Road Tripping: Watch The Birdie!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Road Tripping, I’m starting a series of posts about some of the more interesting overland journeys I’ve taken. Today’s was mentally exhausting. The trip from Omaha to the Twin Cities doesn’t seem overly daunting until you factor in two tired and cranky kids. That turns the last 45 minutes into something out of a Stephen King novel.

The day after Thanksgiving last year, I was making the reverse trip. To Omaha, from the Twin Cities, and with all four kids. Barry stayed home to hang out and watch football and set about house training our new puppy.

The ride was relatively uneventful. Of course the minute that thought goes through your head, karma has a way of popping in and saying, “I don’t think so.”

In the western part of Iowa, Interstate 80 veers from due west to southwest as you drive toward Council Bluffs. It was on this particular stretch that I saw what I thought was a hawk, flying low to my left, about to cross the highway. I started to think, “Hey bird, you’d better hurry,” but before I knew it, he came right at my van as I was doing 75 mph. I ducked, and mentally prepared for my windshield to be blown out, but instead I just heard a tremendous thud.

The kids were startled. I immediately saw feathers poking up out of my grille. The vehicle seemed to be in working order, no unusual sounds or lights, so I continued on. I did what any self-respecting girl would do when confronted with emergencies of the animal variety. I called for help. My mistake was calling my husband. He can’t watch Shark Week on The Discovery Channel without getting squeamish. Other than his genuine concern for our safety above all else, he was really no help.

We believe it was a juvenile osprey whose untimely death is documented for posterity.

So I called my dad, who was staying at my brother’s house, our ultimate destination, which was about 25-30 miles away. My dad was otherwise occupied, at the casino. I talked a bit with my mom, but really there is nothing that can be done over the phone about a dead bird festooned to the hood of your car. I decided to pull off at the next exit, thinking maybe some curious hunters or truckers at a gas station would help me out. The exit had no gas station. I surveyed the damage, found that there wasn’t nearly as much gore as I’d expected, and decided to just keep going.

I got more than a couple of looks driving through suburban Omaha with a 15 pound bird sticking out of the hood of my car talons first. Once we arrived at my brother’s house he opened the hood and pried the thing out of my grille with his bare hands, just like any good brother would do. The kids enjoyed the spectacle, and got to keep some feathers as souvenirs.

My osprey, most likely a protected species, was quite the spectacle.

And now every time we travel that road, my two little guys ask if I remember when that big bird “bonked into our car.” Yes, I do.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

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