With nowhere in particular to go, we slept late and took it easy this morning. Our ferry was scheduled to leave at 2:30 and so we took the morning to work, read, and sleep. Around noon, we decided to head to a nearby beach a few kilometers away. We made it to the end of the apartment driveway and across the street before we diverted and decided to swim right there at the town beach instead. The beach wasn’t pebbly, but the water was still insanely clear. A quick plunge, and we were back at the apartment, cleaning up and getting ready to go.
Our ferry was a four hour journey, taking us to Volos, Greece. We hopped off the ferry at 6:20, and got ready to ride like the wind.
Our plan was to make an attempt to ride to Larissa, 60 km away before dark, roughly two and a half hours later. If we fell short, we’d camp along the way. In either event, we needed to hurry.
The trip through Volos was a frantic one, Ben both navigating and steering us through traffic at what felt to me, a blistering pace. I wanted to be annoyed at how fast he was riding, leaving me completely breathless trying to keep up, but watching his athleticism as he idly poked at the GPS was really, really impressive.
Soon, he’d routed us onto the section of mandatory freeway riding where we’d have to climb up and over the mountains that surround Volos. The climb was never overly steep, but the air was staggeringly dry. Traffic whizzed by on our left and a patient headwind blew hard in our faces. The going was slow. By the time we’d reached the top and peeled of onto what looked like a quieter road on the map, the “golden hour” of beautiful light was in full swing and darkness was just around the corner.
The new highway traffic was far worse than the freeway traffic had been, since we had no shoulder whatsoever. We tried hard to hang onto the white line as big rigs cranked by. Soon, Ben pulled into a farm turnoff and suggested we stop for the night, making camp in an orchard just a short distance away. We’d only gone 25 km and I wanted to push on, figuring we had an hour of light left, but Ben seemed earnest in his concern, wanting to get off the road before conditions disintegrated. Ben is almost never concerned, so I took his suggestion to heart and we began rolling down the dirt road, looking for a quiet spot to set up camp.
For two weeks now we’ve essentially been credit card touring, staying in inexpensive rentals and leaving me feeling fairly annoyed about the huge amount of gear we’ve been pedaling around but never actually using. I was excited to finally sleep in my tent, since the whole reason we haul it around is so that we don’t get stuck riding long distances or late at night. Still, we aren’t expert stealth campers, usually preferring to look for organized campgrounds.
I was feeling really good about our decided upon spot until we noticed a field worker in the field adjacent to us (not at all far away) still working. If he had seen us roll back into the trees he hadn’t made any acknowledgement, but I still can’t imagine he didn’t see us. We parked and sat still, waiting for him to go home for the night.
Once he’d gone, we waited a little while longer before unloading and setting up the tent between rows of trees. Our setup was a little unpracticed and we were still looking around with paranoia every couple of seconds, expecting the farmer to come back and see what we were up to. Although we weren’t visible from the road, anyone in adjacent fields would have no trouble spotting us.
Once darkness had crept in and sat down for good, I started to feel a little safer. In that same moment, the orchard was coming alive. The bugs were in full force, a symphony of chirping set up against the rattling of the wind and the incessant traffic roaring by. As we lay on our sleeping mats, ears strained, listening for footsteps, we realized that with the many forces of sound taking place around us, we’d never know if someone was coming until they had reached us.
Not that it stopped us from listening or worrying. Though we were both dozing off, we repeatedly sat up, listening closely for any incoming nighttime visitors. Finally, realizing that it was unlikely we’d meet anyone out wandering in the dark, we dozed off into a short night of novice free camping paranoid sleep.