Fellow Pet-Sitters

I met up with a couple who were house and pet sitting too. They were from London and had completed several sits in the U.K. and Australia. We went on a hike together, and enjoyed the beach town of Noosa.

Days 437-438

I checked out of the eco-lodge in Hervey Bay and continued my quest south. I wasn’t sure where to stay next; Noosa or the Sunshine Coast. I pulled over in Noosa and went inside the visitor center, which was a tiny hut. There was an older couple inside, and they greeted me. The man couldn’t hear very well, so I spoke up. 

The couple gave me tips and brochures of things they recommended that I do in Noosa. The woman asked if I was living in Australia or if I was traveling. I explained that I lived in the U.S., and the man chimed in, “Geez, I’m deaf, and even I heard her accent.” The woman responded, “Well, she could have been Canadian.”

I walked to a nearby café and ate lunch outside while pursuing the brochures. Noosa looked beautiful, but it was clearly a vacation destination for the wealthy. I booked an Airbnb, and the host said she wasn’t expecting anyone, so she needed extra time to clean the studio. To kill time, I drove to the Noosa Spit. 

I passed lots of high-end shops, and then the forest appeared as I got close to the spit. I parked on the side of the road and walked down a path through the trees. After ten minutes, I arrived at the beach. 

It was the afternoon, and several people were lying on towels, absorbing the sun. I couldn’t help but notice all of the women sitting alone. They were all young and beautiful. A couple of them were reading books. I counted, and there were five women, all within 100 feet of each other. There was only one solo male. 

I drove to the end of the spit and walked around. A kite surfer was pulled around the ocean by the wind. It was beautiful with well-cared landscaping and small sections of beaches for people to lay on. Wild turkeys roamed all over. There were yachts tucked away in the harbor, spread out in the water. 

Next, I drove to Hastings Street, where the high-end shops are located. The main beach is on the backside of the shops, so I walked around on the boardwalk. People lounged around, and there was even a detailed, artistic sandcastle that someone made. There were a lot more people around because it was walking distance to the hotels. 

I walked down the street but didn’t go into the stores. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford those items. One store was called Who Invited Her. That’s how I felt. 

I got some sushi at an outdoor restaurant. The sun was about to set, so I drove back down the spit to watch the sunset reflect off of the ocean. The orange color was calming against the still water in the bay. 

I drove to my Airbnb, and it was a small studio apartment at the bottom of a townhouse. It was well decorated and clean. The balcony had a view of the pool and beautiful landscaping. I watched Australian Survivor because I had become addicted to it. The way Australia airs their T.V. shows is not like the U.S. A new episode will air three to four days in a row and then not again until the next week. In the U.S., we have to wait a whole week just for the next episode. 

The next day, I planned to go for a nearby hike. I picked up Charlie and Hettie at the Mazda repair shop, and we drove to the National Park. I met Charlie and Hettie a few days earlier at the Bundaberg Distillery

The couple was from the U.K. and were traveling around Australia for nine months. They also started in Melbourne and had driven around the perimeter of the country. They were getting close to the end of their trip. Charlie was 32, and Hettie was 35. They had saved for months and completed several house and pet-sits in the U.K. before arriving in Australia. They were currently sitting for four horses and two cats. 

I asked them how it was going, and they said it took them an hour and a half in the morning and another hour and a half in the evening to clean out the poop and feed the horses. They fed the horses twice a day and had to clean the poop out once a day. The horses used to be racehorses, so they required special food. The poop filled up two full wheel barrels each day. The cats loved to sleep in the bed with them, so they had lots of company. Overall, they thought the animals were beautiful and fun. 

We started the hike, which was supposed to be a class four (out of five), but it was more like a class two. We had all hiked in Western Australia, and the hikes out there are much more challenging and rugged.

The hike was a total of seven kilometers (just over four miles) and started uphill through nature. It was pretty and not very crowded, even though we were still in Noosa. 

Do you see the creature?

I talked with Charlie and Hettie about their life in London and why they decided to travel for so long. Charlie used to work with the production crew in T.V. and was on leave with his job. Hettie was a producer and had quit her job. She wasn’t sure if she liked it any longer. 

We bonded over T.V. production because my major in college was broadcasting and film. Besides working for PBS my senior year as a student producer, I never worked in T.V. or film. Every job that I saw was short-term with no benefits. The money also wasn’t very good for a newbie like me, and I couldn’t risk the fickle nature of it because I had to pay my rent. It’s hard work and stressful, so I totally understand why they needed a break. 

Before leaving my job in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to make four videos for the company. The three of us talked about what it’s like creating videos, and it was nice that they could relate. 

We reached the top of the small mountain and were treated to incredible views of the ocean below. We were standing on top of cliffs and watched the waves crash against the jagged rocks. Hettie pointed out a turtle that was swirling around a section that had become a sort of a whirlpool. We weren’t sure if he was in trouble or having fun. 

The lookout point was busy with people because a paved path followed the ocean and brought people directly there. Hettie pointed out the housewives in their athletic wear who seemed to not have a care in the world on a Tuesday morning. Life sure seemed easy for them. I told her how Hastings street was full of rich people and overpriced food. 

We walked around a bit, taking in the views. A lizard climbed around on the rocks near us. We decided to take the coastal path back so we could see different viewpoints. 

About halfway down, a group of people stood on the dirt path, all staring up into the trees. We walked over and asked what they were looking at, and it was a koala! The eucalyptus trees were so tall; it was difficult to see him. A man had some binoculars and let me use them to see the koala chilling on the tree. 

Once we were back at my car, I drove Charlie and Hettie to the Mazda shop, where their airbag was getting fixed. They moved the car across the street to another shop for general maintenance. Before leaving Australia, they planned to sell the vehicle, so they wanted to make sure they were taking care of it. I told them that was my plan too until my car ran out of oil and destroyed my engine

We went to the same cafe that I ate lunch the day before because the food was delicious. We sat outside, and I told them about my ex-husband, Aaron. I explained the woes of divorce, the lies, and the loss of money. I’ve become so accustomed to the story; I forgot that it is a little crazy.

I told them how Aaron lied about going to school for almost two years, and the lie that made me realize I couldn’t live that way any longer. Charlie was animated and listening intently. He mimicked eating popcorn while saying, “Wow! This is a crazy story! I’m so invested!” Hettie shook her head in agreement. 

I laughed, getting into the part, “Oh wait! There’s more! He got married the day I left L.A. for Thailand, and now they’re traveling the world on my money!”

Charlie and Hettie had been dating for two years. We all agreed that relationships are hard, especially when you’re young, because you change so much in your 20s and 30s. 

Once we finished eating, the three of us walked down the street to see the regular-priced shops. There was a real estate office with listings of homes for sale, so we all checked them out from the window. I showed them pictures of the house that I had purchased in St. Charles, Missouri, recently. Then I said how I paid for it, and Hettie said, “Oh, for a one-bedroom flat?” I explained, “No, a three-bedroom house.” They said the prices in London are incredibly high. 

The car was ready, so I drove Charlie and Hettie back to the maintenance shop. We hugged goodbye and said maybe we’d see each other again. I went back to my Airbnb and wrote outside on the balcony. 

I had an enjoyable day, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to meet them. It’s one of the coolest things about travel – you get to meet people from all over the world. We’re still in touch, and I hope to one day see them again, somewhere in the world.  

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Throughout her wild 3-week journey backpacking 220+ miles in the California Sierra Mountains, Christy encountered freezing temperatures, pelting hail storms, and losing her way, but found trail family, incredible views, and experiences that would change her life forever. Hiking up and over ten different mountain passes gave Christy a lot of time to think about why her nine-year marriage was falling apart, gave her the chance to truly embody her individualism, time to make new friends, and the strength she would need on and off the trail. Her life could never again be the same.
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