Doug Clark: Shaken, unscathed after moose mishap
Luck, a wise soul once observed, is the residue of good design.
In which case I’d like to thank the Toyota Corp., its American and Canadian auto parts manufacturers, its Texas assembly workers and anyone else who had anything at all to do with my very first pickup that I bought about a month ago.
All the good design that went into my 2013 Toyota Tacoma made for a happy ending at about 10:30 p.m. last Friday.
That’s when I collided with a moose who picked a really bad time to gallop across U.S. Highway 395, about 3 miles south of Colville.
Air bags. Seat belts. Anti-lock brakes …
I never gave much thought to modern vehicular safety features.
Not until we blessedly came to a stop, that is. My lovely wife, Sherry, and I walked away shaken yet amazingly unscathed.
Couldn’t say the same for the poor moose, alas.
The magnificent creature, a sizable female, lay in a shallow ditch some 50 feet ahead of us: tangled, bloody and deader than disco.
Still, it was a prettier sight than the front end of my truck. With less than 2,500 miles showing on the odometer, it looked like I’d rolled over an IED while touring Iraq.
I’ll say one thing, though. A moose mishap brings out the nicest people.
It took me awhile to get out of the truck. My door wouldn’t open, so I had to crawl over the junk box and cup holders and passenger seat.
By that time, the good Samaritan who had stopped behind us and turned on his flashers was already on his cellphone, giving directions to an emergency dispatcher.
The young man with him, a fine wrestler considering all the pins on his 2014 letterman’s jacket, was confirming that the moose had gone on to wherever deceased moose go.
Looking back, however, I realize I should have grabbed my notebook and jotted down the names of those who should be thanked.
The Washington State Patrol trooper, for example. He was an exceptional guy who eased our minds with kindness and good humor.
I remember him saying something about how I wouldn’t have to worry about such a thing ever happening again.
Washington, after all, has a one-moose-per-lifetime quota for any hunter lucky enough to score a tag.
This was weird, though: Everybody at the scene – the affable sheriff’s deputy, the concerned paramedics and rescue people – all had a vehicle vs. moose story.
I may have been in shock, but every tale seemed to end with the phrase: “and then we had to call Lifebird.”
That’s the thing about hitting a moose.
Say you nail one in your car. The animal’s center of gravity is so high that it often flips through the windshield, with devastating, if not fatal, results.
A truck’s higher elevation and increased mass, I’m told, will up your Vegas odds.
Until we got this truck, we always drove the family sedan to our cabin at Black Lake, our destination on Friday night.
That fact wasn’t lost on me as I stood around, watching the tow guy hook up my trashed Tacoma and rethinking that awful moment when a monstrous shape emerged fast out of the darkness to my left.
“Mooose!” yelled Sherry.
I had the brake buried before she finished the word.
Instantly we were in darkness, the result of broken headlights and deployed air bags, which filled the car with an odd fine powder.
I held the wheel in a death grip, hoping to keep straight and not veer blindly into the oncoming lane.
Then it was over.
The next day we drove a loaner up to our cabin to decompress. That’s when Sherry realized something highly disturbing.
The cabin came furnished – with a moose theme.
Moose light switch covers. Moose lampshades. Moose towel rack. Moose throw rugs. Moose dishes. Moose blanket. Moose artwork. Moose coat hook. Moose door hanger …
Before Friday, these things were charming. We love moose. We’ve spent hours watching live ones feed in a pond near our cabin.
“It’s like they’re all mocking me,” Sherry said.
We drove back to Spokane a bit earlier on Sunday, hoping to change the subject with a change of venue.
Then on Wednesday I picked up the paper from my porch.
“Moose causing mischief removed,” blared a front-page headline above a story about two moose that had to be tranquilized and relocated after they were found RIGHT HERE IN SPOKANE!
I may need to be shot with tranquilizer darts before this is all over.
Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.