, and burns 600 gallons of fuel per hour.  That's a tripling of fuel consumption for a 33% speed increase, with more or less level passenger payload.  Seems like a pretty wasteful use of fuel to shave 30 minutes off the voyage time.  Or so I say.... Here's a panoramic view of Parksville Bay taken from our hotel room balcony.