Hell's Gate to Downtown Vancouver, BC

The Final Leg of a Great Trip

Trip Report:  20070806

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The Trip

This last set of photos were taken of the last leg of the trip from Hell's Gate to Vancouver. The photos below are what we saw.

Another view of the Hell's Gate The water level in this constricted section of the canyon have been known to rise over 100 FEET during the runoff season. The river drains a very large watershed area, so the variance in the flow can be extreme. The gondola cable is clearly visible.

Looking upstream to the Hell's Gate constriction. The entire flow of the mighty Fraser river must pass through this narrow channel generating extreme currents and dangerous conditions on the river, thus the name "Hell's Gate"

The Chilliwack area was flush with verdant farms growing corn and alfalfa.

One of the remote control engines. You can identify the RC engines by the flashing red beacon on the cab which means "stay clear, no brains on board". The lower flood lights allow the RC operator to see what they are doing when coupling and uncoupling cars.

Here is a slave power plant. It was never intended to be manned, but rather controlled from a human operated engine. Or now, controlled remotely. The fellow in the right of the photo is on vacation from the UK.

Here is the operator of the engine. The red device on the harness is the RC pod and he wears a walkie-talkie on his belt to stay in communication with the dispatcher.

The rail yards we traversed were the largest in Canada, with the yard being over 3 miles long. There was a very large automobile bridge that crossed the yard to allow unimpeded traffic flow.

The rail yard is big and sufficiently complex that we had to get a "pilot" to take us through the yards and into Vancouver. Here, you can see the many switches that are used to migrate the cars and the train loads are assembled.

Our tour guide explained about the remote control locomotives and operators with the red pack. Then he asked if we knew why there were wind socks in the rail yards. Nobody knew, but he explained that it was due to the large amount of toxic chemicals that are transported through the yard. In the event of a spill, you need to know which way the wind is blowing so you can get upwind. The socks were mounted on air raid sirens that would be activated if there was an emergency, thus prompting an upwind evacuation. Sure enough, I spotted this tank car a few moments later. HCL would make a real mess if this tank were ruptured.

Several cars away, I spotted this tanker of sodium hydroxide. NaOH is a base rather than an acid, but it is just as caustic and must be treated with caution. Interestingly enough, if you mix these 2 dangerous liquids, you get a harmless result. HCl + NaOH = H2O + NaCl; water and common table salt.

After we left the rail yard, we headed into downtown Vancouver. We had to pass over a substantial set of bridges that spanned the Fraser river This salvage barge was visible and was piled high with flattened junk cars on their way to recycling.

There were 2 sets of bridges, one for the railway and the other for automobiles.

We passed this couple who were having a heated discussion. All I can say is "glad she is not MY wife".

Our crew: Rumi, David and Cora. They were great; very professional and very friendly.

We left the train station and we bussed to our hotel in the center of downtown Vancouver. We stayed at the Fairmont and this was the view of the plaza from our window. The Vancouver Art Museum is on the right and the plaza belongs to the museum.

The Rocky Mountaineer was a great trip. It was good enough that I would consider doing it again. The "Gold Leaf" service is the way to go with excellent amenities and great food. Tomorrow, we will explore a small part of Vancouver and then the following day we will head to Anchorage.

Next Day's Adventure

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