A Hasty Retreat

Rivendell Retreat on Bowen Island, BC
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Today, I am leaving for three days of quiet and solitude at a spiritual retreat on a nearby Bowen Island mountain top.

Although I no longer search for answers to questions that evaded me for most of my life – my spiritual growth and well-being have always been important.

The retreat will allow me to silence my fears and comfort my inner spirit while I relax in silence for a couple of days.

I don’t know what I will be doing – there is no schedule, and I will be on my own.

Holly Golightly will not be coming with me, and I already miss her.

But I plan to do a lot of walking in the surrounding forest and on the seashore.

And maybe, I’ll write a few paragraphs each evening.

So, please come back to this page each day for updates.

On January 8th, I return home.

That is the day that Elvis Presley  (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) and David Bowie (January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016) were born.

Little Danny (circ1952)

And so was little Danny, at 10:30 in the morning, at the hospital in Oshawa, Ontario!

I’ll be seventy-one years old.

Day One

I arrived at the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay in the late morning and pulled up to the toll booth.

Good morning, traveling to Bowen Island?


Are you a senior?

Now that got my attention!

Was the lady trying to humor me, or was she serious?

No, I’m only seventy years old.

The gal seemed surprised.

Our eyes locked in an uncomfortable stare, so I broke the silence:

But I’ll be seventy-one years old on Elvis Presley’s and David Bowie’s birthday!

She was trying to process what I had just said, so I offered another clue:

Their birthdays are on January 8th, the same as mine.  But they’re older than me.  And dead.

The gal gave up on the intense line of questioning and smiled for the first time,

That will be $29.  How will you be paying?

I resisted the temptation to say “bitcoin” but instead offered her my credit card.

Follow lane “1” until you enter the covered area and choose a lane between 67 and 72.

I pulled into lane 67 and waited inside my vehicle.

I didn’t have anything to look at because my vision was blocked on all sides by trucks and cars.

I turned on my mobile WiFi and checked for emails.

I have an ‘away from office’ message on all of my incoming mail, and I didn’t know if anyone had read the first part of this story yet.

There was a message from Ruth O., my friend Greg’s wife in Ontario:

Well, hello birthday buddy!  I was born around 4:00 am in New Waterford, NS. 

I’ll be 66 on Friday.  I hope your retreat is/was everything you hoped.


Wow, I was surprised and happy to learn that another person’s birthday is the same as mine!

I’ll try to remember to send her a birthday card by tying a string around my finger (a trick that my Grandma Puffer taught me).

But of all the things I packed in my suitcase, the only thing I didn’t pack was a string.

Suddenly, the sound of engines starting and the flash of bright red tail lights started, and the vehicles began boarding the ferry.

I stayed in my vehicle for the 20 minute trip to Bowen Island.

The sea was calm, and it wasn’t easy to tell if the boat was even moving.

But we arrived in Snug Cove, and in about ten minutes, I arrived at the retreat.

I was greeted in the parking lot by Julio, one of the two caretakers of the facility.

He took me inside the building and introduced me to Doris, who also worked and resided at the retreat.

Doris said that I was the only guest staying at the retreat until Friday.

I was very impressed at how friendly and helpful Doris and Julio were – they made me feel at home.

And I had the place all to myself!

She gave me a tour of the facility, and it was everything that my buddy Pete had said it was!

After unloading my vehicle, I drove to the village to pick up a quart of milk for my coffee in the morning.

I spent some time in my room after making the bed.

Everything is supplied, and the room was well-appointed with a comfortable bed, desk, and armchair.

But no television.  And no phone in the room.

Perfect – that’s exactly what I wanted.

Later, I heated my potato soup in the microwave and retired to my room to enjoy the meal.

At 5:00 pm, or near that time, I fell asleep in bed and didn’t wake up until 2:00 am.

Day Two

The call to Nature at 2:00 am, was a bit of a nuisance, but I was happy to be up early.

I am usually awake between 3:00 and 4:00 each morning, and I had at least nine hours of sleep, so I am wide-awake!

Nine hours of sleep!  You better check for bed sores, Danny!

What are you doing up so early, Spanky?  And on a workday, no less!

The wifi signal in my room was weak, so I took my laptop downstairs to the main floor’s dining room, where the signal was good.

But as I walked down the dark second-floor hallway, my mind went back to the famous Jack Nicholson movie…

That used to scare the heck out-of-me.

I pictured the little boy on a tricycle racing down the corridors of that haunted hotel, and the inscription ‘REDRUM’ written on the wall, which when read backward is MURDER!

A cold chill raced up and down my spine until I caught myself and began to chuckle.

What a wimp!

I made myself some coffee and had my breakfast while listening to music and writing.

Music has always been an important part of my day.

I enjoy most music except opera.

Dad used to make us spend valuable playtime sitting in the front room with my older sisters and Freddy, who is a year younger than me, listening to Richard Tucker singing Ol’ sole Oh Mio or some other tunes that were equally awful.

Most people had a living room or family room.  For whatever reason, we called ours the ‘front room’ – probably because it was the room facing the street.

But now it’s time to sign off.

This morning, I am going to walk the trail in and around Killarney Lake.

It’s the same trail that the Vancouver ‘Venturers and Surrey Trekkers walk each Spring, so hopefully, I won’t get lost.

This afternoon, I plan to walk on the seashore on the western side of the island.

We’ll connect with you again tonight or tomorrow morning!

Well, the best-laid plans of men and mice…

Or so the saying goes.

After getting into my vehicle, I decided against making the trail around Killarney Lake because I wanted to see the trail on the seashore that Pete recommended.

Doris, the host of the retreat, also recommended this trail.

Many people think of seashores – they think of sandy beaches, seashells, and girls in skimpy bathing suits playing volleyball.

But Vancouver and White Rock/Surrey are where you find sandy beaches.

On Bowen Island, the shoreline is a combination of trees and rocks – so there’s lots of climbing.

At least, that is how it is at the Captain Roger Curtis Lighthouse trail.

Here are the video clips from the morning walk:

I did not pass another person during my walk – probably because of the weather.

But breathing the fresh sea air and being embraced by the beautiful forest that accompanies the shoreline was the food my spirit so badly needed.

I would stop and lean up against a large tree trunk and close my eyes.  Next, I would try not to think of anything but concentrate my whole being on one thought: LOVE.

Not the kind of love you have for a partner, parent, sibling, child, or pet – but rather, self-love.

Within a few minutes, a complete calm enveloped my entire physical and mental being.

It was like the rush of excitement when you got your first home run or kiss.

I’ve played a lot of baseball in my younger years – and never once got a homerun.

I never played the game to get a home run because I knew the limits of my athletic abilities.  But it never stopped me from playing and loving the sport.

It was raining a bit, and the trail was very muddy in spots, so in the end, my shoes were soaked – even though they were my Hokka water-resistant shoes!

And to make matters worse, I forgot to pack another pair of shoes.

So, I had a shower and then spent the afternoon alone in my room.

There was no television, radio, or clock in my room.

I fell asleep while it was still light outside and didn’t wake up until 9:40 pm.

I went down to the kitchen and put a bowl of soup in the microwave and sat in the dining room, and ate while listening to music and playing solitaire on my laptop.

These are the photos from the lighthouse walk:

Day Three

It is exactly 7:30 am PST – and that was when I was born in Oshawa on this day – January 8th, seventy-one years ago.

I wished that my parents were still alive, so I could thank them for bringing me into the world.

I have so much to be thankful for – especially for the many good things I have accomplished in my life – like meeting you!

If you are reading this, we are connected.

It may be family or friendship, or you might be a total stranger – but we are connected!

I will complete this story later today when I get home.

When I got home and opened the door, Holly wasn’t there to greet me.

My Holly Golightly – she’s a Coton de Tulear

She’s getting deaf and only hears loud noises.

So, when I walked into the family room and saw her asleep on the couch, I didn’t want to disturb her.

But I did.  I carried her to our favorite place in the house – the bedroom.

I was really feeling down.

I didn’t care that it was my birthday.

And all because of wet feet.

Yesterday, when I walked the Captain Roger Curtis Lighthouse Trail, I was happy – no, I was almost ecstatic to be so lucky!

All of the doom and gloom of the world – the terrible death toll from the pandemic, the terrible political climate in the States, the hatred between fellow citizens had been too much for me to bear.

It was affecting my inner spirit and making me feel very sad.

Now, normally, when I get this feeling – I take a day or two away from watching or listening to the news or reading newspapers – and instead, I go for long walks and think about the things in life that I am thankful for – including being alive.

However, after I got back to the Rivendell on Thursday morning and learned that I had forgotten to pack extra walking shoes, I decided to take a shower and call it a day.

But it was almost Noon – what was I going to do for the rest of the day?

And then it happened:  my curiosity ruined the happiness I had found earlier on the trail:  I turned on my laptop and checked to see if the Georgia senate results were finally confirmed.

But what I saw were photos and headlines that resembled citizens in a third-world country rioting against their government!

And nothing was being done to protect the place where democracy was born on the planet!

Before the United States of America’s birth, people were ruled by monarchs or military rulers.  But their founders had a vision for their country and its citizens that has survived for more than two centuries.

Little did I know that all hell was breaking loose in Washington, DC when I traveled on the ferry to Bowen Island.

And on Thursday afternoon, I read the accounts of the day on the internet, despite my plan to keep away from the news and other distractions.

I sat in the common area of the retreat for most of the afternoon, in my slippers.

Unfortunately, the more that I read, the more I felt I was becoming depressed, so I forced myself away from the laptop and went back to my room.

I listened to music on my laptop and fell asleep sometime in the afternoon.

Music has always had a calming effect on me during troubled times.

I awoke after 9:00 pm.

I spent the next several hours downloading the photos and videos from the morning’s walk.

And as a new day began on Friday, I celebrated my birthday by opening a birthday card that Norm and Dorean had sent and read their message of love and friendship.

Norm had given me the card a few weeks ago, but I told Norm that I wanted to wait until my birthday, so I would have something to open.

And then I spent the rest of the morning going through my 80 emails but only opening the ones associated with birthday greetings.

I tried to answer as many as I could, but I found it impossible to focus on my birthday at that point and started to pack my things to return home.

One of the birthday gifts I had bought myself, besides the Rivendell Retreat trip, was the new Greenfields album by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

I have always loved his music, and this album came out today, on my birthday!

I had a very nice conversation with Doris and Julio before I left, and it brought tears to my eyes when we said our goodbyes.

Now, I need a couple of days to watch the news programs I had PVR’d for the past three days.

And I have decided to end this story now.

My trip to Rivendell was a success – although my excitement was short-lived.

We need to love our brothers and sisters – regardless of their color, race, sexuality, religion, or wealth.

We are citizens of the world, and our spirits are connected – regardless of the God we worship.

January 16th update to this story: On January 21, 2017, I drove to Bellingham, WA, to attend a special event.

Note: I am not good at taking photos or videos, especially when I use my cellphone.

But I wanted to include this video because it shows that protests can be both peaceful and inspiring.

I felt so much love on that day in Bellingham!

I now have many friends in Washington State, especially through the NW Tulip Trekkers walking club.

Trust me – things are going to improve in the world.

But until then, please stand behind the sneeze guard and fasten your seat belt.

And join me in saying a prayer to our brothers and sisters in the USA!

Dedicated to the United States of America!

I hope my stories are a gift to your head and heart.



Click on this Index to view my 210+ stories.

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

Heaven – lyrics


Save me from this prison
Lord, help me get away
‘Cause only you can save me now from this misery
I’ve been lost in my own place, and I’m gettin’ weary
How far is heaven?
And I know that I need to change my ways of livin’
How far is heaven?
Lord, can you tell me?

I’ve been locked up way too long in this crazy world
How far is heaven?
And I just keep on prayin’, Lord, and just keep on livin’
How far is heaven?
Yeah, Lord, can you tell me?
How far is heaven? (‘Cause I just gotta to knows how far it is)
How far is heaven? (Yeah, Lord, can you tell me?)

Tu que estas en alto cielo

Echame tu bendicion

‘Cause I know there’s a better place than this place I’m living
How far is heaven?
So I just got to have some faith and just keep on giving
How far is heaven? (Yeah, Lord, can you tell me?)
How far is heaven? (‘Cause I just got to know how far, yeah)
How far is heaven? (Yeah, Lord, can you tell me?)
How far is heaven? (‘Cause I just gotta know how far)
I just want to know how far

Songwriters: Henry Garza / Joey Garza / Ringo Garza
Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Heaven – lyrics 

Oh thinkin’ about all our younger years
There was only you and me
We were young and wild and free
Now, nothing can take you away from me
We’ve been down that road before
But that’s over now
You keep me comin’ back for more

Baby you’re all that I want
When you’re lyin’ here in my arms
I’m findin’ it hard to believe
We’re in heaven
And love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
Isn’t too hard to see
We’re in heaven

Oh, once in your life you find someone
Who will turn your world around
Bring you up when you’re feelin’ down
Yeah, nothin’ can change what you mean to me
Oh, there’s lots that I could say
But just hold me now
‘Cause our love will light the way

And baby you’re all that I want
When you’re lyin’ here in my arms
I’m findin’ it hard to believe
We’re in heaven
Yeah, love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
It isn’t too hard to see
We’re in heaven

I’ve been waitin’ for so long
For somethin’ to arrive
For love to come along
Now, our dreams are comin’ true
Through the good times and the bad
Yeah, I’ll be standin’ there by you, oh!

And baby you’re all that I want
When you’re lyin’ here in my arms
I’m findin’ it hard to believe
We’re in heaven
And love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
Isn’t too hard to see
We’re in heaven, heaven
Whoa, oh, oh!

You’re all that I want
You’re all that I need

Songwriters: Vallance James Douglas / Adams Bryan
Heaven lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Warner-tamerlane Publishing
Corp., Testatyme Music, Carter Boys Music, 2082 Music Publishing, Tim Mosley Bmi Pub Designee, Adams Communications 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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By 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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