While brainstorming what we wanted to do during the final three weeks of the trip, the list was relatively short and seemingly attainable. Kiera wanted to go camping and fly fishing; I wanted to go hiking and canyoning. We both had a long-standing desire to see Santorini, so the decision was easy—we would head to the Greek Islands. A quick internet search showed that Crete was our best bet for checking off the activities on our list. So we booked a space at one of the few open campgrounds (many close in mid-Sept.) and made our way to the southwestern part of the island.
Because we weren’t traveling with full camping gear, we opted for a motorhome versus renting a tent. While we realized that this meant that we were “glamping” versus camping, it was simply more practical. We were looking forward to everything that camping entails: campfires, smores, dirt, making new friends, crisp mornings… Upon arrival, however, we realized that reality was quite different from our grand vision. The place was practically deserted and thus most of the facilities (mini-market, snack shack) were closed for the season. The grounds resembled the semi-manicured trailer park near my elementary school far more than a “traditional” California campground. Driving this point home was the fact that there were no fire pits. That’s right, not one single campfire to be had. What is camping without a campfire? The next milestone of the experience was the revelation that we rely heavily on our friends and family members to supply the camping accessories when we’re at home. They’ve been doing it for years and seem to simply put a few pre-packed boxes in the truck and head on out. Apparently there are quite a few essentials that the vets are well aware of. What do you mean that we needed to bring our own lighter for the community kitchen? Lawn chairs aren’t a given? Coffee filters and paper towels don’t come standard? Oh man. This was going to be a long week.
Now, if I’ve learned anything while traveling it’s that you have to be adaptable, and so Kiera and I quickly resolved to make the most of the situation. The grounds were, after all, right on a beautiful beach and so we would fill our days reading, hiking the gorges, naming the local cat population after US presidents, and finding rocks to jump off of into the water. Didn’t sound so bad. And in the end it wasn’t. In fact, it was a delight getting to know Dolly (Madison), Ronald, and Dwight who mysteriously hung around our motorhome at all hours of the day and night. (It couldn’t have possibly been the lunchmeat that I “borrowed” from the community fridge and doled out like mini-Snickers on Halloween.) We also indulged ourselves nightly at a local taverna that served up the best versions of stuffed eggplant and zucchini croquettes imaginable at a ridiculously reasonable price. I even finished a book that I started last year in Bolivia. Good stuff.
Sure, the week was a complete miss on 2.5 of the 4 activities that we originally wanted to check off our list (apparently there’s no fly fishing in Crete and I couldn’t get a canyoning company to respond to my inquiries for the life of me), but it was a positive experience in the end. Different, but great. And isn’t that how people often describe my personality? All right then.