“Doe a deer. A female deer.”
Learning to drive in Minnesota really prepares you for driving life. Before I got my license, I practiced driving on ice, in snow and other unenjoyable road conditions so much that with all my practice, and like all Minnesotans, I became quite the seasoned driver. Snowstorm? Not a problem. Freezing rain? Please.
Another thing you have to worry about are animals, more specifically, deer. My dad’s advice still resonates with me, “Don’t swerve. Don’t try to brake. Hit the deer.”
Into my adult life, I often recalled this advice and have used it in practice. For example, I once mowed over a mother duck and her ducklings. As horrific as it was, and that I did it and in front of an entire bus of cheerleaders, everyone was safe and we made it out unscathed — the same cannot be said for the ducks.
In moving to Canada, Parker and I both have adjusted back to winter driving. It didn’t take long before we felt comfortable and ready to take on a road trip to Maine.
On Boxing Day (note: I’m in Canada now and Boxing Day is totally a thing here so I’m referring to it as such), we packed up and headed out at 4:30am for Portland, Maine with four kids and a puppy. The Larson road warriors.
The driving conditions were perfect. It was cold, but clear roads, sunny skies and no inclement weather. Ellinor was behaving (she’s the primary wild card at this point) and Honey was happy to be rotating laps for snuggles and nap time.
We stopped off in New Brunswick at a McDonald’s for a quick bathroom break, breakfast and for Ellinor to steal our hash browns.
We crossed over the border, which was exciting. Our next stop was in Bangor, Maine where we stuffed ourselves with Chick-Fil-A nuggets (or “nuggies” as we call them), gassed up and headed on our way. The road trip was going wonderfully; happy kids, content dog, clear and open roads and we were only 1.5 hours from Portland.
And then we hit a deer. More specifically, I hit the deer with our van. It was a big one, dead on and at full speed on I-95 South.
Two large deer moseyed onto the freeway. No braking, no swerving, I took my dad’s advice and hit the second one, possibly clipping the first. I can’t be for certain as it happened so fast. I was able to glance to my left and see one deer bounding into the woods and the other deer, unmoving, in the deep ravine.
I managed to stay calm and pull the car to the side of the road. Parker got out, assessed the damage and immediately told me to shut off the car as things were leaking and the car was smoking.
I cried. It was a jarring moment and we were all in shock. Also, it’s a slightly unnerving feeling knowing you’re stuck in an unknown area of Maine, in the cold, along a busy freeway with four kids. I’m just thankful that no one was hurt.
After phone calls to AAA, the state police, the insurance company and a local car rental agency, a tow truck came and the state trooper helped us formulate a plan. He gave the thumbs up for the tow truck to tow us in the van to the nearest car rental place to get a new vehicle. I’m grateful for their patience and for making sure we were taken care of.
Our kids though loved the tow truck ride, except Soren, he fell asleep while we sat and waited along the roadside. He told the employee at Enterprise that “hitting a deer was the most boring thing ever.”
We got a rental van, made it to our hotel in Portland, and our insurance company took over, where we currently await the verdict.
This trip to Maine was about spending time with good friends and shopping. Happily, we already spent yesterday evening with the Glinatsis family. It felt good to be with people that you have known for years and also to drink away any stress associated with the car.
We all crashed early (no pun intended) and woke up refreshed and renewed. Elsa, Sophie and I left the hotel after breakfast and walked around Old Port, discovering the Athleta, Anthropologie and West Elm shopping trifecta. We visited some fun local shops, grabbed donuts and met back up with the Parker, Soren and Ellinor.
And that is where we are. We have managed lunch and now the kids are swimming. It is almost as if nothing happened. We have a resilient group.