I'm off to Canada again tomorrow—my third visit there this summer. This time the trip has nothing to do with research into a prospective Steve Martinez novel, but it does have a bit to do with rail travel.
The first leg is Chicago-Montreal by air, a mode of travel I dislike intensely for all the usual reasons, but getting there by train would require two days on undistinguished Amtrak single-level trains and an overnight in scenic Albany, N.Y. So unappetizing is this trip that Amtrak won't let you book it as a single ticket online; you have to book two separate tickets.)
The second leg, however, is by train—Montreal-Halifax aboard VIA Rail's historic Ocean. I decided to splurge and book a deluxe bedroom in the Park car, the first-class stainless steel dome-observation carriage named for a national park that brings up the markers on all of VIA's storied name trains. (Returning will be in an ordinary sleeper room.) There will, of course, be a full report on my TrainWeb blog.
The Ocean has been running six days a week, but with the conservative Canadian government's stark economies, is being cut back to three days starting in October. This despite increasing ridership each year, particularly from European tourists. Is the reduction in service a false economy or not? Time will tell, but the sad fact about train travel is that once a service disappears or is cut back, it never returns.
Another aspect of this trip is that between Ocean rides I'll be spending ten days on an inexpensive Caravan Tours guided tour of Nova Scotia. This will be the first ever such tour I've ever taken (if one doesn't count travel industry junkets) and it will be interesting to see if I, a profoundly deaf traveler, can get along with the other tourists on the bus (as many as 28 of them, Caravan says). I have hopes, for Caravan tours usually score well on TripAdvisor.
Onward . . .