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I had just returned from the walk at Skagit River Park and was trying to convince Holly that I would never leave home again unless it’s to go shopping for treats for her.  And I couldn’t check my laptop for messages because she was sitting on my lap – staring at me in an ice-cold showdown – not wanting to me to share my attention on anything but her.

But I needed to get some details on Thursday’s scheduled walk in Vancouver.  It was a brand new downtown route that was scheduled by the Vancouver ‘Venturers Club, and I wanted to be among the inaugural walk’s first participants.  Usually, I check on Meetup to see the walk details, but Holly kept closing the screen of my laptop with her snout and paws, so I decided to give my buddy Philip a call.

Philip lives in downtown Vancouver and is very knowledgeable about people, local history, events and things in general.  He and I have spent a few hours over the past year and a half discussing motorsports and cars in general and I always enjoy walking and chatting with him.

Lawrence is my other sidekick.  The three of us are often seen walking together at the ‘back of the pack’ but not because we’re slow or out-of-shape; it’s because we like to stop often to admire the sights and sounds.  And they’ll always wait for me to take a photo or while I ‘pet and chat’ with all passing dogs.

Philip:  Hello!

Danny:  Yeah, it’s me.  I just got back from a walk in the States with the Tulip Trekkers and wanted to know if you’ll be walking tomorrow.

Philip:  Yes, I plan to – why?

Danny:  I can’t access my computer just now and wondered if you knew where everyone’s meeting on 4th Avenue?  I think it’s at a Running Room store and we’re supposed to meet at 10:30 am, instead of the usual 10:00 am start time.  I’ll be taking the Canada Line train in from Richmond, and then I’ll take the 99B bus along Broadway Avenue but don’t know what stop to get off to walk down to 4th Avenue.

Philip:  Yeah, you’re right – except I can’t remember the name of the intersecting street.  I’ll have to check myself…

Danny:  Don’t worry, I’ll check my computer before I go to bed.  I’ll give you a call when I leave the Bridgeport station.

Philip:  Okay, we’ll see you tomorrow morning.

The cold and fresh air from the walk in the States did me in, and I hit the sack early that night.

I awoke at Holly’s first whimpering at 3:15 the next morning and checked my emails and phone messages.  How did we ever manage our lives before cell phones, email, and voice-mail?  The start and meet location was the Runner’s Room store, near the corner of Arbutus and 4th Avenue.  I would need to leave the house by 9:00 am to get there before 10:30 am.

At 8:30 am my cell phone rang.  I checked the screen – it was Philip.

Danny:  Good morning, Philip!

Philip:  Yeah, where are you?  What’s your location?

Danny:  Kitchen.  I”m just finishing a cup of coffee.  Why?

Philip:  I kinda screwed up and got here a little early.  Lawrence and I are in a coffee shop just down the street from the Runners Room.

Danny:  I’ll grab my jacket and leave now.  I should be there by 10:00 am.  I’ll call you from the Bridgeport station.

I left the house and a sulking Holly, at 8:40 am and was soon driving north on Highway 99.

Just after passing the turnoff for Highway 91, I heard the traffic report on the radio – of an accident on the Oak Street bridge, that had traffic backed up to the Massey Tunnel. Typically, it only takes about 30 minutes to drive to the Bridgeport station, but that morning, I didn’t arrive at the parking garage at Bridgeport until 9:50 am, and then spent the next ten minutes trying to find a parking space.  There wasn’t a single parking space left!

I drove across the street to the River Rock Casino and got valet parking for $21 (plus tip).  The attendant said I could pay when I picked up the vehicle.  I usually pay $2.50 for all-day parking at the other lot but today was a special walk that I didn’t want to miss.  So I ran across the street to the train station and boarded at 10:05 am for the fifteen-minute ride to the Broadway/City Hall station.  I ran up the escalator while leaving Philip a voice-mail that I’d be late and to please wait for me.  I knew that I’d be late – it was almost 10:30 am, and I still needed to take a bus ride west along Broadway to Arbutus and then walk down several blocks to 4th Avenue.

I was starting to panic which also made me need to pee.  I looked eastward but couldn’t see any bus coming, so I flagged a passing taxi.  Fifteen dollars later, I walked into the Runners Room on 4th Avenue.  The time was 10:32 am, and Doug, our club’s awesome president was making the introductions and announcements.  From the shadows, I heard Philip’s voice – ‘I told you he’d be here!’

We walked along 4th Avenue and then along Kits Beach.  I stopped when I saw Nancy (Doug’s wife) taking a photo of English Bay.  I looked out and saw two heads bobbing in the water.

Danny:  Are they seals?

Nancy:  No, they’re people!

Danny:  OMG!  Are they crazy?

Two polar bears swimming at Kits Beach (February 7, 2019)             Photo by Nancy Jackson

I stood there motionless, waiting to see how long the polar bears would remain in the water.  We were all bundled up in winter coats, scarfs, gloves, and toques and the temperature was just above freezing!  But after a few moments, I noticed that everyone had left me behind, so I quickly walked to catch up to another walker.

I asked him if he was a club member and learned that this was his second walk.  We shook hands and introduced ourselves.  His name was Gordon, and he had an interesting story.  I told him my cancer story and we soon exchanged contact information.  He was only walking the 5 km route, but we agreed to meet for coffee afterward.

One of the benefits of joining a walking club – you get to meet and chat with a lot of interesting people.

And usually, ‘what’s said on a walk, stays on the walk’ and secrets are always maintained.  We all have three lives; one that is public; one that is secret, that we only let the closest friends see; and the third is the private life that we never share with anyone.

Our group walked across the Burrard Street bridge and caught a water taxi to Granville Island and then continued to walk through Olympic Village and back towards our starting point at Arbutus and 4th Avenue.  Along the way, I took a couple of photos and a few video clips.

Here is the link:  Burrard Bridge & False Creek Ferry Walk

After having a coffee with everyone, I walked back to the Cambie & Broadway station and took the train back to the casino in Richmond.  I gave the smiling attendant a tip and then mentally calculated the day’s expenses:

  • Valet parking       $25.00
  • Day pass transit $  9.00
  • Taxi                        $15.00
  • Club walk fee       $  1.00
  • Latte afterward   $ 4.00
  • Total expenses   $50.00
  • Thrills & friends – PRICELESS

Yes, that is a lot of money to go for a walk but how many times have I spent that amount on a one-armed-bandit at a casino or on a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, my favorite fermented grapes.  The walk and the time I spent with friends was worth every cent!

But between you and me, I’d rather have spent the money on a lunch date with you!

Dedicated to Doug & Nancy Jackson



Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):

River of Tears – Lyrics

It’s three miles to the river
That would carry me away 
Two miles to the dusty street
That I saw you on today
It’s four miles to my lonely room
Where I will hide my face 
And about half a mile to the downtown bar 
That I ran from in disgrace
Lord how long have I got to keep on running 
Seven hours seven days or seven years?
All I know is since you’ve been gone 
I feel like I’m drowning in a river
Drowning in a river of tears
Drowning in a river
Feel like I’m drowning
Drowning in a river
In three more days, I’ll leave this town 
And disappear without a trace
A year from now, maybe settle down 
Where no one knows my face
I wish that I could hold you 
One more time to ease the pain
But my time’s run out and I got to go
Got to run away again
Still, I catch myself thinking
One day I’ll find my way back here
You’ll save me from drowning
Drowning in a river
Drowning in a river of tears
Drowning in a river
Feels like I’m drowning
Drowning in the river
Oh, how long must this go on? 
Drowning in a river
Drowning in a river of tears
Songwriters: Eric Patrick Clapton / Simon Climie / Simon Crispin Climie
River of Tears lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

About Post Author

Daniel (Danny) St. Andrews

An almost famous Film, Television & Stage Actor (as in almost pregnant) living in Vancouver, BC His other passions include cancer patient advocate (he had stage 3 throat cancer), walking with the Vancouver 'Venturers Walking Club, and of course, spoiling his dog, Holly Golightly. If you like the stuff he writes about - please leave a hug (or a comment).
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6 thoughts on “A Fifty Dollar Walk

  1. Another great piece Danny. That was $$ well spent. Despite the rush you still made it and enjoyed your friendships. I hope you and Holly have a lovely snowy Valentines Day. I am now a big fan of your fav wine too. And those cookies you got me as well. Seriously, they are addicting and remind me of my childhood as we used to have ginger snaps with hot tea with my Momma.

    Cheers across the wires. Keep warm and walk safe in this weather.

    1. Thank you, Sue, for the kind words. I never know if people read my stuff until I get a reply or email – so it’s nice to receive feedback. I’m just heading out to see Mouna, my dentist. I’ve been searching for the right thing to say to her, since learning of her husband’s untimely death in December. The best that I can come up with is ‘I’m sorry’. Hugs, Danny

  2. Danny, you forgot to include gas in your list of expenses. LOL. Yes, it was a pricey outing, but it sounds like it was definitely worth it. Cheers.

  3. My first time on your blog. Enjoyed the 50 dollar story. Just consider, if you had not had all those obstacles to deal with you would have had just another ordinary day. Nothing like a good suspense story to keep one reading the script…..will he make it or not make his connection? keep reading to find out.
    Enjoyed meeting you on the Blaine walk last Saturday.
    The third cancer survivor.

    1. Norm, I just got home from an early morning walk in Vancouver, with my buddies Philip and Lawrence and it was like Spring! But it wasn’t just the walk or nice weather that made today special; it was seeing this comment from you! I really enjoyed walking and chatting with you in Blaine on March 2nd and look forward to many more walks and chats in the future. Your recent cancer treatments will soon be just a memory because you’ll be too busy enjoying life, family, and friends. Oh, and we three are more than just cancer survivors – we’re cancer warriors and buddies! Hugs, Danny

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