Since 1971 I’ve looked for a moose in the shady ponds by the Pack River Bridge every time we’ve driven to town. There have been three–three–spottings. Always a thrill.
I think I saw one in a distant field while I was driving through Yellowstone years ago, one of those, “Wait! Wow! Was that a moose?” as we sped past at 40 mph.
That was it for moose.
Banjo Man and I had headed east to Clark Fork to return the Funny Grandson’s library books and get ice cream at the Pantry. Son #1 was entertaining friends at the house and their son and the FG were making friends with each other on the beach. We did our errands and ate our “baby” ice cream cones and resisted buying freshly baked bread and pastries before heading back to the lake to grill hot dogs and hamburgers for the younger generations.
Clark Fork has very little cell phone coverage, so as we were a mile or two from the town and heading home, my phone pinged. There was a text message from Dancing Mandolin Player answering a question I’d sent about seating at the night’s big fundraiser for the community center. I began to read it out loud to Banjo Man, who loves to listen to anything newsy or informative from my little electronic world.
And that’s what saved us. Banjo Man had both hands on the wheel and his full attention on the road (as opposed to his typical admiring the gorgeous scenery or looking for herons out of his side of the car).
Next thing I knew–as I was describing DMP’s opinion of her raspberry-filled kitchen–the brakes squealed, Banjo Man yelled and I looked up to see our windshield filled with moose.
We braced ourselves for the crash. It was going to be bad.
A car coming in the opposite direction braked and squealed as the panicked animal somehow escaped hitting our car and ran across theirs. And then it was gone, into the wetlands of the Clark Fork River slough.
We were all very, very lucky. A second either way would have meant disaster. A female moose can weigh between 440 and 790 pounds and can stand 7 feet tall at the shoulder.
You wouldn’t expect a moose to run out of a wooded ditch on the mountain side of the road. Not at 1:30 in the afternoon. But…when you’re driving in this part of the country you have to be ready for anything at any time.
So no more gawking at the lake or the river. Hands on the wheel! Eyes on the road!
We’re not going to press our luck.