Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 9:34 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lots of loons lucky someone doesn't send them flying when they take to the road



By Nick C. Varney

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 cool to set their cruise control on "warp."

Cases in point:

A few days ago I forgot that I shouldn't try to access East End Road between 07:30 and 08:45. Why? Because there are lines of rigs storming toward town that make a NASCAR pit stop area, under a caution flag, look like a baby stroller parade on Easter. The 45 mph limit is reduced to a guideline for negotiating ninety degree turns and straightaway speeds are measured in degrees of critical Mach.

I sat on the access for a bit and finally caught a break in the single line drag race and thought I had it made. Once on East End I had to travel only about a half mile to reach Kachemak Drive then 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 motoring 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 trust behind the wheel started to pull out, stopped again and then shot out directly in front of me.

Potted eggplants have better decision-making capabilities than that guy. If he was any dumber 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 the klutz's passenger seat.

Luckily the oncoming lane was open so I veered into it rather than opting for a high fiber diet of alder trees and ditch sludge waiting for me 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 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 with until I started to finish the pass, figuring the kid would back off and let me by before we crested an approaching hill. 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 coming over the rise wasn't on my karma schedule for the day. I saluted the wannabee demolition driver as he sped away with the only highly significant finger I could pry free and hoped he didn't take anyone out while driving with his head firmly implanted in one of his body's more significantly sensitive orifices.

After turning onto Kachemak Drive, I proceeded to cool down enough that my language wasn't leaving scorch marks on the dashboard. I had even started thinking that the near miss probably taught the dipstick a safety lesson when a silver streak suddenly passed 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+ that would need a drogue chute to make the curves coming up at the airport.

I pondered the two incidents for a moment and decided that the two brain stems were probably related and late for either their court-ordered community service assignments or reckless driving arraignments. Either way, the only motorized vehicles those miscreants 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 annoyed that it takes a couple of days for my butt cheeks to unclench.

Besides, I'd rather roll with some shorebird festival action. It has a much better class of loons.

Nick C. Varney can be reached at nickc@gmail.com.

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