Breathe

We have so many lessons to learn. We expected Australia to be a lay low location in our nutty itinerary, comfortably nestled between the frenetic pace of the New Zealand campervan experience and our nomadic monthlong wanderings through China. The first week was nothing of the sort. Unfortunately it was a primer in the uncertainties of life on the road and a slap on the wrist from the travel gods for thinking we could replicate home along the way. After the night in the van and an emotionally draining memorial-filled morning, we cruised up and down the Sunshine Coast observing each of the different communities along the 45 km stretch and trying to decide which would be the best fit for our 3-week stay. We started in Caloundra, the city where we attended the memorial. We didn’t really consider it as a destination, but figured our new home would be further north toward the pristine beaches of Noosa. Over the course of the afternoon, we explored towns with intriguing names like Maroochydore (McKane’s favorite new mantra), Mooloolaba, Mudjimba, and Yaroomba. We quickly learned that our options were radically limited, however, since we timed our travels to synch up precisely with Australian School Holidays (the equivalent of Spring Break). Not only were hotels and rental houses booked, the few that were available were charging a 50% premium over the prices from the week before. We resolved ourselves to the added expense, and turned off by the glamour and glitz of some of the northern resort communities, headed back down to Caloundra, which reminded me of a sleepy version of the home of my heart, Santa Monica.

Jodee was a lovely, unsuspecting young Australian woman manning the booking desk at the Caloundra information center. “We need a three-week rental with wireless internet starting today,” we explained. She stared back at us in disbelief. After two hours on the phone, she came up empty. No one had three weeks of availability much less wifi. The only hotel with broadband was the expensive one Tom had passed on the night before. As it was 5:00, the witching hour in New Zealand and Australia, when everything magically changes from operational to abandoned, we decided to book a night there, suck up $30 worth of broadband, and try again the next morning. We scoured the internet all night, Skyped to our hearts’ content, and woke refreshed and optimistic. Tom visited Jodee again and she altered her search to include facilities from which we could use dial-up (only one of our computers is even old enough to have a telephone port). Even with Jodee working the phones at the visitors’ center, Tom flexing his Skype muscles in the room, and me trawling for deals on the internet, there was still nothing. By this time we had buckled and told the expensive hotel we would take their one last night of availability before the holidays began.

With two solid nights of sleep under our belts, we were confident we would find just the right place on Friday, the day the Aussie holiday seekers were to begin their descent on the coast. Milking our stay an hour past the unalterable Australian checkout time of 10:00 am, we made our final calls, sent our final emails, and loaded up the van to face our fate. We took a different approach this time. We stopped at any place that had a vacancy sign and changed our criteria for the real estate agents. i.e., treated our stay as three one-week increments and completely abandoned the internet. While other options arose, we ended up choosing a quaint little cottage, directly across the street from the beach, whose owners had vacated the day before. It was available the entire time (the only thing we found that was), but we booked it for one week with an option to extend. The fact that it lacks even a phone line makes us wonder how viable it is for a longer term. We booked another place directly on a different beach for the third week (when the rates drop back down to low season) because the surf is tamer there and the beach is patrolled (i.e., has lifeguards). We’re going to decide what to do with the middle week sometime soon. Right now, we’re just going to listen to the waves, watch the big boys surf, and breathe…

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Oh, and sit on the balcony and watch people get married…

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2 thoughts on “Breathe

  1. Did you guys get my e-mails? Haven’t heard if you were able to hook up with the missionaries in Brisbane area???

  2. Breathing is good! This looks like a great place to catch your breath and prepare for what’s ahead.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ANNE! I hope you found a memorable way to celebrate your Australian B-Day.
    (I guess just being in Australia makes it memorable!)
    We’re all thinking of you, missing you and enjoying following your escapades.
    Our Love, Lou and Lorelie

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