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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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