Friday, October 07, 2005

There's a Moose In My Lane

Back to Newfoundland we go.

Before I start telling you about the moose, I must take a moment to thank the kind people at the hotel where we stayed in Gander for providing me with the following blog fodder:

It was very considerate of them to give me the only suite left in the hotel. I also appreciated that they went to the effort to go into that suite, dirty a facecloth and leave it on the vanity for me to find. I think it is perhaps some sort of cultural equivalent to the mint on the pillow. I really and truly appreciated the sight of that facecloth b/c my first thought on seeing it was not, "Call the front desk and complain" but "Take a photo of that sucker for the blog!"

Let's just say that although I'm sure the people who work there are very nice and all, I'm just not entirely sure about the cleanliness of this hotel. Needless to say, I was so freaked out by the thought of what may be on the bedspread, that I really don't think I moved all night long. Ew, ew, ew.

Sunday morning, my coworker, T and I met up with my manager, R, who had been in the hotel for a conference since Thursday evening. I've never seen her sooooo ready for familiar human contact and the promise of the clean sheets that awaited at the H.I. in St. John's. She almost tripped over herself greeting us in the lobby.

After about 2 seconds of debate, T decided that she was too tired to drive to our outport destination and I jumped into the driver's seat. T is a very good driver, but her eyes were screaming "Please, let me just nap in peace!" We turned onto the highway and set off, each of us eager to meet the day head on.

You all remember the last post when I said that the cabby gave us the best directions ever? Well, C, our bald-headed friend on the previous night's flight had agreed with the instructions and had also given us a few words of warning.

"Watch our for moose. It's hunting season. The moose are spooked and on the move. Be careful."

Now, my father is a hunter extraordinaire. While he hasn't shot a deer in years, he is still fond of moose hunting. As a child, I was often recruited to go with my dad up to "check on the camp" in the woods and to wander around back roads looking for moose signs. It may seem about as much fun as a temporal lobotomy to some of you, but I loved hanging out with dad and tromping around in the woods. Anyway - what I'm trying to say is, I was trained from a very early age to spot moose and other wildlife at great distances. A skill that would come in handy on the trip... Erm, I guess I don't need to foreshadow this, 'cause I already told you we saw a moose.

So, the girls and I reach our turnoff (sees how I'm puttin' on me signal loight? I'm turnin' in here, me ducky) in Gambo. About 2km later, the road sign informed us that the speed limit is 40km/hr in this area.

There are moans of protest from the passenger seat and the back seat.

"We'll never make it there."

"I can't believe it's 40!"

I said something about, "Well, maybe it's 40 because of the moose."

The response?

"We're not going to see a moose. Drive faster..."

Famous last words.

We turn a corner. I see a large dark form, trotting toward us up the road a ways. I see a minivan pulled to the side of the road. I turn on my signal light and pull over to the shoulder.

"T," I say, "Get your camera."

"Stephanie," responds T, "What are you doing? We don't have time to stop for pictures."

I point ahead of us.

T's head swivels and I hear her gasp.

Then I hear this from the back seat, in a loud panicked voice, "OK, don't move, we'll just SIT RIGHT HERE." (Which was the cause of much hilarity for the rest of the trip.)

I keep repeating, "T, camera, get your camera... you're going to miss..."

The moose, who by this time had trotted closer to us, saw her exit (Sees how I'm turnin' on me signal loight?) and took it - a gravel road that led heaven knows where.

She got close enough that I could tell two things about her:
a. She was frickin' huge. i.e. she made the minivan look small.
b. She was not entirely certain of her path, but she wasn't mad (which is good, b/c mad moose = long explanation to the rental company)

After she disappeared I turned to my passengers to see their reaction. T was frozen in position - leaned slightly forward with her hands cupped over her wide-open mouth and eyes bugged out. R, in the back, was engaged in stunned shock.

Then we all started laughing.

T said, "I wondered why you were stopping. I didn't think we had time to stop for photos."

To which I replied, "Um, I couldn't really proceed, there was a moose occupying my lane!"

We continued to discuss what a bunch of city slickers we were (well, them, not me. I still like to pretend I remember my roots) when my manager came out with what could possibly be the best line of the day:

"I'll have to say, I'm just really glad we didn't see any hunters chasing it."

After wiping away my tears of laughter I said, "Um, you do know that they don't actually chase the moose on foot, right?."

The rest of the drive was rather uneventful (Well, except for me choking on a mouthful of water while driving and having to make a hasty stop on the shoulder of the TCH while a transport truck barrelled past - serves them right for discussing such inflammatory subjects with me in the car - honestly, I thought I was going to drown in the driver's seat)... but we managed to make it more interesting by ingesting lots of chocolate. Now, I know the following photo is blurry, but I think if you saw it clearly, you might be turned off your breakfast.

I like to call this photo "Carnage on the TCH" (that's Trans Canada Highway).

(BTW - we were quite lucky that this was the only moose we saw on this trip. According to the news, there was more than one car accident involving moose on the same road we travelled later that day.)


  1. Jeez, I wouldn't complain about the washcloth in the hotel -- they stock the rental cars with chocolate! I'm goin' ta Newfoundland, by!

  2. Uncle K1:11 p.m.

    Steph, I too, many years ago, went with your Dad looking for moose signs. These experiences built a defense against a full onset of " City Slickeredness" later in life. In Jasper "slicker" stop in droves for animals that stand off to the side of the road. Moose, deer, insects and all forms of rodents are subject to being shot by a telephoto lens. If the "slickers" are not run over by a truck they quickly retreat to their SUV or BMW. Now I believe your Dad was correct. He taught us to stop if the animal was in the middle of the road. I you didn't the moose has the potential to join you in the vehicle. Now having moose in the car or chocolate in the car. Hummmm!! Remember your Dad's parting words "watch for deer" !!