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Proposal: Gathering V Unofficial Extended Edition


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Poll: Proposal: Gathering V Unofficial Extended Edition

Would you be interested in tacking on two preceding days to the gathering in order to visit Vancouver, BC?

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#1 Rafi

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 10:42 AM

Like some of the other east coasters I'm sure, I've been struggling with trying to justify the time and expense (and expense of time) of going to Seattle for just 2.5 to 3 days. Sure, there's a side trip to Portland, possibly, but that's a heck of a ways to travel without covering some more ground. So I'm toying with the idea of padding the trip by 2 days before the official Gathering and visiting Vancouver, BC and POSSIBLY going to Victoria Island to ride the ViaRail service over there (schedule permitting--haven't gone that deep into the planning yet).

As AlanB mentioned, a conscious decision was made to not make this trip part of the gathering for logistical reasons. It adds time, expense, border crossing hurdles, and opportunity for confusion and lost people in a foreign country. As such, this would be an unofficial group that is willing to add time, expense and extra preparation for a trip to Vancouver.

Here's the broad itinerary I'm considering:
1). Before 5 PM: Arrive in Seattle Wednesday afternoon, October 5, 2011. (I will most likely fly in.)
2). 6:20 PM: Meet up at King Street Station in Seattle
3). 6:50 PM: Depart Seattle King Street Station on Cascades #516. Dinner en route.
4). 10:50 PM: Arrive Vancouver, BC (Pacific Central Station)
5). Wednesday night: Hotel in Vancouver
6). Thursday, October 6, 2011: Tour Vancouver and possibly Victoria Island (itinerary not investigated yet)
7). Thursday night: Hotel in Vancouver
8). Friday, October 7, 2011, 6:40 AM: Depart Pacific Central Station. Breakfast en route.
9). 11:05 AM: Arrive Seattle King Street Station
10). Join the official Gathering

Regarding cost, the hotels in Vancouver appear to be significantly cheaper than similar hotels in Seattle, which is a plus. I'm finding very decent chains in Vancouver going for under $100/night easily. The cost of the train is $36 each way for coach, with a $13 upgrade for business class (which I'm inclined to consider). Also keep in mind that the Cascades counts as a Special Route redemption for AGR points at 1000 points a trip for coach or 1500 points for business class.

SPECIAL NOTE: Something to keep in mind here is that this is a border crossing. You will need appropriate documentation and you will be residing in a foreign country during the visit. To some, this isn't a big deal; a number of us are comfortable with international travel and can handle ourselves. The expectation here would be that each person would be fine on their own should they somehow get separated from the group. I'd also expect that each person comes prepared and does not bog the group down because they were not prepared for the border crossing. It would be understood that any person who gets caught up in immigrations may be left behind and would have to catch up later at their own expense.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: Again, this would NOT be part of the official gathering. This would be a small group of maybe 3-6 people who are willing to spend the time and money for this side trip, and who have taken care of any border crossing documentation needs on their own beforehand.

So, given those ground rules, what are your thoughts?

Rafi
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#2 MrFSS

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 10:58 AM

Like some of the other east coasters I'm sure, I've been struggling with trying to justify the time and expense (and expense of time) of going to Seattle for just 2.5 to 3 days. Sure, there's a side trip to Portland, possibly, but that's a heck of a ways to travel without covering some more ground. So I'm toying with the idea of padding the trip by 2 days before the official Gathering and visiting Vancouver, BC and POSSIBLY going to Victoria Island to ride the ViaRail service over there (schedule permitting--haven't gone that deep into the planning yet).

As AlanB mentioned, a conscious decision was made to not make this trip part of the gathering for logistical reasons. It adds time, expense, border crossing hurdles, and opportunity for confusion and lost people in a foreign country. As such, this would be an unofficial group that is willing to add time, expense and extra preparation for a trip to Vancouver.

Here's the broad itinerary I'm considering:
1). Before 5 PM: Arrive in Seattle Wednesday afternoon, October 5, 2011. (I will most likely fly in.)
2). 6:20 PM: Meet up at King Street Station in Seattle
3). 6:50 PM: Depart Seattle King Street Station on Cascades #516. Dinner en route.
4). 10:50 PM: Arrive Vancouver, BC (Pacific Central Station)
5). Wednesday night: Hotel in Vancouver
6). Thursday, October 6, 2011: Tour Vancouver and possibly Victoria Island (itinerary not investigated yet)
7). Thursday night: Hotel in Vancouver
8). Friday, October 7, 2011, 6:40 AM: Depart Pacific Central Station. Breakfast en route.
9). 11:05 AM: Arrive Seattle King Street Station
10). Join the official Gathering

Regarding cost, the hotels in Vancouver appear to be significantly cheaper than similar hotels in Seattle, which is a plus. I'm finding very decent chains in Vancouver going for under $100/night easily. The cost of the train is $36 each way for coach, with a $13 upgrade for business class (which I'm inclined to consider). Also keep in mind that the Cascades counts as a Special Route redemption for AGR points at 1000 points a trip for coach or 1500 points for business class.

SPECIAL NOTE: Something to keep in mind here is that this is a border crossing. You will need appropriate documentation and you will be residing in a foreign country during the visit. To some, this isn't a big deal; a number of us are comfortable with international travel and can handle ourselves. The expectation here would be that each person would be fine on their own should they somehow get separated from the group. I'd also expect that each person comes prepared and does not bog the group down because they were not prepared for the border crossing. It would be understood that any person who gets caught up in immigrations may be left behind and would have to catch up later at their own expense.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: Again, this would NOT be part of the official gathering. This would be a small group of maybe 3-6 people who are willing to spend the time and money for this side trip, and who have taken care of any border crossing documentation needs on their own beforehand.

So, given those ground rules, what are your thoughts?

Rafi


If you are going to Victoria without a car, it is almost easier to get there from Seattle. The craft arrives right in the downtown harbor. If you take the ferry from the Vancouver area you almost have to have a car to get to the ferry and it arrives quite a distance north of downtown Victoria. If you will have a rental car, not a problem, but if on foot, consider the ferry from Seattle to downtown Victoria. Also, if you can get to Buschart Gardens, do so.

#3 JayPea

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:05 AM

Wish I could afford to do the Vancouver side trip. I can't though due to other trips to pay for and other obligations that come first. Oh, well, another time. Vancouver is close enough (relatively speaking) that I can go there any time. :)
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#4 jimhudson

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:06 AM

:hi: Excellent idea Rafi! :wub: Tom makes an excellent suggestion re taking the ferry from Seattle to/from Victoria, the ferry in Vancouver is a long way out of town, you'd have to ride the bus, fly on a float plane or have a rent car for this leg.

As one who has lived in Vancouver, and crossed the border many times between B.C. and the States,I see no real problem long as you have a current passport and aren't on a watch list or have outstanding warrants! :o Think you might have more than 3-5 that will want to do this trip, it's an outstanding side trip to a fascinating and Beautiful place! The AGR Special Route is another Bonus! Think I'll have to do this one also! :) :) :)
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#5 AlanB

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:08 AM

So I'm toying with the idea of padding the trip by 2 days before the official Gathering and visiting Vancouver, BC and POSSIBLY going to Victoria Island to ride the ViaRail service over there (schedule permitting--haven't gone that deep into the planning yet).


A side trip to Victoria will be very difficult to achieve if not impossible, unless you spend 1 night in Victoria on Vancouver Island. It's actually easier IMHO to get to Victoria from Seattle than it is from Vancouver. From Seattle there is a high speed ferry that will take you directly to Victoria and that ferry is just a few blocks walk, short bus ride, or cab ride from the downtown area of Seattle.

The ferry from Vancouver to Victoria is miles from downtown and requires a very long public bus ride to reach if you want the cheaper way to do things, and then you need to connect to yet another bus on Victoria. There is a private bus company, seem to think that the one way fare is about $30 that would give you express service from downtown and they take the bus right onto the ferry and transport you to the city of Victoria on the other side of the ferry ride.

Then you've still got to get to the train, with it's limited one RT per day schedule which is a 9 hour RT, and ride up and back on the train before reversing everything. It departs at 8AM IIRC.

If a day trip is even possible, I suspect that you're talking a very early start (6 to 6:30 AM) and a late finish.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#6 Rafi

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:24 AM

Thanks for the replies so far. I'm still figuring things out, obviously. My plan was to rent a car in Vancouver and take the ferry out of there early in the morning, so that we could get the Cascades trip to Vancouver in on the flanking days, and also have a chance to see Vancouver, albeit mostly at night. The Vancouver island train is a long day, to be sure, and that's why I mention it only as a possibility.

The more I consider things, though, it may make the most sense to add a third night in B.C. if we really want to do both Vancouver and Victoria (and yes, the Gardens would be fantastic, and would definitely warrant another day).

I'll keep pondering and we'll see what the responses say. I'm not opposed to just doing Victoria/Vancouver Island or just doing Vancouver, but not both...

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#7 the_traveler

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:45 AM

and aren't on a watch list or have outstanding warrants! :o

That could have left me out, but I will take a chance that CBS is having a busy day, and I can slip thru!Posted Image

In fact, I was thinking the same think, only I was planning a day turn on Sunday - depending on the planned activities. But I've very interested. I've already got my Passport Card ready!Posted Image
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Take the train instead!

#8 AlanB

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:45 AM

Actually a quick check shows that it's impossible to ride that train without spending the night on Vancouver Island. The first ferry leaves Vancouver at 7:00 AM and it's a 1 hour 35 minute ride. The train leaves Victoria at 8:00 AM.

I investigated all the ferries a few years ago, although not for the train, but to get my mom to the Butchart Gardens during one of our trips.
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Take care and take trains!

#9 jis

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 12:06 PM

Actually a quick check shows that it's impossible to ride that train without spending the night on Vancouver Island. The first ferry leaves Vancouver at 7:00 AM and it's a 1 hour 35 minute ride. The train leaves Victoria at 8:00 AM.

I investigated all the ferries a few years ago, although not for the train, but to get my mom to the Butchart Gardens during one of our trips.

I agree. Matches my experience. It is better to go from Seattle to Victoria afternoon of Day 1 (~3pm I believe). Overnight in Victoria. Do the Victoria - Courtney VIA service round trip and then catch a late afternoon ferry back to Seattle.

Alternatively you could go from Victoria to Vancouver after the VIA train ride, overnight in Vancouver, and catch the morning Cascade from there to Seattle the following day.

#10 gswager

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 05:26 PM

I've been in Victoria years ago, actually 1990. I don't recall, but we took the ferry just north of US border (Naciecento?) to Vancouver Island. Then we took the public bus to Victoria. The bus ride wasn't too bad because I dropped my jaws while looking out the windows. We stayed there for a day. It is a very beautiful city and island.
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#11 jis

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 07:05 PM

I've been in Victoria years ago, actually 1990. I don't recall, but we took the ferry just north of US border (Naciecento?) to Vancouver Island. Then we took the public bus to Victoria. The bus ride wasn't too bad because I dropped my jaws while looking out the windows. We stayed there for a day. It is a very beautiful city and island.

Did you remember to pick up your jaws on the way back? :lol:

#12 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 03:11 AM

passport question I have a passport card but have since moved does that matter? will the new address show up? I have had the card for a couple years. Also will the boarder guards have issues to my laptop and pop and snacks I like to bring. snacks like cookies cheez-its etc

Edited by amtrakwolverine, 13 February 2011 - 03:18 AM.


#13 Everydaymatters

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:10 AM

passport question I have a passport card but have since moved does that matter? will the new address show up? I have had the card for a couple years. Also will the boarder guards have issues to my laptop and pop and snacks I like to bring. snacks like cookies cheez-its etc

Good question, Kevin. I'll be moving to a new address soon and now I also wonder if I have to inform someone of the new address for my passport.
As to the pop and snacks, not sure how it works on the train, but on the Ambus we were given a declarations form to fill out. One of the questions was if you had any food. I had only snacks and fellow passengers advised me to say yes.
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#14 jis

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 07:31 AM


passport question I have a passport card but have since moved does that matter? will the new address show up? I have had the card for a couple years. Also will the boarder guards have issues to my laptop and pop and snacks I like to bring. snacks like cookies cheez-its etc

Good question, Kevin. I'll be moving to a new address soon and now I also wonder if I have to inform someone of the new address for my passport.
As to the pop and snacks, not sure how it works on the train, but on the Ambus we were given a declarations form to fill out. One of the questions was if you had any food. I had only snacks and fellow passengers advised me to say yes.

I don't know about Passport Cards, but I am on my third Passport now and I have never informed anyone about any change of address ever. The only address they know as far as the Passport goes is the address that was on the renewal application.

OTOH if you are on the GOES Trusted Traveler Program you are supposed to let them know your new address by logging into your GOES account and updating your address there. This is because you are supposed to provide that address on the Customs form when you enter the US, and since you don;t have to submit one of those forms again if you use GOES machines to enter the US, they do need that information to be on your record accurately. Failing to update would be reason for removal from the GOES program.

#15 AlanB

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 10:18 AM

The Passport site talks about how to change your name, but makes no mention nor offers any way to tell them that you've changed your address. So I wouldn't worry about that.

As for the laptop, no problems at all. Lots of people do that every day.

Turning to food, if you have any fruit or vegitables, that will be a problem. They'll make you throw that away. I'm not sure about snack/trail mixes that contain dried fruits, but there is a chance that they could make you throw that away. Otherwise, things like cheetoes, etc., are fine.
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#16 had8ley

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 10:21 AM

Jis~ I'm looking into making a Jasper turn out of Vancouver on the Canadian. Trying to wrestle my way into the the drawing room in the Park car so I don't know if it'll be before or after the gathering. I think it'll hold a few people on a daylight turn.

#17 the_traveler

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 11:26 AM

To answer the food question, the basic answer is NO FOOD ALLOWED OVER THE BORDER AT ALL! If you buy food or fruit in one country, it must be discarded or consumed before you enter the other country!

Here's an (strange) example. IIRC my sister traveled thru Tokyo in 2005 to Chicago. She picked up an apple to eat (I forget if it was on the plane or in Tokyo) to eat on the flight from Chicago to Providence (because there is no meal). The Ag inspector would not let the apple enter the US - she had to throw it away. The strange part - it was a WASHINGTON STATE apple that they would not let into the US!Posted Image
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Take the train instead!

#18 Anthony

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 05:58 PM

Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually not a great idea. But I've carried all sorts of snacks, sodas, etc. between the U.S. and Canada with absolutely no problems. Packaged stuff is usually not a problem, although beef jerky or similar might be discouraged.

#19 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 06:29 PM

I've bought fruits and veggies at farmer's markets in Ontario and carried them over the New York border. The only reaction I've ever gotten was one time when the Border agent wanted to know where I'd found Brussel Sprouts still on the stalk! She seemed tempted to go to the market I'd been to so she could get some for herself!
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#20 the_traveler

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 08:20 PM

Jis~ I'm looking into making a Jasper turn out of Vancouver on the Canadian. Trying to wrestle my way into the the drawing room in the Park car so I don't know if it'll be before or after the gathering. I think it'll hold a few people on a daylight turn.

If you do Jay - COUNT ME IN!Posted Image (I'll even give up a bedroom on the Cardinal on the way back for that!Posted Image)
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