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The San Diego Miata Club’s “End of Summer” run, aka “The Peacock Run”

This was supposed to be another pleasant drive in the San Diego back-country with the San Diego Miata Club, as I had enjoyed many times over the years. It would be one of the few such runs I’d been on since the COVID pandemic began. A fellow club member had organized this “End of Summer” run to earn her SDMC magnetics.

For myself, as well as for the people in the Miata ahead of me; for the “sweeps” in the rear, who would be keeping stragglers with the group; and for the driver of the Miata behind them, a few brief moments of this run may well be etched in our minds forever.

After the first (uneventful) leg of our drive, we stopped at Bates Nut Farm to socialize and do some shopping.

Since I like red licorice, I bought a package of Bates Nut Farm’s “KOOKABURRA RED LICORICE” — from Australia. Then we departed for the final part of our drive through the two-lane twisties.

At some point we entered a section of winding road that was shaded by thick tree cover. I was following another Miata when suddenly a peacock had emerged from the trees and directly into that car’s path. An instant later, the peacock appeared on the other side of the front of that car — feathers flying. I assumed that the driver had hit it, but he kept on driving.

This is a distant cousin of the peacock involved in this encounter

Here is how he described his encounter: “The mature peacock stood about eight feet tall. It dashed from the right side of the road and headed for my grill. It stopped at the last instant — so close to the fender that I couldn’t see its head and didn’t know if I had hit it. My inspection later showed no feathers or scratches. I may have had time to twitch the steering wheel, that’s all.”

The Miata was none the worse for wear — not even any peacock feathers!

Until then I had been an observer, but suddenly the peacock spread its colorful plumage as it kind of half-flew and half-stumbled directly in front of my rapidly approaching Miata. Its wing span was huge!

The scene of the crime!

I had to make an instantaneous decision and act upon it. I had no idea what this big, dumb bird was going to do next, or in which direction — if any — it might go. However, one thing was certain. If I’d hit it, the collision would have done a lot of very messy damage to my beautiful, low-mileage Miata. So, I pushed in the clutch and brake pedals and came to a complete stop — on the highway. In my driver’s-side mirror I could see the “sweep” Miata behind me swerve to my left. Then I looked back at the peacock. At first it seemed stunned, but then it gathered whatever thoughts it might have had and dashed the rest of the way across the road — at which point I resumed driving.

This is a distant cousin of the offending peacock

Here is how the driver of the “sweep” Miata recalled the encounter: “Needless to say, we too are pleased we did not hit you. As I’m sure you know, on this kind of run we often see brake lights, but that normally just means the car ahead is simply slowing to negotiate a turn. So, it took a second for me to realize that you were not simply slowing but coming to a complete and abrupt stop. Fortunately, for us all, we were all able to avoid a collision. It was not until we came to a stop that I realized the reason – we saw the peacock flying away. We did not have time or presence of mind to take a photo.”

Our lunch stop, after our SDMC run through the two-lane twisties
Our post-run lunch — and peacock encounter debrief, at the Rainbow Oaks Restaurant
Signboard outside the lunch stop’s Country Market

On club runs I often keep a camera on the passenger seat, ready to point it in the general direction ahead (without looking through the viewfinder) and take pictures. However, I had decided not to do so for this run, so as to just enjoy the drive. That decision may well have saved me from being involved in a serious accident.

Unfortunately, I had also left my GoPro at home, instead of attaching it to its windshield mount. A video of the peacock encounter might have gone viral on YouTube. Hopefully our next SDMC fun run will be a little less exciting.

My Miata after our SDMC run, thankfully none the worse for wear

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Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on September 1, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    Jan, in re-reading my comments, I can see that my attempt at some off beat humor fell flat. I didn’t quite know how to respond to your column. Usually your articles contain multiple themes, but this one focused mainly on the peacock, so I got a bit carried away. I’m sure no one in your Club though this was a funny encounter. I’ll be more tasteful in the future. Sorry I caused this misunderstanding. David.

    • Jan Wagner on September 2, 2022 at 9:09 am

      No problem. Don’t worry about it.

  2. David Sperry on September 1, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    Jan, you might find that peacock lovers of the world don’t find this encounter as funny as the San Diego Miata Club did. I don’t know where this particular peacock came from, but he (or she) is too beautiful to end up as road kill. And the Miata owners are more worried about damage to their cars than injury to these majestic birds

    Also, the peacocks kept in captivity are being unfairly stereotyped as distant cousins of the one almost killed. The true relationships of these birds would not factually be known until DNA samples are tested in a licensed laboratory.

    Also, my eagle eye tells me the three birds in captivity are the SAME bird.

    I’m sure you can tell I’m just kidding.

    • Jan Wagner on September 1, 2022 at 5:28 pm


      I actually did take your comments as serious, until you told me otherwise. I tend to take what people tell me at face value.

      Trust me when I tell you that no one in my car club who I spoke with about this found the peacock encounter funny in the least. It was a very close call — too close for comfort. Fortunately we were able to prevent that peacock from becoming road kill.
      The two pictures I included were of the same peacock. I found them by doing a keyword search of my stored photos.

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