As spring tiptoes over the horizon earlier each morning, it's amazing how quickly things start to change on the Kenai Peninsula. Every day a new flock of migrating birds arrive, pass through, or decide to homestead for the summer.
I personally enjoy the returning cranes, swans and different species of loons except for a few of them behind the wheel around here.
You know the ones that I'm talking about. They figure now that the icy conditions are history and it's light enough not to sweat dodging ninja moose bounding from the darkness it's righteous to set their cruise control on "warp."
Cases in point:
A few days ago I forgot that, during the week, I shouldn't try to access the main road to town between 07:30 and 08:45. Why? Because there are motorcades storming toward the ville that make a NASCAR pit stop area, under a caution flag, look like a baby stroller parade on Easter. The standard speed limit is reduced to a guideline for negotiating ninety degree turns and straightaway speeds are measured in degrees of critical Mach.
I sat on our street for a bit and finally caught a break in the single line drag race and thought I had it made. Once on the main thoroughfare I had to travel only about a half mile to reach my goal exit, flip a left and head on down for an oil change appointment. Little did I know that a nasty hazard -- known as a notorious loitering loon -- lurked just ahead.
While I was cruising down a hill, I spotted a low-slung beater of an old sports-type car pull up to the road and hesitate on my left. I was closing on it at just under the speed limit when the brain stem behind the wheel started to pull out, stopped again and then shot out directly in front of me.
Undernourished eggplants have better decision-making capabilities than that guy. If he was any more clueless somebody would have to water him once a week and slip him a spoonful of Miracle Gro.
There was no way to slam on the brakes, stay in my lane and not end up with my rig's engine block in his glove compartment.
Luckily the oncoming lane was open so I veered into it rather than opting for a high fiber diet of alder trees and deep ditch sludge waiting on the right.
I felt the truck tilt left and then straighten up just as I came parallel with the hairball feigning driver aptitude on my right. He stared up at me like he finally comprehended what he had done and was in sudden need of a set of Depends.
I chilled and figured the problem was over until I started to complete the pass, figuring the man would back off and let me by before we crested the approaching rise. No way. His lone brain cell misfired again and he punched it. It took about two years of wear off my brake linings and grip marks infused into the steering wheel before I was able to slide back in behind him.
Luckily, matching bumpers and awkward face-plants with someone smokin' over the hill wasn't on my karma schedule for the day. I saluted the wannabee demolition driver as he sped away with the only highly significant digit I could pry free and hoped he didn't take anyone out while driving with his head firmly implanted where his vision was acutely impaired.
After taking the next turnoff, I proceeded to cool down enough that my post-situation mutterings stopped leaving scorch marks on the dashboard. I had even started thinking that the near miss probably taught the dipstick a safety lesson when suddenly a silver streak rocketed past me so fast that I almost opened the door and stepped out to see why I had come to a stop. It looked like a late model silver caddy coup doing around 75-plus and would require a drogue chute to negotiate some up coming curves.
I pondered the incidents for a moment and decided that the two tools were probably related and either late for their court-ordered community service assignments or reckless driving arraignments. Either way, the only motorized vehicles they should ever be let near are Mopeds and then only to give their owners a push.
I also learned a lesson that morning. I'll never leave home again without a cell phone with the law on speed-dial. I think those two would rather talk to a badge than me. I get really testy when I get so wound up that it takes a couple of days for my keester cheeks to unclench.
Like I said, I always look forward to the spring migrations. They have a cooler class of loons.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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