A few weeks ago Sara, Katie, and I were returning to Missouri from a weekend in Cincinnati. We were traveling along I-70 in Illinois when we struck a deer. I was driving at 75mph, just above the speed limit, when in my peripheral vision I see a deer about to bolt
across the highway at full speed. There was nothing I could do but grip the wheel tight and yell “SHIT”. We struck the deer full in the front of the Rambler (my name for my Ford Flex). With both the car and the deer moving fast, the deer crunched into the front of the Rambler and then forward at an angle across the other lane of traffic into the median. Luckily no one else was struck by the deer. Meanwhile inside the Rambler, Katie was scared and startled first by my loud yelling of shit and then by the loud crunch of deer, plastic, and steel, Sara sitting in the back with Katie had braced for impact at the yell and didn’t see the strike, Rio was awoken by the noise. Sara and Rio remained calm, Kate began to cry a bit, but we were all unhurt. I pulled the Rambler to the side of the road to quickly inspect the damage. The bumper and grill were trashed, but the metal of the hood and fenders didn’t seem to have taken any damage, so after a cursory inspection we proceeded to the next exit.
This is where I tell you about how much I love the Rambler. It is my favorite car. It is big, roomy, and comfortable, with more than enough power and descent fuel efficiency. The lower center of gravity means it doesn’t have the rollover risk of comparable SUVs. It can fit lots of people and lots of stuff. I bought the Rambler while on my 4th or 5th date with Sara. I’d been looking for a new car since before we met and I initially just wanted to take her with me on a test drive to get a second opinion. It fulfilled a lot of my requirements. It was able to fit both myself, another person, and Rio, plus all of our stuff. It also had all-wheel drive which was a big plus in Duluth because we were in the beginning of a Spring that brought 70inches of snow. It was also different. It wasn’t like the 15 Escapes that were on the lot, or any of the other SUVs that were riding around. Plus it had a cool color, like the blue-green of the ocean. The best thing was that it lived up to all my expectations and more. It is the best road trip car. It easily coverts to an adventure-mobile with a couple of kayaks strapped to the roof. Katie’s car seat fits great. Rio has all the room she wants, even when the car is stuffed with Christmas presents, suitcases, pack-n-plays and everything else that is now required for traveling. So now I add to the list of things I love about the Rambler, that it can take a punch.
The Rambler is a solid car. It took the blow from the deer and didn’t become unstable or lose control. Part of that was me, but part of it was just having a good solid build. At the next exit we looked at the damage. The grill was bashed in and the bumper would need to be replaced but the lights worked and the radiator, while a bit bent wasn’t broken or leaking so we were able to continue on home (we were about 200 miles from Columbia at that point). The Rambler got us safely home.
So deer are terrible. I think everyone I know has had an incident with a deer and a vehicle. Both my brothers hit deer on highways in central Illinois. If you drive enough in the Midwest you are going to hit one or have one hit you. There are lots of things that can be done and should be done to control deer populations. I’m a big fan of wolves, but they are not a practical solution for places where the forest and fields have been given over to farmland with the occasional stand of trees. Hunting is also not a great solution, because often where deer are the biggest problem (highways and urban centers) hunting is not practical or safe. Perhaps we should invest in some infrastructure. Other countries have wildlife corridor overpasses, places where wildlife is funneled by fences so it can safely cross over major highways. Or maybe flying cars. Tha would eliminate deer strikes (except perhaps reindeer during the holiday seasons).
Now the Rambler is in getting fixed, to the tune of about $3000. Thank goodness for insurance. Many things were broken on the inside, all of which I am happy to fix. The Rambler is a great car and I want it looking good and driving well for a long time to come. There are many more road trips to go and places to see.
It is also weird to be without my own car. This week Sara’s mom has been here because Sara had jury duty (but she wasn’t needed). So I was driving Sara’s Cube. The Cube is a dumb car, but it grows on you. It has stupid rounded window frames, while the windows are still the same shape. It is like the hobbit home of cars, as both have round windows and are surprisingly roomy inside. And it is afflicted with terrible asymmetry. It isn’t a Pontiac Aztec, but I would not have picked one out. But driving it around reminds me of how personal a thing a car can be. I selected the Rambler for primarily utilitarian reasons. I had enough money to purchase a sports car or perhaps a larger pickup truck or a Subaru like everyone else at work, but I chose a Kona Blue Flex. Sitting in the Rambler makes me feel good, it does everything I want a car to do. I wish I could have a high performance sports car, but it would only be until such time my ticket to insurability ratio became untenable. I wanted a Jeep, but Jeeps are made to fit me properly. It felt like the Flex just fit. With the added bonus of eventually being a very easily reproduced in Legos. I’ve already heard from the repair shop that more damage was found once they got things taken apart, but that was too be expected. Insurance has been adjusted and the Rambler will be good as new in the near future. Just in time for vacations and road trips and summer family outings.