Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Southland Adventure (aka the Case of the Phantom Pile)

Lawyer Jim has been looking to do some night riding, so we hatched a plan for a Sunday night/Monday morning thing this past weekend. Negotiations regarding a starting time were tense, but fruitful. He would work his regular Sunday shift at Boulevard & then teach his wheel building class, I would arise Sunday evening and go to work Monday morning. Ultimately, I don’t know which of us suffered more.

I ate a breakfast of three soft boiled eggs—a treat since I have been eating 3 a day sans yolks—and my new secret weapon: oatmeal with peanut butter and honey. The concoction was delicious and kept me going for several hours, a thousand thank yous to my roommate Steve for the recipe.

After some final scrambling, we departed my house at 11:15 in the PM and shot straight down Kedzie Av. Our first stop would be the Evergreen Park of Evergreen Park, IL bordered by Chicago on 3 sides and home of the world’s most famous arnarcho-primitivist. Anyway, I’ve always noticed this diamond shaped park on the map and meant to check it out. An uneventful visit, though the grid interruption set us in the wrong direction twice.

Next was a visit to Tally’s Corner, a Chicago neighborhood at Pulaski and 103rd, adjacent to Xavier University. The greedy nuns at the Sisters of Mercy sold off the land to developers in the early 1980’s who built 146 brick homes for Cops, Firefighters and other City employees who are required by law to live in the city and flock to its furthest extremities. Also uneventful.

We made a stop in Alsip, at the locked gates of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, wherein lies the final resting place of a dictator of unimaginable power, matched only by that of his son. We would have to find some other place to piss. Zero for three.

Things were looking grim when we doubled back in an attempt to find the entrance to our fourth destination, Bachelor’s Grove cemetery in Midlothian. However, we found the angled entrance off the Midlothian Turnpike and followed the broken asphalt path deep into the woods. The abandoned burial ground was worth the trip, eerie and full of busted graves from the 1920’s. This one was covered with trinkets. The inscription on the stone in the foreground read simply “INFANT DAUGHTER.”

Preparing to leave, we were startled by an approaching flashlight. The sway was a little too erratic to be a cops swaggering, but had us nervous none the less. At about 50 feet, I hit them with the cateye. Some hushed anxious murmuring was quickly followed by a hearty hello. After some pleasantries at a distance, they asked about the location of the cemetery, to which we guided them.

They were twentysomethings, considerably older that we thought when we had passed them walking along the road a mile back. Neither were they Goths dressed all in black (the darkness can really mess with your mind.) A cheerful trio of characters akin to a modern Scooby Doo Gang: the pretty southern belle; the charming hipster boyfriend; the mutton chopped gentle giant. They asked us if we had seen the disappearing-reappearing ghost house, likely to entertain us with the story. I told them I didn’t put stock in such things and snapped a photo.

Continuing south, we conversed about the delights of night riding: the ability to traverse roadways unthinkable during waking hours traffic; the coolness of the evening; the emptiness of the trails. “This [Sunday night] is thee absolute best time to be out” Jim noted. His philosophy is refreshingly simple: “When the choice is to ride or not to ride, ride. You seldom regret it.”

Our last destination was the Nathan Manilow sculpture garden at Governors State University. We stopped to check the map, realized we missed our turn by 500’. The night air was chilly and damp, my sweat soaked bandanna refusing to dry.

“Underwhelming” was how Jim described it. The giant Paul Bunyan sculpture was slumped to show his “weariness and age,” but he just looked hunched. They were interesting and the campus looked nice anyway. Another locale crossed off th’ list.

43 miles at our half-way point, into the wilderness where the Madison & State based numbering system labels its last street (265th in Crete?) We headed back up Governor’s Pkwy, which would become Crawford then Pulaski. We cut over to the north section of the Tinley Creek Trail System, but zigged when we should have zaged and were unceremoniously dumped on 151st street westbound in a strange land where north-sound streets are numbered as well. We cut north on the horrid pavement of 82nd street and did some time on Crawford in the building morning traffic. Jim was now going on 22 hours. Kedzie was only marginally better so we took California at the earliest chance—71st street-- all the way to Fulton.

We had a rolling good-bye at 6:30am/7.25 hours/90 miles. I took a long, hot shower and sat with the dog awhile on the back porch before heading to work.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck this weekend.