I’ve driven on mountain roads in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and New Mexico, but I’d never before seen roads like the ones I’m encountering in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These roads have so many twists, turns, curves, and switchbacks. For the first few weeks, driving these roads made me carsick. I’d never gotten carsick while driving before.
My body must have adjusted because I’m not getting carsick while driving these roads anymore. However, I know the curves are on my mind because I dreamed of one on a recent night.
In the dream, I was driving my van. In the dream, I was driving my van too fast. I was also fiddling with something (my MP3 player, I suspect), not paying proper attention to the road. I was on a curve sooner than I expected, and I took it too fast. Next thing I knew, I was off the road, barreling through the grass. I don’t remember trying to stop the van. I do remember crashing through the wall of a barn. I felt the forward motion clearly. I felt the resistance of the wall clearly too.
At that point, in that weird way of dreams, I was in the back of my van, lying in the bed. The van was still moving fast, and I knew the outcome was not going to be good.
Then I woke up, relieved to realize I had not actually crashed my van through the wall of a barn. I was lying in my bed in the first feeble light of dawn, waiting for my heart rate to slow so I could try to get back to sleep. That’s when I heard the hooting of an owl.
Owls, in Western tradition, are harbingers of doom and death. According to http://www.owlpages.com/articles.php?section=Owl+Mythology&title=Myth+and+Culture, “in early Rome…to hear the hoot of an Owl [sic] presaged imminent death…In English literature the Barn Owl [sic] had a sinister reputation probably because it was a bird of darkness, and darkness was always associated with death. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the poets Robert Blair and William Wordsworth used the Barn Owl [sic] as their favourite [sic] “bird of doom.”
I hadn’t heard an owl hoot since I arrived in the Sierras in May. But here was one hooting long and loud moments after I’d dreamed of taking a curve too fast and wrecking my van.
You can bet the next time I drove those twisty mountain roads, I took the curves nice and slow.
I took these photos of curvy mountain roads.