My aching limbs screamed in protest as I tried to readjust my position. We were waiting in the van as Dad walked into yet another building to ask if there were any vacancies. He came back with the same answer we had heard several times that night:
“They’re completely full. They don’t know of any places with any vacancies at all.”
“WHY did we not just book something earlier?!” Dailin was practically crying. “Or figured this stuff out BEFORE??”
“Seriously, I’m done.” Jaeden added. “Let’s just sleep on a park bench. We are crammed back here.” Suitcases and backpacks were packed into every possible nook and cranny of the vehicle. Just then, the guitar slid down onto my lap.
“At least Zak is still sleeping. I feel like a truck ran over me…” I groaned. Everyone laughed maniacally. Overtired and all feeling the same way as me, we had all reached the snapping point. For the next half an hour, we sat in the hotel parking lot while Dad tried (unsuccessfully) to find and book a place somewhere in the Gold Coast. Despite our protests, Dad decided to drive the two more hours to the Gold Coast and ask around there.
Two hours later, we were in the same predicament as before. We tried everything. Apartments, hostels, motels, hotels, inns, camp grounds, resorts…
“Lets volunteer at the soup kitchen or something.” Jaeden suggested. “In return for a place to sleep!” Dailin laughed.
“Wow, I’ve never known what it’s like to be homeless… What if we found a shelter or something?” Dailin only half joked. “Or try out a park bench!”
“The parks aren’t safe here…” Mom reminded us. Her comment was punctuated by a drunken laugh from a group of people staggering down the sidewalk. We then drove to the next town to try our luck once again. After about the fiftieth “Sorry, no room”, Zak woke up and started to scream. Although the added discomfort was excruciating, we all knew exactly how he felt.
“I can’t feel my feet!” Eli hollered over the din. “My bottom is numb!” After hours of driving around, we finally stopped at an LDS church parking lot, who’s gate just happened to be unlocked that night in a quiet little town.
“I can’t stay awake to drive much longer.” Dad announced at 3am in the morning. It was decided. We would stay there for the night. Everyone piled out, layered up with hoodies, and lied out on the grass. Mom fed Zak and then passed him back to me to sleep with. Stretching out on the back seat, I couldn’t help but be amused at how happy we were with being able to climb out of our crushed spots in the car, even if it meant sleeping out on the grass…
Two hours later, the rising sun woke us up. Not wanting Sunday morning churchgoers to find a bunch of hobos sleeping out on their lawn, everyone sluggishly squeezed back into the vehicle and started back on the road.
“Now I really feel like a truck ran over me…” I laughed. Four hours later, we stopped at a little tiny LDS church in a little neighbourhood, rushed around putting on our wrinkled church clothes on before slipping in. Our plan to just sneak in the back was dashed when we realized that our nine basically doubled the amount of people in the room. We made quite a spectacle slipping in with our dishevelled hair and zombie-like eyes. At the first casual invitation to join them for their after-church potluck, our gratitude and enthusiasm to accept was excessive. After chatting with us and hearing our story from the night before, a couple that had come from Bonny Hills to speak that Sunday offered to rent us a four bedroom, 12 bed place about three hours closer to Sidney. We were more than happy to take them up on their offer!
We are now happily situated right by an awesome surfing beach, across the road from a park, and in a cute little house with real beds to sleep in and food to eat. As wonderful as it was to be homeless, we are very happy to revoke that title after one nightmarish night!