West Los Angeles



The Golden Key Story



Holding down the “prayer” paper was a golden key. Stamped into it was the number 200. It was a real key. It was the key to my secret room, room 200 in the Hotel.

    The Hotel was built in the early 1920s. Hollywood loved the Owens Valley for movie locations; its snow-capped Sierra, its ancient Alabama Hills, its deserts and mountain lakes and streams. The original owner built the 55 room hotel with the wonderful front porch that viewed Mt. Whitney. The hotel hosted John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Errol Flynn, and Robert Mitchum. In 1959 a second section was added. This part has a AAA 3-diamond rating.

     My beloved part is the old part. I signed in at the desk after the three hour journey as I had several times a year for the last twelve years. I pocketed another maroon pen from the holder on the counter. I’d try to take one more before I checked out. They, too, had become holy relics, being as aids for spiritual recollection. They’d have to last until the next trip. I didn’t like to use them in my office. I didn’t want my hide-away revealed. One of the staff issued me, yet again, a replica of my pilfered antique golden key.

     I crossed the wood-beamed lobby with its large stone fireplace. At the far end of the room I mounted the stairs, slowly, solemnly. I took a turn to the right at the top. I set down my bags, as usual, to wrangle with the old-fashioned lock.

A quiet joy filled me as the door swung open. Nothing had changed. Each visit felt as if no one had been in the room since my last stay.


“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I whispered in relief.

The corner room’s extreme smallness with its one- of- a- kind, neither twin nor full-size bed, simple bath, and two windows explained its $55 cost. Only the two front rooms had a view. The backroom guests on this top floor had to share the single bath in the hall. Once more I took in the old- fashioned bedspread and its matching window drapery material. My grandmother would have called their color “dusty-rose.”

Undressed, I lay between clean sheets and remembered a phrase of the author Jim Harrison: “At the end just a pinch of the world is all we have to hold onto, the hem of a sheet.” During chemo my bed sheets had been a refuge. Now I reminisced with pleasure about the most satisfying and meaningful times of my life. The mountain had come to me.

I looked out my west window. Like a trompe d’oeil painting, it hung directly across from where my head rested on the pillow. The window framed a view of the rugged red rock formations supporting the base of Lone Pine Peak. The perspective directs the eye to the background pinnacles—leading ever higher, a staircase to Whitney’s summit.

For almost ten years, even if only imagined, Room 200 has pulled me into an umbilicus mundi—centering me in a spiritual universe. In my mind a cord stretches from the bed, whether I’m in it or not, straight out the west window to my favorite peaks and passes. “Cord,” in Latin and old Irish (my Celtic heritage) refers to heart. In old religious language it also referred to “placing trust in.” I can think and remember the mountain, or return to slowly climbing it—the place I entrust my heart—my templed, 14,000 foot Olympus.

Seminars and Groups

click on title for details:


Journey Into Creativity Workshop

Group Therapy Outdoors

Cancer Survivor Group

Certified Anger Management Facilitator

(court approved - Anderson & Anderson Method)


Patricia E. Dunn, M.A., M.F.T.

Director, Golden Key Resources

Clinical Psychotherapist

located in West Los Angeles,

Westwood, CA near UCLA

with FREE parking.

Office:  (310) 268-1086

Mobile/TEXT: (310) 433-5879


Email or Phone to Schedule FREE Private Question & Answer Session with Director Pat Dunn