Today is a much-needed beach day; but first, I need to find breakfast. The fabulous part about living in the parking lot of the Halse Lodge Backpackers Hostel is that it’s right in town. No need to drive; in fact, they prefer that you don’t as they can’t guarantee your parking space will be there when you return. Fine with me. I wander down the driveway and search for a not too expensive breakfast. After placing my order, I take a seat and my latte is soon delivered. When the waitress delivers my meal, I pull the table closer and promptly spill my coffee. (Really, I shouldn’t have to deal with this before I’ve actually had my coffee.) She brings me a new saucer, but it’s up to me to retrieve some napkins from the counter.
As I turn back to finally settle in and eat, I see a wild rooster (I think it’s a rooster as I get hens, roosters, chicken and most fowl mixed up) sitting on my table eating my breakfast. I draw the attention of the entire place as I run back to my table screaming at the bird and shooing it away with my hand. The bird flies the coup, but not before dumping half my eggs onto the back of the seat. (Isn’t a rooster eating eggs a bit cannibalistic?) I walk up to the counter to talk to the not quite friendly, yet not quite rude staff, and explain my situation. Surprisingly, they tell me they’ll deliver a new meal to me. When I return to the table, rooster from hell is back, chomping away at what’s left of my meal. I shoo him away and ask the waitress with no personality if this happens often.
“What?” she says, as she wipes egg from the seat-back.
“Wild roosters eating people’s meals.”
“Oh, did that happen?”
What the heck? No, I’m just a sloppy eater and flick eggs all over the seat and floor before running away.
After another ten-minutes my new meal is delivered and I eat, all the while on guard for more avian invaders.
Following breakfast, I gather my things and head across the street to the beautiful, sandy beach. Though sunny, the weather today is not quite as warm as yesterday but still about 24 Celsius (75 Fahrenheit). The sand is very fine and isn’t the burn-your-feet kind, but really just perfect to walk on. I lay my tiny micro-fiber travel-towel on the fine sand, prop my back up under my head, grab my Kindle and read. Finally, relaxation. After an attempt at a dip in the water (I make it as far as my lady-parts) I head back to the sand to read.
A bit later, after lying on my tiny towel, moving up to the lawn, and finally going to browse the goods at the shops that I can’t afford, I stop for a quick cup of coffee and head back to the hostel where to grab a shower. Unfortunately, the two showers are being used and I decide the fine grit of the sand makes for a great exfoliator and I change my clothes and head on over to Noosa Junction.
I’d asked about Noosa Junction while in a shop earlier in the day. The film A Walk in the Woods is playing there and I, being a budding Bill Bryson, have been looking forward to the movie. The older man sitting at the counter told me it was a long way away. “Too far to walk,” he said.
The older lady at the counter disagreed and said it was a forty-five minute stroll and could be nice and I could rest when I arrived at the movie theatre. When I ask about the distance at the front desk of the hostel, I’m told it’s a fifteen-minute walk uphill, but easily done by many people each day.
Leaving an hour before the movie starts, I head out to see for myself. Fifteen-minutes later, after a mostly uphill walk sprinkled with a tiny-bit of downhill, I arrive at the movie theatre. I step up to the counter to buy my ticket and the girl behind the glass asks, “Do you have a Concession Card?’
“Um, no. I’m not from here. What is that anyway?” I ask.
She responds hesitantly. “Oh, it’s a. . . um. . . well. . . they give it to. . . .
Uh-oh, here it comes.
“It’s, um, a card you can get for discounts. . . um. . . if you’re a senior citizen or pensioner. . . um, like that.”
I understand she’s trying to be helpful but, what the hell?! I’ve been traveling for nine-months and I realize I’m tired but it’s like I became old overnight.
“Oh, no. I don’t have one,” I simply respond yet, what I really want to say is, “Are you kidding me? How old do you think I am you young little twit?”
I’m then told the price of a ticket is AUD$18 and, well, I kind of wish I had that Concession Card.
Having arrived early and not had dinner, I decide to grab a quick and cheap one, picking up a Subway sandwich down the street. I order my Veggie Delight and, while the guy behind the counter is making it, he asks, “What are you up to tonight?”
“I’m going to the movies,” I reply, perhaps a bit too excited as doing normal, everyday things holds a thrill for me during my time on the road.
The young guy giggles. “Why do you laugh?” I ask.
“Oh, well, most people don’t do that.” He responds.
“Really?” I ask somewhat surprised. Perhaps it’s because it costs AUD$18 to do it.
I snarf down my sandwich and head back to the cinema which I’m happy to see is a proper, modern theatre. Bill Bryson, his friend Katz, and spend the next couple of hours walking in the woods. The journey is enjoyed by all of us and I’m somewhat refreshed after a couple of weeks of self-doubt and uncertainty about my future. I walk the fifteen minutes – mostly downhill sprinkled by tiny bits of uphill – back to the hostel where I head to the lounge to do some writing.
As I share a table with two twenty-somethings while writing and publishing, a Frenchman staying at the hostel approaches me to make small-talk and offers to share his beer with me. I could really use a beer and the small-talk might be nice after I’ve finished my work. I explain that I must finish and then would come find him (I accept the beer because, well, I’m not stupid). AS I sit and type for the next hour-or-so, Frenchie returns no less than seven times. He’s very polite, but also very persistent. The girls at the table roll their eyes and, after he leaves, they quietly comment to me about his persistence. It’s kind of nice knowing I still hold some appeal after going to the beach, being windblown and still covered in a light dusting of sand, being tired, and, well, being mistaken for a senior citizen. And oh, a Frenchman could order a breakfast of bacon and eggs and sound sexy.
Eventually I publish, and the girls and I chat for a while and tell our stories. One is Canadian and one is German and they met here at the hostel. Another great thing about staying at a hostel or, in my case, in the parking lot of a hostel is that you meet fellow travelers, many of who are often traveling alone too. These are some adventurous people who are normally pretty interesting to talk to. And they might be heading in the same direction as you and you could have a traveling companion for a few days. Oh, and there are normally kitchens where you can store food and cook, as well as laundry facilities. And, contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, they’re not always filled with young party-goers. There’s a German couple with an infant staying in their (much nicer than my) camper in the parking lot and a family with young kids staying in a room in the hostel. Yup, this is a good option to save money, especially in higher-priced locations, when traveling long-term.
Frenchie makes one last pass through and we stop by to meet he and his friends (who look me up and down, and tell me that he keeps telling them about me) before saying goodnight. Honestly, it’s 11:00 at night, we’ve just met, and I leave tomorrow. Nothing’s going to happen.
Tomorrow – A trip to the farm