Who knew that when we took a driving vacation to Victoria (to attend Neil’s adopted sister’s naval retirement ceremony) that we would end up at the Center of the Universe!? We certainly had no idea!
(And no, we did not step off a plane in Toronto!)
Friday, Sept 25, 2020. The journey began with a simple text from Neil’s sister, Sherry, in Kamloops, “Google – Centre of the Universe BC. It’s on your way here from Ashcroft. Check Teresa the Traveller page… she’s covered it pretty good and if it’s not raining you can hike to it.”
I quickly skimmed Teresa’s page and I was hooked! We had to go to Vidette Lake!
We turned off the highway and headed up Deadman Road, a narrow, twisting, dirt road that runs through Native Reserve land and a rocky gorge dotted with ancient log cabins.
We’d been driving along the increasingly narrow road for about 20kms when it began to rain. The silica in the soil turned the road into a scarily slick surface, and I feared Neil might give up, suggesting we turn around and head back to the highway. But something about that narrow pathway through the forest drew him in as much as it enchanted me. The scenery was absolutely stunning. The energy was enticing. We both felt like this was a magical journey.
As we approached the 50km mark, I started scanning the road for a sign indicating we’d arrived at “Vidette Nature Retreat”, but there was no such sign.
We drove right past the narrow steep road to the left of us, heading up the ever-increasingly steep road up the mountain for another kms. When we hit the red “53” spray painted on a tree (indicating we were 53km from the highway) I cautiously offered, ‘We’re 3kms past the 50km mark, which is where the retreat is supposed to be; why don’t we go back and try that road? It might have been a driveway.”
Once Neil found a safe spot to maneuver the car around, we headed back down the steep, narrow road and made the sharp right onto what was, indeed, a driveway that took us to a closed gate with a chain on it. “Doesn’t look like they’re open to receiving visitors!” Neil proclaimed.
Not to be deterred after a 1 1/2 hour drive to get there, I climbed over the fence and hiked my way up the hill.
It quickly became apparent that what I had been led to believe was a “retreat center” was someone’s private residence, and in need of some TLC. I hesitated, but thinking about how far we’d come, I was motivated to approach a rather unused-looking side door and knock.
I was rewarded with dead silence.
Unwilling to give up so easily, I walked around to the front side of the house, which was built extremely close to the edge of the cliff. I stepped onto the big deck overlooking the lake in the valley down below, walked to another door, knocked, and waited. And waited.
Refusing to believe that we’d been ‘called’ all this way only to be disappointed, I waited a bit longer. The silence was deafening; not even a bird chirping.
I knocked again. This time I heard a lone, deep bark from somewhere within the house. I felt a stir of hope… maybe someone IS home! But no one appeared.
Reluctant to leave, and determined to experience the Center of the Universe, I stepped back off the deck and glanced around the yard. There was a small, old horse roaming freely and a number of old, beaten looking vehicles in the small yard. “Someone has to be here!” I thought.
Suddenly, the door opened. A white haired, deeply tanned, barefooted mountain man with a, “What do you want?” look on his face stood in the doorway and stared at me.
“Are you Ray, by any chance?” I inquired from my spot about twenty feet away from him.
“Yes,” he curtly replied, with a look that said, “and who wants to know?”
“My name is Tina and my husband and I just drove from Harrison.” Feeling somewhat sheepish, I quickly gushed on, “We were looking for the Vidette Nature Retreat, but it’s obvious that this is your private residence and I apologize for crashing in on you unannounced like this, but we were hoping to hike to the plateau where the Center of the Universe is”.
He sized me up and said, “People normally phone ahead and book a tour.”
“I am so sorry, I didn’t realize, we came just based on the bit of information I read in Teresa the Traveller’s blog…” I rambled.
“This is not exactly a good time. I have things I need to get done,” he replied. “But hang on, give me a minute to get my head around this.”
He disappeared into the house. I was uncomfortably aware that I’d been gone from the car for a long time and Neil was probably wondering what on earth had happened to me. But I didn’t dare move from my spot just beyond Ray’s deck.
He re-appeared in the doorway and was about to speak, then stopped, listened and said, “Hang on! There’s the phone. I’ll be back.”
I had a brief wondering if I was being tested to see how badly I wanted to go to this special place.
When Ray finally re-appeared he said, “Alright. I’ve re-arranged a few things, so I’ll take you on up. Let me put the horse away, and then I’ll drive up and you can follow me.” He stopped and said, “We normally charge $20/person for the tour, but I don’t imagine that will be a problem for you?”
“Oh no! Not at all,” I replied and rushed off to the car, praying we had some cash with us!! “Neil, he’ll take us, but we need $40 for the tour… do you have any money?”
Neil pulled out his wallet, “All I’ve got is ten bucks.”
Oh no! I prayed aloud, “Please let me have $30 in my wallet. This guy doesn’t look like the sort who would take an e-transfer!”
What an understatement! We didn’t even have cell service up there, let alone internet!!
“Thank goodness!” I exclaimed as I pulled exactly $30 from my wallet. Between us we had exactly $40 and no more. I took it as a sign that we were meant to be there.
Ray met us down at the gate and advised that the walk is normally done barefoot. As an avid believer in the value of barefooting, I had my socks and shoes off by the time we’d driven the few minutes up the road to the look-out point!
“It’s a bit pre-mature,” Ray commented when he saw my bare feet. “This is just the look-out. But good for you if you want to go barefoot.”
As we walked to the edge of the cliff, I noted how windy, cloudy and cool it was and how very cold the wet earth was. But as we crested the top of the hill, my cold feet were forgotten as I took in the beautiful view of the lake in the valley far below. Ray’s storytelling was another great distraction from the cold.
“Oh, I just realized I’ve forgotten the key to the gate. Wait here and I’ll just drive down to get it and be right back.”
In the short time Ray was gone, we were blessed by the sight of two red-tailed hawks soaring on the wind currents. One was carrying a snake, that seemed to get progressively shorter. “Do you think he’s eating it mid-flight?” I asked Neil incredulously.
“Could be,” he replied. We watched in awe. The hawks soared off just before Ray got back to us.
When we told Ray about the red-tailed hawks, he commented, “That’s special!”
We drove a little further up the road and got out of our vehicles. Once we stepped over the totally un-obvious piece of fence that served as a gate, Ray’s demeanor immediately softened. “I love bringing people up here.”
As we strolled along the cold, wet earth with our bare feet, Ray pulled out two metal L bars. “Have you ever seen these before?” he asked.
Despite our sharing that we had not only seen dowsing rods, but used them, he proceeded with a basic lesson on dowsing, as if we had said no. I chose to be in the space of, “Approach this with a beginner’s mind” and was awarded with some new bits of information, including a website to learn more about dowsing called Letter to Robin
After we had each successfully found underground streams with the dowsing rods, we moved on to meet Larry, the Healing Tree. Ray informed us that trees only have one chakra and, “The heart chakra of this tree is right here,” he said as he place his hand on an almost-knot in the bark that was – go figure! – heart height for the average human.
“It’s good to introduce yourself to a tree before you approach it,” he said as he stepped in to hug the huge old tree. As Ray connected with Larry, I admired the many offerings that be-jewelled his bark – gifts of appreciation from those who had experienced Larry before us.
After Ray hugged Larry, he walked once clockwise around the tree and invited us to do the same. As I leaned into Larry and relaxed, I heard, “Yes, I will heal you.” I smiled with appreciation and felt our hearts connect for a few minutes before I circled Larry to let Neil have his turn.
We walked up the south-facing slope to a big rock set close to another big tree. “This rock is the portal to the vortex. We walk three times clockwise around the rock to enter.”
Neil followed Ray, and I made five quick loops around the rock before stepping onto the plateau.
What a breath-taking view! It was so peaceful and calm up there. As Ray shared more stories with us, I felt compelled to sit on the ground and connect the palms of my hands to the earth, along with my feet. When I stood up, I noticed it was getting warmer up there. Ray even took off his jacket.
Ray offered more ‘teachings’ and shared more stories, including the story of the monks setting the black marble tables into the ground to mark and honor the four directions. Each tablet was scribed in gold with a prayer for harmony and healing for mankind’s struggle; Sanksrit on one side, and Chinese on the other.
We fell into respectful silence. I laid down on the ground and felt an odd spinning sensation, reminiscent of the energy I had experienced when I had laid on the ground at the centre of the labyrinth at Unity Village in September 2019.
Laying there enjoying the energy, I heard Ray say with a bit of awe in his voice, “Well, isn’t this weird! It’s raining and there’s not a cloud in the sky!”
I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I was looking at a clear, blue sky that had only moments before been completely clouded over! And I hadn’t realized that the gentle touches I felt on my face were actually tiny raindrops.
I lay there, marvelling at the blue sky, and the way those tiny drops of moisture, that felt like gentle kisses as they landed on my face, seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere, about 6 feet above me!
“Teardrops from heaven!” Ray exclaimed.
Neil looked down at me and said, “The angels are raining tear drops on you, honey!”
I basked in the lovely thought that the angels were gently weeping with joy that we were there!
After I stood up, the rain stopped. Wow. Such magic!
Ray invited us to stand on Turtle Rock, which had two indents in it that were perfect for setting your feet into, in order to face the centre of the plateau and offer your prayers to the Universe.
As the sun dropped lower in the sky, we reluctantly made our way down the slope. Ray instructed us to walk in reverse direction around the rock as we exited the portal.
I smiled at Larry as we walked past him, thinking, “What a beautiful picture that would make, showcasing all the lovely jewels and small items that decorate his trunk!” Yet it seemed somehow sacreligous to snap a photo.
Later, Neil told me he’d had the same thought.
With our hearts full from the amazing experience of being at the Center of the Universe, we offered Ray big hugs of gratitude and headed back down Deadman Road, (a fitting name for negotiating that winding path in the dark!), praying we’d reach the highway before we lost the sun.
Our prayers we answered. We hit the highway feeling absolutely blessed to have been to the Center of the Universe and now safely heading to Kamloops, eager to share our story with Sherry.
P.S. If you want to experience the Center of the Universe for yourself, be sure and email or phone Ray to set up your tour ahead of time (unlike us!)