Day 114-115 • June 23-24, 2012 • Murphysboro to Glendale, IL • 60 miles
On advice from our Warm Showers host, Tabitha, and several other local cyclists, we deviated from the Adventure Cycling route today. The AC route between Murphysboro and Goreville has steep hills, many turns and, according to the locals, lots of impatient motorists avoiding the traffic lights on Route 13. We experienced some of these crazy motorists yesterday on similar county roads called out on the AC route and didn’t need much convincing to avoid them today. Instead we took Route 13 through Carbondale and most of the way past Crab Orchard Lake; a beautiful work of engineering with few turns, no hills worth mentioning, and smooth shoulders as wide as a car lane. A touring cyclist’s dream, really. Conditions deteriorated a bit when we turned south on Route 148—no shoulders and a steady flow of traffic, I think because of construction on nearby Interstate 57, but still better than the AC route because it was pretty straight and flat. It got a little hillier toward Goreville when the road turned to Route 37. A bonus is that we were able to check out the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center where Zoe got another stamp in her national park passport.
The down side to this route is that we were stopped by a sheriff on 148 just south of the Crab Orchard visitor’s center. After she flipped on her lights and pulled a u-turn to pull us over, I towed her along for a while at 8 MPH looking for a suitable place to pull over and thinking through the upcoming exchange in hopes of avoiding a trip to the county jail. I was encouraged that the sheriff was a woman. I find women law enforcement officers to be less arrogant and condescending and, therefor, less likely to trigger my smart-ass gene, which always gets me in trouble. One of my conditions with Lisa for taking Zoe on this ride is that I will avoid any such confrontation, no matter how annoyed or right I may be. With one exception I’ve done extremely well but I wasn’t looking forward to this test.
The sheriff wasn’t bothered by my extended stop, so far so good. She told me that she had received complaints about us “taking up too much of the road” and that she was required to pull us over. I explained that we were taking up just as much road as necessary to safely use it. She said to be careful, “this road is curvy and hilly and people drive like idiots on it.” I said, “I’ve seen some of these idiots—if I called them in would the sheriff department pull them over too?” “No,” she said and mumbled something about limited resources. So given a choice between an acknowledged idiot who is breaking the law and at risk of killing someone with his car, and a cyclist who is breaking no laws and riding as safely as conditions allow, you choose to pull over the cyclist? On what grounds, exactly? But that was the old Kurt. The new Kurt just nodded and smiled. Her parting shot was “be careful, stay on the (gravel) shoulder,” to which I replied, “we cannot and will not ride in the gravel”. She said, “okay, well be safe out there.” “Okay.” Go catch some bad guys. I didn’t say that last part out loud either.
We rejoined the TransAmerica route at Goreville and stopped for lunch at Delaney’s. This place was one that recognized the unique value of being on one of the most popular bike routes in the world. The tables were decorated with snapshots from touring cyclists and they had a cyclist guest log that went way back. They also had good food and friendly service. When Zoe signed the log—that was one of her many duties—we found an entry from just a day or two prior from Jose who we’d met in Arizona way back in May. Since we met him he’d looped all the way to the California coast and was now caught back up with us, only one state away from the 48th state on his tour, West Virginia. We never did see Jose again, apparently missing him in several places by a day or two. When we stayed with Tabitha in Murphysboro she mentioned he had stayed there as well.
We stopped for the night at Bay Creek Ranch which had a nice place to set up a tent, good showers, and an air conditioned common area. It’s hard to say what tiny town we were closest to—their address says Glendale which didn’t even show up on some of my maps. The next day was going to be a hot one and Zoe wasn’t feeling well so we decided to take a rest day and moved inside for the next night—they have a couple of rooms they rent out.