Friday, August 24, 2012
I was doing speed limit, 35 MPH, which seemed to be the common practice in Alaska, unlike back home in California where you're a traffic hazard if you move at anything less than 80 MPH, when a Mr. Squirrel darted out into the road.
It was only a two lane road, and if he had just maintained his course and speed he would have easily made it to the opposite side, but apparently squirrels are not very adept at estimating the relative motion of moving objects. After safely crossing my lane, Mr. Squirrel must have noticed the oncoming car in the opposite direction, and in a moment of indecision, he halted and reversed direction. Back in my lane again, Mr. Squirrel must have realized that his position with respect to me was now much more precarious than it had been previously, so he reversed direction yet again. Once in the opposite lane, the error of his last maneuver became immediately obvious and he jumped back into my lane. This process repeated itself in an accelerated fashion as the two cars closed in on Mr. Squirrel. I slowed, but I couldn't stop before reaching the little critter. He passed safely between my front wheels. From that point on I can only conjecture about what transpired since Mr. Squirrel was under my car and out of sight. A prudent squirrel would have just stood fast and allowed both vehicles to pass, but evolution had work to do and that was not the course of action Mr. Squirrel chose to take. I'm not sure what was going through his mind (besides my tire), but Mr. Squirrel chose to change direction one last time. I heard a brief, dull thud and felt my left rear tire hit a small bump. I was hoping that I had hit a pothole, but a quick glance in my rear view mirror made it clear that I had my first confirmed kill.
Inspired by all the other big game trophies I'd seen while traveling in Alaska, I decided to retrieve Mr. Squirrel and give him a proper tribute.