Bicycling from Urbana IL to Turkey Run IN

I’ve wanted to bike to Turkey Run State Park since I moved to Urbana 7 years ago, and this week I finally did. It’s about 72 miles, or 73 if you make a few wrong turns, as I did.

UPDATE: by popular demand, here is the route on RideWithGPS.

Previously I have biked to Indiana via the Northern Route, past Kickapoo; I found parts of the way terrifying, as I wrote here. For Turkey Run, I wanted a more direct and hopefully safer route. Local bike club riders warned me about gravel in Vermillion County, but had no further advice, so I relied on Google Maps. Between that and my own experience, I can say the route below, corrected for mistakes I made coming and going, minimizes gravel to a mere 4 miles!

On my way home, I was chased by a very determined dog on 900 North Road near Catlin-Indianaola road in Vermillion County IL. That’s right where most of the gravel was, so it was particularly exciting trying to maintain speed and balance with a barking howling hulking (Rottweiler? Pitbull/Doberman mix?) on my tail for 3 miles west.

I stopped at Angie’s Country Kitchen in Cayuga, IN, both ways. It’s roadside diner food, made as competently as such fare can be. I recommend the chocolate malt and fries, and the breakfast I had on my return trip was also solid.

Most of the “major” roads I traveled (Indiana 41, Indiana 234/Mill Road) were lightly trafficked and non-scary. Illinois route 150 was a bit scary, but there’s only 1 mile of it (you can bypass this if you’re willing to endure an extra mile of gravel on 900 N/850 N Road, as I did on my way out). The scariest traffic was on Indiana route 47, the very last leg leading to the park. For some reason people drove like crazy a**holes on it. But it’s only a few miles, and then you’re there!

Crossing the Indiana State Line…
Followed by this nice photogenic “Welcome To Indiana” sign about a mile later. Look at that big scary truck!
That truck picture was just for drama. Most of the time the road looked like this. Really route 234 was very civil, unlike route 136 up north.
Angie’s Country Kitchen in Cayuga. Solid.
Frazzled by the insane drivers on IN Route 47, and dessicated and sweaty from the mid-day sun, I parked at the trash can-adjacent bike rack at the Turkey Run Inn. Connie Bikeson, my separable steel Tour Easy recumbent, was the only bike I saw there the whole time.
The next day I hiked the fabled Trail 3 twice: once in the morning, and again in the late afternoon.
The bouncy Suspension Bridge.
Rare mosses.
Tenacious ferns.
Turkey Run State Park is gorgeous and amazing.
Special Man Friend™ got in the way of my nature photos, so I had to pixellate his face. No online surveillance for Special Man Friend™!
Facial recognition software can’t do much with the back of Special Man Friend™‘s head. I just wanted a photo of these cool stepped rocks of the stream bed/trail.
There were about 20 Amish in this group, and all of them together were quieter than the “English” cell-phone-totin’ mother-daughter pair we passed earlier, who decided to have a loud phone chat in the middle of the woods. Also the usual sounds of families-with-shrieking-children echoed through the canyons. On our return trip in the afternoon, WE were the noisy ones.
Steep ladders on Trail 3.
Returning to the park with more friends in the late afternoon.
Here’s my pal Lois on the ladder.
Early evening bridge reflection.
Special Man Friend™ protects his identity so I don’t have to apply a pixel-blur filter here like I did on the other photos. Thanks, Special Man Friend™!
Early the next morning, I headed home while my friends slept at the Inn. In Tangier, Indiana, this very polite and quiet dog walked unthreateningly up to me while I snarfed down an energy bar next to the Tangier Friends Church. The Indiana dogs I encountered along my route were remarkably polite, unlike Illinois country dogs, who are mostly savage maniacs.
There was no big “Welcome to Illinois” sign after this. Even Indiana is outshining Illinois these days.
Georgetown, IL, which I accidentally passed through after missing my planned turnoff. I had to go one mile on busy route 150, but I bypassed the mile+ of gravel I suffered on my way out.
This train was moving when I approached, but stopped completely at the crossing southeast of Sidney IL. Thrilling video footage here.

So there you have it – Turkey Run by bicycle, from Urbana. I recommend it!


SM in SF

Seder-Masochism will screen at the Castro, one of my favorite movie theaters in the whole world, this Sunday July 21 at 11:30am, as part of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I will be there too!

Here’s a really sweet review of Seder-Masochism in the Jewish News of Northern California. (The whole time I lived in San Francisco, I never used my Jew Card. I didn’t even make a Jew Card until I started Seder-Masochism, a decade after I left the Bay Area. Better late than never.)

I just bought plane tickets an hour ago, partly because the weather forecast for Urbana IL predicts highs of 96°F Thursday onwards, while San Francisco’s predicted highs are 30° lower all week. I wasn’t planning to travel this month, since I just got back from Moscow and want to ride my recumbent bicycles as much as I can. But when it’s 96° and humid, I’m not gonna bike anyway.

This trip will also be my last chance to visit the fabled Pentshack, my home in the early 1990’s. My pal Mitch Altman, who has lived there since I sublet it it to him in 1995, is leaving for good, as the house beneath it is being sold. Here’s a picture of the Pentshack interior, with me in it, from those long-ago days:

It’s just up the street from the Castro Theater! Where maybe I’ll see you this coming Sunday July 21 at 11:30am! Seder-Masochism also plays at the Piedmont Theater Saturday, August 3rd, at 8:45pm, but I’ll be back in Illinois by then, biking through the heat and humidity.



I’m heading to Russia in a few days for the Moscow Jewish Film Festival, for two screenings of my latest feature film, Седер-Мазохизм.

It’s been 3 decades since my single semester of adult-education introductory Russian, but I did find a handy Cyrillic-to-phonetic-English alphabet chart online:

At least I can try pronouncing a word or two. I’m privileged to practice on this: