Along the Roadsides

It was different last night because it was real. Leaving the Stanley Hotel at three on a rainy morning, the shadows stretched longer than usual and the mist periodically made the visibility on the road thick, ghoulish caricatures floating along the asphalt. Almost immediately upon turning onto highway 34, an elk stood in the middle of the road, slowly walking from one side to the other, as lazy as the mist. It almost seemed to blend against the shadows in a way that seemed to camouflage him in the dark, even when I flickered my high beams at the approaching car. It carried an odd feel with it though. It felt as etherial as the other… things I’d witnessed a few months prior, only this one didn’t fade into the shadows on the sides of the road, instead lingering.

"The Roadside Daydream" by Justin Maller. See more at

Over a few week period somewhere between February and March, a few weeks after witnessing the Pig Man, just before the supermoon, while Callea and I continued to reach into these folds of experience in the basement of the Concert Hall on weekend mornings, I began to witness strange shadowplay on the sides of the road while driving, shapes that stood out first like animals in the road before shifting back amongst the darkness at the edges.

Sometimes I’d see the shadows multiple times a night, sometimes during the day, again and again. I’d be glancing down to my phone to change a song, looking at my speedometer, checking something to my side, when upon looking back to the road, I’d see a dark shape, sometimes like a human, usually like an animal, on the edge of the road, not so much beyond my headlights as among and with the shadows within the light. And then in the way of a frightened animal, the shape would sweep from the road, but not so much bounding out of the way and into the brush, but as if it were only a trick of the eye, blending back into the amorphous shadows of the side of the road. And then I would be along the curve and past, and no large animals watched me go past from safety.

Now what with this shifting of the light, it’s easy to wonder if in the dark, with tired eyes (as many happened on my way home from the hotel at three or four in the morning), all I see is matrixing darkness from the edges of the road and the plants and rocks in a way that seemed that there was something in a road that twisted back to the nothingness as I drove past. I’d agree, and have written these shadow figures off had it not happened again and again, different nights and different times and conditions. I’ve seen them in the rain, in the dry, in the day, in the night. For about a month I’d witness them. Not every day, mind you. Usually it was only on the weekends because I didn’t do much driving during the week, remaining at home or in college.

It stands out further when I look back on my eight years of driving and seeing nothing at all that struck me as strange as these. We tend to write off experiences that strike us as odd, (perhaps it was just a REALLY vivid dream, we argue), but unique experiences are valuable, they have weight, they’re strange. Rarity of an experience can be just as useful an argument for something’s existence as it is it’s inexistence. Simply because something is rare has NO bearing on whether or not it’s true. So Bigfoot hasn’t been seen a hell of a lot, yeah, maybe it is a real creature and isn’t seen much. The existence is in no way dependent on it’s frequency of witness.

Two days ago I witnessed another while driving to my filmmaker friend’s house for a small get together. It was ten at night and he lives in the hills west of Loveland, a good twenty or thirty minutes from the heart of town. Along one curve I saw, more clearly than any of the shadows of the previous few weeks, a figure crouched along the side of the roadway, with its four legs poised together almost balancing in the way that a dog squats when it shits. The texture was more severe than I’d noticed yet, with black and gray patterns across it and seeming almost more shiny than furry. But then it was gone, melting like an ice shard into the shadows around it and again as I drove past, there was nothing.

This was the first time I’d seen again anything like what I’d before noticed for about two months.

And then last night at three in the morning, I drove home from another ghost hunt, exhausted, tired, my eyes blurry and slightly heavy, awake enough to drive safely but close enough to sleep that when I hit the mattress an hour later I was out. And I didn’t see anything questionable, despite spots of low hanging mist, whispering ghost-like cloud shapes along the asphalt, shadows abound in my high beams, and tired eyes.

So my question for you guys is have you heard anything about a phenomena like this? It would almost seem that over the last five months I’ve been tapping into a kind of awareness of more nature-based spirits, these along the roadsides, those in the Carriage House and Concert Hall at the Stanley over and over again, the presence at the Irma Hotel, and the Pig Man. I haven’t even done any googling but are there stories about recurring shadowy phenomena on roadsides or lore about more natural spirits drawn to roads in rural areas? Or is this something fresh?


3 thoughts on “Along the Roadsides

  1. Jenn5655 says:

    I do believe in this phenomena. I’ve never personally experienced it, but I’m sure it happens. I’ve always wanted to see it, however. Everytime I’m walking down the trail near my house after dark and I hear a rustle, I get curious, but not curious enough to check it out. I usually just end up jumping because it scared me, haha.

    Well written. 😀 It was pretty interesting.

  2. Callea says:

    When you blindly reach into the “folds of experience”, it’s hard to say what you may find on the other side. I believe that you have not only reached into the realm of the nature spirit, but have also somehow made a connection. Maybe some type of Shamanic past life as a possibility?

  3. Alix says:

    I totally believe in this. I’ve experienced it a number of times… like you said, too often and in too different circumstances to just be able to chalk it off to seeing things or over-imagination. And the weird thing is, sometimes it seems as though my headlights should pick up details in the shadows as they duck or fade away, but they never do. It’s kind of interesting though, isn’t it?

    And I totally agree about Bigfoot and phenomena like that. I mean, think how hard it is to find something that you know is there in the wild, let alone something that seems like it wants to hide.

    Great post 🙂

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